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Palestine’s generation z undermines Israel’s narrative

Jun 08,2021 - Last updated at Jun 08,2021

When Israel arrested Muna and Mohammad Al Kurd on Sunday on trumped up charges there was a digital tsunami of support and solidarity with the most famous twins in Palestine. On Twitter and Facebook activists from all over the world called for their immediate release under various hashtags. International media headed again to the besieged Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem while the twin’s father, Nabil Al Kurd, held a press conference in front of the Israeli police station where his children were being held. Both were later released on bail but not before armed Israeli police used stun grenades to disperse peaceful activists and the media. Israel had lost another round in the vital PR showdown as its image was dented further before international public opinion.

It was a foolish move by the Israeli authorities, just as its recent provocations of Palestinians in the Old City, at Al Aqsa Mosque, in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan Arab neighbourhoods had also backfired. At the heart of peaceful resistance and defiance are thousands of young Palestinians; what many in the media now call generation z, those between six and 24 years of age. Thousands and thousands of images, online posts, podcasts and interviews had went viral over the past few weeks exposing Israel’s brutal occupation and persecution of defenseless Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Sheikh Jarrah became a household name all over the world. The attempt to displace and forcibly evict the residents of this Arab neighbourhood was debated in parliaments, including the US Congress, in popular talk shows and in Clubhouse rooms. Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and others were flooded with posts by largely Palestinian youth and activists from all over stripping bare Israel’s discriminatory laws and its barbaric policies. Its 11-day war against Gaza had been denounced by politicians, peace activists, and international media and human rights organisations. 

For the first time in so many decades Israel’s Hasbara, its powerful propaganda machine deployed to positively spin information about Israeli actions around the world, had been repulsed. Israeli diplomats tried frantically to whitewash Israel’s tarnished image. They were immediately confronted by activists from all over, including anti-Zionist Jews. The often used cliché that “anti-Zionism is equal to anti-Semitism” did not hold water. 

The saga of Sheikh Jarrah has become a symbol for Palestinian struggle for freedom from occupation and national salvation. In the forefront of peaceful resistance were the Kurd twins. At 23 years of age, well educated and enlightened, they introduced a new, often ignored, generation of Palestinians to the world. It is this generation, making up about 24 per cent of the total Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza, which now leads the peaceful resistance against Israeli occupation. This generation has mastered the use of social media and was able to bypass the often indifferent and sometimes biased western media, to reach millions of people, mostly their own age, around the world.

While an ageing Palestinian leadership grows more distanced from its own people, it is Palestinian youth who have become Israel’s main challengers on the ground. In 2013 UNICEF published a report entitled “Children in Israeli Military Detention” in which it revealed that in the past 10 years, an estimated 7000 children have been detained, interrogated, prosecuted and/or imprisoned within the Israeli military justice system--an average of two children each day. Last April the Palestinian Prisoner Society said that the Israeli authorities have arrested 230 Palestinian children since the beginning of this year.

The rising influence of Palestinian youth is not an isolated phenomenon. Young people around the world are becoming mobilised in their rejection of discriminatory laws and injustice at home and abroad. This is why in the past few weeks millions of young people from all walks of life held protests against Israeli atrocities and raised placards labeling Israel as an apartheid state. The growing Black Lives Matter and Me Too grassroots movements identified themselves with peaceful Palestinian struggle and posted hashtags including the now trending #PalestinianLivesMatter.

The erosion of Israel’s image can also be blamed on Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who in his feverish and incendiary last ditch attempt to save his political future has ignited the situation in Jerusalem and elsewhere in a bid to appease his fanatic far-right settler following. 

What he had succeeded in doing instead is to unite Palestinian youth not only in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza but also inside the Green Line. Anti-Arab, Israeli far right, lynching gangs stormed Arab neighbourhoods in Lud, Jaffa, Haifa and others during the Gaza war exposing the growing political and socioeconomic rifts within the Israeli society, which is leaning further to the far right.

For years Israeli politicians had claimed that younger Palestinian generations will forget about their national cause and identity but in the past few weeks the peaceful resistance of Palestine’s generation z and global solidarity have proven them dead wrong and was able to nullify Israel’s narrative. 

 

Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.

 

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