Young Palestinians, born and raised in the era of the Oslo Accords and Israel’s repeated wars in Gaza, are increasingly disillusioned with the two-state solution. They are cynical about all Palestinian national leadership from Fatah to Hamas and are seeking alternative futures. It was young people who launched the Great March of Return, the largest popular convergence in Gaza to demand freedom and the right to return of Palestinian refugees.
Young Palestinians have been the driving force of new political efforts such as the Palestinian Youth Movement, which connects Palestinians ages 18 to 35 across a global diaspora with the aim of reconstituting a national politics of resistance. Young Palestinians are also the primary advocates of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that sidesteps political negotiations and makes rights-based claims for equality, the return of refugees and the end of occupation of Arab lands. Far from destitution, the grim status quo is fueling a politics of hope among Palestinian youths in particular.
This hope echoes a similar trend in the United States, where young people are driving an unprecedented shift in U.S. politics on the Middle East, and Palestinian freedom has been steadily incorporated into a progressive agenda. Trump’s embrace of Netanyahu is making ever clearer to a U.S. public that the reactionary right embodied by Trump is the normalized state of affairs in Israel. The Trump-Netanyahu alliance is on full display in the concerted and hypocritical attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who, in her advocacy on behalf of all marginalized communities, has illuminated the negative impact that U.S. unconditional support for Israel has on Palestinians.
Social movements such as Black Lives Matter and events like the Women’s March, driven by a similar base, have affirmed Palestinian freedom as part of their platforms. Polls indicate that since Trump took office two years ago, more Americans are less inclined to sympathize with Israel over Palestinians, while a majority of Democrats say they would support sanctions or stronger action against Israel due to settlement construction.