By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan – Nov 2, 2023
Global youth are smashing Israeli propaganda constructs to champion justice and humanity as they throw their support behind the armed struggle for Palestinian national liberation.
For years, there’s been a prevailing notion that the Palestinian cause is losing its grip on the younger generations. This perception stems from the belief that, as globalization tightens its hold, the youth in West Asia, particularly in occupied Palestine, might become more disconnected from their historical roots and national affiliations.
With the spread of liberal ideas, many speculated that economic opportunities, technological advancements, and global exposure would shift their focus away from the Palestinian cause. Some even anticipated that the younger generation would turn against armed resistance to the Zionist occupation, owing to the small tide of Arab-Israeli normalization.
But recent events, especially the US-backed Israeli genocidal war against Gaza, have shown a different story. Three weeks of nonstop atrocities have rekindled the flame of Palestinian identity, ensuring that at least three generations stand united against the west’s ‘rules-based order’ and in support of any resistance against the occupation state.
Youth in West Asia
Prior to the Hamas-led Al-Aqsa Flood military operation on 7 October, many believed that young Arabs were leaning more toward normalizing relations with Israel, prioritizing economic prosperity over solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians.
However, the stark contrast between Iranian-aligned Arab states, which struggle with sanctions and insecurity, and those Arab countries that have normalized relations and enjoy a better quality of life has made the youth question the old assumptions about resistance.
The role played by Arab youth after the events of 7 October has reinforced the need to confront Israel. Tel Aviv’s behaviors, rife with criminality, aggression, and lies, have embarrassed its Arab partners, and now challenge the narrative that sought to separate Hamas from the rest of the Palestinian population.
According to Pew Research Center’s generational divisions based on age, today’s younger generations can be categorized into two groups, and current children can be classified into a single category:
|Generation y||Generation Z||Generation Alpha|
|Born 1981 – 1996||1997 – 2012||2012 – 2025|
After the launch of Al-Aqsa Flood, the west attempted to frame the narrative around the specific event – leaving out historical context – sought to characterize Hamas as ISIS, and emphasized Israel’s “right to self-defense” against “terrorism.” Ironically, it has been Israel’s brutal actions that countered these efforts, leading to the deaths of over 8,525 Palestinians, including 3,542 children and over 2,000 women.
This devastating toll was enough to label Israel as the real perpetrator of terrorism, and the images of innocent martyrs, especially children, became a powerful symbol in the defense of Palestinian rights.
Agents of change
What’s truly remarkable is that the leaders of the new narratives are the youth of Generation Z, Y, and Alpha. Leveraging social media, and speaking directly to their peer groups, they conveyed the grievances of the Palestinian people to the world. Many had limited knowledge of Palestine, but their unfiltered sense of justice fueled their collective anger against Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Social media has also given rise to a new form of journalism, known as citizen journalism. Ordinary individuals on the ground have become frontline reporters, sharing live audio and video updates that effectively sideline mainstream news reporting. When traditional media fails to provide the full picture, platforms like X and Instagram became invaluable sources of information. For instance, during the first two days of the Gaza offensive, over 50 million posts flooded the X platform and provided real-time coverage of events on the ground.
On social media, the younger generation is playing a crucial role in raising awareness about the Palestinian cause, galvanizing people across the globe to mirror their outrage. Today, in many countries, populations are taking to the streets in protest, boycotting companies supporting Israel, and expressing their solidarity across a wide variety of social media platforms.
Videos advocating for Palestinian rights appear in dozens of languages, reaching millions. Weeks after the aggression, hashtags like #فلسطين and #إسرائيل had billions of views on TikTok, leading the US to pressure Meta to ban influential accounts supporting the Palestinian cause.
Crucially, the scenes of Israeli brutality on social media have led to widespread, unprecedented criticism of the US, a key partner in Tel Aviv’s war plans, oddly, from Jewish American youth. Thousands of critical Jewish voices have emerged, condemning Washington’s policies. Instead of fading, the Palestinian cause is regaining momentum worldwide, defying the intentions of both Washington and Tel Aviv.
Influence on western youth
According to a recent poll published by the Daily Mail, only 40 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 have a negative view of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas. Despite Israel’s efforts to label Hamas as ISIS, more than half of young respondents do not share this view. The same poll indicates that 32 percent have a negative view of Israel instead, while only 24 percent have a positive outlook. Significantly, among young people, those with a negative view of Israel outnumber those with a positive view.
An Axios poll in the US reveals that less than half of young respondents (48 percent) believe that the country should support Israel. In contrast, this percentage rises significantly among older respondents, reaching 83 percent among those born between 1946 and 1964. Another poll by Generation Lab shows that 48 percent of US college students surveyed do not blame Hamas for the events of 7 October.
A Quinnipiac poll shows that 51 percent of voters under the age of 35 do not support sending weapons and military equipment to Israel in response to the Hamas operation, compared to 77 percent for those aged 50 or older.
Additionally, Harvard University’s Center for American Political Studies conducted a survey on the war in Palestine among respondents aged 18 to 24, with the following key findings:
- 47 percent believe that Hamas targeted the occupation army during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and not civilians.
- 41 percent believe that Hamas fighters are military operatives and not terrorists.
- 48 percent side with Hamas and not with Israel. (This rises to 91 percent for those aged 55-64)
- Although 62 percent believe that Hamas’ actions are criminal, 52 percent believe that Hamas ‘ killing of 1,200 Israeli civilians can be justified because of the injustice inflicted on Palestinians.
- 46 percent believe that law firms should not refuse to hire law students who supported Hamas and attacks on Israeli civilians.
- 48 percent oppose the Biden administration’s policies toward Israel.
- 54 percent believe that Iran has nothing to do with the Hamas attack on 7 October.
- 59 percent believe that it was wrong for Israel to cut off electricity, water, and food to the Gaza Strip in order to retrieve its prisoners.
- Only 30 percent believe that the US should support Israel in the war on Gaza.
- 45 percent believe that Israel bombed the Baptist Hospital in the Gaza Strip.
- Only 24 percent believe that the US media reports events in Gaza in a fair manner.
- 60 percent believe that the US should not intervene militarily if Iran strikes Israel.
Commenting on these figures, Mark Penn, CEO of Stagwell and president of the Harris-Ball Foundation, says that “the war between Israel and Hamas is not an issue divided along party lines, but on the basis of age.”
Rachel Janvaza, an expert on the political culture of the younger generation, suggests that “seniors are deeply traumatized by the generational divide, but this tension has been brewing on social media and in universities for a while – both of which play a very powerful role in how young people see the world.” Others disparage this development – Brad Polombo, in an article for Newsweek, opines: “Gen Z is not okay.”
Recent events highlight the resilience of Palestinian youth in preserving their identity and defending their rights. They have leveraged innovative ways to keep the Palestinian narrative relevant globally, with youth solidarity in West Asia bringing Palestinian grievances to a worldwide audience via various social media platforms, in all languages.
The impact of these events on the younger generation will likely continue to shape their views and influence future decisions, and today has the potential to affect international opinion and shift foreign policy.
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