by Sophie Giering-Jänsch
The last few months have been desperate. So desperate that when we talk about the „new generation“, we unfortunately mean radicalisation, despair, hopelessness and frustration. This is mostly the reality around and in the Middle East.
I would like to reflect on what the experience on the ground has been and how the atmosphere is changing. This does not mean that I am speaking on behalf of those who live, work, feel, love and mourn in this land.
The atmosphere in Palestine and Israel is changing dramatically and when we talk about change it is and always will be a reference to the youth. The seed of the tree, the seed of the next life. Around the occupation, we always talk about the two-state solution, but after the death of Yasser Arafat and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, we can clarify that it was mostly a dream or an illusion that has solidified. In the shadow of the two-state solution, young people in Palestine and Israel are growing up with violence, fear and mourning, and they don’t believe in it anymore. The disappointment of hope is enormous. As long as intellectuals here or in the diaspora talk about a two-state solution, it will be an intellectual utopia.
If you ask a local or international organisation or even the people on the ground, they will always show you a different map or a different concept of the country.
Again, this is something that is mostly not included in reality and is more about avoiding it than accepting it.
The new right-wing religious government in Israel, under the administration of Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partner Chasit Jehudit Le’umit, is not only overturning democratic values, but also ignoring the majority of Israelis who have been shouting and fighting since the beginning of 2023.
Even the demonstration itself is divided into factions, but the majority of Israelis have made it clear that the overthrow of democracy is also linked to the occupation and the suffering of the Palestinians.
Moreover, the government is always looking for an excuse for further „national security“, what does this mean? Settler violence has increased significantly. There have also been operations like Operation Arrow and Operation Shield in Gaza and northern Palestine. Huwara was in a significant situation this year when it became clear that there was no stopping. However, IDF soldiers did nothing to stop the violent settler rampage in Huwara. Masked settler extremists burned people to death in their homes and set fire to Palestinian property. Since then, the north has become more extreme, but Huwara, the main road connecting Nablus south to Ramallah and Jerusalem, has also become quiet. „Quiet“ in the sense of silence in relation to the events of the beginning of the year and the vitality.
You get used to it, you live with it, and people here have a survival instinct, it will never be an easy boat ride.
At the beginning I used the word „radicalisation“ to describe the youth. If we specify that, it also means: do we have enough values in reality to find out how we want to deal with hope? the events in the West Bank from south to north were and are an incentive for the youth.
Does this mean that the youth in Israel and Palestine don’t have any values at all? In terms of the Western perspective and the generalisation of the Middle East, they don’t have values. Although Israelis and Palestinians have values and explain their actions with them, the tears of the generation are the ability of the youth to see freedom and hope and to influence their behaviour. this cycle of violence is the blood of generations.
Nevertheless, the Israeli youth has the pretext to radicalise and protect itself by electing the right-wing religious government. We mostly talk and describe narratives that are the main character in the situation in Israel and Palestine, but this is something that the people on the ground have to figure out, with or without help.
The West cannot and should not decide. We can listen, on the condition that we should, if there is an investigation. This will not only be an international conflict while we fight over territorial poverty of people under the guise of religion.
Moreover, both countries are melting pots of diversity.
Most of the time, the local people themselves do not understand what is going on.
But why do the Western powers think they understand and start using old ways of behaviour to determine the other way? The Western powers are not familiar with neocolonialism.
Recognising the reality of this behaviour would be the beginning of perhaps also giving a new concept of „Zeitenwende“ – the turning point in history that Olaf Scholz made clear in a speech in the German Bundestag about the war in Ukraine. We are once again talking about Europe, not about a common world view.