30 May 2016
Israeli Palestinian youth hold a racist Israeli society responsible for their plight but feel a Palestinian society that refuses to acknowledge their plight is equally guilty. Abed recalls a childhood friend being released from prison. A social worker came to visit and advised him how to best reintegrate into society. The friend described to her dropping out of school to help his family make ends meet. His brother forced him to sell drugs while his mother helplessly watched her sons go off on a wrong track. That’s when I needed help, he told the social worker: “Where were you then?” A few weeks later the activist found his friend’s body on a street riddled with bullets.
Crime, say youth activists, is one of the foremost issues, certainly among Israeli Palestinian youth. Drugs is another. So is the fact that pre-marital relationships have become more common, yet cannot be openly discussed. In what seems anti-cyclical, the picture of a Middle East turning more conservative is not immediately evident on the streets of Israeli Palestinian towns like Sakhnin, Arrabe, or Deir Hassan in the Galilee, where uncovered, fashionable dressed youth, male and female, is as common as ones who uphold more conservative dress codes.
Social attitudes also appear to be changing on the West Bank. Five years ago, members of the Palestinian national women’s soccer team described battles within their families about their right to play. At times, their matches had to be played in empty stadia and guarded by police to protect them from attack by conservative religious forces. Today, the players’ team speak about their families’ support and that they are proud of the fact that they represent Palestine and project it favourably internationally. Stadia host a growing number of fans whenever they play.
… Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog and a just published book with the same title.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 31/05/2016