Analysis: Meet the new Palestinian and the new Israeli

Loss of faith in state institutions is not unique to Israelis and Palestinians.

April 2, 2016 11:47
Splitscreen: Palestinian with slingshot at demonstration and IDF soldier who shot dead a wounded ter

Splitscreen: Palestinian with slingshot at demonstration and IDF soldier who shot dead a wounded terrorist in Hebron. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The last six months of terror have revealed the new generations that have emerged on both sides of the Green Line: meet the new Palestinian and the new Israeli. One of these phenomena manifests itself with stabbings and killers and the other with a tumultuous animal-like temper. Both phenomena are worrying, and what is common to both groups is the complete disregard that both have for authority and institutions in society, to the point that both the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership fear them. Instead of leading, the politicians are being led by these defiant youth. 

IDF soldiers at the checkpoints in the West Bank are encountering something they did not encounter in the past. For decades, when the soldiers would ask the Palestinians where they were from and where they were going, the Palestinians would answer obediently. But lately, young Palestinians are answering these same questions in protest: "What business is it of yours where I'm going? Who are you to even ask me?"

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The generation that is leading the current wave of terror is very different from those that were at the forefront of the past intifadas. From Israeli interrogations of 90 terrorists in past months, an impression emerges of a generation that did not experience, or that does not remember the traumas of the past uprisings. A generation that has never even visited Israel, has never seen the sea or gone abroad, but that rather lives on the Internet, and via the web has gained its understanding of the world. Its reference point for information is Israel and what happens in the rest of the Arab world is of less significance.

This generation of Palestinians is not interested in a framework for a diplomatic solution with Israel and it does not care if Israel negotiates or does not negotiate with the Palestinian Authority. It cares about one thing only: human rights for the Palestinians. It believes that Israel negates its basic rights and it is demanding those rights and the creation of a Palestinian state is a secondary concern for it. 

Israeli interrogators often ask terror suspects during questioning to show them on their smartphones which Internet sites they visit. These youth, mainly from middle class families, read a lot of Islamic State content and other content from extreme Sunni movements in Syria and Iraq, even though the suspects being questioned are not themselves religious. They also read a lot about Israel, Israeli democracy and politics, and they feel that they also deserve the same kind of openness in their society.

They do not trust any Palestinian institutions and they first and foremost disregard their parents and do not recognize their authority. They hate the Palestinian Authority - and would rebel against it but for Israel's occupation -  and they also have contempt for the existing terror organizations such as Hamas, Fatah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It is common for a terrorist to specifically write before setting out on a terror attack that no Palestinian organization should claim responsibility  for his act.

At the Ofer Prison, which like other detention centers divides its prisoners based on their membership to specific terror organizations such as Fatah and Hamas, there is a new section labeled the "One Homeland Unit." The new terrorists are not  part of any of the establishment terror organizations. Above all, these terrorists have no reverence for Israel. In the spirit of the "Arab Spring," these terrorists have no fear. 

Despite a recent downturn in past weeks in the number of terror attacks against Israel, it is too early to talk about a waning of the current terror wave. The potential of this generation is great. In the West Bank there are 950,000 Palestinians between the ages of 15-30,  the main reservoir for the knifing attacks. One  third of this group has a high school education and above. One third is also unemployed. 

They study, earn degrees and then don't find work. There were 370 applicants recently in response to an ad placed for a water meter reader in the village of Tubas. Half of the applicants had post secondary education. Hundreds apply when a police officer position opens in the Palestinian Authority, a job that pays 1200 shekels per month. In the West Bank, one can find chemists that work as bakers and mathematicians that work as construction laborers. 

The 'new-Israeli' also lives online. They also have no reverence for authority and institutions in society and only exalt violence. The hero of this iconoclastic generation is not the person who stopped a Syrian army division on the Golan or who jumped on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers, but rather the soldier who last week shot a dying Palestinian terrorist in the head because "he deserved to die."

A person who doesn't agree with them is marked as a traitor, the IDF chief of staff and the minister of defense included. Most embarrassing is that the politicians pander to this generation.  

The phenomenon of the loss of faith in state institutions is not unique to the Palestinians and the Israelis. It is common among youth throughout the West. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican candidate Donald Trump both receive their support from the same disillusioned public.  

There were many terrifying results from the Pew Research Poll on Israelis that was published last month. But there was one encouraging statistic: 56 percent of Israelis, including secular, traditional and religious Israelis placed themselves at the center of the political spectrum. This means that with the correct leadership it would be possible to bring sanity back to the country and return the extreme fringe back to its place.

For seven years already there has been no real opposition to the government in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has really only been challenged from the Right. This creates a political discourse that is set by Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett who is on the Right of the prime minister. The result of this narrow political discourse is the distorted feeling that it represents all of Israeli society. None of the existing political parties in Israel succeeds to represent the sane and silent majority.

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