I was watching the first two episodes of a new Palestinian animation series
online when it hit me. This recent innovation, distributed mainly via social
media, sends a beautiful yet alarming signal.
The hilarious three-minute
videos display the Palestinian version of the world-famous characters Pinocchio
and Little Red Riding Hood. How would their lives be as Palestinians? A young
woman’s voice tells the story in a heavily rural accent.
humor she describes the Palestinian journey of these fictional
They involve an unscientific belief in witchcraft, attempts
to navigate the inevitable mission of marriage unscathed, and arrest and
detention by the Israeli army. Unlike the original story, Palestinian Pinocchio
– who was named after his grandfather – is honest. He really believes it when he
tells his Israeli interrogator he believes the Palestinian reconciliation will
succeed and Arabs will liberate the Palestinians.
Palestinian Little Red
Riding hood – or Leila – leaves the house she shares with her extended family,
covering her hair with the hood.
When the wolf sees her, he falls in love
instantly and gives her a NIS 20 prepaid mobile phone card. After failing to
convince Leila to give him the prepaid card, her brother tells the family about
Although a caption under the video says the Palestinian
stories do not represent any specific characters, there’s a similarity between
Leila’s fate and that of Aya Baradiya, a young woman who was killed in a
so-called honor crime in Hebron last year. The video criticizes the questionable
performance of non-governmental and feminist organizations who were featured in
the video as Facebook activists, as opposed to real lobbyists.
content and art are high quality, craftily rendered in a manner no one but young
professionals can pull off. And indeed, the team behind this privately funded
series is in their 20s and 30s.
One might think the rise of capable
self-starters in various fields should herald the emergence of a new system.
However, the situation is a bit more difficult for young Palestinian
professionals. There is a little-known war quietly being waged among
Few know of it and fewer care. The stakes are high, as they
always are between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.
It is a war of
attrition between young professionals in their late 20s and early 30s and
decision makers, the vast majority of whom are over 50.
Reading the bio
of the animation company behind the video confirms the existence of this cold
war. The owner of the creative company writes that the only thing the team
members had in common was the desire to start their own business, which would
enable them to unleash their creativity and free themselves from the
restrictions imposed by their previous jobs.
I happen to be familiar with
some of what the staff has struggled with in the Palestinian market, including
bureaucracy, limited opportunities, the agendas of international donors and
mind-numbing routine, in addition to a foggy career path. In our institutions,
whether they are public, private or non-governmental, there is a marked dearth
of individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 in leadership
Many of the brightest of that generation have emigrated,
seeking better pay and opportunities.
Those that remain are bound to an
uncertain fate of decreasing economic opportunity and political instability. Add
to this the fact that the overwhelming majority of private sector firms are
family owned and operated, and a clearer picture emerges of the difficulty of
finding opportunities in a job market that is largely based on the limited
demand for secretarial and simple administrative positions.
political level, youth feel neglected and far from the Palestinian
decision-making process. How could it be otherwise when the “young guard” of the
Fatah Central Committee are all over 50? Change is occurring very slowly. It
might be surprising to some that most of the current Palestinian political party
leadership ascended to power following the death of the previous leadership.
This fact speaks volumes about the lack of change needed to revive Palestinian
Back in 2010, I attended a political meeting of several
party leaders and politicians when a group of energetic young men and women came
to protest the Palestinian Authority’s decision to prevent demonstrations
supporting the revolution in Tunisia.
A Fatah official was unhappy with
the point they were raising; he said that the Tunisian regime embraced the
Palestinian revolutionaries in the Eighties and Nineties and that it would be
“ungrateful” for Palestinians to turn their back on Ben-Ali now. Hanan Ashrawi,
a PLO member, refused to submit to this attempt to curtail the people’s right to
The demonstration took to the streets of Ramallah.
reason behind the PA’s decision to ban demonstrations was the fear that
Palestinians in these troubled countries might be expelled, a claim that did not
seem convincing to the youth who were enthused to support their Arab
Internally, the youth long for a change, and change is inevitable,
but cross-generational understanding is lacking. The elders lack the creativity
and the adaptability of the new generation.
They don’t trust the
youngsters to lead and are afraid of change in an exceedingly complex world they
no longer understand.
They also seem to be unwilling to meet the
youngsters in the middle.
To them preserving the status quo appears
preferable to initiating a process of change they cannot imagine.
generation has a great potential and is struggling to actualize it. Facebook
initiatives and Twitter hash-tags aspire to greater dialogue, role and activity.
Hopefully these are precursors to a more informed and organized
However, the issues that plague Palestine, from the conflict
with Israel to internal challenges both political and economic, require a high
level of technical know-how and experience to address.
But I am hopeful
that our generation will be able offer and implement innovative and realistic
solutions to these problems. The Palestinian population is predominantly young –
60 percent between the ages of 14 and 59, and 36% between the ages of 0 and 14.
And as more and more young adults hope to enter the job market, earn a living
and start families, the PA and the PLO will be under pressure to provide
economic opportunities and a political horizon to the conflict with
Change is what Palestinians need. Ironically their inability to
adapt to the challenges of the past, that resulted in monumental failures for
the Palestinian people, is perhaps what has made them frightened to embrace the
The void left by the elders will take much time to fill, but the
older generation, although wary of change and exhausted by a long list of
failures, has to pass on the torch – and the sooner the better, for us
all.The writer is a Palestinian freelance journalist and
producer working in the West Bank. nidatuma@ hotmail.com