Youth float ideas on their identity at “Youth for Change” Program

The Center of Development Studies at Birzeit University and the American Friends Service Committee concluded the first series of meetings of the project “Youth for Change”. The four-day meeting was held in both Ramallah and Gaza between May 11 and 14, 2017.

Around 50 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories in 1948 gathered to discuss different issues on the collective national identity of Palestinians, the geographic fragmentation caused by the colonial powers and the consequent stereotypes.

The group filled an introductory application, which included questions to test their general knowledge in the political, cultural and social issues in Palestine. The application explored the effect of occupation on their identity. Each person in the group created his/ her own identity that reflected how they introduce themselves based on their political, cultural and social references.

The meeting traced the evolution of the Palestinian identity and the key moments that contributed in refining the youth’s awareness to their political and national identity. This chronology offered a wider picture to the history of the Palestinian cause, through going back to historical phases that they did not live such as Al Nakba 1948, Al Naksa 1967 and the First Intifada.

The article of the Palestinian literary and cultural critic Faisal Daraj on the cultural identity of Palestinians was discussed thoroughly during the meeting. The participants tackled issues related to their definition of “themselves” and the “other/ the enemy”, and whether Palestinians have a unified identity or a number of sub-identities.

The Program “Youth for Change” gathers young Palestinians who live in different geographic areas in Palestine to speak and discuss issues on the collective national identity. The project offers a platform for young Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Occupied Territories of 1948 to share ideas and thoughts.

The participants will meet monthly for three years, in addition to biannual meetings, to speak about reasons of geographic and social fragmentation, and means of confrontation.