AFSC partnered with the Center of Development Studies at Bir Zeit University to study Palestinian identity under socio-economic and political contexts. This study covered different Palestinian communities including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Palestinian areas of 1948, and Palestinians living in the camps in Lebanon.
Faculty members, students, and NGO staff attended the conference at Bir Zeit university on 1 April 2015. “The study is excellent and reflects the reality of the youth today, and it has included the various geographic areas which is very important to reflect the culture, geography, and how politics affect the collective identity,” explains Mazen Ja’abari, Head of the Youth Development Department in Jerusalem.
One of the main findings was a strong presence of the Palestinian national identity in all the geographic areas. Focus groups all agreed that the decline of the role of Palestinian national movements and the weakening of the PLO, along with the signature of the Oslo Accords and the spread of political religion, all contributed to the state of fragmentation of Palestinians today. The study provided insights on how this fragmentation is affecting their daily lives, their dreams and aspirations, and future. It is an effort to contribute to the conversation of fragmentation and the importance of building social cohesion, a strategic objective that AFSC has been working on for years.
“It provides insight on important concepts relating to identity, political affiliations, etc. We need to think beyond the results to see how we can turn them into something more practical and tangible,” adds Imad Bashtawi, philosophy teacher at Bir Zeit University.
Building an in-depth understanding of common issues among the Palestinian communities is vital to moving forward. This is an important step towards putting an end to Palestinian fragmentation, and returning on the right path towards liberation.