Gershon Baskin

The next Palestinian generation


Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

Writing for The New Yorker, Dr. Hussein Agha and Dr. Ahmad Khalidi, two London-based scholars who have been behind-the-scenes interlocutors between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and various governments of Israel since the days of Oslo in the early 1990s, authored a piece called “The End of This Road: The Decline of the Palestinian National Movement.” Their analysis is keen and critical and while pointing to some positive developments over the past two decades, the main theme is a bleak Palestinian reality devoid of vision, leadership and hope.

It is a sad, realistic and accurate account of the mood of most Palestinians – inside and outside of Palestine. The lack of hope and vision and the absence of new leadership does not portend well for anyone living between the River and the Sea.

This analysis of the Palestinian situation could easily be applied over the green line, where there is the same lack of vision, hope and a program regarding the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. The assessment of many locally and internationally that there is no resolution in sight to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not off-base given the current leadership (or lack thereof) on both sides of the conflict. The absence of hope on both sides, reinforced by a continuous demonstration of “no partner for peace” on both sides has left us all just waiting for the next explosion, the next round of inevitable violence. The most recent explosion, around the Temple Mount/al Aksa Mosque, did not become catastrophic thanks to the help of neighbors and friends, but without some significant new steps the inevitable next explosion is just around the corner.

All is not bad though – even on the Palestinian side. The achievements of the past years were noted in the magazine piece, but the authors live in London and viewing the day-to-day realities of the West Bank from afar perhaps skews their view. But it should be noted that Palestinians in the West Bank also do not usually recognize their own achievements. There is no doubt that the democratic space in the West Bank is in decline (and I am not referring to the basic lack of political and human rights because of Israel’s control and occupation).

The Palestinian president – more than 12 years into what was supposed to be a four-year term – the nonexistence of a representative parliament and the increased surveillance and heavy-handedness of the Palestinian security forces negatively influence the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank. There is a sense among Palestinians that their basic democratic freedoms are shrinking and that the PA is not the democracy they dreamed of and hoped for. The lack of real economic growth has reduced opportunities for an increasingly educated Palestinian population, full of young people who are connected to the world and tech savvy and very frustrated because they cannot easily fulfill their dreams and ambitions.

A lot more could be achieved by Palestinians for Palestinians if real freedom existed and if Palestine was released from Israeli control and occupation. The main obstacle to Palestinian economic growth was and remains the Israeli occupation and control.

But I would also like to focus on the achievements of the Palestinians. The PA, or “the Government of the State of Palestine,” as it calls itself, is a fact and a reality on the ground. There is a functioning government, at the national, regional and local levels, providing services to the public which could undoubtedly be improved, but nevertheless exist and function quite well. The education system works, schools are running, teachers are being paid, new classrooms are being built, new teaching methodologies are being adopted.

The health care systems work – there are public and private clinics and hospitals and most people who need health care can get it. The social welfare system works, there are labor laws, new pension funds and schemes are being created to support the needy. Unlike cities and towns in the West, there are no homeless people sleeping on the streets of the West Bank. Ministries of agriculture and tourism, planning and others are functioning. The banking system and banks are full of people – employees and depositors. There is a sense of law and order – courts work and there are lots of new Palestinian lawyers every year providing their services to the public.

These are the characteristics of a functioning state. Ten years ago, coming out of the ruins of the Second Intifada, the current state of affairs in the West Bank was almost unimaginable. Those who do remember those days do not wish to return to the total loss of law and order, and physical destruction, that occurred from 2000-2007.

Retrospection and appreciation for what has been achieved is an important enabler of new vision and achievable hopes. The young Palestinian generation is too often too focused on its own dissatisfaction. There is too little engagement in the national struggle of building Palestine that existed during the First Intifada and during the early Oslo days when there was a national sense of taking a direct part in the national narrative of state building. Palestine will not be freed by the stone, the knife or the gun. Palestine will be freed and lives will improve when the young people of Palestine understand that they need to take a direct role in building their state.

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Beiträge von Gershon Baskin

The next Palestinian generation

The house of God


The Zionist Left – Israel’s only hope

To be a free people

The Day after Independence Day

Prisoners, strikes and rights

The inevitability of peace

From Washington to Jerusalem

Eight pieces of advice to Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt

Becoming a real, effective democracy requires a real, effective opposition

Only two states – nothing else

The fatal Israeli-Gaza mistake (2)

The fatal Israeli-Gaza mistakes

The wisdom to limit our rights

Where to, Israel?

Get out of our lives already!

The authority of the Authority


The state of denial

Settlements, annexation and the death of Zionism

It’s not just the economy

Encountering peace?

Building a shared society

Excuse me for asking

Secret back channels


The Left is right

A moment of opportunity

The worst negotiations, the best negotiations

Palestinian suffering makes no sense for Israel

Creating a compelling vision for peace

It is also in our hands

There is no partner


The partnership challenge

A new intifada?

After Abbas

A bad agreement is better than no agreement

Israel’s strategic choices regarding Gaza


Jerusalem of peace, Jerusalem of war

The Gaza challenge

Is Hamas prepared to end this war with a long-term ceasefire?

Some thoughts this morning

Regional forum for security and stability – Gaza first

After a long phone conversation with a Hamas leader in Gaza

Don’t destroy Gaza, build it!

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 3 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 2 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace


My Conversation With Hamas

Keine Fortsetzung des Unilateralismus!

Diesen Weg müssen wir einschlagen!


Eine Ein-Staat-Realität ist nicht durchführbar

Mord an der Chance für Ruhe

Das Ende des Raketenbeschusses aus Gaza

Es gibt einen Ausweg

Atomwaffen raus aus dem Arsenal

Was Abbas Israel sagen sollte

Ist mein zionistischer Traum gestorben?