Teen Activism - Israel/Palestine Conflict

by Akosua Baah

On October 7th, Hamas, the military party that leads Palestine, launched an attack on Israel, killing nearly 1,200 citizens and taking dozens hostage. Israeli leaders vowed to inflict an “unprecedented price” on Hamas following the assault and carried out continued bombings and air raids along the Gaza Strip. The United States and Israel have been allies since March of 1949, which is, in part, why US officials were quick to provide Israeli forces with aid and resources following the attack. Later on, the White House sent out a statement in support of Israel’s retaliation, stating that the country had a right to defend itself against foreign threats. Before 2023, Israel and Palestine were in conflict for nearly a century, after the English split Palestine into a Muslim and Jewish state. 

While some condemn Hamas’ attack, many teens around the world have chosen to side with Palestine over Israel. They argue that Israel is acting as a colonial force instead of as a government protecting its people. Through social media, activists have spread awareness about Gaza and organized widespread protests in major cities. Palestinian flags have appeared in the usernames of countless internet users, and the hashtag “#FreePalestine” has been trending on Twitter for weeks on end. Widespread boycotts of popular brands and products have taken the teenage population by storm. Many celebrities have also voiced their support for the people of Palestine, including Gigi Hadid – a Palestinian herself – and Melanie Martinez, who paused a recent concert in Paris to raise a Palestinian flag.

Brands included in the #FreePalestine boycotts

Gigi Hadid’s statement via Instagram in support of Palestine

In little more than a month, millions have learned to navigate the intricacies of a conflict that has lasted for more than eighty years and voice their opinions on said conflict to enact change. For many Americans, the events have also prompted deep discussions on instances of modern colonialism and the United States’ occupation of Vietnam, Hawaii, and Afghanistan. People of all ages have begun to question their part in the continued oppression of colonized people. Additionally, overwhelming support for Palestine has prompted those from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan to speak out about the humanitarian crises within their own countries. 

History repeats itself as Gen-Z activists follow closely in the footsteps of Black and Brown activists during the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War protesters in the 1960s, and victims of sexual assault during the #MeToo Movement. The worldwide youth response to events in Palestine gives us a small glimpse into how this generation will use knowledge and technology to leave its mark on the world.