in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel, in a nutshell
Growing Up in the Shadow of Disenfranchised Adults and Oppressed Communities
Palestinian children and their families in the West Bank live under military rule. They are being deprived of civil and fundamental human rights – such as the right to a dignified life, and of such basic liberties as freedom of movement. All this severely limits the extent to which Palestinians can direct their own lives.
Palestinian parents and educators must navigate a myriad of obstacles that interfere with daily life and impinge on the quality of family life. They must absorb the impact of unpredictable eruptions and escalations and the anticipation of terror. They are particularly exposed to enduring uncertainty regarding their ability to carry out simple daily activities. Considerable amount of ongoing energy is required to simply survive.
Social services designated to enhance functioning under stress are also damaged as a result of this harsh reality, which likely compromises the support families receive in times of need.
Another source of significant difficulty is the damage to the sense of mutual trust resulting from continuing oppression and, in particular, the deep involvement of Israeli Intelligence activity in community life in the Territories.
Palestinian children in the Occupied Territories are often exposed to the encounters their parents, teachers and other adults experience with the Israeli Security forces. Such encounters frequently degrade and demean these adults; they sometimes include violence to various extents. The resulting weakening of parental authority often leads to a decreased ability of parents to guard their adolescents, who are at high risk of encounters with military forces.
Additionally, in light of growing rates of imprisonment and restrictions on family unification, many children become endistanced from their parents.
In many cases, families draw emotional resources from the powers of community and traditions, and have natural capacities to tolerate this oppression. Nevertheless, all of the above and more influences children’s well-being and potentially causes irreparable damages to their development.
The ills of occupation and discrimination have been ongoing for generations and thus parents and educators who grew up in the shadow of the Occupation carry with them the related traumas. From generation to generation, seeds of resilience are transmitted to the children, but helplessness and anger potentially grow as well.