Israeli, Palestinian Millennials Pessimistic on Mideast Peace

Not only do they think the conflict won’t be resolved, most see the outbreak of World War III in their lifetimes.

Does Middle East peace remain an unattainable goal?
Nati Shohat/Flash90

Most Israelis and Palestinians of the Millennial Generation think that the conflict “will never end.” Compared to conflicts in other parts of the world, millennials are more pessimistic of ever achieving Middle East peace, according to a global survey conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The survey was conducted among more than 16,000 young adults born after 2000 from 16 different countries and territories that are currently engaged in conflicts and territorial disputes, including Israel. The survey also examined their positions on war, the expediency of armed battles, and values that meet the standards of international humanitarian law.

Many of the answers given by the Israeli and Palestinian millennials were particularly poignant. 

Two-thirds (65%) of the Israelis questioned said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will never end, making them the most pessimistic of ever resolving their troubles among all respondents living in countries with ongoing armed conflict. 

Only 18% of young Israelis believe that the conflict will end during their lifetime, and just 8% thought the conflict could possibly end in the next 20 years. 

Palestinian millennials were also pessimistic, but less than the Israelis. Fifty-two percent think that the conflict will never end, while 17% believe that the conflict could end during their lives, and 11% said that the conflict might end in the next 20 years. 

Almost none of the Israelis or Palestinians thought that Middle East peace could possibly be achieved in the next five years.

 

Is WWIII on the horizon?

The findings indicate a large measure of concern among the millennial generation that there is a real possibility that a disaster and all-out war could break out in the course of their own lifetimes. 

The high tensions in the Middle East seem to have compounded these concerns. Almost half of all respondents think that a third world war will likely take place during their lives. Among the Israeli generation of millennials, 56% believe that World War III is just around the corner.

“This fear of the millennial generation may reflect the current increase in the rhetoric of polarization and de-humanization,” said Peter Fan, president of the International Red Cross. “If the millennium generation is right about World War IIl, the suffering of countries and regions around the world will be immense.”

At the same time, the vast majority of respondents from all countries (75%), including Israelis (82%) and Palestinians (51%), believe that war should be limited. 

Sixty-one percent of Israeli respondents (and 59% of the Palestinians) think that combatants must refrain from harming as many civilians as possible. Thirty-two percent of Israelis and 22% of the Palestinians said they agree with the statement that fighters should “do whatever it takes to achieve their goals,” no matter how many casualties there are among civilians. Only 15% of respondents in all other countries agreed with this statement. 

 

What troubles them most?

Young Israelis (69%) consider terrorism to be their most troubling concern, more than wars and armed conflicts (49.2%), poverty (46%) or corruption (41.2%).

Among the Palestinians, 63% rated unemployment as the most troubling issue, corruption in second place with 51.5%, and then poverty (48%) and a weak economy (46%).

Sixty percent of Israelis think that providing a response to the emotional needs of victims of conflict is equally important as a response to medical needs.

Compared to the whole world, Israelis are more aware of the Geneva Convention (73% said they know the articles limiting war), but more pessimistic about its effectiveness and its impact on war crimes. Israelis are also less optimistic on the effectiveness of the Convention to help reduce the suffering caused by wars (43%, compared to 54% worldwide).

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