A Palestinian protester wearing a mask waves a national flag during a demonstration near the border with Israel, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 26, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: In contrast with the perception that younger generations in the Arab world are more concerned with issues pertaining to their daily lives, such as unemployment and poverty, a recent survey showed that 80 per cent of the Arab youth care about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The survey concluded that the Palestinian question remains of great importance to the vast majority of the Arab youth.

According to the results of the 11th annual ASDA’A 2019 Arab Youth Survey, 79 per cent of Arab youth said they are concerned about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Around 45 per cent said they are “very concerned”, and 34 percent said they are “somewhat concerned”.

Our studies have shown that younger generations are much more committed to the right of return than their elders. They are more aware of the concept of freedom and justice.

- Nader Saeed, Professor

The Palestinian question, the survey showed, was among the top five “biggest obstacles” facing the Middle East after the rising cost of living, unemployment, lack of Arab unity and slow economic growth.

The survey is based on 3,300 interviews with youth in the age group of 18-24 in 15 Arab states in the Gulf region, the Levant and North Africa.

“This is an important indicator,” said Nader Saeed, director of the Development Studies Program at West-Bank Birzeit University.

“The survey findings will hopefully silence the fake propaganda that is being spread by some regimes and pro-Israel think tanks that the Arab youth are preoccupied with issues such as the standard of living and unemployment,” Saeed told Gulf News in an interview.

“Despite all these important issues dominating the public sphere in Arab countries, whether being related to revolution, political change or the economy, the Palestinian question remains a main source of concern (to the Arab youth),” Saeed said. Other analysts said that because we are living in the era of social media where there are a plethora of issues being talked about and debated, it is unrealistic that one issue garner all the attention.

“In the past, there was one issue people would listen to on the radio, and everyone would talk about that,” Rima Sabban, Asscoiate Professor of Sociology at Zayed University, told Gulf News.

“Today, there are many issues and different interests. Social media has created many realms and the human being is, himself, distracted,” she said.

According to Hassan Barari, an international relations professor at Jordan University and an expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Arab priorities typically follow a specific order.

“The Arab citizen is first concerned about his food. Once food is secured, he/she worries about security,” he told Gulf News.

Despite many pundits who claim that the Palestinian cause would be forgotten by the youth, a study done by Beir Zeit University in Palestine, says this is not true.

“All of our studies have shown that younger generations are much more committed to the right of return than their elders,” Saeed says.

“This is because there are now many sources of information which has made the youth more aware of the importance of freedom and justice.”