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Half of the Palestinian population is under 18. With so many of the Palestinian population this young, one can only look forward with optimism. The Palestinians are among the most highly educated people in the world. However, leading this statistic, it is the girls that are becoming highly educated, while the boys are less likely to go to university.

I have seen the promise of the youth here in Palestine.

The same day a 23 year old was murdered by a settler at a checkpoint we were near, a youth council of 5 children in the frontier town of Atuff in the West Bank spoke to us. They documented the many recent atrocities of the Israeli military, who routinely kick out families from their homes for three days and conduct military exercise on their homes, which are damaged inside and out. These kids had just finished their exams, but they were eager to talk to us, and tell their story. Just a few kilometers away, they see Israeli schools that are state of the art, and given every resource by the government, compared to their completely unstable conditions.

Palestinian children cannot escape Israel’s military occupation. Boys especially, at an early age, find themselves targeted by the Israeli government and its settlers in the occupied territories. Boys often are incarcerated for simple offenses, such as throwing stones at the Separation/Apartheid Wall, an offense that can likely get a 16-year-old 10 years in detention. Israeli detention is clearly no fun for these kids. Many are tortured. All are subjected to psychological stress and trauma which spoils their chance at a future.

The age demographic numbers are drastically different in the United States, with far fewer children percentage-wise, and a growing population of senior citizens.  We face challenges because we lack a more powerful youth movement. We are spoiled by our freedoms. A young boy in Palestine challenging an armored personal carrier, or even an inanimate wall, shows more courage than most Americans seem capable. It’s time we accept the truth and join this global struggle into which the Palestinian has been foisted. We are the ones brainwashed and not the Palestinian. We must break the cycle.

Our tax dollars are being misused. It’s time for us to act as the older and wiser people, and end this oppression. We have no right to sip cocktails and ignore this dire human rights issue as if it does not exist. The time to act is now.