Attitudes to the Future

Having examined briefly how Palestinians assess the course of their lives so far, how do the various sectors of the Palestinian population see the future? Have the experiences of the past made Palestinians basically pessimistic or optimistic in outlook? Do they feel the lives of their children will be better or worse than their own? Here the "no answer" category is higher since many respondents insist that the fate of their children is in God's hands.

Table 9.17 Do you think the lives of your children will be better than your own? (Assessment of the future)
The same55
No answer1613

The picture is one of a relative confidence and belief in the future. As women are more positive in the assessment of their own lives, they are also more hopeful concerning the lives of their children.
How does refugee status combined with generational differences impact on this general image of confidence? Taken as entire groups, the profiles of refugees and non-refugees are again broadly similar. But generational differences among men within the two groups, especially those refugees who live in camps, reveals a more complex picture.

Table 9.18 Male non-refugees' assessment of the future by generations
BetterThe sameWorseNo answer
Intifada generation (15-30 years)5942017
67 War generation (31-49 years)6221521
48 War generation (50+ years)6141917

Among the non-refugee population the young are more or less as optimistic as their parents and grandparents. Moreover, very few non-refugees seem to believe that the future will remain more or less like today. Among refugees, however, the contrasts are more marked. The youngest generation of male camp refugees are significantly more optimistic than their grandfathers. However, the general optimism of the older generations seems curbed by the some 22% who seem to believe, in resignation, that the future will be mostly a replay of the present. 25% of the generation which is most negative in the appraisal of their own lives seem also the most pessimistic regarding the future.
While education has only marginal effect on the assessment of ones own life, it does affect faith in the future. The most pessimistic sectors of the population are also the best educated. While 67% of the population in general believe in a better future, only 59% of those with advanced education shared this view.

Table 9.19 Male camp refugees' assessment of the future by generations
BetterThe sameWorseNo answer
Intifada generation (15-30 years)6442012
67 War generation (31-49 years 5722156
48 War generation (50+ years4723255

The data indicates that this general sense of hope and belief that Palestinians have in the future is independent of the family's wealth or the individual's political or religious convictions. A general sense of encouragement also seems evenly distributed through all regions of the occupied territories. The refugee camps taken as a whole are only distinct in that their residents have a slightly stronger expectation that the status quo will continue (9% for the camps versus 5% in general). The only marked distinctions found relate to the differing attitudes of men and women in the three regions.
Again the disparity in attitudes between men and women in Gaza is notable. In general table 9.20 suggests that the least optimistic portion of the Palestinian population are the men of Gaza and the West Bank, the most optimistic, Gazan women and the rather conflict prone women resident in Arab Jerusalem.

Table 9.20 Assessment of the future by gender and region
BetterThe sameWorseNo answer
Male Gaza6161617
Female Gaza77769
Male West Bank6042016
Female West Bank6831316
Male Arab Jerusalem6471118
Female Arab Jerusalem816410


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