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Ambassador Uri Savir Headshot

'The Millennials'

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All my grown up life I have dealt in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, today, I have totally given up on the political leaderships in Israel and the Arab countries, to provide the region with the necessary and possible peace. I have worked with the elders of the Peace process, men such as Rabin and Peres, who had the courage to make decisions. Today, all my hopes and activities are invested in a new young generation, in Israel and the Arab world; inspired by scientific and technological revolutions that have taken root in America.

As a result of the information and technology revolutions, the most important gap between peoples mindset today is not between East and West, North and South, rich and poor, but is a generational divide. There is, in today's world, a young generation that is more informed, educated, and interconnected than ever before in history. This generation, born into the Internet age, is bringing in its wings, a wind of change, the world over. In general terms, it is a change toward greater openness of society, democratization, social awareness, and peace, led by the global army of the Internet.

In America, this generation is defined as the Y Generation or the Millennials; people born after 1983 who passed into adulthood at the change of the millennia (people of the age of 20-30 years old). This generation came after the X Generation (30-45 years old); people who were born after the Western post-WWII baby boomers (45-60 years old).

The American Millennials are definitely the people of the Internet. Seventy-five percent of Americans between the ages of 20-30 years old have created profiles on social networking sites as compared to 50 percent of Generation X.

This generation is the most educated in history. Half of the American between 18-24 are enrolled in academic colleges. It is also the most heterogeneous and multicultural. The dominance of the American WASPS (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) is over. Forty percent of Americans between 20-30 years old are not white and half of them are Latinos.

This background of education, international connectivity, and multiculturalism forms a relatively liberal generation. According to extensive public opinion polls, such as a 2010 Pew Poll (the Millennials identify themselves in majority as liberals). They are less supportive than the X Generation of assertive national security, and more supportive of a national domestic social agenda. Only 2 percent of the Millennials are military veterans.

There are of course many opposing characteristics in this generation, but the general trend is a very reformatory one that will have important consequences for America's social fabric, its values and policies.

The world, regardless of attitudes to America, is following this trend, as the young in almost all countries are affected by the same changes in communication, education and multiculturalism. The world's Millennials -- be it in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, most of Asia, and even Africa, aim to reap the fruits of globalization. In this they sense a greater empowerment through the connection on social networks. They are creating new alliances in their own communities and the world over. They can express their views to their political leaders without waiting for Election Day. They are mobilizing for social struggle and change of leadership by peaceful means -- from Occupy Wall Street to Tahrir Square. Social networking has become the new great democratizer; everybody is equal on Facebook and Twitter. Differences of nationality, color, race, religion, gender, sexual identity are irrelevant. Neither Barack Obama nor a coal miner in Chile can exceed 140 characters on Twitter; nor can a multi-billionaire.That empowerment and democratization will lead to profound changes, not only in America, but also in many parts of the world, for those who will choose to be part of globalization.

This generation worldwide is more caring of social causes than of national ambitions. Civil rights and equality, especially among the young, are important to the Millennials. They are more engaged in civil society activities for the needy in their cities, countries, and the world. Many volunteer at home, with the disabled, or minorities, or in Africa in child and orphan centers, bringing awareness in combating Malaria and AIDS.

War seems futile to most young, as it achieves nothing for their lives. A victory in war can only lead to mutual destruction and cannot lead to education, employment, or the attainment of basic freedoms. The American Peace Corps is today more important to many young Americans than the Marines. Through it, they can contribute and learn. The same is true for many other young who volunteer in many international NGOs.

It's a generation that favors peace, not out of a John Lennon peace ideology, but out of pragmatism in order to imagine and acquire, education, employment, and basic rights, in a globalized world.

The Middle East has its own Millennials. In the Arab world, and in Israel, they are half of the population. While many cling to religion and tradition, they also want to belong to globalization. Education, employment, and basic freedoms are the main aims of these generations. And with this comes a growing understanding that these are unattainable without peaceful coexistence.

And a word to the X Generation and the baby boomers who look at the Millennials often with paternalism and skepticism -- give them a chance, and let them lead.