Activist Muna El Kurd emphasized the importance of media and storytelling as a tool to drive positive social change as part of the GOALS showcase event with the Qatar Foundation on Monday. The talk covered various topics; from the use of literature, poetry and film to highlight Palestinian heritage, to the importance of education and storytelling in resisting occupation.
Prominent Palestinian activist Muna El Kurd gained attention as one of the leading voices helping to shed light on the forced eviction of Palestinian homes in her Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem by the Israeli occupation. The Kurd, along with her brother Mohammed hers, popularized the term settler colonialism to describe the situation in Palestine, holding up as corroboration her house, which is half occupied by illegal Israeli settlers.
Speaking to an audience of mostly Arab youth, he expressed his pride to see Palestinian flags everywhere during the World Cup, saying that visible solidarity gives Palestinians the strength to carry on.
“While I watch the matches of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, I see the flag of Palestine everywhere, and this means a lot to us in Palestine, because we are deprived of raising the flag in Jerusalem or the occupied territories, and this can expose ourselves to prison. or martyrdom for the occupation,” he said. “You are our voices abroad and give us the energy to keep going.”
He reiterated the importance of speaking out about Palestine using different media to build the correct narrative around the cause and urged everyone to document their own stories without relying on foreign media.
“Our parents and grandparents fought this fight to talk about Palestine, and we build on that. We were aware of the importance of documentation and that we ourselves must reflect the true image of the events, instead of depending on foreign media”.
Following in the footsteps of legendary writers and artists like Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said to help preserve the essence of Palestine for generations to come, Muna said he aspires to be a filmmaker to allow people to see the world from a Palestinian perspective. He is currently studying film in Amman, Jordan, and hopes to make films that tell the stories of his people. “I hope, through the films he makes in the future, to represent the reality of what is happening in Palestine and the moments we are living in for the world to see,” he added.
Double standards imposed by the media when it comes to Palestine
The Kurd condemned the world’s double standards when it comes to reporting on the resistance and self-defense of a population against the occupation, holding as evidence the narrative surrounding the invasion of Ukraine.
“We need Palestine to be completely free, from the river to the sea. There’s no compromise to be made on that. Diplomatic talks can continue, but what was taken from us by force cannot be recovered by any means other than force.” she reiterated. “The world stands for Ukraine’s forcible resistance against the occupation, but cannot accept the fact that we are doing the same.”
The Palestinian resistance has often been portrayed negatively by the international media, while the Ukrainian resistance has received positive support since its invasion.
“We Palestinians resist the occupation by continuing to live. Every action we take can be counted as resistance,” he added.
“I will return”
“…Despite the ominous promises, the brutality of the conflict and the wrath of the enemy,
I will return;
Despite all the losses, the travel permits and the weapons of the soldiers, I will return;
Despite the different types of maps, the confusion of both the truth and the details of the borders,
I will return;
Despite the tattooed identity, the stained keffiyeh and the usual frisking;
I will return…”
No demonstration or event related to Palestine is complete without verses of resistance, liberation and return. These are some of the lines of an Arabic poem written by El Kurd’s mother that she recited at the event. Pointing out that her mother expressed herself through poetry and shared some poems with the audience during the talk. She underscored the importance of poetry throughout her childhood and how the literary arts preserved the message of Palestine throughout her time.
“Poetry had a profound impact on our education and helped us connect the past with the present,” he said. “We narrate the poetry of Tamim, Ghassan Kanafani and Mahmoud Darwish, and sing Palestinian songs old and new, despite everything we are exposed to. For us, this is a form of message about Palestine that we export to the world.”
The event is linked to the Qatar Foundation’s GOALS exhibition, which aims to showcase and amplify Palestinian voices, culture and heritage in Education City, during the course of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The event was held in Arabic, so the quotes are translated.