Activist Muna El Kurd emphasized the importance of media and storytelling as a tool to spur positive social change as part of the GOALS exhibition event with Qatar Foundation on Monday. The talk spanned various topics; from using literature, poetry and film to highlight the Palestinian heritage, to the importance of education and storytelling in resisting occupation.
Prominent Palestinian activist Muna El Kurd gained attention as one of the main voices that helped shed light on the forceful expulsion of Palestinian homes in her neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, by the Israeli Occupation. El Kurd, along with her brother Mohammed, popularized the term settler colonialism to describe the situation in Palestine, holding her house as corroboration, which is half occupied by illegal Israeli settlers.
While speaking to an audience of mostly Arab youth, she expressed her pride in seeing Palestinian flags everywhere during the World Cup, saying that the visible solidarity gives Palestinians the strength to continue.
“While watching FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 matches, 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 may expose us to imprisonment or martyrdom by the occupation,” she said. “You are our voices abroad, and you give us the energy to keep going.”
She reiterated the cruciality of talking about Palestine using different media to build the right narrative around the cause and urged everyone to document their own stories without relying on foreign media.
“Our fathers and grandfathers fought this struggle to talk about Palestine, and we built on that. We were aware of the importance of documentation and that we ourselves must reflect the true picture of events, rather than relying on foreign media.”
Following the footsteps of legendary literary and artists like Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said in helping preserve the essence of Palestine for generations to come, Muna said that she aspires to be a filmmaker to allow people to see the world from a Palestinian lens. She is currently studying filmmaking in Amman, Jordan, and hopes to make films that tell the stories of her people. “I hope, through the films that I shoot in the future, to depict the reality of what is happening in Palestine and the moments we live in for the world to see.”, she added
Double standards imposed by media when it comes to Palestine
El Kurd condemned the double standards of the world when it comes to reporting resistance and self-defense of a population against occupation, holding the narrative around Ukraine’s invasion as evidence.
“We need Palestine to be free completely, from the river to the sea. There is no compromise to be made on that. Diplomatic talks can go on, but what was taken from us by force cannot be taken back through any other means but force.” she reiterated. “The world defends Ukraine’s resistance by force against the occupation, but cannot accept the fact that we are doing the same.”
Palestinian resistance has often been painted negatively by international media, while Ukrainian resistance has been positively supported ever since its invasion.
“We, Palestinians, resist the occupation by continuing to live. Every action we do can be counted as resistance”, she added.
“I Will Return”
“…Despite ominous promises, brutality of the conflict and the wrath of the enemy,
I will return;
Despite all the losses, the travel permits, and the guns of the soldiers, I will return;
Despite the different types of maps, the blurring of both the truth and the details of the borders,
I will return;
Despite the tattered identity, the spotted keffiyeh and the customary frisking;
I will return…”
No demonstrations or events relating to Palestine are complete without verses of resistance, liberation and return. These are some of the verses of an Arabic poem penned by El Kurd’s mother which she recited at the event. Noting that her mother expressed herself through poetry, and she shared a few poems with the audience during the talk. She underlined the significance of poetry throughout her childhood and how literary arts preserved the message of Palestine throughout its times.
“Poetry had a profound impact on our upbringing and helped us to connect the past with the present,” she said. “We narrate the poetry of Tamim, Ghassan Kanafani, and Mahmoud Darwish, and we sing old and modern Palestinian songs, despite everything that 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 Qatar Foundation’s GOALS exhibition which aims to showcase and amplify Palestinian voices, culture and heritage in Education City, during the course of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
The event was held in Arabic, thus quotes are translated.