Muna El Kurd’s convocation speech reflects stance of Palestinian youth that they “are here to stay”

23 year old Muna El Kurd has been at the forefront of the protests against Israel’s forceful expulsion of Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Photo: Mutaz Kawasmi

23 year old Muna El Kurd has been at the forefront of the protests against Israel’s forceful expulsion of Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Recently, in her graduation speech from Birzeit University, she stresses how education is a far-reaching “weapon” towards ending the “Nakba that hasn’t ended since 1948.”

She explains why she chose Media as her choice of specialisation, and encourages people to continue to resist by speaking up against injustice and oppression. Her views reflect that of the Palestinian youth, who persist despite the aggressions they face. 

She begins her speech by greeting everyone, including the “university of martyrs” and the “brave detainees”, a good morning. She also wishes the same to her family, who hopes that the ceremony gets over quickly and can rush back home “before they find the settlers cooking “Maqlooba” (a traditional dish) in the middle of their home.” This attempt at dark humor posit the plight of the Palestinian people in neighbourhoods like Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Lifta, and Beita etc. who are currently facing brutal expulsions from their homes by the Israeli occupation.

She proceeds to list some of the many injustices the occupation continues to commit against the Palestinians including home displacements, home demolitions, ethnic cleansing, arrests and expulsions. 

She points out that their words matter, and holds the changing narrative about the Palestinian cause as evidence. “We discovered the importance of our words, and the extent to which our loud voice can move the world, and we felt, for the first time in many years our true national unity, embodied in confronting the policies of (aimed at) uprooting us from the river to the sea”, she said. “So take a piece of advice from your little sister, Do not remain silent about the injustice, the oppression, the suppression of freedom, and political arrests, and always document these attacks and share them.” 

The Palestinian cause has been gaining attention like never before, with rapidly changing narrative about what’s happening, and world leaders starting to condemn the genocidal apartheid occupation Israel has been running for a long time. Muna underlines the significance of documenting and sharing these crimes for the world to see, which is what she’s been doing along with her brother, ever since the eviction notices have been issued in their Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood by the Israeli occupation. Muna and her brother quickly gained worldwide attention, especially after Muna’s viral interaction with Justin (Alias Yakov) Fauci. Justin Fauci is an Israeli settler from New York, United States, who settled in a part of Muna’s home, after they were forcefully evicted back in 2009. When Muna asked Justin Fauci why he was stealing their house, he conceded with the reply “If I don’t steal it, somebody else will!”. Fauci’s staunch admission caused uproar in the international community because it blatantly reflects the stance of Israeli illegal settlers.

Photo courtesy to Reuters.

Muna and her twin brother Mohammed El Kurd continue to be an inspiration for Palestinian youth. “They inspire me to share our stories with the world, and prove that social media can help bring attention to the injustices against our community”, says Assad, a youth from the West Bank, to Maktoob.

In her speech, Muna El Kurd said she chose media as her field of specialisation so she can shed light on the events in her home, neighbourhood and country, and urged others to resist in their own areas of specialisation. “These certificates are not just a piece of paper, it’s a weapon with which we defend our house, our land, our trees and ourselves.” she firmly declared.

She concluded her convocation with a banging statement, “It is time for the Nakba to end. And the occupation will come to an end. However long it may take.” This affirmation attests to resistance until they receive liberation in their own land.

An example of how the palestinian resistance led to a fruitful result in Jabal Sbeih in the town of Beita (Occupied Northern Westbank). In response to the crackdown on peaceful protests by the occupation with tear gas, grenades and rubber bullets, and provocation activities by Israeli settlers, Palestinian youth protestors marched in Beita every night since May, with loudspeakers, laser lights, burning tires, and Palestinian flags, while chanting slogans of freedom, in an act of what they call “Night Confusion Tactic.” On the 3rd of July, Israeli settlers evacuated and left the illegal settlement outpost of Evayatar in Beita.

Resistance is embedded in every moment of a Palestinian’s life.

“Even living as a Palestinian is resistance in itself. The people, especially the youth, resist in whatever ways possible, like Muna El Kurd, she documents the occupation’s crimes in her neighbourhood and town. The resistance gives us hope for the future. Our message is loud and clear: we are here to stay,” Assad said to Maktoob.