“Do you support the violent dispossession of me and my family?”
This was a question posed by Palestian artist and writer, Mohammed El-Kurd, while being interviewed on CNN about his stance on the ongoing violence and brutality of the Israeli State. This question was a response to a common question posed to Palestinian’s who resist the occupation in any way possible, even when this resistance is non-violent.
Do you not condemn the violence of Hamas?
The above question is disingenuous and places blame on the shoulders of the occupied. Consistently we see Palestians asked to show constraint in the face of state sanctioned violence, we ask Palestians to show constraint when their very existence is constantly brought into question and debated, we ask Palestians for the impossible: to give up their homeland, accept the erasure of their history and their dignity while also being expected to sympathise with a group of people who are directly responsible for their dispossession.
The existence of Israel relies on the constant brutality and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinan people. Well known author, academic and Black Revolutionist Angela Davis described the occupation of Palestine as “the worst possible example of a carceral society.” What we see is an asymmetrical power imbalance: one side is aided, protected and propped up by the world’s most powerful nations, (US, UK and Australia) and armed with one of the most advanced military technologies in the world. The other side is stuck in a densely populated open air prison, armed with rocks, access to limited medicines and an overwhelmed health care system. In fact a recent UN report released in 2021 states that Gaza would be unlivable by the year 2020 if urgent action is not taken.
In times like these, it is easy to feel bleak and hopeless. But when I scroll through social media and see the fire blaring within the hearts of young Palestinain activists, I am reminded of hope, strength and the unbreakable Palestinian spirirt. The resilience of the Palestinian in Palestine, their towering bravery, ignites a fire within other colonised people everywhere they reside.
So what can we do? Let’s start with doing something simple: centering Palestinian voices.
Today I (Khadro) will speak to a Kiwi-Palestinian, Wajd, and center her experiences and her unique voice in the ongoing land-theft and brutality inflicted on her people. This kōrero is to help spread awareness and centre Palestian-Kiwi voices which are often left unheard and spoken over.
Salam Wajd, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me. I know it must be exhausting watching and refreshing the news, only to constantly be bombarded with Israeli propaganda. How are you feeling at this present time?
Assalamualaikum. I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’m feeling, and long story short I’m honestly just exhausted. I’m overwhelmed and it feels like a constant roller coaster. Every time we’re over the drop there’s something else waiting to upset us just around the corner.
I’m sorry to hear that, I can’t imagine how exhausting it must be. In order for people to remain educated on the topic of Palestine, what are some reliable sources that you suggest people read/watch? I can only imagine how frustrating mainstream media outlets can be when they present information on Palestine in an extremely biased manner.
There’s so much misinformation, right? It’s quite shocking that we still live in a society where fake news is still a thing that dominates headlines. I’m a big fan of Al Jazeera for any news, and Jewish Voice for Peace as well. They’re a non-profit organisation amplifying Jewish voices. They’re great for giving them a platform to speak out about their experiences with Zionism, as a lot of misinformation regarding Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism coexisting has been making its way through the news lately. I always try emphasise to people entering the discussion that this isn’t necessarily a conflict. There is a side that has been oppressed for many years, and a side which hides between tactics of Islamophobia and Anti-arab hate to spread propaganda. There are definitely both sides of the story, but the most important thing to remember is that you need to be ready to argue what you believe if you’re going up against a Zionist as you might find they’re well rehearsed in debating.
What are some of the common misconceptions that people have about the violence perpetrated by the Israeli state?
The most common misconception I constantly hear and have heard over the longest period, is that Hamas is the issue here. Let me be perfectly clear on where I stand on this statement: Hamas is a result of an illegal occupation. For me, it’s completely black and white why Hamas exists. I personally do not agree with some of the actions Hamas have taken, but I’d be interested to see an alternate world where they didn’t exist, where would Palestine be now? I’m almost certain Palestinians and Israelis wouldn’t be coexisting in a peaceful state, so I’m unsure of what people try to argue when they state that Palestine is guilty for a small group’s actions which were completely justified when the occupation began.
Despite how much senseless violence that we’re seeing on the news, I personally believe that it’s also important to highlight how rich, diverse and beautiful Palestine and Palestinain history is. Do you have any Palestinan historian/writers/artists that you want to share with us? And how have they continued to inspire you and/or others?
I wholeheartedly agree. Palestine is a country which is enriched with beautiful culture and tradition. I am a really big fan of Rafeef Ziadeh, a phenomenal Palestinian poet whose poem I read out at a rally earlier this year. I also really like Mahmoud Darwish. His poetry is very contemporary and quite beautiful. I live in Aro Valley and there’s a big mural outside of the Mini Mart with his poetry on it, and it feels like a little slice of home.
I’ll have to go on a walk through Aro Valley and check out this mural! Thank you so much for doing this interview with me Wajd, it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you.
Thank you for giving me a chance to share my thoughts on the topic. It’s always great to kōrero!
For further reading on Palestine and Palestinian history, feel free to browse this google doc I created, filled with resources that are currently available to the public for free.
Mohamed El-Kurd interview (originally taken down): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eIIFGVIJAo
Khadro Mohamed is a recent graduate from Victoria University of Wellington, having studied a 4 year biomedical science degree. Her passion for social justice and giving a voice to those who feel they don’t have one has always been a huge passion of hers. She is also very active in the Wellington community and loves helping improve the lives of those around her. Although she currently works in IT and support, she has dreams to publish and write pieces that directly relate to her experiences for a wider audience of people across NZ.