Mohammed El-Kurd: Palestine | Lex Fridman Podcast #391 | Summary and Q&A
A conversation with Muhammad alcard, a Palestinian poet and writer, sheds light on the ongoing Israeli occupation and the challenges faced by Palestinians in their fight for justice and freedom.
Questions & Answers
Q: How does Muhammad alcard describe the situation in Sheikh Jarah, East Jerusalem, and the challenges faced by Palestinians living there?
Muhammad alcard describes Sheikh Jarah as a neighborhood threatened by colonialism, settler expansion, and forced expulsion. Palestinians face discrimination in the Israeli judicial system, which favors Israeli settlers and does not consider Palestinian evidence or documents.
Q: What is the significance of the Nakba in the Palestinian experience, and how does Muhammad alcard view it?
The Nakba, meaning catastrophe in Arabic, describes the forced expulsion and dispossessing of Palestinians in 1948. Alcard emphasizes that the Nakba was not an isolated event but a crystallization of the Zionist enterprise in Palestine, which continues to this day with ongoing occupation and oppression.
Q: What are the main obstacles to peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians, according to Muhammad alcard?
Alcard points to the occupation, discriminatory policies, and asymmetry in the legal system as major obstacles to peaceful coexistence. He emphasizes the need for recognition, return, and redistribution of land and rights to achieve justice and peace.
Q: How does Muhammad alcard explain the Palestinian perspective on violence and resistance?
Alcard acknowledges that violence exists as a response to the occupation and as a means of survival for Palestinians. He criticizes the exceptionalism and double standards in the portrayal of Palestinian resistance compared to other struggles for liberation worldwide.
Q: Does Muhammad alcard see a role for non-violent resistance in the Palestinian struggle?
While alcard believes in fighting on all fronts, he points out that non-violent resistance alone has not brought about meaningful change for Palestinians. He highlights the importance of various forms of resistance, including cultural, media, diplomatic, and political efforts, alongside legitimate self-defense.
In this video, Muhammad al-Kurd, a Palestinian poet, writer, and journalist, provides a different perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict. He talks about the ongoing colonization, forced expulsions, and discrimination faced by Palestinians. He also criticizes the Israeli judicial system and highlights the asymmetry of power that exists. Al-Kurd discusses the historical context, including the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, and the continued struggles faced by Palestinians today. He addresses the allegations of anti-Semitism and the comparison between Israel and Hitler, emphasizing the need for a nuanced understanding of the situation. Al-Kurd argues for the recognition of Palestinian voices and their right to resistance against occupation.
Questions & Answers
Q: Can you describe the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem where you grew up?
Sheikh Jarrah is a typical Palestinian neighborhood threatened by colonialism, settler expansion, and forced expulsion. Palestinian families were originally expelled from their homes in the Nakba of 1948. In the 70s, settler organizations claimed Palestinian houses and lands based on Israeli laws and judiciary, leading to legal battles. Palestinians tried to resist, but the Israeli courts, with their asymmetry and bias, favored the settlers. This shows that the issue is not just a legal battle but a political one aimed at removing Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem.
Q: Can you provide more details about the expulsion orders against your family and others in Sheikh Jarrah in 2009?
Expulsion orders have been issued against many families in Sheikh Jarrah between the 70s and 2009. The first wave of expulsions in 2008-2009 included recorded instances of violence and brutality. Settlers with Israeli security forces forcibly removed Palestinian families from their homes, often in the middle of the night, using sound bombs and rubber bullets. These families were left homeless, living in tents or their cars. Over 50 expulsion orders were issued against Al-Kurd's family, and their turn came in 2009 when their furniture was scattered on the street and settlers occupied half of their home. They fought the legal battle for a decade and achieved a small victory when the Israeli Supreme Court canceled all the eviction orders, marking a political rather than a legal battle.
Q: How would you describe the ongoing Nakba since 1948?
The Nakba can be seen as a crystallization of the Zionist enterprise in Palestine, but it did not begin or end in 1948. It involved massacres, destruction of villages, and forced expulsion of Palestinians, resulting in the near-total destruction of Palestinian society. Palestinians have been living under occupation, facing continuous colonization, home demolitions, and displacement, which is still happening today. The ongoing Nakba is a manifestation of the Israeli regime's policies and their desire to remove Palestinians from their land.
Q: Is there religious tension underlying the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians?
It is convenient for some to market the conflict as a religious one, but it oversimplifies the issue. While some Zionist pioneers were secular and atheists, the religious aspect is used to provide an ancient and complicated narrative. The conflict is about people being forced out of their homes and the occupation of Palestinian land, not just a religious struggle between Muslims and Jews. Therefore, focusing on the land and the oppression is more important than religious narratives.
Q: Do you think anti-Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism?
No, they are not the same. The Israeli regime often tries to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, but it is a distorted view. Anti-Zionism opposes the political movement that is linked to colonialism and racism, aiming to remove Palestinians from their homes. It is not about rejecting Judaism or Jews themselves. The Israeli regime uses this as a smear campaign to silence political opposition and advocacy for Palestinian liberation. It is important to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israeli policies from anti-Semitism.
Q: In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, do you believe violence is an effective method of protest and resistance?
Violence alone may not bring about change, but it has historically been a part of resistance movements. Palestinians face a power imbalance, with one side having a sophisticated army and the other having makeshift weapons. While non-violent resistance, as shown by Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, has its power, Palestinians have turned the other cheek for generations without significant progress. It is necessary to fight on all fronts, including cultural, diplomatic, and political spheres, as well as resistance against media censorship, to bring about change.
Q: Has non-violent resistance been effective for the Palestinian people?
Palestinians have turned the other cheek for generations, but it has not been effective in addressing the ongoing injustices they face. Non-violent resistance has its strengths, but it has not been able to overcome the power imbalance and achieve justice for Palestinians. The exceptionalism faced by Palestinians and the narrative framing them as aggressors often dismisses their legitimate grievances and denies them the right to resist occupation and oppression.
Q: What do you make of the claims that you have compared Israel to Hitler and thereby diminished the evil of Hitler?
The exceptionalization of Hitler and the focus on the analogy I made is a distraction from the main issue at hand. I have the right to express my frustration and anger when Palestinians are being systematically oppressed, their homes destroyed, and their lives endangered. Comparing Israel to Hitler was an expression of the profound injustice and suffering endured by Palestinians. It is crucial to remember that Palestinians have been silenced and oppressed for decades, and highlighting this oppression should not be dismissed by nitpicking at analogies.
Q: What are your thoughts on violence against Israelis and how it fits into the conflict?
The definition of terrorism depends on who defines it. Palestinians experiencing violence and oppression by foreign armies have the right to defend themselves, especially when their lives and homes are threatened. It is important to question who has the power to define terrorism and how violence is understood. The unequal power dynamics, racial biases, and exceptionalism contribute to the perception of violence. Palestinians have limited options when it comes to resistance, as peaceful advocacy is often ignored, boycotting is labeled as anti-Semitism, and violence is condemned. It is necessary to challenge these narratives and power structures.
Muhammad al-Kurd provides a different perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict, highlighting the ongoing colonization, forced expulsions, and discrimination faced by Palestinians. He emphasizes the need to recognize the Palestinian experience and resist the exceptionalism and silencing of their voices. Al-Kurd argues that the conflict is not a religious one but a political and colonial one, with Palestinians facing continuous oppression and a power imbalance. He challenges claims of anti-Semitism and highlights the importance of distinguishing legitimate criticism of Israeli policies from hatred towards Jewish people. Al-Kurd believes that violence and non-violent resistance can be effective in different contexts, but Palestinians must fight on all fronts to bring about change. He objects to the exceptionalization of Hitler and the focus on his analogies, arguing that the oppression of Palestinians should not be overshadowed by nitpicking rhetoric. Overall, al-Kurd calls for the recognition of Palestinian humanity and the right to resist occupation and oppression.
Summary & Key Takeaways
Muhammad alcard discusses the challenges faced by Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, including forced expulsions, limited freedom of movement, and the blockade of Gaza.
He highlights the asymmetry in the Israeli judicial system, where Palestinians face discrimination and unfair treatment.
Alcard narrates the history of the Nakba, the displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in 1948, and emphasizes the ongoing struggle for recognition, return, and redistribution of land and rights.