Anyone keeping up to date with the events in Sheikh Jarrah, even if it be a curious click during their daily media social scroll, is very likely to come across a video, interview, commentary, or tweet of the young writer and activist Mohammed El-Kurd. He and his sister, Muna El-Kurd, have become vibrant voices for Sheikh Jarrah. They are truly fearless grassroots forces in the #SaveSheikhJarrah and #freePalestine movements. As young 23 three-year-olds, both brother and sister are in the thick of it; not limiting their action and resistance to screens, but physically confronting Jewish settlers and Israeli forces in their home and neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah. Despite recent detainment and constant threats of violence and defamation to their property and bodies, they continue to participate in Instagram live sessions, attend interviews, while unceasingly engaging their massive followings across Twitter and Instagram with first-hand information and from the ground. They advocate for an alternative narrative– the current displacement is a continuation of systematic ethnic cleansing strengthened by myopic historical narratives and continued approval of political policies that disregard international law.
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Sister and brother Muna & Mohammed El-Kurd
Mohammed’s impact demonstrates the advantage social media provides for activists and artists alike. Not shunning mainstream media the writer and activist, aware of the conglomerates failure to report, repeatedly accepts spots on major media outlets where he unleashes his eloquence and unabashed commentary on the Palestinian displacement in Jerusalem and colonialism in Palestine. Mohammed leverages his pithy and impeccable English as a tool to inform and expose Israeli terrorism, never allowing a moment to go by without reiterating the real situation. He has expressed before that the narrative of the Palestinian people has been hijacked, shut down, and manipulated by the English-language press; and it goes to show that he is not satisfied with just being disgruntled about that fact– he acts and organizes.
Visual evidence of the Israeli occupation’s constant & spiteful violations of Palestinias is abundant. This isn’t about ignorance, it’s about inaction. It’s time to end the settler-state’s impunity, to hold it to basic international standards. We’re not asking for the moon here.
— Mohammed El-Kurd (@m7mdkurd) June 10, 2021
The removal from their home, arrests by Israeli police, harassment by the military, and Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah are not new to him or his family. The recent events are not isolated cases, but rather the most current examples of the long story of colonial and systematic racism deployed onto the Palestinian people. He expresses the historical and political infrastructure of the methodical ethnic cleansing Israel continues to carry out, with international backing, in an op-ed for the Egyptian based media organization Mada called “If they steal Sheikh Jarrah”. It is a potent entry point for readers into the knowledge base and activism that demonstrate adeptness way beyond El-Kurd’s years. And he is a wealth of information, both political and historical in nature- but everything he is involved with is delivered with his potent poetics.
Mohammed El-Kurd is a constant encouragement for people to get informed and act now. His linktree demonstrates this and his selflessness as well. It offers links to a petition for #SaveSheikJarrah, the #SaveSheikJarrah demands, the letter presented by families to the International Criminal Court calling for an investigation of the displacement and ransacking that is occurring in Sheikh Jarrah as we speak, and lastly to petition the US Congress. Mohammed’s relentless activism and poetic existence bolster each other, which results in the influence he holds today. The young writer, activist, and visual artist is a must follow and a key voice for Palestine. He weaves creativity into protest and advocacy with fierceness and beauty; not only for himself, but also for his people, and ultimately for Palestine. He seems to put no energy into negotiating with boundaries placed on art by also working as a visual artist and with printmaking. This shows how he integrates his work and activism as they each mirror his refusal to accept colonialism and the draconian measures reinforced by Israel. Most recently he has been the co-designer of a fashion collection with Serbian designer Tina Gancev, which evinces the last few lines from the following excerpt from his poem “The Biggest Punchline of All Time”
“I assign imagination to memory
molotovs in Fendi bags
pamphlets in python shoes
silk scarves masquerading ramage
a grandson fascinated by both rebellions: fashion and liberty”
Read the entire poem at the end of El-Kurd’s article about his grandmother over at The Nation.
Until we can see the fruition of El-Kurd’s co-designed fashion collection, he leaves plenty to follow on social media with current updates on the Israel-Palestine conflict, historical resources and references, and new avenues of support for his people. As his full-length collection of poems, RIFQA is on the horizon, be sure to pre-order a copy of the book. Its title reveres the matriarch of Palestine Resistance– Mohammed and Muna’s grandmother– and is sure to keep us expectant for Mohammed El-Kurd’s next assignment of “imagination to memory.”
Written by Paul Holzman.