Palestinian Activist Calls for Justice in Forum by QF’s Doha Debates
Palestinians must be forthright in calling out Israeli “ethnic cleansing” in the East Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the midst of its Israeli expropriation, a Palestinian activist told a Doha Debates Solutions Cinema forum that examined the fallout of colonialism around the world.
Palestinian author Mohammed El-Kurd’s family is among the Sheikh Jarrah residents facing the prospect of their homes, where they have lived for decades, being seized by Israeli authorities and given to Israeli settlers.
The El-Kurd family story was chronicled in “My Neighbourhood,” one of the documentary shorts in a special edition of the Solutions Cinema series, presented by Doha Debates – a production of Qatar Foundation – and the U.S.-based Points North Institute.
The forum was the culmination of “Solutions Cinema: Decolonize Now,” a series showcasing films, storytellers, and activists on the front lines of struggles in Mexico, Palestine, and Myanmar.
This edition of Solutions Cinema addressed how a deeper understanding of history can lead to new forms of power and resistance, particularly for the cultures and communities that have been most impacted by colonization.
The featured films included the Mexico-focused documentary “499” by Rodrigo Reyes and a trio of shorts: “Lupita” by Monica Wise Robles, “Exodus” by Taimoor Sobhan, and “My Neighbourhood” by Julia Bacha and Rebekah Wingert-Jabi.
Forum participants included the filmmakers of “499” and “My Neighbourhood,” as well as Nickey Diamond, the Myanmar rights specialist at Fortify Rights, Doha Debates’ partner in supporting three young Rohingya photographers who live in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh. Their stories are told in the film “Exodus,” which tells the story of Rohingya refugees as seen through the eyes of the refugee photographers—a saga in some ways reminiscent of the plight of Palestinians forced to flee their homeland.
After being featured in the 2012 “My Neighbourhood” documentary when he was just 11 years old, El-Kurd became a globally renowned Palestinian advocate, writer, and poet who uses social media to plead for justice for Palestinians.
During the Solutions Cinema forum, El-Kurd explained why he is outspoken about Sheikh Jarrah’s harsh realities. “It was really important for me not to mince my words. It was important for me to be articulate about what's going on, because fabricating nuance about events on the ground that are very simple only gaslights your audience, only makes it hard for your audience to understand what's going on on the ground.”
He said that the Black Lives Matter movement inspired him to be all the more blunt in calling out injustice. “I don’t do it in hopes of changing my oppressors’ mind. I do it in hopes [that] the oppressed unite.”
He also called on people everywhere to support Palestinian rights and underscored the importance of “fighting fascism and fighting oppression in your country regardless of how it affects Palestinian people.”
More information about Doha Debates’ Solutions Cinema summit can be found at SolutionsCinema.com.
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