“If the judge is your enemy, to whom do you complain?!”.. Mohammad El-Kurd’s full speech at the UN

New York (QNN)- Palestinian writer and Sheikh Jarrah activist and resident, Mohammad El-Kurd, delivered a scathing speech at the UN on Monday on the UN’s Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Mohammed and his twin sister, Muna, were both named among the most 100 influential people as part of TIME magazine’s annual list in September.

“Through online posts and media appearances, sibling activists Mohammed and Muna El-Kurd provided the world with a window into living under occupation in East Jerusalem this spring—helping to prompt an international shift in rhetoric in regard to Israel and Palestine,” the magazine wrote.

“Charismatic and bold, they became the most recognisable voices of those threatened with losing their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.”

Yesterday, Israel protested the UN’s observance of the partition and holding the Palestinian solidarity event. Israel’s UN envoy, Gilad Erdan, labelled the event aimed at highlighting the Palestinian right of return as “outrageous”.

Mohammad El-Kurd’s speech reads as follows:

Hello international community! Thank you for these groundbreaking speeches. I’m sure the occupation authorities are really concerned right now!

My name is Mohammad El-Kurd and I’m here to deliver a speech.

When I was 11, I came home from school and saw my furniture scattered across the street in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem, occupied Palestine. The street overflowed with soldiers, police, and settlers. My neighbours were screaming and protesting, some of them hospitalized. Settlers had invaded our home and taken over half of it. They said: It was theirs by divine decree. as if God is a real state agent!

Now, more than a decade later, they’re coming to finish what they started. Billionaire-backed settler organizations, protected by the Israeli occupation forces will likely throw out my family from our home forever. Not only my family but hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians in my neighborhood and other communities like Silwan, Al Issawiyyeh, Masafer Yatta in the south Hebron hills and elsewhere.

This fate of dispossession looms over much of my neighborhood. Our lives are consumed by the anxiety of living on the brink of homelessness.

The UN has called this a war crime but, more importantly, I know that this is theft.

My community, like all Palestinian communities, is no stranger to dispossession. My grandmother was expelled from her home in Haifa in 1948 when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced in the Nakba.

She found refuge in the 50s after the United Nations, you’ll, and Jordan built a housing project in Sheikh Jarrah, promising that the 28 refugee families would receive legal title to their properties.

Then the 1967 war happened. After Israeli forces illegally annexed Jerusalem several settler organizations, some of which headquartered in the United States, have relentlessly to take over the neighborhood.

We obviously tried to fight this expulsion in court, but as my grandmother used to say: If the judge is your enemy, to whom do you complain?!

Israeli land-grabbing has been rubber-coated with legislation, making it almost impossible to challenge.

Even so, the battle over Sheikh Jarrah is not legal in its essence, it is political. It is part of the larger systematic effort to Israelise the entirety of Jerusalem, my native city. My family and my neighbours understand this, we know first hand that the Israeli judicial system is created by and for those who benefit endlessly from the Israeli settler-colonial regime.

As I speak to you, our family lawyer is trying to convince a settler judge to rule against settlements. The word apartheid comes to mind, but saying there is an asymmetry in justice in the Israeli judicial system is an understatement. What we have on our hands is a colonialist ideologically driven system built by and for colonizers, working exactly as it was intended to.

These unjust laws are not preferential. Serving the demographic and political goals of the zionist project. They are concealed behind a cloak of quasi-democratic seemingly disputable legislation.

This summer we took our struggle to the streets our efforts to resist this takeover were joined by Palestinians across Jerusalem and the world and what became known as the unity uprising. The situation rapidly escalated into attacks on besieged Gaza.

Palestinians mobilized and resisted, and around the world people demonstrated in support of the Palestinian right to liberation and decolonization. But months later, the world’s attention has moved away.

The reality for Palestinians however has not changed. Our neighbourhood was put under a blockade for three months maintained by Israeli forces with continuing restrictions intended to suffocate the lives of the hundreds of Palestinians who lived there, and yet meanwhile armed Jewish settlers who have already occupied some of our homes roam freely on the streets no questions asked.

On any given night, a dozen gun-wielding fanatics patrol my street with arrogant impunity. They are protected, even supported by the troops blockading our community.

I have to take a minute to acknowledge the millions under the siege in the Gaza strip. The millions living in an open-air prison. I have to acknowledge the thousands of Palestinian prisoners subjugated in Israeli prisons. I have to acknowledge my neighbour Murad Atiyyeh, an elementary school teacher, who was robbed from his family and put into prison, slapped with trumped up and fabricated charges only because he dared to say no to ethnic cleansing.

I have to ask: what is it that I can say today that has not been said before? how many Palestinians have stood on this platform for decades and decried the same broken promises and unfulfilled UN resolutions? How many of us have tried to articulate the atrocities that everyone in this body knows very well and still ignores?

At a certain point in every Palestinian’s life, we realize that the Nakba is far from over. It continues every time the Israeli occupation revokes Jerusalem residencies. It blares in street signs stripped of Arabic. It punctures us in constant campaigns of dehumanization. If you’re not thrown out of your home, it’s demolished. If you’re not imprisoned, you’re shot in the street. If you’re not shot in the street, there’s a drone in your sky in the Gaza strip. If it’s not a bomb, it’s exile.

I’m tired of reporting on the same brutality every day. Of thinking of new ways to describe the obvious. The situation in my neighborhood, the Sheikh Jarrah, is not hard to understand. It is a perfect microcosm of settler colonialism.

The reality that Palestinians across 70 years of zionist rule have experienced. This vocabulary is not theoretical. It is evident in the attempts to throw us out of our homes so that settlers can occupy them with the backing of the regime whose forces and policies provide violent support for the transfer of one population to install another.

I do not care whom this terminology offends. colonial is the correct way of referring to a state whose forces collude in the violence of settlers. Whose government works with settler organizations. Whose judicial system uses expansionist laws to claim our homes. Whose nation-state law enshrines “Jewish settlements” as a national value to encourage and promote.

The appetite for Palestinian lands without Palestinians has not abated for even seven decades. I know this because I live it. I have no faith in the Israeli judicial system. It is part of the settler-colonial state built by settlers, for settlers. Nor do I expect any of the international governments, who have been deeply complicit in the Israeli colonial enterprise to intervene on our behalf.

But I do have faith in people around the world, in your citizens, who protest and pressure governments to end what is essentially unconditional support for Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing.

Impunity and war crimes will not be stopped by statements of condemnation and raised eyebrows. It will not be stopped by tweets of concerns. We have repeatedly articulated what kind of transformative political measures must be taken. Boycotts and state-level sanction.

The problem, again, is not ignorance. It is in action. The United States has vetoed more than 53 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. In fact more than the half of the vetoes that the US. casted were in favor of Israel. How long must we offer the Israeli occupation impunity?

Negotiations are not going to bring about peace, ending impunity will. When we reflect on history’s most horrible, most inhumane, atrocities today, we think of them with so much moral clarity. So much moral clarity that we tend to forget when these atrocities were happening they were perfectly legal. Not only perfectly legal but at the time that they were happening, they were all once controversial, contested, “too complex”. People talked with neutral language like we do today. We all think that had it been us there back then at that point of time, we would have been on the right side of history. We have the opportunity today to be on the right side of history. I’m asking all of you to be brave.

The question of Palestine cannot be resolved without a freed Palestine. I know that the occupation will end. Like all injustices, it will end. It must! all empires fall. The Palestinian cause will erupt victorious, I know this. I know that people will look back at the reality we live through today with so much moral clarity. One day there will be museums honoring us, memorials in our remembrance, and statues built in our names. People will stand atop our lands and acknowledge the suffering that happened in them. I just hope that such recognition, such recourse, such reparations happen while the Palestinian people are still here. we deserve justice and liberation within our lifetime. We deserve our land back.

Thank you very much!

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