Mohammad al-Kurd grew up in one of the world’s most contested cities.
Mohammad felt deep anger towards all Israelis at first, but his views began to change as he was exposed to Israelis from a variety of backgrounds who came to the neighbourhood to support the Palestinian residents in their struggle to save their homes.
Al Jazeera followed Mohammad’s coming of age over two years of profound upheaval and huge change in Sheikh Jarrah.
Six years on, REWIND speaks to Mohammad, now a student in Atlanta, Georgia about his plans for the future.
In Palestine, whenever I tell people I want to become a writer, they laugh at me because what bread is that going to buy? What money is that going to get me? Who is going to take a writer seriously in Palestine?
“I want to be able to do my masters and hopefully my PhD, but my ultimate goal would be to do something very big for Palestinian education,” he says.
While he still dreams of becoming a writer, Mohammad acknowledges that, as a Palestinian, this might be an unreachable goal for him.
“In Palestine, whenever I tell people I want to become a writer, they laugh at me because what bread is that going to buy? What money is that going to get me? Who is going to take a writer seriously in Palestine?
“If you really want to make a living in Palestine, you’re going to be humiliated, building settlements for Israelis because, in Palestine, janitors who work in Israeli spaces make more than Palestinian teachers,” he says.
But Mohammad sees a use for his writing in recording the rapidly-fading memories of his grandmother, Rifka al-Kurd, who led her family’s defiant response to the eviction.
“My grandmother has been getting very sick, and she has been losing her memory, but as a writer, I’m trying my best to record and document what she knows of her past,” he says.
“It’s very rich, and it’s the story of the Nakba, it’s the story of the ethnic cleansing that most people either want to deny or do not even know about.”
REWIND also caught up with Julia Bacha, who made the film, to discuss how Palestinians are continuing to protest the occupation.
While Bacha says the decision by US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is unlikely to change things on the ground for Palestinian evictees, the announcement brought clarity to the US role as a mediator between Israelis and Palestinians.
“That pronouncement makes it clear that the United States is not in a neutral position to really be able to help Palestinians and Israelis reach peace through negotiations,” she says.
“How Palestinians respond to what’s happening on the ground right now is a question that activists are grappling with. There are a lot of conversations happening, particularly this year, which marks the 30th anniversary of the first Intifada, around what lessons they can learn from that uprising.
How Palestinians respond to what’s happening on the ground right now is a question that activists are grappling with.
“It was one of the most successful movements to raise the question of Palestinian independence to the international level and got very close to finding a solution through the Madrid and Washington negotiations,” says Bacha.
Bacha works with Just Vision, an NGO which highlights examples of Palestinians and Israelis who are using non-violent strategies to end the occupation.
“We believe that regular media coverage of the conflict, through its focus on violence ends up nurturing an environment where violence is seen as the most valuable method for Palestinians to get their cause seen on the international stage.”
Editor’s note: The interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Source: Al Jazeera