Twins Muna and Mohamed Al-Kurd began documenting settlers’ attempts to seize homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood since they were twelve years old. By the age of 23, the Palestinian twins became a global symbol for the neighborhood, whose people face violations at the hands of the Israeli occupation.
Muna Al-Kurd, who has become an icon of Sheikh Jarrah, says: “We opened our eyes to the world seeing the presence of settlers in the neighborhood and settlement associations trying to seize the homes of Palestinians in it, and this became our main cause throughout our lives.”
Before the spread of social media, the twins were talking to journalists and foreign groups that came from abroad to show solidarity with the people of the neighborhood. Al-Kurd explains: “We have been defending the cause since we were children, and today we are young women and men, and we are still talking about Sheikh Jarrah, and we will never get bored of it.”
With the launch of the “Save Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood” campaign last March, Muna, who says she is now followed by more than one and a half million people, on social networks says “It is a great burden, and perhaps I was put in this place against my will. Since I was a child, I have taken the cause of Sheikh Jarrah and say that the settlers took half of my house and took over the homes of our neighbors.” She pointed out that after the cause of Sheikh Jarrah gained an international humanitarian dimension, “all the residents of the neighborhood are uniting, and we are helping each other.”
She says, “The idea of the Save Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood campaign came spontaneously, after we, as residents of the neighborhood, knocked on all governmental, human rights and international community doors, and did not receive any positive response. We, as youths, thought to use a social media campaign so that people know what is happening in this Jerusalem neighborhood.”
She explains that the main goal of the campaign “is for people to know that there are 500 people who can be evicted from their homes to the streets any minute.”
She added, “I believe in the popular movement on the ground, and that this movement, whether on the ground or through social networks, can put pressure on the world and politically on the governments that in turn put pressure on Israel. But I realize at the same time that this Israeli entity will not be just with me, as it is an entity based on apartheid.”
As a result of their efforts, The Times magazine chose Palestinian activist Muna Al-Kurd and her brother Mohamed Al-Kurd among the 100 most influential figures in the world. The Times said that through social media, the twins opened a window to the world to witness how people live under occupation in East Jerusalem, helping to bring about an international shift in the discourse regarding Israel and Palestine.
For more than a decade, Al-Kurd family has been fighting with dozens of their neighbors in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood against the forced eviction of their homes by Israeli settlers.
Mohamed and Muna Al-Kurd, who were temporarily detained by the Israeli authorities this summer, challenged current narratives about Palestinian resistance through the publications and interviews, humanizing the experiences of their neighbors and responding to suggestions that violence was predominantly by Palestinians.
The Times considered that “the two brothers are charismatic and brave, and have become the most famous voice for those threatened with losing their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. They helped inspire the Palestinian diaspora to restart protests,” noting that “in the United States, Israel’s long-standing ally, opinion polls show growing support for the Palestinians.