During its ongoing invasion of Gaza, Israel has so far killed over 13,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, and forcibly displaced 1.7 million of the region’s 2.3 million Palestinian residents. Almost 1,300 Israelis were also killed by Hamas and other militant, Islamist groups during the 7 October attack on southern Israel which sparked the invasion, while the crisis has also led to geopolitical ramifications throughout the Middle East and across the globe.
📢 #PODCAST | Tune in to this podcast with Matt Broomfield and Nilüfer Koç as they look at the worsening regional crisis in the #MiddleEast, the #Kurdish movement's history of solidarity with the #Palestinian people, and more:
🎙️ @MattBroomfield1 & Nilüfer Koç
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) November 24, 2023
Nilüfer Koç is an expert on the Middle East and spokeswoman for the Foreign Policy Committee of the Kurdistan National Congress. She spoke to Matt Broomfield to share her perspective on the worsening regional crisis in the Middle East, the Kurdish movement’s history of solidarity with the Palestinian people as two stateless peoples, and the relevance of her movement’s political programme.
How have the Palestinian struggle and example of the Israeli state influenced the Kurdish movement’s approach?
As the Kurdistan Workers’ Party developed their armed resistance, they benefited from opportunities offered by Palestinian movements in the Beka’a valley in Lebanon. Later on, they continued with these connections, but also extending critical solidarity, because being in solidarity doesn’t mean you shouldn’t criticise. When you feel the pain the Palestinian people feel, it’s your duty to find an alternative. The criticisms were mostly that the Palestinians shouldn’t fall into the trap of the nation-state, which is no solution, as we see in Israel.
This was supposed to be a state which offered oppressed Jewish people the chance to live freely and independently, but in the past month we’ve even seen people in Israel holding rallies against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies, changing the constitution. Even in Israel, people were looking for alternatives, even prior to the Gaza war.
What’s the relevance of the Kurdish movement’s analysis in the present crisis?
The current war is forcing us to rethink what’s needed for those of us who are victims of these between regional and global powers. When you ask who’s benefiting, it’s not the people of Israel, or the people of Palestine; it’s Iran, who are trying to strengthen themselves and become a regional power. It’s the US, it’s Israel, it’s Turkey, some of the Arab states, but not the people on the ground. That’s why we say we need to think about a third alternative. We reject the status quo, of seeking to become a regional power, as Turkey, Israel and Iran are attempting; but we also reject the US and European states who are attempting to benefit from this conflict by gaining more control in the region.
Is it possible to imagine solutions in Palestine or Israel beyond the nation-state?
We need to bring in a new mindset. Instead of nationalism, religionism, sexism, fanaticism, we need an understanding of a democratic nationhood, marked by diversity, a new model of politics which pursues democratic autonomy: for the Jewish people, for the Palestinian people, for the Kurdish people. If the state were to reject this, we, the people, should have the confidence to implement our own solution on the ground.
Can the Kurdish movement’s internationalist approach suggest what form international solidarity should take?
Most states are now supporting Israel: the UK, USA, and Europe. Whereas China and Russia are in a [neutral] position, observing. Even Arab states are very split. None of them are taking a stance to protect the Palestinians. So we can’t look from a state perspective. What I’m talking about is not an idea that can be implemented in one or two days. But we should start to say we’re not on the side of either the global or regional states. Turkey, for example, is misusing the fate of Palestinian people for their own purposes. Iran is doing the same. They don’t care about Palestinians at all. And the US doesn’t care either. So who should care about these people? We should, the non-state actors. But we have to liberate ourselves from the nation-state mindset.
Audio: KNK Foreign Policy Committee Spokeswoman