Israel/Palestine vs. Turkey/Kurdistan

Before I say anything about these two highly controversial, generally violent, and inherently unjust political and territorial situations I want to make my views on geo-political borders in general clear, first.

I do not believe in borders. I believe in the free and uninhibited movement of people, goods, ideas, and cultures all around the globe. I totally support individuals and/or communities in maintaining their ethnic identities including their languages, cultures, foods, clothing, traditions, dances, holidays, celebrations, etc. but personally I see no use in using violence to maintain imaginary lines on a map. I understand cultural, especially spiritual, ties to specific places, like certain Native American cultures have to specific rivers, lakes, forests and mountains, however, delineating certain areas as “ours” as opposed to “theirs” requires the “othering” of anyone outside the specific ethnicity.

I understand that the elimination of geo-political borders is not feasible at the moment, and would cause utter chaos and potentially even more violence and destruction, and so, I will engage you, dear readers, in a political discussion about these two hotly contested areas within the confines of the currently accepted understanding of nation-states, borders and “states’ rights.” In any case I entirely denounce violence as ineffective and immoral and would ONLY support nonviolent efforts by any actors hoping to have their human rights recognized. So then, the question I have for the world wide web (which I hope will be answered with intelligent, thoughtful commentary and constructive ideas, not jingoistic, trolling rants) is this:


How does the situation of Palestinians in the internationally recognized (but contested) borders of Israel differ from the situation of Kurds in Turkey?



I would especially like to hear opinions from Palestinians, Kurds, Turks, and Israelis, and people with experience in any of these lands. I am also interested in the views of people of any other ethnicities living within the borders of Israel and Turkey.

Does religion make a difference in the discussion? Does language make a difference? How effective have nonviolent efforts been in advancing the human rights of Palestinians and Kurds? Is the situation of women in the oppressed/unrecognized regions similar? Would the causes of Palestinian independence and Kurdish independence benefit from each other’s input and support? Or would Palestinians feel they are betraying other Arabs or their Turkish allies in calling on the political recognition of Kurds’ rights? I have no answers but I would love to learn from the community and then form an opinion.


About feministactivist

Many words describe me but none more so than activist. I am dedicated to equality of all people and have a special focus on gender issues including reproductive justice, sexual violence, and strategic nonviolent action. View all posts by feministactivist

7 responses to “Israel/Palestine vs. Turkey/Kurdistan

  • northernsong

    “In any case I entirely denounce violence as ineffective and immoral and would ONLY support nonviolent efforts by any actors hoping to have their human rights recognized.”

    To most Palestinians, and probably to most Kurds, this kind of support rings empty. Since when is it your job to denounce the means by which those who’s rights are not recognized try to achieve those rights? You might think they should just ask nicely, or have a “non violent” demonstration. But how is it your job to tell them what to do? Do you think, as a man, it’s my job to tell women what are the legitimate means of struggle against patriarchy?

    • feministactivist

      Thank you for commenting! I denounce violent efforts because of the scholarship I’ve undertaken on the issue. Numerous studies have shown that nonviolent action is statistically much more likely to affect real change than violent action. See Chenoweth and Stephan here for example. That said, I completely understand where you’re coming from in this idea. No, I do not think it is your job as a man to tell women what are legitimate means of struggle against patriarchy. However, if you are also opposed to patriarchy it IS your job to participate in and advocate for those means of struggle which you find legitimate. This is the boat I am in with the issue of Palestinians and Kurds: though I am not actively being oppressed by Turkish or Jewish society, I will struggle against their injustices with nonviolence because I believe in equality and justice. The goal of this blog is to educate people about nonviolent action (through a gender perspective) simply because nonviolent action is more successful, and we need all the success we can get when fighting oppression and injustice.

  • Hbalci

    Oh, and how, as a “non-violent feminist” you support one of the most violent, misogynistic terrorist groups around is beyond me, really? Have you read about the group of their own female fighters that they murdered and left in a cave? Why? Because they objected to being raped by their “comrades”? Shame on you. You have no credibility at all.

    • feministactivist

      First of all, thank you for sharing your point of view. Various opinions are exactly what I was hoping to elicit with this post. As for your linguistic argument I would cite countries like China and India where dozens, if not hundreds, of different non-mutually intelligible languages are spoken and yet there is a functioning state. And as to your assumption that because I merely asked the question about Kurdish rights I “support one of the most violent, misogynistic terrorist groups” – I do not. I support all people’s rights to freedom of expression, including those with whom I do not agree. I support all people having equal access to government, healthcare, education, housing and employment. I support equality in every form.

  • Hbalci

    One significant difference is that there are a lot of Kurdish members of parliament in Turkey, so they have equal access to the democratic system. How many Arabs are in the Knesset? Another significant difference is that there are more serving Kurdish members of Parliament in the ruling AKP than have been elected in the BDP, which styles itself as an ethnically based, Kurdish nationalist party. How many Palestinians voted for Likud? Another significant difference is that all the Kurdish dialects are not mutually comprehensible. In linguistics, simply put, that means they are not the same language, not in fact dialects, and are different ethnic groups (no doubt if they get independence, they will fight each other later). The Kurdish cause is no cause at all.

  • feministactivist

    I have a few comments Zak:
    1) No one lives in a post-feminism society. Until men and women and intersex and transgender people are all afforded the same rights, including the right to safety, and an equal wage, nowhere is post-feminism.
    2) Your comment regarding “Gay as a way of life for gay people” shows how little understanding you have of the LGBTQAI community and the challenges we/they face on a regular basis. Of course being “Gay” is a way of life, just like for you, presumably, being “Straight” is a way of life.
    3) You “support freedom and dignity to all as long as they are sought through non-violent means.” Shouldn’t all people be *given* freedom and dignity? Aren’t all people born equally deserving of human rights?
    4) Saying that “Palestinians are just Arabs” is very disrespectful. Yes, Palestinians are Arabs but choose your words wisely when they will live on in perpetua via the internet. The simple addition of the word “just” in your comment makes it seem like Arabs are unimportant or secondary in your worldview.
    5) I am not contradicting myself. I believe culture should be retained in the form of language, music, food, etc. but fully support freedom of movement of anyone who wants to go or live anywhere. I do not believe a particular piece of land is necessary to retain culture, as I said, unless there are spiritual ties to specific natural features of the land.
    6) Thank you for sharing your opinions about the differences. I posed this question as a genuine inquiry into what other people think about this issue after speaking with Turks who fully support Palestinians but ignore the rights of Kurds so it’s nice to see a different perspective. Peace!

  • Zak Goichman

    I grew up in a post feministic society so it’s hard for me to understand how you make feminism part of who you are.
    It’s like gay people for whom Gay is a way of life.

    Anyway, concerning Israel/Palestine Turkey/Kurdistan
    I’m an Israeli and I support freedom and dignity to all as long as they are sought through non-violent means.

    I believe you’ll find a lot of Israeli sympathizing with the Kurds on the one hand, because Jews used to be a stateless people as well once
    and yet they prefer to stand by Turkey as Turkey wields more power in this region.

    To say that the Palestinian case and the Kurdish one are one and the same is a mistake.

    1. Kurds don’t have any state to call their own while the Palestinians are just Arabs, some of many. Jordan for example is 60% Palestinian and allows any Palestinian to receive citizenship.

    2. Kurds want to have political autonomy – Palestinians already have political autonomy. In fact they enjoy as much an autonomy as possible considering that even school textbooks that preach to harm Jews cannot be banned by Israel according to Oslo accords.

    When you say you support people retaining their culture, language, etc.
    you’re actually saying you’re OK with them having a well defined territory they can call their own and have the right to be upset when someone encroaches on their territory. Kinda contradicts your opinions about borders.

    I think as the saying goes: Good fences make for good neighbors.

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