The 12 Year Old, the Activist and the Journalistwith Janna Jihad
This whole episode happened rather rapidly. I was reading an Independent Newspapers article from the day before about a 12 year old Palestinian journalist coming to Durban to give a press conference around the Israeli occupation of the West Bank – and her reporting on the occupation of her village of Nabi Saleh by Israeli forces. And not only that but how children like her are victimized by soldiers and are taken into custody because the Israeli government doesn’t consider anyone above 12 to be a child anymore.
“When I want to go to school there’s check points that stops me. Instead of going to my school in 25 minutes I go in 3 hours.”
“I try to live my childhood, but even when I try to play with my friends, soldiers come, raid the village, shoot at us, while we are just playing in the street.”
Although I’ve got an understanding of the situation in the Middle East and the West Bank, it’s pretty unsettling to say the least, that a 12 year old is telling us and the world what’s going on for her, personally. And it’s not information that she’s got via so-and-so, it’s information that she’s got firsthand, it’s video footage that she’s taken, it’s family members that are injured or taken into custody, or worse, killed.
As we led up to the press conference, I noticed some of the security guys milling about so I asked what the situation was. Although they were there for precautionary measures, with no threats to Janna or her family, the fact is that anything can happen; and I’d like to think in South Africa that she would be safe, but anything can happen. And for a 12 year old to have a security detail, it says a lot about what she has to say.
“We are the next generation that can liberate this world and make this world a world of peace, a world of love, a world of equality, and justice, without war, without killing, without arresting, without getting injured, without seeing blood in the street, without check points, without seeing your friends and losing people that you love every day.”
With kids of my own, it just boggles my brain what she’s accustomed to, what she’s had to experience, what she’s enduring and she’s going to be returning to her town to carry on with her fight and reporting. She’s got aspirations of going to Harvard and being part of some of the big journalism organizations and we wish her well.