Working in one of the most demanding careers known and in one of the most heated locations around, Givara Al Budeiri Al Jazeera correspondent in occupied Palestine talked to Arab Woman Mag about her life, career, struggles and dreams.
“I am a Palestinian, from Jerusalem. I was raised that my Arab nationalism is my identity, yet I was brought up in the shadow of occupation that raped all hope and dreams from the people of my land. However Palestinians resist and fight with the faith that having education, knowledge and the love for your country are the most effective weapons.
I remember the time when I decided to become a journalist, at the age of 13 when the United States attacked Iraq after their invasion on Kuwait. I remember the Israeli army placed curfew, and with no satellites, my patents tried to watch the news on the Israeli T.V. channels broadcasting U.S. news, saying that they were destructing all they targeted, hours later Jordanian T.V. broadcasts that Iraq has won. I found myself asking even as a child where is the truth? It is the only thing that I was seeking. During that time the first Intifada was in its peak, I wanted the whole world to know what was going on in our land.
I saw my dream through and studied journalism at the Yarmouk University in Jordan and on my return home I got hired by Al Jazeera network making me the youngest journalist in Al Jazeera fom Palestine in 2001.”
Did you family support your career choice regardless of the dangers involved?
My father was an editor and later Editor-in-Chief to several Palestinian newspapers, and my mother had her own column in a few papers as well. Therefor they are the ones I owe for my encouragement and tolerating my absence and work load, and I never forget the worried look in their eyes, yet they are the fire that ignited and lit my way. This too motivated my brother Ahmad to get into media and become one of the most significant Palestinian reporters despite his young age. However this had an adverse effect on my sister Orouba as she chose law to fulfill my dad’s personal dream of becoming a lawyer as since 1967 occupation he refused to work in Israeli courts.
What are some of the challenges Palestinian journalists face?
First challenge is the occupation itself, then trying to prevent us from conveying the truth; many times we were targeted and shot at. Many times we took rocky paths to reach areas with conflict. Additionally robbing Palestinian journalist the right to access Gaza or giving their journalist ID’s that allow us easy mobility to travel. As for us journalists from Jerusalem because we have permanent residency we are forbidden to enter Gaza, we can reach any place on earth but not Gaza that is only a few kilometers away.
My partner in life and husband Fuad Muzzafar encouraged me immensely and supported me and accepted my absence and even for days at a time, I always felt that I am not giving him his fair share, however I am sure his understanding stems from his love for me and Palestine, and our homeland Jerusalem, he realizes by doing so he too is helping the truth come out to the world. As for my daughter Raya she taught me strength, patience and also fear; fear for my life, although before having her I never cared for my safety or consequences of the dangers I put myself in, but after my daughter I feel I owe it to her to protect myself , as no one can replace a mother. Of course it is very hectic but with motherhood came a new understanding of what mothers and children go through not only in Palestine but around the world. For me my top priority will always be my family then my career.
In your opinion what challenges face the working mother in a male dominant society? And what are things she can do to overcome them?
As we live under occupation the Palestinian woman was able to prove herself in many careers, and with the rise of the second Intifada my colleagues and I were astonished with people’s reactions instead of gossiping about our absence and being out during late hours, they opened their T.V.’s to hear the news from us instead. People respect what we do and this helps be more determined to continue in bringing the truth out.
Are you pleased with the way the media presents the Arabian woman?
Of course I reject it as it is evident the way a woman’s body is being used for advertisements portrayed as a commodity. Even some of the more conserved or liberal countries abuse the image of a woman in the same fashion; although our religion bestowed high regard for the woman and her role in society.
Personally I want to raise my daughter on the love of her homeland and identity; I aspire to be the best wife, daughter sister…
On the career front I wish to move to investigative programs, and dream that the final field reports would be on freeing all prisoners from Israeli confinements, announcing the establishment of a Palestinian state, my return to my family’s home in AlQatmoon in Jerusalem that was taken by Israel in 1948, and I dream of all boundaries between Arab nations to be non-existent, and have a passport that allows me to freely travel to all counties…I know such field reports are difficult and complex but nothing can stop us from dreaming.
What advice you give Arab woman based on your experience?
To have the determination for improvement and facing reality, unfortunately it is us women who sabotage one another; many times the woman is the enemy. Marriage, motherhood and even society should not be an obstacle, start with yourself to make a change and work on raising good generations to come. Education and knowledge are weapons to stand up against the face of any difficulties. Although personally I am not convinced with women only newspapers, magazines and organizations, but I believe that we are equal to men, and surely with the role of this esteemed magazine contributes towards building women’s self-esteem and confidence, as fear overtakes our hearts and we should join forces to become stronger.
I would like to thank Arab Woman Mag for their efforts and trust in me.
Givara Al Boudairi