For the past several years, Palestinian women from all walks of life have been taking part in a video project to document human rights violations under occupation. In honor of International Women’s Day, one of them tells her story.
By Manal Ja’bri
My name is Manal Ja’bri, I am 38-years-old and I have seven children, between the ages of 9 and 18, and I am the sole breadwinner in my family. I grew up in a house near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba. Settlers burned my family’s home and used to beat us on our way to school. One of the problems in Palestinian society is that people don’t differentiate between Israelis, Jews and settlers – they are all settlers to us. I used to think the same way, but over the years I learned to tell the difference.
Three years ago, I read a wanted ad in the newspaper for field researchers for B’Tselem, an Israeli organization dedicated to documenting human rights violations in the occupied territories. B’Tselem trains Palestinians in specific locations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where tensions are high and clashes are commonplace, to use video cameras to capture those violations. The footage exposes the Israeli and the international public to the reality of life under occupation.
When I first started working for B’Tselem, I was frequently criticized by Palestinians for working for an Israeli organization. Over time, however, Palestinians have learned to trust B’Tselem, because they know that our cameras are out there to safeguard their human rights. Today, I am in charge of B’Tselem’s video project, and I feel prouder, stronger and more self-confident.
My children used to get criticized at school by their friends because “their mother works with the Jews.” Meanwhile my family did not approve of my work, claiming that “it is a man’s job.” Yet, as time went by, everyone saw that what I did worked for their benefit, and my family saw how I was able to support my children.
Watch: Ja’bri’s films the IDF detaining two eight-year-old Palestinians:
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