A Note From Jenan
Journalists have an undeniable power to persuade and influence public opinion, which directly impacts world events. A power that so many abuse.
If it weren’t for my Arabness, my Palestinianness, I don’t know that I’d hold journalists and journalism in such high regard. What we see here in “the West” is not journalism. It is propaganda. It is fabricated stories and unverified claims to push an agenda that seems to always be - “war”. It is lazy reporting without appropriate context and made-up timelines that don’t tell the whole story. It is not honorable. And it is dangerous to humanity.
But I still got a degree in journalism, because I grew up watching - though not understanding - the journalists on platforms like Al Jazeera. Journalists like Shireen Abu Akleh who, rather than spew hatred for and misinformation about indigenous people from the comfort of a desk 7,000 miles away from a “conflict zone”, walked into battlegrounds with live ammunition being fired at her from every angle, in hopes of sharing what everyone else wants to make sure we don’t see. And that type of hope is a powerful tool for us Palestinians. So powerful that it ended her life when an Israeli sniper shot just below her clearly marked press helmet and killed her during her coverage of Jenin refugee camp in occupied Palestine in 2022.
I grew up watching the likes of journalists like Wael Dahdouh, who went towards the danger and airstrikes in Gaza to continue his reporting of the truth that Israeli intelligence warned him against doing, and hoped that somehow his family that he left sheltering in a home, would be “safer” than he was. Instead, they were targeted and killed. His wife, son, daughter, and their one-and-half-year-old grandson, Adam.
The coverage in this country, particularly the coverage of Palestine, is shameful. It has always been shameful in times of humanitarian crises. It has always been on the wrong side of history. It has always hidden the truth. It has always been biased and it has always been to push an agenda for the colonial weapons of war industry.
When I become frustrated with my education path and career choice, and wonder why I so desperately try to remain a part of the media industry - an industry that has made it very clear that people like me are not welcome in it - I remember Palestinian journalists. I remember the people who inspired me and taught me that I could use words and truth as weapons. I remember the people that colonial powers like the US and Israel are so terrified of. And I refocus.
Palestinian journalists are what legends are made of.
They - and their work - are the world’s muse. They are who we draw inspiration from to find ways to channel our rage and anger and sadness into creative forms of protest.
Palestinian journalists have changed the world in a way so drastic and shifted the collective consciousness so far from where it was stagnant and distracted that there is no going back to the world we once knew.
This world is changed - for the better - because of Palestinian journalists.
Journalists who I’ve been blessed to get to know personally in the last 60-something horrible days. Journalists who, in their darkest hours, have been a source of light for the rest of us. Journalists who keep going *for us*. Journalists who walk towards bombings and snipers with their cameras in hand, holding onto that hope, that hope that they will share something with you that will move you so deeply, that it will shake your world to its core, so that you wake up every morning and set your intentions and lay out your plans for how you will contribute to a better, safer, freer future - for everyone.
When I started learning about how quickly Palestinian journalists were being targeted and executed in Gaza I immediately knew I needed to find a way to memorialize these heroes. In the words of a former client turned friend - because all Palestinians eventually end up becoming friends - my friend Aminah Musa once said to me that “clothes are a conversation starter”. And it reframed my thinking on the power of a T-shirt. It went from believing that “protest” clothing was just shock value - to “protest” clothing can start a conversation. And the conversation I wanted to contribute to was about Gaza’s journalists.
So - I thought about how I’d keep people talking about Palestine and about these heroes. And I reached out to Lara and Vanessa of For Your Viewing Pleasure - who told me that they were just contemplating a new release for Gaza. And it seemed the stars had just aligned.
About 15 days into the bombings on Gaza, Reporters Without Borders published a quote:
“Palestine is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist.”
And after sharing that with Lara and Vanessa, we all knew immediately what we wanted.
It is my absolute honor to launch this “PRESS” tee. A very simple but powerful T-shirt with For Your Viewing Pleasure with a symbol on the front that deserves the utmost respect and means of protection but that is entirely disrespected and failed time and time again for those who wear it with the integrity it requires.
On the back of our shirt, is the quote that inspired the piece. And under it lies the list of the names of 50 Palestinian journalists who have been killed in Gaza since October 7th. With an unfortunate disclaimer under that list that now stands true, and it is that at the time of printing - this list of names grew every single day becoming quickly outdated. Since printing this tee - it has become outdated once again as Israel “unpaused” its genocide on Gaza, and has killed an additional Palestinian journalists.
100% of proceeds from this shirt will be donated to The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association, an organization dedicated to supporting a flourishing community of Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African heritage journalists and providing a voice to the communities from which they come.
Journalism is a righteous profession, and when it starts to look corrupt or immoral, recenter your focus on Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African journalists.
Support Arab, Middle Eastern, and North African journalists.
They are leading the change we are seeing in this world. They will change this world.
May the memories of noble Palestinian journalists that we’ve lost fuel our revolution, and may we liberate Palestine in their names.