Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.
Rula Jebreal (Arabic: رولا جبريل) was born on April 24th, 1973 in Haifa, Israel, and grew up in East Jerusalem. She is a Palestinian journalist, novelist, and screenwriter with both Israeli and Italian citizenship. She grew up in Jerusalem where her father worked as a groundskeeper at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Her mother died when she was 5 and she and her sister Rania were put into the Dar El-Tifel orphanage by their father from 1978 until 1991. She was educated in the orphanage, and then received a scholarship from the Italian government to study medicine at the University of Bologna, where she graduated with a degree in physiotherapy. She worked as a physiotherapist while she went back to the University of Bologna and earned her masters in Journalism and Political Science. Jebreal immediately began working for such newspapers as Il Resto del Carlino, Il Giorno e La Nazione and Il Messaggero. Her area of expertise is foreign affairs related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the uprising of Islamic movements, having lived at the center of the conflicts for so many years in East Jersualem.
In 2000, the combination of her strong personality, charisma, talent and striking beauty led to her first job as an on-air reporter, and she quickly became the first foreign anchorwoman broadcasting the 8pm news in the history of Italian television. In 2004, Jebreal started her own daily talk show for Italian television called Ominibus, where she interviewed such prestigious global personalities as Silvio Berlusconi, Bill Gates, ex-prime minister Massimo D’Alema, president of the Italian Parliament Lamberto Dini, French minister of foreign affairs Bernard Kouchner, Palestinian President Abu Mazen , and Nobel Prize winner El Baradei.
Jebreal worked with several television stations in Italy hosting her own political talk shows, including Rai 1, Rai 2 and Rai News 24, and created a special for Channel 7 in Italy about the international moratorium against the death penalty. In 2004 Jebreal was awarded her first prize from Media Watch for her courage in covering the Iraqi war. In 2005 she received the International Ischia Award for Best Journalist of the Year, Europe’s most prestigious broadcast journalism award.
In 2006, Jebreal co-presented Anno Zero, the most important and controversial political television show in Italy, together with Michele Santoro.
In 2008 Jebreal created her own television show in Cairo at Al-Qahira Wal-Nas, (Cairo Centric) television station, where she filmed 30 episodes covering politics, economy, and the collapse of society in Egypt under the Mubarrak regime. She produced and hosted a TV show in Egypt for Egyptian television in 2009 where she interviewed influential people like the Lebanese author Elias Khoury, the minister of finance, Youssef Boutros-Ghali and the minister of trade and economy Rashid Mohamed Rashid. This show was acclaimed as the most independent in the history of Egyptian television.
About both the book and the film Miral she has stated:
"Each story told in my book and in this movie is true. I changed names, I merged different personalities and characters — but everything I have told here I have seen with my own eyes. There is no space for imagination in the Middle East. Every day, something that is imposed on you in this place makes you decide who you are and what you have to do."
"After I left Jerusalem for Europe, I felt that my childhood had been stolen. I understood that in order for me not to lose my identity I had to tell my story, I had to connect my past with my future because there are so many girls who have gone through and are still going through these same things. Miral is me…she’s also these girls. I wrote this book for all children, who deserve a chance, and for all the other Mirals who still live in Jerusalem."
"In turning the book into this film, I appreciated the intellectual honesty and respect with which Julian treated these stories and characters. He asked me so many questions — who, where, what and why. He tried to grasp the subject in all its depth. When we started scouting the locations and casting the movie, he wanted to go everywhere. He wanted to see everything with his own eyes; he wanted to talk to people from every perspective. We went to Ramallah, to Jaffa, to the refugee camps. He wanted to understand the inner conflicts that split the Palestinian people. Before each take, he would always ask me: “Is this authentic? Does this seem right to you?"
"Like Miral, there came a turning point for me at which I felt I had to scream against the injustice. Today, I can say that the love and values I received from my father Jamal Shaheen and Hind Husseini — who believed in the virtues of education — saved my life. Later, I had the opportunity as a journalist covering conflicts in Iraq, Kosovo and Lebanon, to understand that education is indeed the best weapon. This is what this movie is about. It shows how education can dismantle and disarm fanaticism."
"It seems so often these days that the solutions considered are military—and yet, the only real hope for ordinary people trying to lead normal lives is diplomacy and peace. And diplomacy and peace prosper when ordinary people have access to education." — Rula Jebreal
She has written three books - Miral, La promise d’Aswan, which obtained the International Fenice Europe Prize, and Divieto di Soggiorno, a study on the history of immigration in Europe. Her first novel Miral has sold over 2 million copies, and is published in 15 languages was eventually made into a film that was directed by Julian Schnabel, from Jebreal's adaption of the book into a screenplay. The movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 2nd, 2010 to a 15 minute standing ovation, and won the Unicef Protection of Children award. Miral held its U.S. premiere at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on March 14th, 2011, which was the first film ever to premiere at the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations.
Her second novel, The Bride of Aswan, was published in 2007, and was translated into five languages, winning the International Fince Europa Award. Her third book, Rejected, is a non-fiction study about the history of immigration in Europe. It was published in Italy and France, and is used in course work in universities in Italy. As a filmmaker, Jebreal wrote and produced a documentary titled Permesso di Soggiorno about the death penalty in China, the United States and Iran during the United Nations debate over the death penalty moratorium in 2008. The critically acclaimed documentary aired on Italian television in 2008.
She has a teenaged daughter, named Miral, whose father is an Italian artist. Jebreal speaks Italian, English, Arabic, and Hebrew fluently. She lives in New York City, where she is currently finishing her fourth book.
Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats.. take a look
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