SocietyNews Maha Hussaini: Exposing Imperialist Hate Against Palestinian Voices

Maha Hussaini: Exposing Imperialist Hate Against Palestinian Voices

Maha Hussaini, an international award winning Palestinian journalist, had her award rescinded by the IWMF under pressure from Zionist bodies.

The recent escalation of the genocide of Palestinians by Israel has resulted in over 37,000 Palestinian deaths and displacement, with Palestinians facing violence, malnutrition, and sexual harassment. The roots of the conflict lie in Zionism, a political movement founded by Theodor Herzl in the late 19th century. The British supported Zionism, leading to the establishment of Israel in 1948, and the displacement of Palestinians. Recent attacks by Israel have targeted civilians, journalists, and historical sites, with reports of vandalism, appropriation of Palestinian culture, and killings of journalists, including Shireen Abu Akleh. This period has been deemed the deadliest for journalism since 1992.

Recent attacks by Israel have targeted civilians, journalists, and historical sites, with reports of vandalism, appropriation of Palestinian culture, and killings of journalists, including Shireen Abu Akleh.

The failure of capitalism and increasing  gap between the rich and the poor, unemployment and financial struggles has allowed the resurgence of right-wing groups in many countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, India, and Afghanistan, who are blaming minorities and immigrants for the problems faced by the majoritarian population. Journalists who try to expose the truth are under attack, not just in war zones like Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine, but also in countries like Mexico and Haiti, where many have been killed. In India, journalists like Sajad Gul, Rupesh Singh, and Prabir Purkayastha are being jailed for speaking out against the government. 

Maha Hussaini: announcement of courage award and revocation 

Maha Hussaini is an international award winning (Martin Adler Prize,2020), independent Palestinian journalist and human right activist based in Gaza. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade. She started her career in July 2014, covering the Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip. She has covered dozens of stories after the recent escalation of the genocide. ‘The Report- uncovering Israeli field execution of Palestinians’ which was used by South Africa in the International Court of Justice as evidence of Israel’s genocide is covered by her. 

Maha Hussaini
Source: L’Humanité

Recogising her crucial reports in the perilous condition, International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), a distinguished organisation which claims to serve the ‘holistic needs of women non binary journalists’ and to ‘recognise fierce women journalists, photographers whose courage sets them apart’ and describes itself as ‘a bold and inclusive organisation that supports journalists where they are’ and claiming its work ‘strengthens equal opportunity and press freedom worldwide’, announced the Courage in Journalism Award on 10th June 2024. This award is given to honour remarkable bravery in the pursuit of reporting. Maha Hussaini was one of four recipients. IWMF recognised Hussaini’s reports on the reality of women giving birth at home in Gaza and a girl, who had to carry her paralysed six-year-old brother for miles while fleeing bombing. 

A conservative US publication The Washington Free Beacon depicted Maha Hussaini as a supporter of Hamas and Anti-Semitic on the basis of her past social media posts about the genocide of Palestininans.

On 19 June IWMF (International Women’s Media Foundation) released a statement saying, ‘Within the last 24 hours, the IWMF learned of comments made by Maha Hussaini in past years that contradict the values of our organization. As a result, we have rescinded the Courage in Journalism Award that was previously given to her. Both the Courage Awards and the IWMF’s mission are based on integrity and opposition to intolerance. We do not, and will not, condone or support views or statements that do not adhere to those principles.’

A conservative US publication The Washington Free Beacon depicted Maha Hussaini as a supporter of Hamas and Anti-Semitic on the basis of her past social media posts about the genocide of Palestininans

On June 19, 2024, this prominent media foundation, supported by donors like Bank of America, Open Society Foundations, and Luminate, and with board members including former CNN journalist Suzanne Malveaux, The Washington Post’s Hannah Allam and TV anchor Christiane Amanpour, rescinded Maha Hussaini’s award without notifying her. She got to know about this rescindance through social media.

Maha Hussaini and her firm, unflinching and courageous stance 

In response to this, Maha Hussaini wrote on X that ‘Winning a prize for “courage” means being subjected to attacks and choosing to continue your work regardless. However, I regret to say that the very organization that recognized these perilous conditions and awarded me the prize succumbed to pressure and chose to act contrary to courage; they rescinded the award in a decision that would put my life at risk.

Source: The Rory Peck Trust

Further she says that ‘I have no regrets about any posts or past comments that led to the rescinding of my award and I will not stop expressing my views. Before becoming a journalist, I was a Palestinian living under military occupation and a strangling blockade. Today, I am enduring an internationally recognised genocide in Gaza.

In an interview with Democracy Now, she described targeted efforts by pro-Israel organisations to silence Palestinian journalists and prevent exposure of human rights violations. She mentioned a colleague receiving death threats for documenting these abuses. She admitted that journalism was not a deliberate career choice; but she became a journalist after witnessing how the world ignores Palestinian suffering and yields to Israeli pressures.

Maha Hussaini was not targeted for the first time. In 2020, when she won the Martin Adler Prize by Rory Peck Trust, Pro-Israeli proponents launched a smear campaign against her and asked the Rory Peck Trust to withdraw the prize but the Rory Peck Trust did not. 

If winning a prize entails enduring and witnessing war crimes while remaining silent, I am not honored to receive any prizes.

Maha Hussaini

Despite all the suppression and bias, Maha Hussaini bravely responded ‘If winning a prize entails enduring and witnessing war crimes while remaining silent, I am not honored to receive any prizes. You can take away my award but you won’t take away my voice, I will always point out the perpetrators and stand in solidarity with the victims. This is what journalism is truly about.’

The support Maha Hussaini is receiving 

Maha Hussaini was supported by many like, David Hearst of Middle East Eye, who said: ‘The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) did not show much courage in rescinding the Courage in Journalism award to Maha Hussaini. On the front line of a war, such a designation is much more than an attempt to destroy Maha’s standing as an independent journalist.’

Source: The Rory Peck Trust

Lila Hassan, an independent investigative journalist, a recipient of an IWMF grant, criticised the decision by sayingIt is not up to this media organization or any western, detached person to determine how she or any Palestinian grapple with a brutal, violent occupation or watching their people live through what’s now an accused genocide, amid other crimes of humanity,’ she posted on X, adding that the IWMF ‘fails its mission to uplift women’.

The Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network, a supporter of Arab women journalists, demonstrated their ‘full solidarity’. They said, ‘We understand that Maha has been subject to a vicious campaign in which the Washington Free Beacon falsely accused her of supporting terrorism, We are extremely disappointed that IWMF took this decision, and we remain concerned about Maha’s safety.


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