Rafeef ZIadah- “We Teach Life Sir”
Although the posts, tweets, and coverage of Palestine have declined within social media these past few weeks, the struggle for justice continues. The power of advocacy is crucial, especially when it comes to vulnerable populations like Palestinians.
Here are some inspirational Palestinian women to follow on social media. They have used their talent and passions to spread awareness about Palestine and share their stories.
Rafeef Ziadah is a Palestinian poet and spoken word artist based in London. Her poem “We Teach Life Sir” went viral days after its release with over one million views on YouTube. The poem is about the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza. Likewise, “We Teach Life Sir,” is the title of her second album. This album highlights the difficulties Palestinians have faced over the past few decades.
Through her poetry, Rafeef captures the experience of Palestinians both in Palestine and in exile. She sheds light on these stories that are not present within Western media. Her poetry blends politics, art, and music.
When people listen to her poetry, Rafeef hopes they are left inspired and motivated to fight for change. In her own words, Rafeef describes her poetry as “a testament to the human spirit, to love and joy against skies of steel.”
Kholoud Nassar, a native of Gaza, uses her Instagram to showcase the beauty of Palestine. She believes her Instagram is like “a window” where she can show the world a side of Palestine they rarely see.
She was tired of being misunderstood by the world and wanted to share images that accurately represented Palestine. As a result, most of her feed features nature or architecture. The signature style of her feed is the bold, bright colors displayed in each photograph. Through her work, Kholoud intends to keep inspiring Palestinians to maintain their resilience and strength.
Fatma Musabbeh is a local Instagram influencer in Gaza, Palestine. Like Kholoud Nassar, Fatma uses her Instagram to change the world’s perception of Gaza. Most importantly, she wants to highlight the beauty that exists in Palestine despite the destruction.
Her Instagram feed focuses on the daily life of Palestinians, how they adapt to their situation in order to survive. Since Fatma has used her Instagram for photographic activism, she has connected with thousands of people who appreciate her work. For Fatma, if she can brighten one person’s day that is enough for her to keep going,
Maysoon Zayid is a disability rights activist and comedian. As a young woman, Maysoon faced discrimination because of her cerebral palsy. However, Maysoon saw this as a strength and wanted to show disabled people they could do anything.
Maysoon has had a successful career in comedy as “America’s first Muslim woman comedian.” She was the first comedian to perform a stand-up routine in Jordan and Palestine. Additionally, she co-founded the New York Arab American Comedy Festival, and performed all across the nation.
Her Ted Talk “I got 99 problems, palsy is just one” received over eleven million views, making it the most viewed TedTalk of 2014. She received thousands of messages from people with cerebral palsy, thanking her for giving them a voice. As a result, Maysoon continues to share her story to uplift people who need it most.
When she was just 14 years old, Tahanie witnessed her father be sentenced to 22 years in prison. His trial left Tahanie feeling hurt and scared. However, this inspired Tahanie to pursue a career in law to stop abusive policies that discriminate against people of color.
Tahanie Aboushi has been a civil rights attorney for over ten years and is a founding partner of the Aboushi Law Firm in New York City. She has worked on several high-profile cases, including cases involving Muslims being detained at the John F. Kennedy Airport during President Trump’s Muslim ban.
Tahanie ran in the recent Democratic primary election for the District Attorney’s office in Manhattan. Although Tahanie lost the bid to democrat nominee General Alvin Bragg, she continues to fight against systematic racism.
In 2017, a picture of Yasmeen Mjalli in a denim jacket with the phrase, “Not Your Habibti” went viral. The image sparked a dialogue about sexism within Arab communities. As an Arab feminist, Yasmeen wanted to show Muslims how feminism and Islam can co-exist.
She believes there is no one approach to feminism; rather every culture and society has its own feminism. Additionally, Yasmeen was tired of how mainstream feminism leaves Palestinian women out despite the gender discrimination and sexual assault they face.
When her family moved to Ramallah, Yasmeen started her clothing brand to uplift and empower Palestinian women. The Nol Collective blends activism, feminism, and culture into their clothing and jewelry. All their products are produced locally, and 10% of the proceeds go to women’s organizations. In short, Yasmeen wanted to create a brand by women for women.
Annemarie Jacir, a Palestinian director, first rose to fame when her film, Like Twenty Impossibles, was released. This was the first Arab short film to be featured in the Cannes International Film Festival and won more than 15 awards. As a result, Annemarie’s success only grew from there, with her films Salt of this Sea, When I Saw You, and Wajib.
From the beginning of her career, she struggled against people who told her to hide her Palestinian identity. However, Annemarie choose to focus on the Palestinian experience, despite the pushback. She supports local filmmakers and even employs Palestinian casts and production for her movies. Ultimately, Annemarie creates a holistic perception of Palestine, one that includes all stories.