The Palestinian Return Centre hosted a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary film ‘Naila and the Uprising’, followed by a panel discussion with the storyteller of the film, Naila Ayesh and the world’s youngest journalist, Janna Jihad.
The film screening and panel discussion took place on Wednesday 8th March, at the Playhouse Cinema in Derry, Ireland, in conjunction with People Before Profit.
The screening of ‘Naila and the Uprising’ was introduced by People Before Profit member, Sophia McFeely, who explained the background of the film.
McFeely narrated the storyline of film, ‘When a nation-wide uprising breaks out in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a young woman in Gaza must make a choice between love, family, and freedom. Undaunted, she embraces all three, joining a clandestine network of women in a movement that forces the world to recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination for the first time. Naila and the Uprising chronicles the remarkable journey of Naila Ayesh and a fierce community of women at the frontlines, whose stories weave through the most vibrant, nonviolent mobilization in Palestinian history - the First Intifada in the late 1980s.’
After the documentary film screening, McFeely then commenced the panel discussion with both Naila Ayesh and Janna Jihad.
Ayesh opened the discussion by delving into her own experience being arrested multiple times by Israeli occupation forces, being a political prisoner, and how medical negligence was used as a form of torture by Israeli prison authorities in order to extract confessions from her. Which resulted her in having a miscarriage, which as she explained, is the fate of countless Palestinian women imprisoned by Israeli forces. Ayesh’s partner, Jamal Zakout, also contributed to the discussion by adding, the first intifada was so powerful because of the unity of Palestinian civil society combined with the inclusion of women at every stage, both of which are critical in determining the future of Palestine going forward.
The panel discussion then heard from the world’s youngest journalist, Janna Jihad. Jihad is a resident of the West Bank’s Nabi Saleh village, she regularly participates in demonstrations against the Israeli occupation and increased illegal settlement building encroaching her village. She began making video reports of what was happening in her village, from the Israeli occupation to illegal settlement building, starting when she was only 7. When she was seven years old, the murder of her uncle at the hands of the Israeli military drove her to speak out about the brutal military occupation. Janna filmed her uncle’s killing on her mother’s phone and shared it with the world. By the time she was 13, Janna was recognized as one of the youngest journalists in the world, documenting the Israeli army’s oppressive and often deadly treatment of Palestinians. Janna Jihad faces death threats and intimidation because of her work.
Janna spoke on the importance of Palestinian women within political organising, and how the struggle for gender equality and national liberation are part of the same struggle, as settler colonialism is inherently patriarchal in its purest forms. She then delved the treatment of female Palestinian political prisoners, stating how sexual violence, the use of “reputation”, the withholding of menstrual products, are all patriarchal forms of torture that Israeli forces use to torture Palestinian women.
The Palestinian Return Centre hosted the screening of ‘Naila and the Uprising’ and panel discussion with Naila Ayesh and Janna Jihad to commemorate International Women’s day 2023.