As the spokesperson of the Hamas-led government in Gaza, Israa Al-Mudalal is breaking stereotypical images of, and breaking the equality barrier for, Muslim women. "When I heard that I was being hired for this new role," she told Al-Risalah.net, "I saw it as a starting point for achieving my dream of delivering my message to the western world." She intends to use her position to inform and advise the world of the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. The fact that she is a young Muslim woman and mother enhances her suitability for the role, she insists, not hampers it.
Growing up in Egypt, Gaza and Britain, where her family moved when she was 10 years old, gave Israa the opportunity to meet people from various nationalities and cultures in very different social circumstances. Her parents gained their PhD degrees during her time in the UK, and she was able to learn English not as an academic discipline but as an everyday language with which she is very comfortable. Back in Palestine, she graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza with a degree in media.
As a Palestinian in exile she developed her religious and ideological perspectives, something that she is grateful for in her new role. "My work requires intellect, knowledge, anticipation, patience, an awareness of current world affairs and satisfaction with the job." Her skills were honed in jobs with Press TV and Al-Kitab TV as well her work as an interpreter. Meetings with social activists and parliamentarians sharpened her political awareness.
"The more knowledge I have," she said, "the more responsibility I feel to do my job properly and convey the message openly and honestly." By appointing a woman as spokesperson, Al-Mudalal believes that the government of Gaza is strengthening the position of Palestinian women in all aspects of life. "The government is also hoping to be more open with the world," she added. Her experience of living, studying and working in the West, she believes, will help her to do that. "We have to demonstrate that the government here is humane and sophisticated," she insisted, and not the "terrorist" entity that predominates in Western media and political discourse. "Our message is addressed to governments and people around the world."
However, she will not be dealing with the Israeli media. "We will not deal with the occupation in any form," she stressed. "It is unacceptable and is against the policies of the government in Gaza."
Not content to be a spokesperson for the government, Israa Al-Mudalal intends to continue with her media work, producing features on humanitarian issues. "The world has changed and methods of communication have been transformed." And she intends to use that to advantage.
She emphasised her belief that human beings share a common language based on basic truths that are simple and easy to understand. "Whoever knows humanity knows its rights."
When asked how she will balance her work and family commitments, as a young mother, she was clear. "Palestinians always find ways to cope with the circumstances surrounding them, and no matter how many duties one has, our work should always be prioritised." Her career progress to-date suggests that Al-Mudalal will cope admirably with whatever life throws at her.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.