Rula Jebreal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Rula Jebreal
Jebreal in October 2010.
Born (1973-04-24) April 24, 1973 (age 41)
Haifa, Israel
Ethnicity Arab Palestinian, Nigerian
Citizenship Israeli, Italian
Alma mater University of Bologna
Occupation Journalist, commentator, author
Religion Islam
Spouse(s) Arthur Altschul, Jr. (m. 2013)
Children 1
Official Website

Rula Jebreal (Arabic: رولا جبريل; born April 24, 1973) is an Italian-Israeli[1] foreign policy analyst, journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. She was a commentator for MSNBC.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Jebreal was born in Haifa, Israel, and grew up in East Jerusalem.[3] Jebreal's Nigerian-born father was an imam and groundskeeper at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.[3] Her mother killed herself[4] when she was 5.[5] She and her sister Rania were put into the Dar El-Tifel orphanage by their father,[4][5] in 1978, until 1991. She was educated in the orphanage.

In 1993 she 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 became the first foreign anchorwoman in the history of Italian television, winning a Media Watch award for her coverage of the Iraq War, and by age 33 earned one of the highest Italian journalism awards, the International Ischia Award for Best Journalist of the Year. Jebreal worked as a journalist in Italy for twelve years, earning a reputation for being one of the toughest interviewers for her interviews with such figures as Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema, Silvio Berlusconi, Bill Gates, President Abu Mazen, Bernard Kouchner, Mohammed ElBaradei, and Ingrid Betancourt. In 2006 she became the co-presenter of AnnoZero, an 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.[6]

Bill Maher controversy[edit]

On October 31, 2014 Jebreal got into a debate with Bill Maher over his criticism of Islam. In particular, she stated “When you talk about Islam in a certain way, I have to tell you, it’s offensive sometimes, and some people feel threatened." While on Bill Maher's show she likened him to an antisemite, and insisted that he was a bigot, [7] to which he retorted "As I just said, even Reza Aslan says I'm not a bigot so I rather resent the idea that I'm comparable to an anti-Semite. All I've ever done was basically read facts." She later added “The Muslim community feel threatened and feel offended and they are underrepresented in the media and underrepresented in political avenues. You never invite them here [on your show] on these issues.” “‘Never invite them here’? You’re here… They’re here all the time,” Maher responded.

Maher then asked her, “Can you be gay in Gaza? And live?” to which Jebreal responded, “Yes you can. Absolutely you can… You can be gay in Gaza. I traveled the Middle East.” Maher replied, “Is there a gay bar in Gaza?” Jebreal did not answer.

When Jebreal then challenged Maher to a “serious conversation” about Islam, the host took offense: “Every time I say something you don’t like it’s not a serious conversation or I’m a bigot. I’m sorry,” he said. “In your world, either I say exactly what you want me to say or else I’m a bigot. And that just doesn’t work for me.” [8]

In a later segment, Eva Longoria was promoting her documentary Food Chains about the plight of immigrant workers, Jebreal interrupted Longoria asking if the American farmers abusing the immigrant workers were Muslim. Longoria, confused, stated that she thought that they were not, but admitted that she didn't know.

In a subsequent interview, Jebreal attacked Maher, insisting that criticism of Islam was "un-American." [9]

Books and films[edit]

Rula Jebreal and Julian Schnabel, 2010

Jebreal's first novel Miral, written in 2003, was translated into 15 languages, selling millions of copies worldwide, and was eventually made into a film that was directed by Julian Schnabel, from Jebreal's screenplay.[10][4][11][12] The movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 2, 2010, and won the UNICEF Protection of Children award.[13] Miral held its U.S. premiere at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on March 14, 2011.[14] Miral was the first film ever to have a premiere at the General Assembly Hall.

Jebreal's 2nd 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 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 documentary aired on Italian television in 2008.

Personal life[edit]

She has a teenage daughter whose father is an Italian artist.[11] She dated Julian Schnabel from 2007 to 2011.[15] In 2013, she married billionaire Arthur Altschul, Jr., son of Goldman Sachs banker Arthur Altschul.[16]

She is fluent in five languages: Italian, English, Arabic, Hebrew, and German. She has been described both as a "secular Muslim" and simply "Muslim". [17][18]



  1. ^ Wemple, Erik. "Rula Jebreal deplores MSNBC’s ‘Palestinian Journalist’ label". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Rula Jebreal". TalkingPointsMemo. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Peter M. Brant (2010). "Rula Jebreal". Interview Magazine. 
  4. ^ a b c "Julian Schnabel falls for Palestinian tale, then for its writer". McClatchy Newspapers. 2011-01-13. Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  5. ^ a b Malle, Chloe (2011-03-23). "One Turbulent World Readied Her for Another". New York: The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  6. ^ "Palestinian Journalist and Author Rula Jebreal | Arab Girls, Arabic Girls Blog". Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  7. ^ Salon Nov. 1, 2014
  8. ^ Algemeiner - Palestinian Activist Rula Jebreal Compares Bill Maher to Anti-Semite; Maher Responds: ‘Is There a Gay Bar in Gaza?’
  9. ^ - Rula Jebreal sounds off on Bill Maher Islam spat: “What he is doing is un-American”
  10. ^ Arifa Akbar (3 September 2010). "Schnabel's true romance inspires tale of love across cultural divide". The Independent (London). 
  11. ^ a b Kazanjian, Dodie (2010-10-26). "Rula's View". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Rula Jebreal Pictures – Miral – Premiere: 67th Venice Film Festival". Zimbio. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  14. ^ Sacks, Rebecca. "For Rula Jebreal and Julian Schnabel, Miral Is a Labor of Love | Little Gold Men". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  15. ^ "Schnabel’s new young love". The New York Post. April 17, 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  16. ^ New York Post: "Arthur Altschul, Jr. engaged to Rula Jebreal" May 2, 2013
  17. ^
  18. ^

External links[edit]

Book review