Why is a British children’s newspaper promoting an anti-Israel activist?

First News, a children’s newspaper read by more than two and a half million impressionable, school-age kids each week, published the following article in their November, 2020 edition – an Amnesty International profile of Janna Jihad.

The girl known as Janna Jihad (aka, Janna Tamimi) is a (now 15 year-old) US-born Palestinian activist who lives in the town of Nabi Saleh.  Jihad is a cousin of Sbarro Massacre mastermind Ahlam Tamimi, the niece of terror supporter Bassem Tamimi, and, as Petra Marquardt-Bigman has written, has become the innocent face of the Tamimi clan’s campaign of incitement and antisemitism. 

Due to her fluent English, Jihad has been brought on US speaking tours organized by anti-Israel groups, including the extremist group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), and appeared with Marc Lamont Hill, who was fired by CNN after he gave a speech at the UN justifying terrorism and effectively calling for the end of the Jewish state.

Though she claims to be a “journalist”, Jihad’s social media accounts are replete with crude anti-Israel propaganda and even antisemitism.

During a media appearance in 2020, she accused Israel of routinely shooting Palestinians for no reason, and, in fact, raiding Palestinian villages and murdering children.  During that same interview, she made the claim – echoing comments in the second paragraph of First News article we posted above – that IDF forces shoot tear gas at her and her friends whenever they play football.

In an interview with South African television, she characterised even Israel within 1949 boundaries as “occupied” Palestinian land.

Jihad also posted this, by antisemitic cartoonist Carlos Latuff, on her Facebook account:

And, this:

We reached out the editor of First News, Nicky Cox, on Twitter, who said we could email her.  So, we sent her examples shown in this post, and asked the following questions:

  • Now that you’re aware of Jihad’s comments on social media and in interviews, do you think it was appropriate to promote her to the impressionable 7-14 year-olds that represent your core audience?
  • Was there any prior research done on Jihad by your staff before publishing the Amnesty piece?
Written By
More from Adam Levick
The bigotry of Guardian columnist Gary Younge
Gary Younge, a feature writer and columnist for the Guardian based in...
Read More
4 replies on “Why is a British children’s newspaper promoting an anti-Israel activist?”
  1. says: Murray Freedman

    Adam,
    I have written to Nicky Cox, repeating your 2 questions and asking her to respond. If she does, I’ll let you know.
    Best regards,
    Murray Freedman

  2. says: Grimey

    As a conspiracy theorist (and I am usually right), I am interested in the motives, activities and relationships of these so-called journalists.

  3. says: Mr Saul Gerstenhaber

    I also wrote to Ms Nicky Cox, highlighting the biased propaganda by a member (since she was six) of Israel-hating and anti-Israel terrorist family Tamimi, plus the EU 2020 report on incitement to Jihad, violence, and hate in the UNRWA Palestinian curriculum, and this was her reply:

    Dear Mr Gerstenhaber,

    Thank you for your email.

    To give you some context, the Our World article from Janna was a first-person piece. (And Jihad is, actually, her real birth name.) Our World is a strand of the paper we have run for nearly 15 years in association with a huge range of charities. Janna’s account came from Amnesty International. The purpose of the Our World section is for a child to give their own view of their day-to-day life and feelings, and they write it themselves.

    We publish Our World articles by children from countries all around the world each week. It would seem odd to suspect Janna’s motives and assume she’s not telling her own truth from her perspective, when we accept that from every other child who features in First News, including Israeli children whose stories we have published many, many times. Our World is, by definition, an opinion piece where a child writes about their world as they see it. Janna’s story was told to Amnesty International, which is widely accepted as a reputable organisation, and we have no reason to doubt Janna’s description of her life.

    I’m sorry that you were upset by it, but we would have to disagree that there is anything shameful in publishing it or that it’s an attempt to brainwash our readers or incite hatred of Israel. By that logic, if we printed an article by an Israeli child saying that they’re terrified of being bombed by a Palestinian, then that would be brainwashing our readers and inciting them to hate the Palestinians.

    I launched First News back in 2006, and I can assure you that we’ve had an equal number of complaints from people on either side of this debate, which I think suggests that we’re striking a good balance.

    We would never set out to offend or brainwash our readers about any subject at all. We never like to see anyone upset by anything that we’ve printed, but one of our primary roles is to give children a voice, even if people sometimes don’t like, or agree with, what they say.

    Many thanks, again, for your email. Feedback is always important and we take it seriously to help inform our future editorial decisions.

    Warm regards,

    Nicky

Comments are closed.