Rula Jebreal is an award-winning journalist, author and foreign policy analyst who has received accolades for her groundbreaking work in Italy, the United States and across the Middle East.
She was the first foreign anchorperson in the history of television news in Italy, where she went on to host multiple political talk shows. Since moving to the United States in 2009, Rula has been an on-air foreign policy analyst for MSNBC and a contributor to the Daily Beast, Newsweek and Salon.com, where her articles have reflected a deep knowledge of Islamic extremism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the new political order in the Arab Muslim world. Rula has appeared frequently on CNN and Bloomberg, and she has written op-eds for the New York Times and the San Jose Mercury News, among other media outlets.
Her first novel Miral has been translated into 15 languages, selling over 2 million copies worldwide. She also wrote the screenplay for the film of the same name, which had its U.S. premiere at the United Nations General Assembly Hall.
Rula was born in Haifa, Israel, and she grew up in East Jerusalem. After the death of her mother, her father brought her to the Dar Al Tifel orphanage at the age of 5. She graduated with a scholarship from the Italian government to study medicine, and she received a degree in physiotherapy from Bologna University. She always had a passion for journalism, and began to contribute to newspapers such as Il Resto del Carlino, Il Giorno, La Nazione and Il Messaggero.
In 2000, the combination of her strong personality and charisma led to her first job as an on-air reporter, soon becoming the first foreign anchorwoman to broadcast the evening news in the history of Italian television.
In 2004, Rula started Ominibus, her own daily talk show for Italian television, where she interviewed such global personalities as Silvio Berlusconi, Bill Gates, Massimo D’Alema, president of the Italian Parliament Lamberto Dini, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Nobel Prize-winner Mohamed ElBaradei. Her famous scoop with former Prime Minister Berlusconi, who admitted that he opposed the Iraq War, corrected the public misperceptions that he was part of the coalition that led the invasion.
That same year, Jebreal was awarded her first prize from Media Watch for her courage in covering the Iraq War. In 2005, she received the prestigious Ischia Prize for her work in international journalism. In 2006, Rula co-presented Anno Zero, the most important investigative political television show in Italy, together with Michele Santoro. Over the course of her career in Italy, Rula worked with several television stations, including Rai 1, Rai 2 and Rai News 24, and she created a special for Channel 7 about the international moratorium against the death penalty.
In 2009, she produced and hosted a TV show in Cairo for Egyptian television for which she conducted hard talk one-on-one interviews with members of the Egyptians regime, dissidents, critics and intellectuals such as Lebanese author Elias Khoury, Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali and Minister of Trade and Industry Rashid Mohamed Rashid. The show was widely acclaimed as the most independent in the history of Egyptian television. However, despite successful ratings, the questions asked were seen as a challenge and affront to the Mubarak regime, which forced it off the air after one season.
Rula has written three books, Miral, The Bride of Aswan, which obtained the International Fenice Europe Prize, and Divieto di soggiorno (Permission to Survive but not to Thrive), which addresses the marginalization of immigrants in Europe and how this plays into the hands of extremist elements. She argues that in formulating an effective response to terror attacks, Europe will need to learn from the United States — both from its failed “war on terror” and from its shining example of a society that integrates rather than alienates Muslim immigrants.
Rula speaks Italian, English, Arabic, and Hebrew fluently. Rula lives with her husband Arthur Altschul and their daughter Miral in New York City, where she is currently finishing her documentary.