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The Unsung Journalists of Gaza Deserve TIME’s Person of the Year

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

Since 1927, TIME has chosen its Person of the Year, which springs from “the Great Man Theory of history, a belief that individuals have the power to transform society.”

When reading this statement, I think of Palestinian journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh, still standing high after the loss of his wife and children. I think of Palestinian photojournalist Motaz Azaiza being targeted by air strikes wherever he fled. And I think of Plestia Alaqad, at the age of only 21, battling the decision to escape Gaza or risk her life to stay and fight for Palestine’s liberation. 

With an audience of over 100 million readers worldwide, TIME is a platform covering key issues from business to entertainment and politics. They are well known for their annual Person of the Year showcase, which provides insight into the most influential individuals of the current time. In December, TIME announced singer-songwriter Taylor Swift as their 2023 Person of the Year.

It’s irrelevant to say that it’s not Swift’s place to speak out about the mass genocide taking place in Gaza. You might think, celebrities shouldn’t need to speak for politics. It’s not what they signed up for. Yet, the genocide occurring in Gaza is not just “politics.”

Palestinians are people just like us who didn’t sign up for death, either. When did we choose to estrange ourselves from other humans and act like their suffering shouldn’t concern us? I never thought that we would be in a society where millions of people stand by celebrities safeguarded by luxury and glamour over the deaths of innocent civilians. 

TIME states, “Every year contains light and dark; 2023 was a year with significant shares of darkness. In a divided world, where too many institutions are failing, Swift found a way to transcend borders and be a source of light.” What a statement to put out just two months after our perception of the world changed. 

The journalists who are risking their lives in Gaza are a symbol of hope and resistance. English is not their first language, yet they still report in it with hopes of reaching the West. These journalists are the influencers of current society by making privileged individuals confront discomfort from their screens that Palestinians are forced to actually live. Without their sacrifice, we would be blind to the reality faced in Gaza. 

Swift is one of the most admirable figures of our generation. I really do respect her work, but this does not stop me from questioning why she continues to stay silent.

Even with 153 United Nations states voting in favour of a ceasefire, the United States refuses. When reading this, I think of Swift’s Eras Tour, adding an estimated five billion dollars to the worldwide economy. She has the power to save lives right now, especially with her millions of supporters who do just as she says. It all feels too dystopian.

Now that Swift has been given this honourable title, I encourage her to call for a ceasefire. I encourage those who are uneducated to engage with people’s Instagram stories about the genocide instead of clicking away.

Most importantly, I encourage you to stay sensitized and not turn your back on Palestinians, as they are just like us — we’re all human and in it for the same thing.

Hadiqah Khalil

Toronto MU '26

Hadiqah Khalil is a third-year Journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University. Her favourite read is As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh and has watched The Greatest Showman film thirty times since its release date. Hadiqah hopes to represent Muslim women in the media, and loves bringing the spotlight to untold stories.