What is the Proper "Arab" Way of Talking About Gaza ?

This morning, I read an interesting article by Joy Slim ( جوي سليم ) in Assafir, in which she berates some Arab journalists for their coverage of the conflict in Gaza. Ms. Slim is shocked, shocked! at some of the vocabulary used by those she sarcastically refers to as “Arab” (with quotation marks) journalists.

Arabs in name only

Here is a list of some of the things that shocked Ms. Slim in how some news outlets, especially in the Gulf, are covering the events:

  • The use of the phrase “killed Palestinians” instead of “Palestinian martyrs”
  • The description of the Israeli actions as a “campaign” or “operation” instead of an “aggression”
  • The description of Hamas as a “terrorist organization” instead of a “resistance movement”
  • The expression of empathy towards “innocent Israeli civilians”
  • Criticizing Hezbollah for its intention of sending missiles to Gaza

The important thing to note about the subtext of Ms. Slim’s complaints is that she is not making an argument about “fairness” in covering Gaza, she is making an argument about authenticity, about the “Arabness” of such coverage, with all the inherent and implicit accusations of treason such an argument carries.

Double Standards

Now take a look Nadine Kanaan’s article in Al-Akhbar (Assafir’s buddy in the “resistance” camp), in which she celebrates the foreign media for finally getting “unshackled” in Gaza.

You see, it’s okay if the foreign BBC correspondent describes Israel’s attack as a “campaign” instead of an “aggression”, in fact his very presence on the ground should be a cause for celebration. But heaven forbids that an Arab opinion writer describes the Palestinians being killed as –Horrors!– “killed Palestinians”.

Why is that? Why should Arabs have an exceptional form of logic and a form of story-telling that is different from that of the rest of the world? Aren’t we capable of a nuance that sees both the victimhood of the Palestinian people and the evil of Hamas?

Does being Arab require that I protest loudly when innocent Palestinian children are killed, but that I completely give away my humanity and turn a blind eye when innocent Israeli children are killed?

The world is changing, and the word “Arab” no longer means what Joy Slim thinks it means. That’s a good thing.

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  • marina morpurgo

    Thanks, from Italy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maurovaiani Mauro Vaiani

    A rare word of truth in a world of lies – Stop Hamas rockets and stop Israeli retaliation. Both of them, now.

  • Esteban

    Nice article! Thanks, from Chile.

  • anon

    joy slim is a woman, dumbass

    • Mustapha

      And a beautiful one apparently… Adjusted the post, thanks…

    • http://www.blogbaladi.com Najib

      You could have simply pointed out the mistake. No need for calling names. Joy could be a name for boys and girls and they don’t show a picture of her in the paper.

      • Mustapha

        Thanks Najib. I didn’t even know her name was Joy.. جوي could also be read as “Joey”, which was my first assumption..

      • anon

        dumbass is a bit endearing. i wouldn’t call it a name. ba3den meen 3ayannak his lawyer?

  • krebs

    Wow what an obnoxious little jerk….
    If you love Israel so much go live there.

    • Jim

      He is being unbiased. Is that so hard to understand?

  • Bronxman

    A civilized and intelligent commentary, Mus.

  • Anonymous

    ya3ne Moustafa, i always think your blog cant stink more and you then you go and outdo yourself.
    rou7 khayye, fakkir as you wish and write as you wish nobody is stopping you,
    Bass I for one cannot take more of your vomit, im leaving.
    I’m sure you dont give a frick but since this space is free i thought id let you know anyway.

    I remember you from AUB, u were and u still stink man. my goodness.

    • Maha Bawab

      I just wanted to sign my name so as not to leave my post above anonymous.
      W mabrouk 3leik the israeli support.

      • romeo

        Tcharrafna. I am romeo; of equal fame.

        Now that you attempted to defame the messenger, can you please use your intellect and analyze the *message*?

        Where is the Israeli support ya3ni?

        Is it too difficult to defend *humanity*, once the rockets start flying?

        Unless you respect life regardless of nationality, creed, religion, etc. you’re bound to live a life of subjugation and misery.

        And that applies to Arabs, and Israelis.

      • http://www.blogbaladi.com Najib

        OMG Did you say Israeli? How dare you? Don’t you mean “Invaded-Palestinian” support? Tsk tsk

      • Rachid

        It is this logic that you support that keeps the middle east in shambles. More open minds and less hatred will help us all.

  • fadi

    remember gaza today is beirut tomorrow,
    and yes of course the jewish owned media and the indigenous media aren’t going to write in the same style
    you seem not to notice that it’s an aggressed and an aggressor.
    you bought the line that it’s a fight between equals?

  • romeo

    To all those booing: let’s put the Palestinian Israeli conflict aside for a second.

    I am no fan of the Zionist media myself. However, the jist of the post is:

    One Palestinian Life *is equal* to One Israeli Life.

    That’s it.

    Whomever disagrees, please step up and share your wisdom as to why not.


  • peacelover

    You’re a courageous man that has a sharp mind and a big heart. Thanks for posting this. From Israel with respect.

  • Fatima

    I wish that real words of our palestinian people diffuse everywhere in arabs mentality specialy … I appreciate ur article :)

  • EJE

    So, now Mustapha, please sit down with Maha and her like and let’s all have a dialogue! Seriously, how can you communicate with pple who only hear what they wish, read what their blind eyes accept to show them and call for open dialogue as long as your opinion is exactly theirs! This crowd is close minded and authoritarian and cannot accept the view of others.

    Maha, not mabrouk 3ala Mustapha the “israeli support” rather mabrouk 3lei such comments from your likes.
    The west is realizing that their vision has not been nuanced in the past and to a great extent most are trying to re-balance. Many colleagues and papers in the west try really hard to provide a nuanced approach and recent open-ed are clear to this effect. That said, the problem is that an intentional targeting of civilians, as acclaimed by terrorist organizations like Hamas, are preventing well intended westerners from supporting the general Palestinian cause.

    You cannot argue with Hizballa when they were liberating the south by attacking a foreign occupant’s military personnel and military target. Same if Hamas was to destroy a military target invading Gaza, and same for Israel destroying Hamas launching pads and military/terrorist training schools. War is War. But, once you start to randomly and intentionally bomb civilian targets it is a different story. Yes, Israel has also killed civilians in its attacks again Gaza but let us not forget that these civilians are mostly used as human shields by those terrorist organizations and that the IDF has in the past called upon civilians to leave populated areas used by terrorist organizations before attacking these positions on a large scale.

    Again, don’t let your support for the overarching cause blind your appreciation of the methods used in war. In the same way, while you may support the right of the Syrian population to free itself of the dictator Bashar, and so may accept a targeted bombing of his military targets, you cannot but condemn terrorist attacks in civilian areas just because those areas are generally pro-Assad.
    Good luck Mustapha and glad to have rational lebanese voices who are not afraid of saying the truth as they see it.

    • Mustapha

      Thanks EJE

  • Maverick

    There needs to be a catchy phrase to describe the hypocrites in the illiberal and hateful “resistance” camp.

  • Bronxman

    “War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”

    Bertrand Russell

  • http://gravatar.com/gkaram Ghassan Karam

    Had I been an editor of a major newspaper then I would have no choice but to offer full coverage of the events in Gaza.A coverage that is as neutral in tone as humanly possible i.e no emotionally charged adjectives and descriptions. But then I would solicit opinion pieces that would in essence argue that this has become an old, tiresome and ineffective game played by both sides and that it is time that both sides grow up. Pox on both of their houses. The Israelis are still stuck with the mentality that peace is achieved by acting as a bully who can do nothing but to go out occasionally to the neighbourhood and hit passers by with a 2 x 4 on the head just to show who is boss. If the Israelis wanted so badly to discipline Gaza then why did they pack up and leave. Was that a show? It sure looks like it. They do not want to be there but yet they want to be in control of the borders and to inflict communal punishments. Maybe there is a better way to make friends. While the Palestinians are wallowing in their victimhood. This sounds harsh from a believer in the justice of the Palestinian cause but this is not about the cause but about the silly means used. If there is a bully in the hood who can beat the socks out of me whenever I so much as throw a tiny pebble at him then it is time that I stop this tactic that is futile and destructive.
    There is a love of martyrdom that I just cannot explain. It was widely reported that when Yasser Arafat visited the Sadiat he expected a heroes welcome. Instead the women of Tel Zatar pelted him with tomatoes and eggs and all sorts of rotten vegetables. It was their way of telling him that they did not approve of his methods of always seeking more martyrs since many of the Palestinians massacred in TEl Zatar were massacred after the cease fire was agreed upon. It was reported that Abu Ammar instructed the Palestinian fighters to violate the agreed upon terms of surrender in order to get more martyrs and so more outrage from the battle for the camps. What a sick logic.

  • Emanuela

    Thank you for posting, hope you will have more and more audience, good luck and all the best from Italy!