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.