Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A Lack of Professionalism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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As part of my work, I am often sent letters and e-mails about television programs, and particularly documentaries, whether they have recently been broadcast or are still in production. I received a message informing me that Jane Corbin, the excellent BBC correspondent, is producing a documentary to investigate the “Freedom Flotilla” incident which took place off the coast of Gaza and which saw Israeli commandos attacking a Turkish ship that was attempting to transport activists and aid to the Gaza Strip.

My focus here is not on the unfinished documentary, and I have yet to see this, of course, but rather on the idea of a journalistic investigation into the incident that sparked an unprecedented crisis the effects of which are still being felt. I asked myself; I wonder whether the BBC correspondent saw our loud celebrations in preparation for a new “Freedom Flotilla” and the threats to Israel from those who supported this should Israel stand in their way? Perhaps Corbin believed the words and shouts that resounded in our media, threatening a never-ending series of Freedom Flotillas.

However from the message sent to me it appears that Corbin was satisfied with examining Turkey and Israel. Perhaps she realized that what happened in our media, and on our television screens and in our newspapers, was a loud commotion and nothing more.

And now silence is restored once more.

We also do not know why those who called for more Freedom Flotillas have now fallen silent? We also don’t know why the so-called defenders of freedom of opinion have also fallen silent now in the face of what happened to former CNN senior Middle East correspondent Octavia Nasr, who was fired after posting a sympathetic message on Twitter following the death of Shiite Lebanese cleric, Mohamed Hussein Fadlallah.

Tough words and shouting…and then absolute silence.

This has become our stance with regards to many issues that we do not hesitate to embrace and misuse, and then later be silent on! However this is an ominous silence that conceals flaws and scandals, rather than a silence of genuine investigation.

Perhaps our tendency to refrain from preserving with and following up on our issues is down to a number of reasons, and these must of course include our fatal lack of professionalism, and a belief that subsequent details may harm our cause as much as they harm that of our rivals or enemies.

We refrain from following up on the “Freedom Flotilla” case because the Turks are perhaps pursuing a different tract with regards to negotiations over this issue. We don’t express our solidarity with Octavia Nasr, because she said that she did not intend to insult anybody, while we wanted her to harm our enemies. While the essence of her case, and ours, is in one’s right to freely express one’s opinion.

The BBC is producing a documentary that will show unseen images of the Freedom Flotilla crisis, while the debate surrounding Octavia Nasr losing her job continues, and prominent writers such as Thomas Friedman and others have gotten involved in this. All the while, we – who claim that these are our issues – remain silent once more. We put this down to our lack of professionalism on one hand, and our belief that the truth could hurt us, on the other which both prevents the establishment of a media that could contribute to a different future.