No one expected peace between Israel and the Gulf states to pass without opposition. Still, it’s jarring to see just how hypocritical some of the opponents to this deal can be. Especially among those who suppose they sit in a position of moral superiority. The gate-keepers, so to speak.
Yasser Abu Hilala is a prominent journalist in the Arab world. From 2014-2018 he was the managing director of Al Jazeera, and on Twitter he commands a following of no fewer than 495,000 people across the Middle East.
And he really doesn’t like the newfound friendship between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
Last week on Twitter, Abu Hilala sought to start a blacklist of all Arab media voices supporting Israeli-Arab rapprochement, and went on to provide the first three names, together with a hashtag his followers could use when providing the identities of other “collaborators.”
“For the purposes of documentation, who are the journalists, writers, and politicians who supported the Emirati and Bahraini normalization #normalizers_list? I remember Turki al-Hamad from Saudi Arabia, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla from the UAE, and Zaid al-Obeidat from Jordan … the rest of the list:”
The Arab Council for Regional Integration called out Abu Hilala, noting that in the past he had advocated for press freedom, and now he wants to silence those who hold opposing political views.
Former Al-Jazeera chief @abuhilalah, who calls for press freedom, also calls for blacklisting Arab media voices who support Arab-Israeli engagement. He’s launched a hashtag and the first two names. Wrong, sad, and in line with an insidious tradition. @aalrashed
— المجلس العربي للتكامل الإقليمي (@thearabcouncil) September 11, 2020
Many of his followers complied with Abu Hilala’s request and provided the names of dozens of Arab journalists who had written or spoken favorably of the Israel normalization deals. Others slammed Abu Hilala for engaging in incitement that could lead to those journalists listed being targeted by extremists.
Revolting to see ex-manager of #Qatar-funded Al-Jazeera compiled list of Arab Journalists, writers, & politicians who back #UAE and #Bahrain normalisation of relations with #Israel.
A subtle invite for assassination? he will deny it; can’t see it any other way@realDonaldTrump https://t.co/3HPjSiRtO7
— Nervana Mahmoud (@Nervana_1) September 13, 2020
The more dissenting replies were quickly hidden by Abu Hilala, apparently so that folks reading his tweets would think that everyone agreed with his position.
So much for objectivity and transparency in journalism.