Watching today different Arab Tv stations coverage of Israeli attacks on Gaza could give us a completely different idea of the crisis. Al Jazeera has got correspondents everywhere, from Gaza to Ramallah to Jerusalem to Beirut where lots of “action” was happening. Screen was divided into four smaller windows and the correspondents live and in parallel were asked questions by the presenter from Doha, Qatar. Most of them were wearing war helmets and the atmosphere was very dramatic. Emotional participations, lots of words referring to “martyrs” (sorry for this translation, which I am sure doesn’t reflect the exact meaning of the original Arabic word “shuhada”), lots of pics featuring children blessed, deaths, blood everywhere. A promo, edited by the Doha headquarters, “advertising” the war coverage as it was the latest war movie coming from Hollywood. But these are not special effects, this is the real tragedy happening live in Gaza.
On the other side, Al Arabiya, broadcasting from Dubai, was also talking about “martyrs”, but in a colder, more “neutral” way as it was something more distant (nobody here in the Arab Region could prevent himself to use this word, it’s not a matter of “being professional” as we wrongly believe in the West, it’s a matter of belonging to a culture and speaking the local language). Al Arabiya also has got a “promo” of its own war coverage, like Al Jazeera. But more as a “European movie” rather than Hollywood, something more sober in way. Still lots of deaths, but lin a way,more aseptic. The real paradox is that, while Al Jazeera shows correspondents with helmets, Al Arabiya’s cameras are focused live on Muscat, where the Gulf summit is going on (being originally something planned for economy, then turned urgently in a debate about a common Gulf position to be taken before the Arab League summit to be held after tomorrow in Cairo). Cameras are following the king of Saudi Arabia (Al Arabiya belongs to a prince businessman who is a member of the Saudi royal family), walking silently in Muscat followed by courts dignitaries dressed in the traditional Gulf long dresses. They walk in a perfect silent, live on Arabiya cameras. And there is nothing more paradoxical that this silent compared to the noise of the war happening live just on the other side of the Arab remote control.