April 27, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2319

Arab Media Publishes Blacklist of Writers

April 27, 2009
Special Dispatch No. 2319

Articles criticizing Hamas and Hizbullah, published in the Arab media as part of the ongoing ideological and political struggle between the rejectionist front and the moderate camp led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were posted by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its website without permission from their authors.

As a result, several Arab papers and sites supportive of the rejectionist front published a list of the authors, calling them "Israel's ambassadors in the Arab world" - a name allegedly given them by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Some of the websites accused the authors of treason and of receiving a salary from the Israeli ministry.

The original list, posted January 26, 2009 on the Syrian pan-Arab site, included the following names: Fuad Al-Hashem and 'Abdallah Al-Hadlaq of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tariq Al-Homayed and the paper's columnists Turki Al-Hamad, Mamoun Fandy, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed (director-general of Al-Arabiya TV), 'Abd Al-Mun'im Sa'id and 'Ali Salem; Tareq Heggy, Magdi Al-Daqqaq, and Gamal Abu Jawwad of the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram; Hazem Saghiya of the London daily Al-Hayat; Nassir Al-As'ad of the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal; 'Othman Al-Omayyer, editor of the liberal website, and the website's contributing writers Nidhal Na'isa and Hani Al-Naqshabandi; Jihad Nasra of the liberal website ; Abi Hassan, who writes on the liberal website Awan, Houssam 'Itani of the Lebanese daily Al-Safir; Syrian oppositionist Luai Hussein; Hamza Rastanawi, and Nadim Jarjoura. [1]

The list was picked up by other papers and sites - such as the Syrian daily Al-Watan, [2] the Moroccan Islamist daily Al-Tajdid [3] and the Hamas-affiliated website [4] - some of which eliminated certain names and added others. [5]

The lists evoked outrage among many of those included in them, as well as among other writers. Some of the blacklisted writers stressed that it was their national duty to criticize the rejectionist front, while others pointed out that the publication of this list was a tool by which various forces were trying to silence dissenting voices. Yet others published sarcastic responses.

Following are excerpts from responses by five of the writers named in different versions of the list: Musa'id Al-Khamees of the London daily Al-Hayat, [6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat chief editor Tariq Al-Homayed; [7] Subhi Fuad, who writes on the liberal website ; [8] Syrian oppositionist Luai Hussein; [9] and Nidhal Na'isa, a Syrian who writes on [10]

Criticizing the Resistance Is a National Duty

In a statement to the Quds Press news agency, Syrian oppositionist Luai Hussein said: "Criticizing the resistance or jihad is not only a [citizen's] right but a national duty… The slogan 'no voice should rise above the din of battle' is outdated. Israel is winning the wars because it has mechanisms for [self-]criticism [even] in times of war… The resistance and jihad movements must be divested of their aura of sanctity and subjected to a cost/benefit assessment." [11]

Syrian liberal Nidhal Na'isa likewise insisted on his right to express his opinion: "If our position, grounded in an enlightened humanistic… [and] secular outlook, is completely at odds with [the position] held by [the proponents of] sectarianism, tribalism, [and] Fascism… which undermines… [all] natural progress... - it is not our fault, nor is it an irredeemable wrong." [12]

Elaph Columnist Subhi Fuad: Blacklisting is Terrorism Against Dissidents

Most of the responses to the publication of the list focused on ideological terrorism in the Arab world. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tariq Al-Homayed wrote: "This list was published in order to harm those who criticize the escapades of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran together with its proxies… The use of terrorism against those who express [dissenting] views is nothing new. We went through this in the first few days after 9/11, when anyone who condemned Al-Qaeda was subjected to similar attacks. It happened again when [the dissenters] asserted that Saddam Hussein would not be able to stand up to America, and would expose Iraq to the danger of destruction; and [again] when they criticized Hizbullah's escapades and the coup it carried out in Beirut, as well as Hamas' coup in Gaza…" [13]

Liberal columnist Subhi Fuad wrote about the ideological terrorism which he claims is employed by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: "A friend told me that a website of an Islamist group, which is blocked in Egypt, had only a few days previously posted a list of Egyptian and Arab writers, including myself. This extremist website called these writers 'Zionist agents' and 'Israel's ambassadors in their countries.' The [content of the] report did not surprise me, since in our Arab countries, we are used to being accused of treason and of accepting payment from foreign forces - [allegations] with no shred of evidence…

"I [later] found out that [this list] had been posted… on the website of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. On reading the report [that accompanied the list], I did not find [in it] any evidence of collaboration or treason [on the part of the writers]. What I did find was evidence that [the Muslim Brotherhood] are dictatorial, ignorant and great experts at fabricating allegations and wielding intellectual terrorism designed to silence proponents of liberal and enlightened views, whose only aim is to serve their homeland..." [14]

Luai Hussein told Quds Press that in any nation, ideological terrorism erodes the capacity for winning a war: "Accusing others of treason undermines the pluralism of opinions… Every writer has the right to express his views on any public issue. An intellectual is not a soldier on the battlefield. Pluralism is essential and indispensable in this matter…

"There is no doubt that Israel is Arabs' number one enemy, but the question is how to deal with it. Should we deal with it by suppressing the freedom of opinion… as is done, for example, in Syria, where some writers have been banned from writing in the local press? As for me, I haven't been able to find a single media outlet [that would publish] my criticism of the so-called Islamic Resistance Movement, [aka] Hamas…" [15]

In this connection, Nidhal Na'isa wrote: "We are not afraid of the intellectual terrorism deployed by the official apparatuses of the Arab regimes to bury dissenting opinions and prevent criticism…" [16]

Syrian Liberal Writer: The Arabs Are Their Own Enemies

Na'isa went on to state: "In my opinion, the bloody conflicts [raging] among [our] brothers [both Arab and Muslim] here, there, and everywhere [in the Arab and Muslim world] are actually serving Israel and the Zionist plan more than [any critic of the Hamas movement and its kind]…" [17]

Subhi Fuad, on his part, pointed an accusing finger at the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: "Let me tell you who are the real agents and traitors to their country. [They are the ones] who say, 'We couldn't care less about Egypt' [meaning Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef] [18] … The real traitors are those who have stabbed Egypt in the back [by] nurturing Hamas on its eastern border, so that it should become a thorn in Egypt's side and a serious threat to its security… The real traitors and agents are not the writers, who have nothing but hopes, ideas, and pens [for weapons]…" [19]

"[Articles by foreign writers are published] in all the countries in the world. Egyptian newspapers publish numerous articles by Jewish writers who oppose their country's policy. Even Islamist websites and newspapers occasionally publish articles by American and Jewish writers who oppose the trends prevailing in their countries. In spite of this, we do not hear the Americans or the Israelis accusing these writers of treason…" [20]

A Sarcastic Response to the List

Some of the reactions to the publication of the list were sarcastic. Musa'id Al-Khamees wrote: "I propose to all my colleagues who appear on the list: Let's collect all the dollars [we got from Israel's Foreign Ministry] and donate them to our brothers the fighters - a modest contribution to defray the costs of hotels [they stay in], the palaces [they live in], their official vehicles, and their personal bodyguards. Some of this money can also go to various parties in the region, so they can build bunkers to hide in while they make statements against Israel and the Arab traitors who support it.

"We only ask them to be patient, and wait until we transfer the money directly to their accounts… in Switzerland, Cyprus… or any other location of their choice - as long as it is outside Gaza…" [21]


[1], January 26, 2009.

[2] Al-Watan (Syria), January 28, 2009; February 5, 2009.

[3] Al-Tajdid (Morocco), January 31, 2009.

[4], February 4, 2009.

[5] For example, Al-Tajdid and added the following names: Khalil Ali Haidar and Hassan 'Ali Karam of the Kuwaiti Al-Watan; chief editor of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa Ahmad Al-Jarallah as well as Dr. Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, Yousef Nasser Al-Suweidan, Elias Bajani and Hassan Radi of this paper; 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, 'Adel Al-Darwish, Nazir Mjali, and renowned author and politician Ayaan Hirsi 'Ali, who published in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat; Subhi Fuad, Dr. Ahmad Abu Matar, Anwar Al-Hamaida and Samer Al-Sayyed who write on ; Yousef Ibrahim of the UAE daily Al-Ittihad; Hazem 'Abd Al-Rahman and Anis Mansour of the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram; Hussein Sarag of the Egyptian weekly October; Saleh Al-Qallab and Dr. Fahd Al-Fanek of the Jordanian daily Al-Rai; Musa'id Al-Khamees of the London daily Al-Hayat; and Lebanese writer Mikhail Baha.

[6] His article posted on the Israeli Foreign Ministry website criticized the policies of Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nassrallah.

[7] His articles posted on the Israeli website accused Hamas of trading in Palestinian blood and of gravely harming the Palestinians' interests.

[8] His article posted on the Israeli Foreign Ministry website likewise stated that the Palestinian people were paying the price of Hamas' extremism.

[9] His name was included in several versions of the list though no articles of his were posted on the Israeli Foreign Ministry website. On February 5, 2009, the Syrian daily Al-Watan published an apology for including his name in the list.

[10] The Israeli Foreign Ministry website posted an article stating that the Arabs were their own worst enemies.

[11] (Syria), February 5, 2009.

[12], February 2, 2009.

[13] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 4, 2009.

[14], January 29, 2009.

[15], February 5, 2009.

[16], February 2, 2009.

[17], February 2, 2009.

[18] Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), April 9, 2006.

[19], January 29, 2009.

[20], January 29, 2009.

[21] Al-Hayat (London), February 4, 2009.

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