Arabeyes: Reactions to Alan Johnston's Release – Part 2

Reactions are continuing on Middle Eastern blogs, following the release of kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston in Palestine. Here's the second take of reactions by bloggers, who continue to read beyond the headlines.


From Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, Seabee writes:

Excellent news from Gaza that BBC journalist Alan Johnston has been released unharmed.

A news clip on radio about it once again raised something that I'm endlessly fascinated by. The way words and phrases are used to put a completely different meaning on the same thing by people with different agendas. And the power of the words to create perceptions in the mind of the listener or reader.

The phrase used was that Alan was ‘surrounded by Hamas gunmen’.

Hamas won the democratic election, declared fair and valid by international observers. Yet their people are ‘gunmen’.

Had they been Fatah people they would almost certainly have been described as ‘security personnel’. Had they been westerners in Iraq they would have been described as ‘civilian contractors’.

That last one is a new phrase too – such people have always been called ‘mercenaries’. They do exactly the same work but the new phrase removes any suggestion of guns & violence. It makes them sound like plumbers or carpenters, not the heavily-armed private armies that they are.


In Israel, the news was received coldly, as bloggers questioned when Israeli captives will be reunited with their families.

Aussie Dave writes:

Of course, it does not seem to bother Johnston that this is the same Hamas that is holding Israeli Gilad Shalit in captivity (or for that matter, the same Hamas that has murdered thousands of innocent Israelis).

In other words, Johnston's experience has ostensibly not changed his worldview. In his eyes, there are good terrorists and bad terrorists – the latter being those who capture nice pro-palestinians like himself, and the former being those who capture Israelis like Gilad Shalit. I'm sure Jimmy Carter would agree.

Still in Israel, Izzy Bee notes:

Johnston survived captivity unharmed and finally is headed home….
Israelis anxiously await the release of the other Gaza captive, Corporal Gilad Shalit, siezed by the same renegade Jihadist faction more than a year ago, when they tunneled under the border into Israel. Poignantly, today marks the 31st anniversary since the Entebbe raid, a secret mission when Israeli special forces freed hostages held at Entebbe Airport in Idi Amin's Uganda. One Israeli soldier, 45 Ugandan soldiers, six hijackers, and three hostages were ultimately slain during the rescue action; 100 hostages were let go. Haniya, chuffed from the release of Johnston, told the press that “the ball is in Israel's court” and wants to swap prisoners.


Writing in Mideast Youth, Jordanian Mohammad Alazraq says:

Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza 114 days ago. His case received international attention, people from New York to Bangkok , Sydney to Beirut were having vigils calling for his release.

A month after his kidnapping, BBC, Sky News, CNN, and Aljazeera, joined forces in a common broadcast to highlight his plight.

Today is not just happy day for London or the BBC, it’s a happy day for everyone that believes in the power of journalism in the world at large, today marks the triumph of word and picture over sword and capture.


to Sasa, from Syria, it was his country which had put pressure on Hamas to release the journalist:

Syria put pressure on Hamas to step up efforts to find BBC journalist Alan Johnston.
Johnston was freed by a militant group in Gaza yesterday, after more than four months in captivity.
When Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip they said one of their first priorities would be to find Johnston.
And now the far-right Jerusalem Post is reporting that the British government asked Syria to put pressure on Hamas to deal with the situation.

1 comment

  • I disagree with your statement that the news of Johnston’s release was received “coldly” in Israel. On the contrary, most Israelis were very happy and relieved that he was finally released. And, while we are understandably frustrated by the fact that Gilad Shalit is still being held captive more than a year after he was taken, it’s both wrong and misleading to make such a blanket statement from the selected blog entries that the news was received coldly, especially when that statement is so far from the truth.

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