Monty Python comes to Gaza
The Freedom Flotilla is on its way all right, but there's not much goodwill between the various groups comprising it.
I wonder how many of you remember that classic scene from Monty Python's The Life of Brian.
Set two thousand years ago in the Holy Land, rebellious residents are rising up against the Roman Empire - and the following exchange takes place:
Brian: "Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?"
Reg: "F*** off! We're the People's Front of Judea!"
Well, I was reminded of that scene earlier today, when we received a complaint from a pro-Palestinian activist who had featured in a story we did the day before.
This was a report from the docks in Athens about a couple of vessels taking part in the Freedom Flotilla heading towards Gaza.
The flotilla, consisting of eight ships in total at our last count, intends to bring badly needed medical equipment, water treatment systems, building materials - and goodwill - to the besieged people of the Gaza Strip.
However, it soon became clear that there was not much goodwill between the various groups making up the flotilla.
The complaint concerned how we had described the activist. We had referred to him as a member of the "Free Gaza Movement".
"I was with the Free Gaza Movement," he explained.
"But now I should be described as a representative of the Free Palestine Movement."
Uh-oh. Free Gaza Movement/Free Palestine Movement?
Judean People's Front/People's Front of Judea?
We appeared to be descending into a moment of comedy, with the different factions vying for credit.
But then the comedy took a sour turn. I was shown another email, sent to our interviewee by a woman belonging to the "Free Gaza Movement", complaining that he appeared to be using their name.
"You do this ONE more time, and we will make sure you never even make it to the next drop off point," the woman fulminates.
"You are nothing but a passenger. That's fine as far as we are concerned, but we will call our contacts at Al Jazeera and embarrass the hell out of you if we see this again."
NGOs, Listen up! Journalists are not interested in your feuds and your rivalries.
We are interested in the story - which is, I hope we can all agree, Israeli's blockade of Gaza.
It seems tragic and irresponsible that energy and resources are being squandered on petty infighting when they should be directed towards what is supposedly their common goal: helping 1.5 million Palestinians who are living under siege.