[Ikhras Note: As we were writing this blog post Hisham Melhem appeared on CNN to once again repeat the comments that are addressed in it and added what appeared to be a justification for Israel’s extrajudicial assassination of Lebanese citizen Samir Kuntar.]
After news of the extrajudicial assassination of Lebanese citizen Samir Kuntar in a Damascus suburb by Israel broke we could not help but remember a recent series of tweets by Hisham Melhem about the Arab resistance icon. After Syrian officials confirmed the death of Kuntar the Israeli hasbara machine immediately began repeating the stale propaganda narrative about “operation Nasser” that Kuntar led into occupied Northern Palestine in 1979 during which he was captured. Kuntar spent 30 years in prison before Israel was forced to release him in a prisoner swap with the Hezbollah resistance organization seven years ago. Melhem’s comments deserve to be highlighted as illustrative of a certain type of Arab, but first some background.
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The Ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-of-the-Month Award for August, 2014 goes to the Washington bureau chief of Al Arabiya News Channel Hisham Melhem. Melhem earned the award for an article he wrote for the Al-Arabiya website on the rise of ISIS. Blaming the rise of ISIS on Arab societal ills and political culture has become very fashionable among those working in the Arab oil and gas media and catering almost exclusively to a western audience, but rather than offering any insight into the rise of ISIS they are easily recognized as transparent attempts to leverage the recent attention garnered by the dramatic rise of the ruthless terrorist group to advance a political agenda.
We can all agree that self-criticism is healthy and necessary, but we need to also be mindful of the difference between constructive self-criticism and unhealthy self-flagellation which serves no purpose other than revealing the personal or political pathology of the person engaging in it. We must also draw a clear distinction between self-criticism intended to address the political or social ills of any given society and racist clichés and bigoted narratives of individuals trying to ingratiate themselves with an elite group from a different society perceived to be superior by the individual ostensibly engaging in the constructive and healthy form of self-criticism.
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