Culture shock

The foreign media's lack of coverage of Hizbullah's lavish celebrations last week reveal how journalists have capitulated at the hands of extremism.

The foreign media's coverage, or lack of coverage, of Hizbullah's lavish celebration of the return of Samir Kuntar last week revealed just how journalists covering this region have capitulated at the hands of extremism. With the exception of an editorial in the Boston Globe denouncing the warm welcome as "morally repulsive" and condemnations from a few conservative papers such as the New York Post, most journalists failed to report on just how repugnant the culture promoted by Hamas and Hizbullah has become. Upon arriving in Lebanon, Kuntar was welcomed as thousands of Lebanese cheered and threw confetti to celebrate their "victory" over Israel. Hizbullah rolled out a red carpet to receive him and the government declared a national day of celebration. Kuntar is the new hero of the "resistance" against Israel. And for what? For killing an unarmed father in front of his four-year-old girl, then smashing in her skull with the butt of his rifle. Lebanon's Shi'ites are entitled to their pride and nationalism, and no one in the mainstream media disagrees with the Palestinian plight for their own state. But the crowning of a murderer who took lives of innocent civilians, including a child, must be denounced by the media. The penchant for blood which is embedded in the culture of the Arab "resistance" movements must be talked about, condemned, and denunciated. IN THE 21st century we are very careful about how we describe foreign cultures. Some NGOs even refrain from using the term genital mutilation, opting instead for "genital cutting." They fear the former may "imply excessive judgment by outsiders as well as insensitivity toward individuals who have undergone some form of genital excision," according to REACH, an NGO specializing in the issue. As a general rule, keen awareness to cultural sensitivities promotes toleration, respect, and dialogue. But when political correctness becomes an obsession, it fires back as censorship and backwardness. At times, in being overly cautious we may ignore callous, insensitive behavior which deserves appropriate reprimanding in our newspapers and televisions. When it comes to a murderer like Kuntar and the giddiness with which Hizbullah heroified such a man, the media must not shy away. Journalists must boldly and vividly describe the situation for what it is: a dangerous culture of hate and violence. The writer is a journalist based in Jerusalem.