By Sharmine Narwani
Imagine: Max Blumenthal can write anything he wants at Al Akhbar…so he quits.
Max Blumenthal resigned this week from Al Akhbar English in a public blogpost – classy. In it, Max makes spurious claims against one of the better-regarded daily publications in the Arab world, accusing the Lebanese paper of toeing a pro-Assad line, and naming myself, commentary writer and academic Amal Saad-Ghorayeb and Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim el-Amine as the main perpetrators of this “crime.” “Courageous,” is how he portrays Al Akhbar, before joining as a blogger last year. I, like Max, joined Al Akhbar precisely because of its reputation as a paper dedicated to exposing corruption, advancing pluralism, showcasing superb investigative reporting, and fundamentally opposing imperialism.
Max is entitled to his opinion, but he over stretches throughout his tirade. “I recently learned of a major exodus of key staffers at Al Akhbar caused at least in part by disagreements with the newspaper leadership’s pro-Assad tendency,” says Max from his perch in New York. The events in Syria have been a contentious issue for many in the Middle East, including within the various regional media outlets. And while a few staffers departed Al Akhbar perhaps partially over this issue, they have also done so at other media – Al Jazeera most notably. Max doesn’t seem to know that this issue is dated where Al Akhbar is concerned – the few who left did so well before I started writing for their English website in November 2011, and many of our writers who are critical of the Syrian government stay on and pound out their opinions on a daily basis – both in Arabic and in English. What Max fails to note – probably because he has absolutely no knowledge of the inner workings of the paper from his vantage point across the Atlantic – is that the Syrian government has even periodically inhibited Al Akhbar staff from entering the country. (more…)