My tweet was short: "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot. #Lebanon"
Reaction to my tweet was immediate, overwhelming and a provides a good lesson on why 140 characters should not be used to comment on controversial or sensitive issues, especially those dealing with the Middle East.
It was an error of judgment for me to write such a simplistic comment and I'm sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah's life's work. That's not the case at all.
Here's what I should have conveyed more fully:
Forty-seven nations attended President Obama's Nuclear Security Summit this week in Washington. Among them were eight from the Middle East, including six Arab nations. Iran wasn't at the summit, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided at the last minute not to attend but sent a representative instead.
Netanyahu's move got most of the reaction in Arab media and on the Arab street. A majority believes that Israel once more undermined the United States and signaled trouble for the region, while other smaller but effective groups said Netanyahu did Arabs a service by bolstering the Arab position as moderates in the world.
"Thank you Netanyahu" for not showing up at the nuclear summit, said columnist Abdul Rahman al-Rashed in an op-ed for the Saudi Asharq Alawsat. Al-Rashed's sarcasm and direct criticism of the Israeli prime minister was not widely echoed across the Middle East. However, it was an opinion shared by many intellectuals among Arabs, the moderates and those with cool enough attitudes to analyze what's going on rather than offer the usual reactive opinion when it comes to Israel, Arabs and the United States.