Robert Fisk’s latest work of fiction at The Independent is titled ‘US cowardice will let Israel’s isolated right off the hook‘.
Here are the lowlights from his characteristic hyperbole and outright misrepresentations about Israel and the state’s supporters:
First, here is the hyperbole:
1. Fisk accuses “thieving” Israelis of conspiring to steal more Palestinian land for “Jews only”:
For there was President Obama at Monday’s meeting, praising Mr Netanyahu for his support for a two-state solution. And what did President Obama actually say? That there was “a limited amount of time to achieve that goal”.
So why was there only a “limited amount of time”? Not a single scribe asked the poor fellow.
There is, of course, only a “limited amount of time” – in my view, no time at all – to achieve this illusory goal because the Netanyahu government is thieving, against all international law, yet more Palestinian Arab land for Jews and Jews only, at a faster rate than ever, to prevent just such a Palestinian state ever existing.
2. Fisk decries Israel and the Israel lobby for bullying and intimidating the US:
These are hard times for the Israeli right. Used to bullying the US – and especially its present, shallow leader – the Likudists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war.
the Israelis know that [Obama] is still a groveller. This is what real “appeasement” is all about. Fear.
…when Congress hesitated to strike Damascus, “the hounds of hell were let loose. Aipac (the largest Likudist pro-Israeli lobby group in the US) sent its parliamentary rottweillers to Capitol Hill to tear to pieces any senator or congressman who objected”.
Now, the misrepresentations:
1. Fisk misrepresents Hassan Rouhani’s remarks about the Holocaust:
These are hard times for the Israeli right. Used to bullying the US – and especially its present, shallow leader – the Likudists suddenly find that the whole world wants peace in the Middle East rather than war. Brits and Americans didn’t want to go to war in Syria. Now, with the pleasant smile of President Rouhani gracing their television screens, fully accepting the facts of the Jewish Holocaust
However, even if Fisk were to uncritically accept the false CNN’s translation of Rouhani’s replies to questions posed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, he certainly did not “fully” accept “the facts of the Jewish Holocaust”. As we argued previously, his qualifications (seen in the following relevant passages from Rouhani’s speech) are quite consistent with the narrative advanced by revisionists in questioning the “scope” of the Holocaust.
Rouhani, per CNN:
I have said before that I am not a historian personally and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust as such, it is the historians that should reflect on it.
But in general, I can tell you that any crime or – that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, is reprehensible and condemnable, as far as we are concerned.
And just as even such crimes are – if they are to happen today against any creed or belief system or human being as such, we shall again condemn it.
So what the Nazis did is condemnable. The dimensions of whatever it is, the historians have to understand what it is. I am not a historian myself, but we – it must be clear here, is that when there is an atrocity, a crime that happens, it should not become a cover to work against the interests or – or justify the crimes against another nation or another group of people.
So if the Nazis, however criminal they were, we condemn them, whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, because genocide, the taking of the human life, is condemnable and it makes no difference whether that life is a Jewish life, a Christian or a Muslim or what.
For us, it’s the same. It’s the taking of a human life and an innocent human life is (INAUDIBLE) in Islam. It’s actually something that we condemn and our religion also rejects.
But this does not mean that, on the other hand, you can say, well, the Nazis committed crimes against, you know, a certain group, now, therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This, too, is an act that should be condemned, in our view.
So there should be an even-handed discussion of this.
As ADL has argued, the success of Holocaust deniers does not depend on convincing people that the murder of six million Jews didn’t occur; rather, just the idea that the genocide’s scope can be doubted means that “the deniers have scored propaganda points”.
2. False claim that Netanyahu called Rouhani an “anti-Semite”.
What we do know is that when Mr Rouhani started saying all the things we had been demanding that Iran should say for years, Israel went bananas. Mr Netanyahu condemned him before he had even said a word. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.” “An anti-Semite.”
However, whilst it was widely reported that the Israeli prime minister called Rouhani “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, we were unable to find any record of him accusing Rouhani (either at the UN speech or elsewhere) of being an “anti-Semite.” Netanyahu did end his UN speech with a tale of the antisemitism suffered by his grandfather and his subsequent Zionism, but this was only meant to illustrate the moral urgency of the Zionist mission to build and maintain a Jewish homeland.
Of course, none of this is anything new, as Fisk is a well-known anti-Israel ideologue who’s been accused of unethical and unfactual reporting in the past.
However, whilst Fisk is entitled to engage in all the scaremongering and vitriol about the Jewish state that he wishes, editors at The Independent have the ethical obligation to hold their contributors – both reporters and commentators – responsible when they engage in mischaracterizations, distortions or lies.