Oh dear. Son of Guardian (The Independent) gets all fisky fisky about Robert Fisk and the Jews
The Independent (laughable name, we know) is a very poor UK leftist relation to the Guardian. Talk about defensive over Israel and anti-Semitism...
The Independent, refuting claims that it demonized Israel as a matter of policy, scored a hapless ‘own goal’. You don’t select your blatant game spoiler, your serial offender if you want to hoodwink referees that you play a clean game.
“Our coverage of Israel is led by our multiple award-winning Middle East Correspondent, Robert Fisk. Mr Fisk, in three decades reporting on that region, understands it better than most of those who slander him, and has been at pains to distinguish between opposition to Israeli policy and anti-Semitism.”
Oh, their man has been at pains all right. But the devil is in the detail, and when Fisk’s record is a mile long the detail scuppers the best laid plan to cast your dirtiest player as a model exponent of clean football.
To what pains did he go to distinguish between someone who is an opponent of Israeli policy from another who simply can’t stick the Jews? Let the eloquent Fisk tell, in his own characteristic style, of the pains he went to.
Fisk has gone to a lot of pain; but for what gain? Do the sample writings (there are more of the kind) distinguish an honest critic from a blind hater of Israel? Who can see the difference?
Or has Robert Fisk put up a straw man Jew that he may trifle with and ridicule before hacking it down for the amusement of fans?
There can be no question that the portrait he paints stands in stark contrast with the tribe known – despised – from bible days for being argumentative and divisive. What happened to the “stiff-necked” nation that tested God’s patience? What happened to the radical people that produced a Rothschild, a Disraeli, a Marx, a Freud, an Einstein, a Warner Brothers, a microchip and iron dome?
The Jews who supposedly slander Fisk to shut him up are unrecognizable. Limp-minded, stupid, inept; intolerant, cowardly, the Fisk model Jew has no stomach to confront a great all-knowing expert, who “understands the region better than (Jews) who slander him.” Anti-Semite! And off go the scheming devils, having stopped the truth with their parting shot. The Independent wants us to believe in a thorough and radical break from what being Jewish has always meant.
Should we believe it? Not until we’ve reverted to football and that infamous ruse. Fairly tackled by his opposite number, a player will dive to the turf crying foul, expecting one, two or three things to happen.
(a) The game, up to this point running against his team, will break up and hopefully turn. (b) Pressure will be diverted to the opponents. (c) The tackler will be shown the red card and his victim’s team awarded a penalty.
How may we compare footballer and Fisk? They are alike in their bluffing and unlike in their bluffs. The latter cries foul against Jews for trying to stop his reports of Israeli crimes. And while victim Fisk writhes in agony we forget that he effectively begged to be tackled. Awkward spotlight and imminent shame shift onto those who would tackle Fisk.
Then the red card comes out and, hunched and bowed, his tacklers walk off to the sin bin to the chorus of jeers. Then Fisk gets his penalty - public sympathy for him and public contempt for Jews. Then the game is over.
What do we now know about the award-winning correspondent and the paper he works for? We know several things. They create stories and sell them as factual reports; they suppress evidence; they invent records to fit their world view; they turn statistics on their head; they pedal plots; they bitterly resent the military prowess of Israel; they portray its leaders as Nazis. Oh – and they sold perhaps the fraud of modern media history – the Great Jenin Massacre.
Here then is the thing. Whilst engaged in this productive way, Fisk and his editors are incensed that Jews want to shut them up.
Is there a lesson to be learnt? Actually there are two: a simple one and a deeper more troubling lesson. “How to shut your critics up with a single word,” wrote Fisk, all the while bent on shutting up critics in pursuit of his own falsifications and frauds.
So much for the simple lesson. The deeper one leads into muddy waters and even psychosis. When Fisk cries foul it’s in the knowledge that he’s the guilty party. ‘That which I have done I will accuse Israel of doing.’
If I know that my Palestinian friends kill children, I’ll accuse the Jews of infanticide. If my Arab friends ethnically cleansed the Jews from ancient homelands I’ll accuse them of doing that to my Arab friends.
And if my Arab fans, unprovoked, attacked Israel I’ll accuse Israel of attacking them. And if 90 percent of Jews killed by my Arabs were civilian, I’ll turn the tables and claim that 90 percent of my Arabs killed by Jews were civilians. And if I want to shut up my critics, I’ll claim that my critics want to shut me up.
Look out for this role reversal whenever Fisk writes on Israel. But having learnt what he has to teach, we may snuff out his flame, repack him with care (we might need Fisk again), and consign him back to the sin bin.
Steve Apfel is director of the School of Management Accounting, Johannesburg. He is the author of the book,'Hadrian's Echo: The whys and wherefores of Israel's critics' (2012) and a contributor to, "War by other means." (Israel Affairs, 2012). His articles and blogs are published in several foreign journals and his new work, 'How the West was won' is due out next year
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