Possible that a famous journo can hate Israel but not Jews?

Two protagonists of Zionism start off in concert. One is a million man marcher and American Islamist; the other is a long-in-the-tooth British-turned Lebanese journo. The name of the one is Louis Farrakhan; and the other is Robert Fisk.

There seems to be an unwritten law that Israel and Jews cannot be criticized, especially by blacks, wrote the first.

Don’t (speak badly of Israel) or you’ll be an anti-Semitic Nazi” wrote the second.

Decades apart they chant in unison one lament, or is it a slur, for their tone is fat with ridicule. Jews, Farrakhan and Fisk complain, won’t allow people to talk badly of Israel without calling them anti-Semitic. True, both hate Israel with a passion, but not Jews; and those who conflate the two are nothing but mumbo-jumbo dumb-heads. ‘Merely because people are anti-Israel does not make them anti-Semitic.’ So say Farrakhan and Fisk.

And so say a whole axis of their kind. Why are people not allowed to be anti-Zionist? Media workers pose that unspoken question, as do politicians and churchmen; not to forget academics and celebrities; and even a ‘rights icon on a pedestal has posed it. Their teeth will have been set on edge by different stimuli. They come from different ages and ranks, they have different audiences and aims, but they’ll swear in unison they don’t hate Jews per se, merely the Jewish state.

Farrakhan, observe, lifts the complaint to a racial level. But notice what all of them do. They imply that Jews suffer from mental sloth and ineptitude. They accuse Israel-loving Jews of being unwilling or unable to debate head-to-head with Israel-hating critics. Jews  presumably have no way of refuting the wickedness of Israel, and fall back on slander: ‘anti-Semite!’ And off they go, having killed civilized discourse with that parting shot.

If true, the Fisk – Farrakhan axis may be rightfully aggrieved. But observe one thing more. They have postulated a new kind of Jew, quite different in make-up to the tribe known, and indeed often despised, for its argumentative ways. Two Jews on an island form three political parties… God’s chosen were ever stiff-necked and dissenting. Yet the Fisk and Farrakhans argue quite the opposite. Jews have no stomach for argument. Anyone or any word against their beloved Israel brings down the shutters: ‘Anti-Semitic – closed for business!’ Intolerance wins the day; dogmatism lords it over discourse. We’re told to believe in a thorough and radical break from what it means to be Jewish.

Who better to arbitrate than bank robber Willie Sutton? Clueless about Israel, and Jews for that matter, on his special field of endeavour Sutton’s the man. When asked why he robbed banks, with faultless logic he answered: “That’s where the money is.”

Now point the Fisk – Farrakhan axis to the Willie Sutton principle. And put to them the principle question: ‘Why do you hate Israel?’ Then confront them with the unassailable logic of Willie Sutton: ‘That’s where the Jews are.’

I expect they’ll be indignant, refer to Jewish friends, and slam the door.

The Farrakhan part of the axis may be dispensed with quickly, for he does not have to guard his tongue. The million-man marcher’s record goes before him:

Judaism is a dirty religion and the Jews an accursed people. And            Two thousand years have not changed the Jews, or God’s condemnation of them.

So there we are; Farrakhan burns with hatred, and will admit it boldly. And Fisk? He’ll insist he’s not another Farrakhan, and go on to denounce the man and his ilk. Which is no more than one expects from a journo thinking of his reputation, following and career. Writing off Israel in demonic terms – that’s what his editor wants from him and that’s what he gives. But anti-Semitic! When did he ever speak about Jews the way Farrakhan speaks about them?  Which is true, leaving up in the air a man’s right to hate Israel, but not Jews.

Before the lights go up on Fisk we must acknowledge that he’s bound hand and foot to employer and erstwhile colleagues. He cannot be torn from axed journo Phil Reeves, or from the Independent and that entity’s editorial bias; nor from the libel suit it had to settle on Fisk’s misdemeanour; nor can Fisk be isolated from Left-Wing Lodge, where film-maker John Pilger beds down. The cast is assembled. Let the curtain rise!

During the second Intifada, Mr. Fisk sir, you began an article this way:

 The American actor, John Malkovich, has joined a long line of people …  determined to end any glimmer of truth emerging from the agony that is the Middle East.

 You went on to claim that Jews were out to muzzle you and colleague Reeves. Be so kind as to apply yourself to the following questions.

You write that Hamas rockets are meant to murder Israelis… man, woman or child. As in truth are the Israeli attacks on Gaza.  The new exchange rate for Palestinian and Israeli deaths has reached 16:1. The exchange rate in 2008/09 was 100:1”

Palestinians killed compared to Israelis (in far smaller number) is popular with you and your paper.  Details behind the fatalities are not. Please go to the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism.  Study research papers on the Second Intifada and Operation Cast Lead.  Awkward it may be for you, but the devil is in the detail.

Second Intifada, West Bank and Israel:

‰     Unarmed Israelis killed as % of total Israelis killed: 81%

‰     Unarmed Palestinians killed as % of total Palestinians killed: 5%

Operation Cast lead,Gaza:

‰     Non-combatant Palestinians killed as % of all Palestinians killed: 25% to 37%.

‰     Non-combatant Israelis killed by rockets as % of all Israelis killed: 100%

You have never disclosed the tolls which lie behind the toll.  For what reason do you consider the data unfit for your role as a ‘glimmer of truth?’

You wrote of Israeli forces murdering Palestinians. Both you and colleague Phil Reeves liked to describe the Israel Defense Force in these terms: ‘Terrorists;’ ‘Death Squads;’ ‘Assassins;’ ‘Extra-judicial executioners;’ ‘murderers.’ Your editors never allow Indian forces to be called those criminal names; or Russian forces; or even the US military. Like Israeli forces, those countries are at war with Islamic militants. Please explain your difference of treatment. What attributes make Israeli forces different from others, for you to call them murderers and so forth?

You are to be commended for your passionate concern about children caught up in war, not Israeli of course – Palestinian children. But what of Palestinian children abused by their leaders – political, military and religious – for cannon fodder? You will know of the camps for training kids to be assassins, to kill Jews, become shahids – martyrs for Allah. And you know about clerics exhorting mothers to sacrifice children in the name of Jihad; and about mothers who obey. And you know about the deployment of children to throw stones at Israeli troops and smuggle weapons.

Sweden’s Queen Silvia made a stand against Palestinian abuse of children, why have you not?  At the UN World Childhood Foundation in November 2000 the Queen said:

 I condemn Palestinian parents and leaders for exploiting children and risking their lives in a political fight.  As a mother I’m very worried about this.  I’d like to tell them to quit. This is very dangerous. The children should not take part.

In your role as a ‘glimmer of truth’ and with your concern for Arab children, why have you not written about this abuse? Explain your silence.

You were highly satisfied with John Pilger‘s 2002 documentary Palestine still the Issue. You wrote that you had ‘three times been through the documentary and found the detail correct in every respect.’  An emphatic endorsement, you’ll agree. You and John Pilger are of one mind, and that being so, when Pilger entreated his audience to “remember what the Nazis did” you agreed in every respect that Israel brought the Nazi regime to mind.

If you please, a quick visit to the US State Department. Criticism of Israel, according to it, goes into anti-Semitism when it demonizes Israel, or vilifies Israeli leaders through a comparison with Nazi leaders…” That, says the State Department, “indicates anti-Semitic bias rather than a valid criticism of policy.”

On that basis there’s little doubt that your bias against Israelis anti-Semitic. On a related basis there’s no argument at all. Along with Pilger you entreated everyone to hate the Jews. How so? Given that Israelis are both Jews and, to your mind, Nazis, since  good people hate Nazis, you advocate that good people should hate Jews.

“Thousands of hectares of land are stolen from Arabs by Israel– for Jews only – on the West Bank. There isn’t even enough land left there now for a Palestinian state.”  That is what you wrote. Sir, answer the following questions if you please:

  1. When the so-called ‘West Bank’ was in the hands of Jordan for 19 years was there not enough land for a Palestinian state?
  2. Why for 19 years did the Jordanians fail to give the Palestinians a state on the West Bank under their control?
  3. Why did other Arab potentates fail to support a Palestinian state during  that 19 year window?
  4. What international law makes it illegal for Israel to build settlements in the ‘West Bank.’
  5. Quote international law that makes a Palestinian state mandatory.
  6. Quote even one foundation legal instrument that refers to a nation called the Palestinian people.

Your erstwhile colleague Phil Reeves got the chop after he spun a hoax Israeli massacre on readers. Here then is the thing. Whilst engaged in this productive way you had occasion to write that Jews were out to muzzle yourself and Reeves. “How to shut your critics up with a single word,” you wrote, bent in the meantime on shutting up critics on the trail of the hoax Jenin massacre and other frauds  spun on the public.

Is Fisk really a Farrakhan? There’s a definitive answer behind the reports he files and the columns he writes. Fisk cannot – dare not – express himself in the full and open terms that Farrakhan is free to use. Weighing what is practical a journo must check himself. Compelled to pick his words, the words he picks, the lies he tells and the opinion he schools may bow to one idea, and only one: to insert the Jew in the Farrakhan frame:

Judaism is a dirty religion and the Jews an accursed people.”

About the Author
The writer is a prolific author of novels and non-fiction, essayist and commentator on ‘Enemies of Zion’ which happens also to be the title of his latest book. His works are The Paymaster, 1998; Hadrian’s Echo, 2012; Contributor to ‘War by other means: Israel and its detractors’, 2012; Enemies of Zion, (for publication 2017); and Balaam’s curse ( a novel in progress)