Note to Robert Fisk RE Syria

RE: http://www.zcomm.org/syrian-war-of-lies-and-hypocrisy-by-robert-fisk

Mr. Fisk:

You wrote of various types of hypocrisy being exposed by the conflict in Syria. At one point you singled out westerners who protest their government's support for Israel's crimes against Palestinians:

"Then, of course, there's us, our dear liberal selves who are so quick to fill the streets of London in protest at the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. Rightly so, of course. When our political leaders are happy to condemn Arabs for their savagery but too timid to utter a word of the mildest criticism when the Israeli army commits crimes against humanity – or watches its allies do it in Lebanon – ordinary people have to remind the world that they are not as timid as the politicians. But when the scorecard of death in Syria reaches 15,000 or 19,000 – perhaps 14 times as many fatalities as in Israel's savage 2008-2009 onslaught on Gaza – scarcely a single protester, save for Syrian expatriates abroad, walks the streets to condemn these crimes against humanity. Israel's crimes have not been on this scale since 1948. Rightly or wrongly, the message that goes out is simple: we demand justice and the right to life for Arabs if they are butchered by the West and its Israeli allies; but not when they are being butchered by their fellow Arabs."

This is a horribly misguided and muddled paragraph for several reasons

1) Israel lost 6 soldiers during operation "Cast Lead". Months ago, Syrian opposition sources said that 2000 Syrian soldiers had been killed by the rebels. The Syrian rebels are inflicting losses, including defections, on Assad's forces that the Palestinians could never dream of inflicting on Israel's military. It is now routinely speculated that Assad will be militarily driven from power. When it has it ever been speculated that the Palestinians were on the verge of militarily driving Israel out of the Occupied Territories? You say there are "14 times more fatalities as in Israel's savage 2008-2009 onslaught" but ignore that there is over 300 times more combat going on In Syria if you compare Assad's military losses to Israel's.

2) Israel kills thousands of Palestinians each year through deliberate economic strangulation. This is easily confirmed by checking UNICEF's mortality statistics for the Occupied Territories. This, again, is related to the almost total one sidedness of military conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

3) Unlike Israel, Assad does not depend on Western support. The only useful thing westerners can do for Syrians is prevent their own governments from adding fuel to the fire,as they did in Libya, by throwing military support behind the rebels.

4) Related to points 1 and 2, Israel could easily end its conflict with the Palestinians. Israel simply needs to quit blocking the two state solution it and its western sponsors, have been blocking for decades.

You may rationally take westerners to task for not protesting against their governments adding fuel to the fire in Syria by arming the rebels. Bear in mind that it took decades for significant movements to develop against Israel's crimes. Westerner have even been slow to protest rampant and destructive inequality at home – policies that attack millions of westerners directly.

Joe Emersberger

Please Note: This article contained two erroneous references to "nuclear weapons" in Iran. There errors were almost certainly not Fisk's fault because one was in the headline and the other in a quote. In response to feedback from many people, these errors were corrected. It speaks volumes that sub-editor would have made these errors in the first place. Similarly when a sub editor at the Independent, years ago, labelled a photo of Hugo Chavez with a caption calling him a "dictator". Editors are, by necessity, diligent readers of their newspapers. They are therefore largely informed – or misinformed – by their newspapers' content.

ALSO NOTE: Ed Herman pointed out to me a point I missed "Fisk also errs in saying Israel has not done anything comparable since 1948. He forgets the 1982 invsion of Lebanon that took an estimated 20,000 lives."


You can try reaching Fisk (as other have in the past) through the following email addresses


However, I don't recall him ever responding to a reader.

Leave a comment