JSalloum on 3 Nov 2000 23:28:41 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] A.11-Truth Is The Victim As The Same Old Double Standards Prevail


The Intifada: Truth Is The Victim As The Same Old Double Standards Prevail

by Robert Fisk
from the Independent
UK 10:22am Mon Oct 30 '00

Why do we always get taken in by the same lies? Don't reporters carry history 
books, even a cuttings file, to remind them of what they wrote in the last 
Arab-Israeli war? Even the quotes - the meretricious, cliché- soaked 
are the same.

Let's go back to June 1982. Southern Lebanon. A UN ceasefire is in place 
between Yasser Arafat's PLO guerrillas and Israel. In London, a Palestinian 
tries to assassinate the Israeli ambassador; his potential killer belongs to 
anti-Arafat Abu Nidal faction, intent on provoking an Israeli invasion of 

Israel bombs Arafat's men in Lebanon. After several days under attack, they 
Katyusha rockets over the border into Israel. And what happens? Israel 
Lebanon because it is under "terrorist" attack and suggests - wait for it - t
"Arafat cannot control his men".

Sound familiar? There's more. By the time cameras were recording the 
thousands of civilian casualties of the Lebanon war, the Israelis were asking 
why the "terrorists" were hiding behind the civilians. Why did the 
use children in their war? Israel said it did not intend to kill children, 
even the 
ones I found in the Makassed hospital in Beirut, their bodies still on fire 
the phosphorus shell that killed them, and blamed their deaths on the PLO.

And duly, I recall, most journalists in 1982 fell in line with the narrative 
down by the Americans and the Israelis, just as they do today. As usual, the 
slaughter of Palestinian children is blamed on the Palestinians. The death of 
Arab civilians is the fault of the Arabs. Arafat cannot control "his people". 
are turned into "terrorists", as opposed to the folk who are killing the Arab 
civilians and children whose deaths, of course, are the responsibility of 
own grieving parents.

No, we should not get romantic about the corrupt, venal Palestinian officials 
who tried to rule their little statelets in 1982 - and in 2000. In 1982 we 
to the PLO drivelling on about the "Zionist death wagon" and the massacre of 
thousands of civilians around a town called Jezzine. The "massacre" turned 
to be myth - as most journalists suspected and reported. The PLO would claim 
they were fighting for the Lebanese - a complete lie - and that this was the 
important battle since Stalingrad, a parallel as laughable as it was 
grotesque. But 
the PLO's "propaganda machine", in reality so preposterous, was of such 
inefficiency that no one would take it seriously.

But at least, in 1982, Arafat would talk to the press. At least the PLO could 
a few English speakers. Today, Arafat refuses to talk to foreign 
let alone in English, and fields a bunch of officials (apart from Hanan 
whose inability to speak good English renders them almost incomprehensible. 
Claims that Palestinians were not firing at Israeli soldiers were destroyed 
video which clearly showed that Palestinian policemen, far from directing 
traffic, were shooting at their opposite numbers on the Israeli side.

And yet again - the record shows it all too clearly - journalists in 1982 
themselves browbeaten by a supposedly outraged Israel which claimed reporting 
was hopelessly biased towards the Palestinians. This ridiculous assertion was 
taken so seriously in the US that the New York Times allowed an Israeli lobby 
group to "monitor" its reporting. Journalist Tom Friedman had remarks about 
Israel's "indiscriminate" artillery fire censored from his reports, while the 
media used the word "terrorists" (always Arab "terrorists") like a 

 But it is the traditional double standard that marks the propaganda victory 
of one 
side over the other in the Middle East. When Israel sent its Lebanese 
militias into the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in 1982, those militias 
massacred up to 2,000 Palestinian civilians. Not only did Israel say this was 
mistake". They attacked journalists who reported the murders as 

Similarly, the killing of Palestinian children by Israeli troops now. On any 
story - in Kosovo, East Timor or Belfast - the killing of so many children by 
"security forces" would engender outrage on the part of journalists. If Serb 
"security forces" were killing Albanian youths at this rate last year, Nato 
have gone to war weeks earlier.

Yet today, we hear the usual weasel words. We hear of Israel's "tough 
response", its "robust" action, its "restraint". No, the Israelis are not the 
Nor are they the Indonesian army. But journalists are the same. So fearful of 
creating "controversy" by telling the truth according to real journalistic 
standards, so vain that they must avoid all criticism, so lacking in resolve 
they must announce that the 12-year-old Palestinian shot by the Israelis in 
was "killed in crossfire", that they are actively taking sides. And if a 
follows, will we tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? I 

 © 2000 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.


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