The Independent Apologizes for Robert Fisk’s False Reporting

I noticed an interesting correction appearing in The Independent while skimming it in a supermarket (you don’t think I would actually buy that thing, do you?).

In his Friday essay on 15 April 2011 (“The Arab Awakening – a long time coming”) Robert Fisk quoted from an order said to have been issued by the Saudi Minister of the Interior, HRH Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud on 11 March, in which he alleged that Prince Nayef ordered his security forces to show no mercy and to use live rounds on unarmed demonstrators.

Although the essay was published in good faith, we now accept that the “Order” in question is in fact a forgery, and that Prince Nayef did not issue any such order. We apologise sincerely to Prince Nayef for the damage and embarrassment which our reporting of it has caused him.

I’m no fan of the Saudi Monarchy, but I hope this starts a trend. Unfortunately, not everyone has the resources of the Saudi Prince Nayef, who apparently fought a vicious court battle for the retraction and won substantial undisclosed damages. I’ve always said the ‘reporting’ of Middle East ‘expert’ Robert Fisk makes lying into an elegant art form. Sometimes, however, Fisk (whose face is also being sued by a tomato for breach of copyright) lets his guard down and pens the absolutely ridiculous. In October 2006 Fisk made the front page of The Independent claiming Israel had used uranium-based weapons in the Second Lebanon War that summer. Days later, an investigative panel of people who actually knew something about uranium-based weapons found no evidence of this, but The Independent never retracted the story. It says something about The Independent when they will placate the Saudis far quicker than they would ever apologize to the Israelis constantly demonized in their paper.

Its a shame that there are many experts on the Middle East, the Muslim world and Israeli history far superior to Robert Fisk that remain virtually unknown in Britain and Europe. There is the fierce critic of US foreign policy Eric Margolis, for instance, who very rarely appears as a talking head on CNN or FOX. I would fiercely disagree with Margolis on many some of his criticism of Israel. Yet the man does have a deep knowledge of military matters, something which should be required of Mid-East commentators but is most often missing. I blame that on the leftist domination of the field. Many of these people who wouldn’t send their kids to the scouts for fear they are too militaristic. Then there is the Israeli revisionist historian Efraim Karsh, who professionally demolishes myths about Israel’s War of Independence, Islam and the quality of Robert Fisk’s writing. If only these people wrote regularly for The Independent, while Robert Fisk performed a more useful function by serving up shawarma in Beirut. I still can’t think of any responsibilities a sensible person might give to Johann Hari.


About Cranky Notions
Reactionary. That fella from the Norris scandal.

14 Responses to The Independent Apologizes for Robert Fisk’s False Reporting

  1. Silverfox says:

    For my part an article Fisk wrote the day after the Sept 11 atrocity entitled “Why do they hate us so much”. was the most repulsive apologia for that particular terrorist attack I ever came across. At that point his credibility vanished for me and I never pay any attention to his views.which are far too widely reported and even respected.
    Sorry I read this in the Irish Indo ( I think Sept 12th 2001, that someone at work had decided to keep – and could not locate it later online so no link.

  2. Rob says:

    @Silverfox: I remember a member of the American embassy speaking on Ireland AM (a breakfast show on TV3) just the day after September 11th and Michael D. Higgins, along with the presenters, were extremely critical of America. They basically said it was tragic but it was a result of the US’s terrible foreign policies. The American chap appeared to be amazed by the response. Their argument came uncomfortably close to justifying the act – this at a time when it was estimated up to 50,000 could have died! Little wonder Michael D. had no issue speaking on the same platform as a member of Hizbullah in 2007!

    • Ah, yes, I remember the Irish Anti-War Movement inviting a Hizbullah speaker to Ireland a few years back, a man who called Jews a lesion on the forehead of humanity. When the Irish government prevented him from visiting the year after, the IAWM called it a serious blow to the anti-war movement.

      The problem is the IAWM is not a real anti-war movement, it is a Communist movement. It takes sides in a war, rather than opposing them. I’ve written about those people in the post ‘Radical Chic and being more pro-Palestinian than the Arab masses’ here:

      The disproportionate influence of totalitarian movements like the SWP in the Palestine Solidarity Campaigns and the IAWM is something which must be known and explored by every concerned citizen. Let it be known to everyone that these movements are indeed part of the socialist vision to bring about their revolution. We need to stay on our guard and not lose sight of this fact.

      • Rob says:

        Very true, I recall one of the IAWM speakers stating after the controversy over the Hizbullah invite that the IAWM is not a peace movement but an anti-imperialist movement. In other words they support any anti-American/Israeli “insurgents” even when those people are the cause of terrorism on a vast scale such as in Iraq where they actually killed over 80% of the 122,000 civilians there, according to the ngo IBC. This is a piece from last year that might be of interest:

        It’s true to say these people are not pro-Arab but pro-Palestinian. Where is the fuss over what is happening in Syria?

        Its also interesting to note that Michael D. welcomed Daniel Ortega and showed him around Dublin some years ago, an individual who is well known to have facilitated international terrorism.

  3. Val says:

    Fisk is somewhat of a self promoting fantasist–and a Trinity graduate–like Norris.

    Fisk is a blind squirrel finding a nut–

    But his is correct—along with at least 3 Israeli PMs when he says that Israel is doomed–under its current regime.

    The 3 Israeli PMs point out that the momentum path is a one state solution, which it already is.

    Smart young people are leaving in droves to Europe and the US.

    The Russians are in the ascendancy and the Kahane / Kach followers are gaining ground every day.

    Lieberman has managed to alienate all the friends Israel ever had

    –there were very many friends of Israel 20 yrs ago in fact.–now Zero

    Now Israel is alone in the world for the first time

    –America, its last hope, has changed its policy to ” Off Shore Balancing” and will end the money.

    That It is a real tragedy

    What do you see as the scenarios moving forward?

    Some see civil war–Jew fighting Jew–which only happened when the state of Israel fought the Stern Gang

    –many see the same situation developing now and a rift in the IDF.

    • I see a lot of exaggeration and sensationalism in your comment, even thought you do point out some areas of concern.

      Israel has always had an emigration and brain-drain problem. Half of the best guys working in Silicon Valley seem to be Israelis. The reasons for that are economic, today and in decades past. Expansion of the hi-tech sector in Israel, and similar knowledge-based sectors requiring highly skilled workers has stemmed the tide somewhat. Yet the emigration issue persists, especially as many Israelis possess dual citizenship and have immigrant backgrounds that make migration more natural than in other populations.

      Israelis migrants also seem to have an easier time getting jobs than their peers abroad. In my opinion its due to the fact that while European and American students are smoking pot, getting drunk and sleeping ’till noon, Israeli kids are becoming disciplined grown ups and taking serious responsibilities in their army training. Israeli graduates tend to be head and shoulders above college grads in other countries because of this, which has attracted many investors (Warren Buffet, notably).

      Cutting off foreign aid is a good thing. I don’t know why so many people believe the sky will fall in if that happens (but I actually don’t see that occurring soon). American assistance makes up a tiny fraction of Israeli GDP, less than 1/40th or around that. Scotland is far more reliant on England than Israel is of America. The Palestinian Authority also depends much more on American and EU aid.

      Look, ask people who have made or considered aliyah what is one of the biggest obstacles faced? Frightening Israeli bureaucracy is far too often cited. Israel needs to cut the size of the state. Money flowing from abroad masks that. It has been hard in the past for native Israelis to do business on foot of state obstacles as well.

      Israel, to keep its children and to attract olim needs to eliminate the remains of the socialist system that kept it back so much in the past. See my post on free market means to lower the artificially high cost of living in Israel in relation to housing:

      One thing I believe will lead to massive economic benefits is ending the drafting of women.

      Hopefully Israel will begin important changes before US assistance finishes (for whatever reason, though most likely the dire American economy rather than a falling out with Israel).

      Israel, if it had a Civil War at all, had one that lasted a few hours. Ben Gurion’s resolve in that matter shocked many and he certainly laid down the law. Though I have spoken to a man who was a part of Lehi, who claimed that they and the Irgun who might have thought of splitting from the IDF would never have mounted a significant challenge to the state. The Lehi only numbered a few hundred fighters. The Irgun, about 1500-2000, and most of those willingly amalgamated with the IDF before the Altalena Affair.

      Oh, and finally, the Russians have brought great know-how to Israel but it is sad that they brought a bad political culture with them. However, they are not ‘in the ascendancy’ and the Russians are more likely than other parts of the population to leave the country and have fewer children.

      Kach is going nowhere. Their charismatic, sometimes populist and fear-mongering founder and leader led them to win a single seat in the Knesset decades ago. They are off the radar and more an obsession of European leftists like Mr. Fisk than they are a threat to the State of Israel. That is unless by ‘Kach’ you are referring to the religious settlement movement in general, as a lot of people often do for some reason. Kach won a seat for the same reason many small minority interest parties in Israel get disproportionate representation. The party list system combined with the fact there are no constituencies means 1.5 percent of the vote or so gets you in parliament.

  4. Garry says:

    Efraim Karsh “who professionally demolishes myths about Israel’s War of Independence, Islam”. I rofled over that one. More like: who unprofessionally and shamelessly regurgitates myths about the Palestinian Nakba and Israeli colonization using the guise of academia.

    Regardless of political background, Karsh’s writing and argumentation is flimsy, not any better than Fisk. If you agree with his point of view, you would probably find his writing useful for propaganda distribution purposes. But being an academic and citing other revisionist historians who despise Palestinians as proof does not make one credible or reliable, maybe believable if you’re naive enough..

    • Now, I disagree with a lot of what Karsh has written in the past, especially regarding his attacks on some of the ‘New Historians’. I’m not uncritical by any means. The attacks he delivered upon Benny Morris were over the top. Morris is indispensable to any study of Israeli history (some interesting sensible praise and criticism came from the recently departed Ami Isseroff:

      However, Karsh’s recent book ‘Palestine Betrayed’ is excellent and a lot of what he wrote really needed to be said (and a lot of the material is also quite new – I had never read most of the facts on the corruption among the Arab leadership during the Mandate era). The chapters focusing on the major Arab population centers during the war (Haifa, eastern Jerusalem and Jaffa) are well written and quite fascinating, bursting with facts that really ought to be more widely known. ‘Islamic Imperialism’ is an interesting perspective on Islam and Islamic culture that is certainly well grounded in fact (worryingly). However, many of Karsh’s conclusions from the past for today’s political scene I would very much disagree with. Still, he is worth a read. To compare his knowledge and insight to a blow-in ideologue like Robert Fisk is simply insulting.

  5. roxymuzak says:

    I have an article by Fisk in which he managed, a great ordeal, to not once say anything negative about Israel – a collectors item I reckon.

    Roberto should apply for a job with the Red Tops, they never let the truth get in the way of a good story either.

    • Check out this particularly great example of Fisk’s writing. In a story about a lynching in a Lebanese village he peddles a fantastic myth about Israel that could be easily debunked and really had no place in the story either way:

    • roxymuzak says:

      The only thing I can say about Fisk is that we know where we stand with him, unlike others on the left who disguise their anti-Semitism as anti- Zionism – which is merely a sexy word for Jewish nationalism, would they be anti American nationalism or anti Palestinian nationalism for that matter ?- against Israel, the collective Jew.

      • Some leftists critics of Israel aren’t particularly anti-Semitic, but look at these affairs through an unhelpful paradigm. We can similarly see, for instance, the way people in Ireland view the unique situation over there in an Irish light, and end up wedded to comparisons that are not justified.

        You are absolutely correct that many Irish would view opposition to Irish nationalism and support for union in the British Isles as racist, imperialistic and backward. Yet Edward Said, who spoke of restoring the Ottoman Empire and ending sovereignty for Jews, is seen as an enlightened progressive.

        Some leftists just seek radical distribution of wealth and resources from those perceived as comfortable (or as the ‘whites’) to Designated Vitim Groups (DVGs). Muslims rank far higher on the DVG scale than European Christians, so the Human Rights Industry cares little for the occupation of northern Cyprus, which has been declared illegal by the UN for decades. I wonder is David Norris’s Greek home in that part of the world, and does he have much to say about the situation in Cyprus at all? Jews have been high on the DVG scale, but today rank far below Arab Muslims. Hence the clear obsession with a little part of the world among journalists certain fixtures on the Oireachtas foreign affairs panels.

  6. Khan says:

    Like Robert Fist, the Journalist around the world should reflect the real facts on the ground, and should avoid false reporting! These false reporting plunged America and their allies into this difficult situation. It is extremely difficult for Americans and their allies to espace this disasterous situation they are in. Robert Fist, is one of the best writer I have ever confronted over the years. Keep up the good work Robert!

  7. Jeff says:

    A video exposing Fisk’s dedication to truth on another subject:


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