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Fisk Says Internet Is Having An Impact

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    Assalamu alaikum THE INDEPENDENT (London, UK) The Internet threat to truly honest reporting In the States, the Internet is challenging the monopoly of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2001
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      Assalamu'alaikum

      THE INDEPENDENT (London, UK)

      The Internet threat to truly honest reporting

      'In the States, the Internet is challenging the monopoly of pro-Israeli
      news'

      http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=74998

      28 May 2001

      ROBERT FISK

      I don't use the internet. I've never sent an e-mail in my life. But I've
      got to admit a new political fact. The internet is changing the American
      view of the Middle East. For the first time in decades, the monopoly of
      pro-American, pro-Israeli news ­ in The New York Times, The Washington
      Post, the Los Angeles Times and the big US TV networks­ is being
      challenged by the websites of dozens of European papers whose reporting on
      the tragedy in the Middle East is far less skewed towards the Israeli-US
      State Department point of view.

      And the Israeli lobby groups in the States don't know how to react.
      Several papers, including The Independent, have been bombarded by hundreds
      of letters and e-mails from supposedly outraged American "readers" ­ most
      of them from parts of the United States where The Independent, for
      example, is not on sale ­ and many of them written in vitriolic, even
      violent language. A number have been written in answer to an appeal from
      an outfit called "honestreporting.com", which carries a series of
      misleading and, in some cases, untruthful statements about my own
      articles.

      They are balanced, however, by large numbers of letters and e-mails asking
      why the American press doesn't give the full coverage of events found in
      The Independent and other European newspapers.

      Among my recent mailbag has been a letter that wishes my swift departure
      for Hell and eternal punishment ("Dear Mr Shit Fisk," it begins), and
      another from an American law student at Oxford who addressed me as "You
      evil, fucking man". The student, who said he was Jewish, added his phone
      number to the letter and apologised for his language after I threatened to
      take his letter to the police.

      Of course, it was ever thus. The Bahraini press has cartooned me as a
      rabid dog for revealing details of Arab secret- police torture ­ since
      rabid dogs have to be exterminated, this was a threat, not a joke ­ and
      the Egyptian press has called me a "black crow" for condemning Egypt's
      fraudulent elections. An Arab student in the American Midwest is e-mailing
      friends with the information that I'm a member of Mossad, the Israeli
      intelligence service, apparently because a Jewish family invited me to
      speak at a local university.

      But honestreporting.com's supporters ­ whose letters often reveal that
      they've never actually read anything I've written ­are in a class of their
      own. Only last month, I wrote a comment-page article in The Independent
      describing the way in which any serious journalist who criticised Israeli
      policy ­ the operation of death squads, for example, or the building of
      illegal Jewish settlements on stolen Arab land ­ was reviled as
      "anti-Semitic". This, the most disgraceful of the accusations made against
      Western journalists, permeates many of the letters provoked by
      honestreporting.com.

      There's no doubt what prompted this revealing deluge of purple prose.
      Honestreporting.com urges its supporters to read The Independent's
      website. It would like, somehow, to close down The Independent's Middle
      East coverage ­ and, to be fair, The Guardian's as well ­ and return
      Americans to the bland, generally pro-American (and thus pro-Israeli)
      reports of the US press. Much of my ordinary mailbag ­ I'm not counting
      the lobby boys ­ now comes from the US. University departments are asking
      me and other European journalists to lecture in the States, where our
      discussions tend to be a lot more straight-talking than that of our
      American colleagues.

      But honestreporting.com's methods are themselves revealing. In one
      "communiqué", it manages to quote my 1982 description of a Palestinian
      woman's face as that of a Madonna and a Lebanese friend's (described by
      the outfit as a Palestinian) weeping at the departure of the PLO from
      Beirut. What they don't mention is that they were weeping because they
      feared that in the absence of Palestinian fighters, they would be
      massacred by Israel's brutal Lebanese allies ­ which is exactly what
      happened a few days later.

      Then it quotes from my article of 17 April this year, in which I remarked
      that some Israeli leaders had been "bestializing" [sic] Arabs, referring
      to my account of how Palestinian taxi drivers are humiliated as they
      approach Israeli checkpoints on Arab land. But honestreporting.com ­ and
      the "honest" bit is a joke in itself ­ didn't mention that the quotes come
      from two different articles. The "bestialisation" story referred to
      Israeli leaders who had at various times called Palestinians "serpents",
      "two-legged beasts", "cockroaches in a glass jar", and "crocodiles". Of
      course, honestreporting.com erased all mention of that in its
      "communiqué".

      So, long live the internet. It certainly seems to be frightening the guys
      who want to prevent Americans from hearing our voice on
      http://www.independent.co.uk .


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