Did Robert Fisk just call himself a “bigot”?

Robert Fisk’s latest piece at the Independent (Bernie Sanders could be US president in 2020 – and this is what it means for Israel and the Middle East, Jan. 17) praises the former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate, and takes aim at his critics:

if this liberal intellectual is going to be a serious candidate for 2020, he’s going to meet plenty of latent anti-Semitism in the United States. It took long enough for John Kennedy, the first Catholic American to become president, to shake off the claim that he would be more loyal to the Pope than to America.

Just imagine how Sanders will have to confront the same bigots when they insinuate that he’s more loyal to Israel than to his own country. He’s not – as one television presenter once suggested – a dual national. He’s not an Israeli. He’s the child of Polish Jewish immigrants.

Though Fisk is of course right about the racist nature of the ‘dual loyalty‘ trope, let’s recall a piece he wrote early last year, “(Jared Kushner’s connection to an Israeli business goes without scrutiny – imagine how different it would be if that business was Palestinian, Jan. 11, 2018), that included that very charge.

In the first paragraph of that piece, Fisk expresses concern that “the four principle US peacemakers” under Bill Clinton “were all Jewish Americans” and derides as fanciful “the myth that American peacemaking in the Middle East was even-handed, neutral, uninfluenced by the religion or political background or business activities of the peacemakers”.

Here’s the paragraph in full:

There was a time when we all went along with the myth that American peacemaking in the Middle East was even-handed, neutral, uninfluenced by the religion or political background or business activities of the peacemakers. Even when, during the Clinton administration, the four principle US “peacemakers” were all Jewish Americans – their lead negotiator, Dennis Ross, a former prominent staff member of the most powerful Israeli lobby group, Aipac (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) – the Western press scarcely mentioned this. 

In further support of his argument, Fisk then quotes Israeli Meron Benvenisti writing in Haaretz in 1993 that “it is hard to ignore the fact that manipulation of the peace process was entrusted by the US in the first place to American Jews…” and warning of “the tremendous influence of the Jewish establishment on the Clinton administration”.

Fisk then adds:

But lest they be accused of antisemitism, said Benvenisti, the Palestinians “cannot, God forbid, talk about Clinton’s ‘Jewish connection’…”

Though we complained to Indy editors, they refused to amend the article and denied that it was antisemitic.

So, to recap:

  • In Jan. 2018, Fisk questioned the loyalty of Dennis Ross and other Jewish-American peace negotiators, suggesting they can’t be trusted to negotiate fairly with the Palestinians because of their religious background, and mocked accusations of antisemitism against those who engage in such dual loyalty charges.
  • In Jan. 2019, Fisk condemns as “bigoted” those who would accuse a Jewish American government official or politician of dual loyalty.

So, what do we make of this?

Did Fisk ‘forget’ about the article he wrote last year?

Or, is he now implicitly acknowledging his past bigotry?

It’s impossible to get into the mind of Fisk, but it strains credulity to conclude that, after more than 40 years as a journalist, the curmudgeonly anti-Israel reporter is now Semitically ‘woke’, having had some sort of moral awakening about the toxicity of such canards over the course of twelve months.

Whatever his reasons, we’re still of course glad he denounced the charge that Jews are inherently disloyal citizens in the countries where they reside – an antisemitic idea that sadly still often resonates, even within mainstream media circles.


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8 replies »

  1. Sadly, you seem to have forgotten that everything Fisk writes, without exception, is crap. Even when it appears to smell a little sweeter that usual.

  2. Anti-Semitism as a charge is criticism on the chosen words and/or behavior. These people who love to criticize, but can’t criticize themselves, are just sad narcissists by nature.

    As for Bernie and Israel, old Frisky is going to be disappointed when he realizes Sanders is serious about Israel’s right to exist. He is not a Rashida Tlaib or Ilhan Omar. He is not his brother. He has already been attacked for being too Jewish by the gals at Code Pink. He’s not going to be loved on this site, but he’s also not going to suggest that Israel cease to exist as a Jewish state guaranteeing every Jew refuge.

  3. Fisk is not in the least bit “woke.” He is willing to grant special clemency to Bernie Sander’s nominal Jewishness because Sanders is willing to do the Anti-Semitic dirty work for him and his “Anti-Zionist” compadres. That’s what is at the bottom line of this latest example of Fisk’s inherent hypocrisy.

  4. Funny that no one in the press every questioned whether Nicholas Sarkozy had dual loyalty to both France and Hungary. Gee, I wonder why.

  5. George Gallowsway and Lauren Booth are only Loyal to Islamofascism.

    George has a show on Fascist Iran’s PressTV.

    Lauren Booth has gone Sand Nazi and only Loyal to terrorists who murder British people.

  6. Bernie Sanders holds some liberal positions, but is neither a liberal nor an intellectual. So he is not a “liberal intellectual” as Fisk attempts to assert. He is an old socialist and a hack who has gotten the facts wrong on numerous occasions. I don’t see him as anti-Israeli, but he would have a long way to go to convince me that he’s the guy to put in charge of U.S. – Israel relations.
    It doesn’t matter though, because he isn’t going to be POTUS.
    As for Fisk, he is a putz.