It was 2006 and I was just 21, having studied in Canada and marveled at the wonderous respect that “The West” afforded to personal freedoms, human rights, and the rule of law; I knew that, at some level, that facade was only for show.
I was reading in the news media that same sort of news that was slowly unraveling about Guantanamo Bay and one of my favorite authors and journalists. Robert Fisk was -until he passed- a formidable source on the Middle East. Dr. Fisk was receiving his Honorary Doctorate from the AUB, and I read his speech. In which he mentions a colonel acting as a Judge in Guantanamo Bay. He tells the British suspect, against the backdrop of “secret evidence,” that he will not be seeing what evidence caused his arrest and this appearance in court:
“Mr. Abbassi, your conduct is unacceptable and this is your absolute final warning. I do not care about international law. I do not want to hear the words of international law again. We are not concerned about international law.”
Indifference to International law was, of course, systematic during the George W. Bush era; it was also in the time of the new US policy of Global Hegemony, the infamous “You are either with us, or with the terrorists” uttered by the utterly incompetent Bush.
I was also reading Mr. Fisk’s new book, The Great War for civilisation, one of the most insightful histories of the Middle East as told by a first-hand witness. In his acceptance of the Honorary Doctorate, Fisk made clear what “The West” uses to discredit us: the charge of Anti-Semitism, which makes criticism of the Israeli Apartheid Regime difficult, if not pointless.
When I condemn Middle East dictators and Middle East tortures, no one calls me ‘anti-Arab.’ Unless, of course, I criticize Israeli torture or human rights abuses, in which case a chorus of voices – often anonymous – accuses me of being anti-Israeli or – that most pernicious and slanderous of lies when directed against decent people, of being anti-Semitic.
I am certainly anti-Bush. And against Israel’s policy of stealing land for Jews and Jews only from the Arabs to whom it belongs. And against cruel Arab leaders – most of whom were and still are friends of Europe and America – who have tortured and bludgeoned their people into submission.
I open “The Independent’s” website regularly and enjoy the coverage, but I can’t not miss the coverage from Mr. Fisk.
The Middle East and the world of journalism lost a giant with the passing of Robert Fisk, an intrepid and fearless reporter whose career spanned decades. Fisk, renowned for his insightful analyses and first-hand reporting from conflict zones, left an indelible mark on journalism. His absence will be deeply felt.
Robert Fisk’s career was characterized by a relentless pursuit of truth, even in the most perilous of circumstances. From the Lebanese Civil War to the Gulf War and conflicts in the Middle East, Fisk’s reporting stood out for its depth, nuance, and unwavering commitment to the stories that mattered. His ability to humanize the people affected by conflict, providing a voice to the voiceless, was a testament to his dedication to journalistic integrity. The nuance he had is probably missed today in Gaza more than anywhere else at any time. He had a talent for humanizing “the other,” a testament to his belief in humanity.
Fisk’s work was not merely a collection of news reports; it was a masterclass in the art of investigative journalism. His analyses went beyond the surface, delving into the historical, cultural, and political context of the events he covered. His writings challenged conventional narratives, encouraging readers to question and seek a deeper understanding of complex issues. His knowledge of history, Hamas, Israel, and the Palestinian cause would have been necessary today and provided unparalleled insight.
In an era where journalism has faced numerous challenges, Robert Fisk’s unwavering commitment to truth and accountability set him apart. He fearlessly confronted power, holding governments and institutions accountable for their actions. His courage to speak truth to power, even when uncomfortable, made him a beacon of journalistic integrity. His usage of words and hate of other words, cliches, and tropes made his insight even more “human.”
In that spirit, I could care less about the “world of Journalism” losing an “iconic” reporter. I care about the loss of a human who was very sincere in his humanity, his honesty, and his insight.
Fisk’s dedication to on-the-ground reporting, combined with his deep knowledge and understanding of the regions he covered, inspired a new generation of journalists to aspire to a higher standard of reporting.
I will personally miss him