Robert Fisk on Gaza and the media
An unembedded reporter tells us how he really feels about the mainstream Western press.
Reporting independently from the front lines of war is an increasingly rare engagement for journalists working for major international media outlets. From
When Israeli military forces launched an invasion into the Gaza Strip, international journalists were barred entry into the territory by the Israeli government for the majority of the conflict, despite a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court that called on the government to allow international reporters into the territory. Major international media outlets, including CNN and the BBC, ended up reporting from hilltops in Israeli-controlled territory kilometres away from the actual conflict.
British journalist Robert Fisk has offered fiercely independent accounts of conflicts throughout the
Stefan Christoff: Historical context is often not included in daily reporting on the
Robert Fisk: In 1948 when the Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes -- 750,000 is the figure widely accepted -- those in the north in the Galilee area of what became Israel fled into Lebanon, those in the Jerusalem area fled east toward what we now call the West Bank and those in the south fled into what we now call the Gaza Strip.
For example, in 2000, after the Israelis finished their final withdrawal after 22 years of occupation and went across the border back into Israel, many Palestinians in Lebanon went down to the border and looked across, not because they were looking at northern Israel but because they were looking at the northern part of Palestine as they had known it - some could actually see the villages that their parents or grandparents had come from in 1948.
So there is this whole Diaspora around the state of
Well over half the people living in Gaza are families, either survivors or descendants of Palestinians who lived only 10 or 12 miles into what is today Israel. So when you hear the Israelis say the terrorists are firing rockets into Israel, the Palestinians in Gaza can say in many cases, 'Well, my grandson is firing a rocket at my town because before 1948 these areas would have been Palestinian property.'
SC: Can you talk about your perceptions of media coverage on the latest war in
RF: There were two things that happened. First, the international press allowed for their own humiliation:
It is instructive to note that no major Western media outlet had a reporter based inside
SC: So what kind of more widespread effect did the reporters who were left in
RF: Faced with the fact that the only journalists left inside
Al Jazeera came out as the heroes of journalism because they had their international service, their English service and also their Arabic service fully operational from offices inside
Palestinian reporters were telling their own stories, in the case of [the Independent's] Palestinian reporter inside Gaza, his father was killed in an air strike, his father, who was a pro-Palestinian Authority, English-speaking, well-educated judge, was killed in his orchard. So the Independent had on our front page this terrible and tragic story of this innocent man destroyed, atomized into pieces of flesh by an Israeli air strike on his orchard, a story reported by his own son in our newspaper.
So this was the kind of journalism from
Stefan Christoff is a community organizer and journalist based in