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May 7, 2013 8:38 am

Robert Fisk Convinces Himself that Israel Has ‘Dragged the West Into Syrian War’

avatar by Adam Levick

File photo of the Iranian made Fateh 110 missile, which Israel reported targeted in raids into Syria over the weekend.

It seems that the ethically challenged British ‘journalist’ Robert Fisk wanted desperately to impute the worst motives to Israel in analyzing reports of up to a dozen IAF strikes over the last few days on advanced Syrian weapons to prevent their transfer to Hezbollah.  However, the weakness of his latest essay suggests that he may have found the case against Israel’s sober decision not to allow Iranian made Fateh-110 missiles to fall into the hands of the Shiite terror movement allied with Bashar al-Assad was simply too difficult.

Facts have not served much of an obstacle for Fisk in the past when desiring a particular conclusion to a story, and his May 5 piece in the Indy –  implicitly suggesting that Israel is dragging unwilling, ineffectual Western governments into foreign wars – seems to be no exception.


He begins by expressing skepticism over the ‘official’ reason for Israel’s reported raid on Bashar al-Assad’s weapons and military facilities:

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The story is already familiar: the Israelis wanted to prevent a shipment of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon;  they were being sent by the Syrian government. According, at least, to a ‘Western intelligence source’. Anonymous, of course. And it opens the old question: why when the Syrian regime is fighting for its life would it send advanced missiles out of Syria?

Well, for starters, Iran and Hezbollah have both backed President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, a conflict, now in its third year, which has claimed over 70,000 lives and produced over one million refugees. But as fighting between forces loyal to the Assad regime and the rebels escalates,  Assad has a powerful interest in facilitating the delivery of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in case he loses his grip on power and it becomes more difficult for the regime to channel weapons from Iran directly to Damascus.

Additionally, some analysts have argued that an even more heavily armed Hezbollah could become a powerful ally for Assad if he is forced to leave Damascus and take refuge in the Hezbollah-controlled northern Bekaa Valley.

Later, Fisk gets to the central thesis of his polemic:

Much more important, however, is the salient fact that Israel has now intervened in the Syrian war.  It may say it was only aiming at weapons destined for the Hezbollah – but these were weapons also being used against rebel forces in Syria.  By diminishing the regime’s supply of these weapons, it is therefore helping the rebels overthrow Bashar al-Assad. And since Israel regards itself as a Western nation – best friend and best US military ally in the Middle East, etc, etc – this means that “we” are now involved in the war, directly and from the air.

Fisk’s specious logic nearly “Fisks” itself, as his entire argument – that Israel has dragged the West into a foreign war – seems largely based on the following argument cum non-sequitur:

1. Israel has attacked arms caches in Syria.

2. Israel regards itself as a Western nation.

3. Therefore, Israel has dragged the West into the Syrian war.

The Indy contributor offers nothing else to suggest that Israeli strikes to prevent the transfer of deadly weapons to Syria has any influence whatsoever on the current debate in the US, or within other Western nations, over whether to intervene militarily in the civil war.

Of course, in addition to the speciousness of his logic, Fisk is essentially parroting Assad talking points – which, notably, was also parroted in a highly misleading headline chosen by a major UK news corporation – that Israel is acting in alliance with “Islamist terrorists” to overthrow the regime, a charge so unserious that even Guardian Middle East Editor Ian Black dismissed it as “lacking any evidence”.

Finally, Fisk complains thusly:

Let’s see if the US and the EU condemn Israel’s air attacks. I doubt it. Which would mean, if we are silent, that we approve of them.

However, Fisk’s suggestion that the US has been “silent” on the reported attacks is flatly untrue.

President Obama stated, after news of IAF strikes on Syria was first reported, that Israel was justified to guard “against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terror groups like Hezbollah” and suggested that there is considerable US-Israeli coordination regarding the threat of weapons transfers in Syria – a clear expression of support for Israel’s right to self-defense which was also echoed yesterday by UK foreign secretary William Hague.

In other words, one of the few places outside of the Syrian propaganda ministry where Israel’s decision to prevent an Iranian backed illegal militia, which occupies large swaths of Lebanon, from acquiring more deadly weaponry represents a dangerous provocation which may ignite another Western war in the Mid-East  is the mind of Robert Fisk.

Adam Levick is the managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)

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