Saturday, August 7, 2010

Robert Fisk vs Jason Koutsoukis

"I know how at least 80% of the clashes [on the Golan Heights] started. In my opinion, more than 80%, but let's talk about 80%. It went this way. We would send a tractor to plough someplace where it wasn't possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance farther, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that's how it was." Moshe Dayan quoted in The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim, 2001, pp 236-237)

On the subject of the latest flare up on the Israeli-Lebanese border, who are you going to believe, the UK Independent's Beirut-based veteran reporter, Robert Fisk, OR the Sydney Morning Herald's Jerusalem-based babe-in-the-woods, Jason Koutsoukis, channeling an anonymous, but obviously Israeli, senior diplomatic source?

I've taken the liberty below of punctuating Koutsoukis' report with relevant snippets of two (4 & 5/8/10) of Fisk's reports (plus my own comments) in square-bracketed bold.

To begin with, however, here's Fisk on the subject of that elusive Israeli-Lebanese border:

"No one is exactly sure where the Israeli-Lebanese border is. In 2000, the UN drew a 'Blue Line' along what was... the frontier between the French mandate of Lebanon and the British mandate of Palestine. Behind it, from the Lebanese point of view, stands the Israeli 'technical fence', a mass of barbed wire, electrified wires and sandy roads (to look for footprints)." (Israel-Lebanon tensions flare after skirmish leaves 4 dead, 4/8/10) "The 'Blue Line' was inadvisedly drawn on the orders of an ambitious UN civil servant who would one day like to be UN Secretary General. In his haste to draw an 'accurate' border, for example, he put the entire area of Shebaa farms - which was Lebanese during the post-First World War French mandate - south and east of the line, effectively putting it under Israeli occupation (which had in military terms been the case since the 1967 Middle East war. But political errors of this kind sapped the belief of Lebanese authorities in the UN's maps." (UN: Israel was on its own side before border clash, 5/8/10)

Now for Koutsoukis/Fisk:

"A senior diplomatic source, who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity, said preliminary investigations by UN personnel monitoring the border... indicated the Lebanese army planned the attack. ["Now for the Lebanese army to take on the Israelis, with their 264 nuclear missiles, was a tall order. But for the Israeli army to take on the army of one of the smallest countries in the world was surely preposterous, not least because Army Day had been attended by the president of Lebanon, Michel Sleiman, in Beirut only 2 days earlier - when he ordered his soldiers to defend their frontier." 4/8] The source said the UN Interim Force in Lebanon advised Lebanese army commanders early on Tuesday morning that the Israelis would be removing a tree on their side of the border early in the afternoon. ["Israel had apparently not co-ordinated its gardening expedition with the Lebanese via the UN." 5/8] Several hours before the Israelis moved in to begin that work, a senior Lebanese army unit arrived at the Lebanese village of al-Adeisa, which overlooks the site where the tree was to be removed, and took control of the area. They were accompanied by several journalists linked to media outlets controlled by the radical Shiite movement Hezbollah ["At about this time, Al-Akhbar newspaper's local correspondent Assaf Abu Rahal turned up in Addaiseh to cover the story." 4/8. MERC: Al-Akhbar has nothing to do with Hezbollah & Assaf Abu Rahal was a Christian - as, btw, was one of the slain Lebanese soldiers.]... Shortly after 12:15pm, when the Israelis moved a crane close to the border fence to begin removing the tree, a Lebanese army sniper took aim at the the commanders who were supervising the operation from a hill on the Israeli side of the border. 'The sniper was aiming for the most senior IDF officers present, not the person operating the crane where the alleged border infringement took place', the source told the Herald. 'These were not warning shots fired towards the area of the crane. ["The moment the crane's arm crossed the 'technical fence'... Lebanese soldiers opened fire into the air. The Israelis, according to the Lebanese... shot at the Lebanese soldiers." 4/8] Someone took careful aim at the Israeli commanders who were standing several hundred metres away'. One shot hit Colonel Dov Harari in the head, killing him instantly. Another shot caused shrapnel wounds to the chest of a captain, who is in hospital in a serious condition ["And a little time later, an Israeli helicopter - apparently firing from the Israeli side of the border (though that has yet to be confirmed) - fired a rocket at a Lebanese armoured vehicle, killing 3 soldiers and the journalist. Lebanese troops, on orders from Beirut, fired back and killed an Israeli lieutenant." 4/8]... In the clash that followed the sniper's shots, two Lebanese soldiers were killed, and a journalist from the Hezbollah-owned Al Manar television network [MERC: ???] ... Guy Bechor, a senior analyst of Israeli-Arab affairs at the Interdisciplinary Centre at Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, said the entire affair appeared to have been fully planned by the Lebanese army... 'The immediate purpose was to create deterrence with Israel. The Lebanese army has become fed up standing idly by while the IDF operates almost as freely in Lebanese territory as it does in its own territory'." (Lebanese commander ordered sniper attack, 6/8/10) [MERC: Well exactly! Let's here it again: "The Lebanese army has become fed up standing idly by while the IDF operates almost as freely in Lebanese territory as it does in its own territory." ]

PS: "Israeli warplanes have been executing mock intensive air raids in Nabatieh, Iqlim al-Toufah, Marjayoun and Khiam airspace since Friday morning', the [Lebanese] National News Agency said. In addition, the southern towns of Tyre, Hasbya and Bint Jbeil are also experiencing flyovers and dummy attacks." (Israel rattles sabre in south Lebanon, Patrick Galey, Daily Star, 7/8/10)


SBA said...

Robert Fisk has in all his years of journalism NEVER EVER written a positive word about Israel.
Only a fool would take his articles seriously.

MERC said...

Yeah, you're right of course. He should be more balanced. He could point out, for example, that with Israel, on the one hand you've got apartheid, sectarianism, ethnic cleansing, racism, tribalism, colonialism, dispossession, self-righteousness, paranoia, delusion, lies, lies, lies and more lies, but on the other you've got... er... er...