A Sept. 30th Independent article (US presidential debate: The questions Trump and Biden need to answer) provided their journalists’ views on what questions the moderators should ask during the first US presidential debate to be held that night.
Despite the fact that the first debate focused on domestic issues, they nonetheless allowed their long-time Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk to weigh in.
Here are the relevant parts of his answer:
Since the Middle East regularly damages the US presidency (see Carter, Reagan, Bush junior), it’s the one wound in the world that needs America’s constant attention – but since Mr Trump regards the region as a playground for Israel’s power and security and the Palestinians as unworthy of compassion, post-election America is going to have problems with it whoever wins.
…But should the present crackpot remain in the White House – legally, at least – Mr Trump doesn’t have to do very much at all. Support Israel right or wrong, cow-tow to the wealthiest Gulf Arabs, betray old allies like the Kurds and ignore the colonisation of Arab land, overlooking the permanent breach of international law which this constitutes. And if Trump has any problems with that, he can always call the UK prime minister for advice.…
To Mr Biden, then: How can he hope to control Israel when, for the entire Trump presidency, it has largely written, organised and produced the US’s Middle East policy – if Mr Trump ever had one?
Arguing that Israel has “written, organised and produced the US’s Middle East policy, is indistinguishable from the antisemitic trope charging Jews, in either Israel or the diaspora, with ‘controlling US Middle East policy’. (You may recall that, in 2019, the NY Times published a graphic depiction of this antisemitic idea. The cartoon, which they later deleted and apologised for following widespread criticism, depicted a dog with a Jewish star around its neck and the face of a Jewish leader, leading a blind, yarmulke-wearing U.S. President.)
Further, this is not the first example of Fisk employing this antisemitic narrative.
In 2019, we posted about an Indy piece by Fisk which, echoing the unfiltered venom of far-right extremists, charged the media with “grovelling, cowardly, craven obeisance” to Israel”, accused the US Congress of being “in thrall” to Jerusalem, and concluded that the Jewish state has “annexed America”.
Indeed, Fisk’s use of the ‘Jewish control’ narrative goes back many years.
As British academic David Hirsh notes in his book ‘Contemporary Antisemitism‘, in April 2006, the Independent carried a four-page piece by Fisk titled – mirroring his recent charge that Israel “annexed” America – titled ‘The United States of Israel”, profiling professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s book on the Israel lobby. (A contemporaneous op-ed by Hirsh on the 2006 Indy piece can be found here)
In the article, Fisk, in his own words, charged that AIPAC – and the Israel lobby more broadly – is an unstoppable force that has a “stranglehold” on the US Congress, and tells US Presidents what to do.
Nor is Fisk’s use of antisemitic tropes limited to this specific narrative.
As we’ve revealed previously, he’s peddled the ‘dual loyalty’ trope against Jewish US government officials, accused supporters of Israel of “blackmailing” US politicians into supporting Israel by using false charges of antisemitism, and, most recently, attempted to connect Israel to US racism and police brutality.
A clearer case of a journalist at a mainstream British media outlet whose hostility towards Israel is motivated – at least in part – by animus against Jews would be hard to find.