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Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk: Condemn me, but get your facts right first


Here we go again. This libellous and racist quotation comes from an email sent to The Independent by "Bernadette", a member of a pro-Israeli lobby group in Australia.

"Robert Fisk is the most anti-Semitic, rabid, prejudiced, blithering fool in Britain, if not the world – he is a non-journalist, in fact he's a raving idiot with a very small mind and a very large ego. He stops at nothing to put his personal anti-Semitic message across, which he gets sent to him from the where? [sic] the Middle East, not through any personal investigation; he tells any number of lies that gullible, unthinking people can't wait to agree with. He's a pawn of the Muslims – may he enjoy them when they set up sharia law in Britain and Europe – which is what they intend doing – chances are, if he makes one slip, they would turn on him and have him stoned to death, or even publicly behead him. Unfortunately far too many people are totally fooled because of people like him."

I don't care about the vicious personal abuse – that's what you get from pro-Israeli lobby outfits when they don't like you – though I do care about the appalling sloppiness in the letter's use of English grammar. But what really enrages me is the suggestion that my life is in danger, that I will be "stoned to death" or even publicly beheaded. Last time I faced this sort of filth, it came from the actor John Malkovich who told the Cambridge Union that he would like to shoot me and George Galloway. Quite apart from associating me with a jerk like Galloway, Malkovich spawned a heap of vileness on the internet from even less rational people, one of whom portrayed my face covered in blood with the caption: "Malkovich is jumping the queue."

I should add that The Independent took this matter up with the South Cambridgeshire police, who interviewed those present at the union but concluded that Malkovich had not spoken with "intent". So that's all right then. Yet in a subsequent interview in The Observer, he made no attempt to apologise for his threat and the paper itself repeated the libel of anti-Semitism against me. The Observer later carried a printed apology and withdrew the Malkovich interview from its website. None of this surprised me.

In 2001, after I was beaten by Afghan refugees on the Pakistani border, by men whose families had just been killed in a B-52 raid on Kandahar, Mark Steyn wrote an article about me in The Wall Street Journal under the headline: "A self-loathing multiculturalist gets his due." Steyn, who made much of my suggestion that, if I were an Afghan who had lost his family, I would also beat Robert Fisk, cackled – without mentioning the loss of the families, of course – that "you'd have to have a heart of stone not to weep with laughter". Steyn might be dismissed for such nonsense, but he doesn't stop. Last year, he claimed that the London bombings of 2007 and the Madrid train bombings were the "opening shots of a European civil war".

As Europe's white population fled, the continent would become "reprimitivised". Author Kenan Malik – incorrectly claiming that Steyn also said that Muslims "were expanding like mosquitoes" – has pointed out that there are currently 13 million Muslims in Europe out of a population of 491 million. To outnumber the majority by 2020, Muslims would have to increase their numbers 20-fold in just over a decade. I suppose this is why every act against humanity is now attributed so quickly to Muslims. Yes, of course, Muslims – or those who claim to be Muslims (though this is at times a dodgy argument) – have committed individual crimes against humanity, the 11 September 2001 attacks being the most terrible example. But did that merit The Sun's headline after right-wing Norwegian killer and self-styled crusader against Islam Anders Behring Breivik – who drew on Steyn's work in his proto-Nazi "manifesto" – murdered 77 people in Oslo and a nearby island last year. It read: "Al-Qa'ida Massacre: Norway's 9/11."

Needless to say, the Islamophobes, after ritual condemnation of Breivik, largely avoided referring to him as a "terrorist" – a term reserved for Muslims – and called him "mad" instead. I notice that this is exactly how Israel deals with its own "terrorists" (by their own definition of the word). The mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, who slaughtered 29 Palestinians in the Hebron mosque massacre in 1994, was always referred to as "deranged" rather than a "terrorist". Thus his act, like Breivik's last year, was de-politicised, de-"terrorised".

Back in 2006, a Brussels schoolboy, Joe Van Holsbeeck, was murdered at the city's central station for his MP3 player. Paul Belien, a far-right Catholic conservative journalist (now an adviser to the Dutch politician Geert Wilders), published an op-ed article headlined "Give Us Weapons". Muslims, Belien wrote, are "predators that have learned from childhood... how to slaughter warm herd animals". Imams were asked to hand over the Muslim murderer. Then newspapers revealed that the killers were Poles. And then – worse still – Roma! Ian Buruma found the real perspective when he wrote that "aggressiveness is seen as a sign of genuineness and the showing of anger a proof of moral integrity". Ergo Mr Belien, Dr Goldstein, Mr Breivik, Mr Steyn and even "Bernadette", the Aussie who predicts my public beheading. Be angry. Be right.