Monday, August 20, 2007

I have discussed Jonathan Cook before, and normally I would just leave it at that and chalk him up as yet another Israel-basher who gets his jollies by publishing his lies on far-left websites like Counterpunch. However, he also prints articles in The Guardian and as such, his lies need to be exposed.

His latest in The Guardian discusses a couple of the criticisms that pro-Israel advocates had of his earlier column on how Israel will start bombing Iranian Jews to get them to leave. Of course, he doesn't discuss the explicit lies and implicit bigotry I pointed out in that column - because it is easier to defend against cherry-picked weak arguments than strong ones.

The funny thing is that he tries to be careful to keep the worst lies out of his Guardian columns, but his lies and his intellectual dishonesty when making his tendentious anti-Israel arguments in his other articles makes all of his writings more than suspect.

For example, his latest screed about the Lebanon War includes this paragraph:
Recent reports have revealed that one of the main justifications for Hizbullah's continuing resistance -- that Israel failed to withdraw fully from Lebanese territory in 2000 -- is now supported by the UN. Last month its cartographers quietly admitted that Lebanon is right in claiming sovereignty over a small fertile area known as the Shebaa Farms, still occupied by Israel. Israel argues that the territory is Syrian and will be returned in future peace talks with Damascus, even though Syria backs Lebanon's position. The UN's admission has been mostly ignored by the international media.
The facts: An unnamed Israeli official said that the UN cartographer decided that Shebaa Farms was Lebanese territory. The UN denied that it made that determination and indicated that determining sovereignty was not the cartographer's job. In other words, Cook's claim that the UN "admitted" that Shebaa Farms is Lebanese is simply a lie.

Another claim, one that Israel hoped might justify the large number of Lebanese civilians it killed during the war, was that Hizbullah fighters had been regularly hiding and firing rockets from among south Lebanon's civilian population. Human rights groups found scant evidence of this, but a senior UN official, Jan Egeland, offered succour by accusing Hizbullah of "cowardly blending".
Besides the fact that there are videos showing the rockets coming from houses, Human Rights watch admitted that "of course Hizbullah did sometimes hide among civilians, breaching its duty to do everything feasible to protect civilians and possibly committing the war crime of deliberate shielding..." even as it condemned Israel for hitting civilians. Cook could have phrased his argument that Israel's reactions were disproportionate but instead he again crosses the line from fact to fantasy.

The war began on 12 July, when Israel launched waves of air strikes on Lebanon after Hizbullah killed three soldiers and captured two more on the northern border. (A further five troops were killed by a land mine when their tank crossed into Lebanon in hot pursuit.) Hizbullah had long been warning that it would seize soldiers if it had the chance, in an effort to push Israel into a prisoner exchange. Israel has been holding a handful of Lebanese prisoners since it withdrew from its two-decade occupation of south Lebanon in 2000.
Notice his wording - Israel started the war when it retaliated for offensive Hezbollah actions. Since Hezbollah always said it wanted to kidnap (and kill) Israelis, they are off the hook in Cook's twisted mind as far as any responsibility for starting the conflict. He also implies that the Lebanese in Israeli jails are just hostages, not criminals nor terrorists. No doubt he supports the release of Samir Kuntar, just like his Hezbollah heroes.

This is not journalism, and these are not facts. Ironically, Jonathan Cook rails against people advocating for Israel while he, weekly, advocates for Hezbollah. If he wants to write opinion columns for the Guardian, he is free to do so, but the readers should know how dishonest he has been in his other writings.

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