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Beirut to Bosnia: Muslims and the West. A Personal Journey by Robert Fisk of the Independent, 1993

Can you say, "prescient"? "Informed"? "Rational"?

I guess that's why this was shown only once on the Discovery Channel after it was completed. Hmmmm....

Part 1: The Martyr's Smile

Part 2: The Road to Palestine

Part 3: To the Ends of the Earth


  1. From a speech by Fisk at Concordia University In Montreal, on November 17, 2002:

    Back in 1993, I made a 3 part documentary film for the Discovery Channel in the United States, and also for Channel 4 in Britain. It was called Beirut to Bosnia and it attempted to find out why an increasing number of Muslims had come to hate the West. Indeed, the title was "Why Muslims Have Come to Hate the West." We filmed in Beirut, Southern Lebanon, Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Egypt, Bosnia and Croatia. Among many of the sections and stories we filmed was that of a Palestinian farmer called Mohammed Hakim trying to hang on to his land just outside Jerusalem. I want to show you this very short clip of film now.

    […] Jews, Muslims and Christians has been illegal annexed by Israel, which still claims it to be its eternal and unified capital. East of the city, outside the internationally recognized border of Israel, only a little bit of the old rural Palestine remains, and the huge Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land are now cities -- a ring of Israeli concrete around Jerusalem. It takes a brave Palestinian to hold out here, to cling onto his own land in the face of Israel's expanding settlements. But in this little patch of orchard, is a family that's refused to leave its land, despite an order to get out.


    […] He did not do so. He was out before Christmas and he now lives with his family in that village of Qismay which you saw on the film. I went back to the place of his home a few weeks ago and it's now concreted over. It looks like the other houses which you saw on the film. Again, I repeat: this film was made nine years ago. And as I said, many people took exception at the time to the idea that things were happening which would bring about some kind of explosion. The last short piece of film I want to show you is an attempt to display and to demonstrate how Americans can provoke [unintelligible] even if they don't realize it. This film again -- and remember it was made nine years ago. When I see it now in retrospect I find it very chilling in the light of events that occurred just over a year ago. It begins in Sabra-Chatila.


    […] see a house in Beirut. He'd lost a home in Acre in 1948, went back to that home, found an elderly Israeli inside who had been tuned out of his home in southern Lebanon in 1939 and then we took our crew to southern Lebanon and knocked on his front door. And the old lady who answered the door said, "Are they coming back?" It was a fascinating journey back through the course of history. However, shortly after the series aired on Discovery, a series of pro-Israeli lobby groups, including CAMERA - which is Camera Media Resources Center - bombarded the channel with complaints. Joseph Ungar wrote to say that for me to say that Israel confiscates occupied land and builds huge Jewish settlements on Arab land, that, quote, "was twisted history." We were also told that by claiming the Phalange was sent into Sabra and Chatila by Israel - which the Kahane Commission, of course, acknowledges - this was an egregious falsehood.

    In due course, we discovered that Discovery was being sent American Express cards cut in half. American Express being one of the sponsors of the original series. Discovery rang me in Beirut to say they were receiving lots of letters condemning the films from various groups. Then director Mike Dutfield and I heard that Discovery had cancelled the reshowing. In an imperishable letter to Dutfield, Bunting wrote - and I ask you not to laugh until the end - quote, "Given the reaction to the series on its initial airing we never scheduled a subsequent airing. So there's not really an issue as to any scheduled re-airing being cancelled." When I read those words, ladies and gentlemen, I was ashamed to be a foreign correspondent.

  2. And, when you get to Part 2, as I just have, that this is when the occupation was better (relatively speaking, of course) than it is today, fifteen years later.

    Clearly, no American who bankrolls this occupation can be allowed to see its effects. I mean, that's just basic.

  3. The more things change...

    Fisk's most recent, but one, story in the Independent: Lebanon descends into chaos as rival leaders order general strike. Today's isn't much better: Gun battles as Hizbollah claims Lebanon is at war.

    He's already announced his retirement (2007); not sure if he's changed his mind: hear his reasons.


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