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Lies

Lies have almost become by-word for whatever Trump says - or, for that matter, what the media reports.     Robert Fisk, writing in "We are not living in a 'post-truth' world, we are living the lies of others" in The Independent, reflects on lies and a "post truth" world.

"Now, I suppose, it is we who have regular elections based on lies. So maybe Trump and the Arab autocrats will get on rather well. Trump already likes Field Marshal/President al-Sissi of Egypt, and he’s already got a golf course in Dubai. That he deals in lies, that he manufactures facts, should make him quite at home in the Middle East. Misogyny, bullying, threats to political opponents, authoritarianism, tyranny, torture, sneers at minorities: it’s part and parcel of the Arab world.

And look at Israel. The new US ambassador-to-be – who might as well be the Israeli ambassador to the US – can’t wait to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. He seems to feel more antagonism towards the Jewish left in America than the Palestinians who claim East Jerusalem as a capital and whose state he has no interest in. Will Trump enrage the Arabs? Or will he get away with a little domestic rearrangement of the Israel embassy on the grounds that the Gulf Arabs, at least, know that Israel’s anti-Shiism – against Syria, Iran and Hezbollah – fits in rather well with the Sunni potentates who’ve been funding Isis and Jabhat al-Nusrah and all the other jolly jihadis?

I suspect that “post-truth” has more to do with social media than mendacious elections. The use of social media in reporting the battle of eastern Aleppo has been extraordinary, weird, dangerous, even murderous, when not a single Western journalist could report the eastern Aleppo war at first hand. Much damage has been done to the very credibility of journalism – and to politicians – by the acceptance of one side of the story only when not a single reporter can confirm with his or her own eyes what they are reporting.

We handed journalism to social media – and the armed men who control the areas from which these reports came know that they can pull the same trick again next time. They will, in Idlib. But this problem in the region is much, much bigger than a Syrian province. It’s now about the malleability of facts across the whole Middle East.

The 250,000 “trapped” Muslims of eastern Aleppo – now that 31,000 have chosen to go to Idlib, many more to western Aleppo – appear to have been somewhat fewer than 90,000. It’s now possible that at least 160,000 of the civilians “trapped” in eastern Aleppo did not actually exist, but no one says so. That vital statistic of 250,000, the very punctuation mark of every report on the besieged enclave, is now forgotten or ignored (wisely, perhaps) by those who quoted it.

Nor does anyone tell us about the civilians of Palmyra now that Isis has returned. And what about Mosul? Weren’t we about to liberate one million civilians trapped there by the jihadis – no less deserving, surely, than the 250,000 or 100,000 or 90,000 or fewer civilians trapped in eastern Aleppo?

Now the Americans say that Iraqi forces are “regrouping” and “repositioning” around Iraq’s second city; but “regrouping” and “repositioning” is what the British Expeditionary Forces did on their retreat to Dunkirk.

How can we complain about the lies of Trump and the Brexiteers when we journalists are chopping up the facts of the Middle East? Still, I notice in our newspapers and on television, Israel’s wall is a “security fence”, its colonies are “settlements” which are “disputed” rather than illegal.

Can we really shake our heads in disbelief at electoral lies when we have been lying to our readers and viewers for years?"

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