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Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best

What Joseph Harsch was to the Christian Science Monitor, and what Robert Fisk is to The Independent, Franklin Lamb was to Foreign Policy Journal and to CounterPunch.

Each of these fine writers and journalists has etched a place for himself in the annals of journalism, and each has distinguished himself for serving history by reporting the truth, and nothing but the truth.

In the early 1980’s Joseph Harsch, The Christian Science Monitor’s Near East reporter par excellence, was very prescient about future events in the Near East. His clairvoyant views on Israel’s expansionist designs and the U.S.’s complicity in facilitating (and financing) Israel’s pulverization and gorging  of what was left of post 1948 Palestine were vatic in their meticulously brutal and honest reporting. This was then, a time when the Christian Science monitor stood head and shoulders above the rest of the print media.

I distinctly remember his punctilious reports on the buildup of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia; his journalist’s scalpel cut through the many layers of U.S. and Israeli diplomatic rhetoric and official political fabrications. His prediction that the buildup of U.S. forces (including the building of U.S. military bases in the remote deserts of the oil-rich Near East would to lead military invasions to lay claim to the abundant black gold of the Iraqi and Saudi deserts) was so intuitively and telepathically perceptive.

How truly revelatory were Harsch’s predictions: Iraq’s been invaded (by the U.S. and her allies) twice, and Saudi Arabia, in return for full U.S. support of its successive corrupt, thuggish, theocratic, fanatic and autocratic monarchies, has been pumping oil to flood the market. From Carter, to Trump, American presidents have been having a threesome with the Israelis, the Saudis, and other Gulf handmaidens. And, at the behest of Israel, Saudi Arabia, et. al., the screws continue to be tightened on Iran.

Robert Fisk, the Independent’s (seven-time winner of the Journalist of the Year Award) Near East reporter par excellence, has distinguished himself with hard-hitting, no-nonsense, and brutally honest reporting on myriad events (in the Near East and Europe) that continue to unfold in a region that has yet to unshackle itself from the colonial vestiges of the early 20th century. Fisk’s best reporting started way back in the mid 1970’s and continues through current times. His reporting on the Israeli-Phalange (and acquiescent U.S.) 1982 genocide in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps will forever be immortalized in the history of genocidal reporting. For his scathing eye-witness exposé of the depravity to which the Israelis, the Americans, and their Lebanese co-murderers had fallen, he deserves the highest praise and accolades.

Each of his painstakingly fastidious reports exemplifies professional reporting at its best. What Francisco de Goya etched in his celebrated   Los Caprichos, those 80 gruesome etchings that scrupulously depict man’s depravity during wars, a time when, not unlike our time, things go awry and thousands of innocent lives are run through military shredding machines on land and at sea, Fisk hammered on his typewriter, telex machinemachines, and keyboard to expose the machinations of the capriciously evil ones.

Dear Franklin Lamb. You’ve been plucked too soon from our midst. In an apathetic world, a world where thousands of destitute civilians swim in brine and blood, you were there to report on their every condition. Your detailed reporting on refugees and refugee camps; your taking us into the tents and hovels; your eyewitness accounts on the wasted human blood, sinews and shattered lives; your walking us through sites of devastated urban structures churned into steel and rubble; your taking us to archeological sites for which you had deep respect and a passionately loving affinity; your taking us into cafes, homes, hospitals, markets, university classrooms and check points; your genuine love for all the children of the Near East, especially the orphans and those innocents forced into prostitution and drug trafficking; your being our eyes, our ears, our hearts, our minds, and our hopes, Dear Franklin, have earned you a sacred place in the annals of journalism, a kind of Mt. Parnassus where only the best of the very best are deified and accorded their just place.

You gave up a comfortable and safe life in America to traverse the troubled waters of the Near East in search of truth; you went into the cities; the deserts; the towns and hamlets, the mosques and churches, the museums and the science labs, the refugee camps and government offices; with few exceptions, you respected and loved all the people you encountered; you took great risks to report on the sordid conditions and the deep pathos that has afflicted your fellow human beings; your pencil was at its sharpest when you advocated for children, the women, the elderly, the maimed, and the helpless. You took Christ’s admonishment to love one’s neighbor to heart, and you gave not only of yourself, but of your resources to help mend broken bones and hearts. Your efforts on behalf of all the individual and collective weak, oppressed, discarded, dispossessed and shattered humanity was such a gallant affirmation – an affirmation that in a world gone mad with hatred, apathy, and violence, a few dare to stand firm on principles.

For the living, Franklin’s life exemplifies everything that is decent, that is genuinely good and wholesome, that is dignified, that is just, that is worthy of emulation, that is worthy of praising, and that is worthy of remembering, and, most significantly, worthy of celebrating.

Franklin, the world is an infinitely better place because of you.

You spent a professional lifetime advocating for peace.

May you rest in Peace.

 

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Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist. halabys7181@outlook.com

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