From Gush Shalom
CONAN DOYLE, the creator of the legendary Sherlock Holmes, would have titled his story about this incident "The Bizarre Case of Bashar al-Assad."
And bizarre it is.
It concerns the evil deeds of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, who "bombed his own people with Sarin, a nerve gas, causing gruesome deaths of the victims".
Like everybody else around the world, I heard about the "foul deed" a few hours after it happened. Like everybody else, I was shocked. And yet...
AND YET, I am a professional investigative journalist. For 40 years of my life I was the editor-in-chief of an investigative weekly magazine, which exposed nearly all of Israel's major scandals during those years. I have never lost a major libel suit, indeed I have rarely been sued at all. I am mentioning this not to boast, but to lend some authority to what I am going to say.
In my time I have decided to publish thousands of investigative articles, including some which concerned the most important people in Israel. Less well known is that I have also decided not to publish many hundreds of others, which I found lacked the necessary credibility.
How did I decide? Well, first of all I asked for proof. Where is the evidence? Who are the witnesses? Is there written documentation?
But there was always something which cannot be defined. Beyond witnesses and documents there is something inside the mind of an editor which tells him or her: wait, something wrong here. Something missing. Something that doesn't rhyme.
It is a feeling. Call it an inner voice. A kind of intuition. A warning that tells you, the minute you hear about the case for the first time: Beware. Check it again and again.
This is what happened to me when I first heard that, on April 4, Bashar al-Assad had bombed Khan Sheikhoun with nerve gas.
My inner voice whispered: wait. Something wrong. Something smells fishy.
FIRST OF ALL, it was too quick. Just a few hours after the event, everybody knew it was Bashar who did it.
Of course, it was Bashar! No need for proof. No need to waste time checking. Who else but Bashar?
Well, there are plenty of other candidates. The war in Syria is not two-sided. Not even three- or four-sided. It is almost impossible to count the sides.