This is cross posted from the blog, Yaacov Lozowick’s Ruminations.
Harriet Sherwood is The Guardian’s reporter in Israel. As such she can’t be balanced or cool headed; if she wasn’t well versed in the party line she’d never have been sent here. We understand that, and recognize the rules. Still, being ideologically biased doesn’t necessarily have to mean being factually challenged. Ms. Sherwood is. Just recently she reported that 30% of Gaza’s arable land is snuggled right next to the border with Israel, and now lies fallow because of the nasty Israelis:
Following the three-week war in Gaza in 2008-9, the Israelis established a 300m-wide “buffer zone” on Palestinian land abutting the hi-tech security fence that marks the border. The aim was to prevent militants from firing rockets into Israel or launching attacks on military posts. Palestinians were warned that anyone entering the buffer zone would be shot dead. The zone has swallowed 30% of Gaza’s arable agricultural land, and many farmers have been forced to abandon their crops.
(As Lozowick noted at the time: “30%? Thirty Percent? Really? Almost one third of the arable land in Gaza is crammed into the 300 meters along the border? Does Ms. Sherwood have any source for this astonishing allegation?”)
That was then. Today she’s got another blooper:
Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006 after Lebanese militants fired rockets across the border and abducted two Israeli soldiers. Their bodies were returned two years later in exchange for the release of Lebanese prisoners. At least 1,500 people, mostly Lebanese civilians, were killed in the conflict. Since the war ended, Unifil has been stationed in southern Lebanon. [My italics]
This assertion is technically true: indeed, UNIFIL has been stationed in Southern Lebanon since the end of the war in 2006. And also since the last IDF troops left Lebanon, in 2000. As well as before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. As a matter of fact, UNIFIL has been stationed in Southern Lebanon since March 1978. Moreover, its mandate is renewed every six months, and sometimes one of the sides – Israel, or Lebanon, or Syria, or anyone else – hijacks the routine discussion at the UN to make a diplomatic point about something or other. Which means, UNIFIL not only plays a (minor) role in the annals of the ME conflict, it even has its uses for the machinations at the UN.
You’d expect someone whose profession it is to inform readers about a certain topic might be expected to know something about it – and if she doesn’t, at least she shouldn’t contradict Wikipedia. Alas, when it comes to The Guardian, you’d be wrong.