Israeli minister summons Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood to protest publication of pro-terrorism letter

Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, on Thursday, instructed the Government Press Office (GPO) to summon the Guardian’s correspondent in Israel to protest a letter published in the paper which justified terrorism.  (See CiF posts, here, here, and here).

As we noted previously, the letter, by Ted Honderich, a professor of philosophy at University College London, made the case that the Guardian’s “Palestine Papers” showed that Israel was such a morally indecent nation that:

“The Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism within historic Palestine…Terrorism, as in this case, can as exactly be self-defence, a freedom struggle, martyrdom, the conclusion of an argument based on true humanity.”

Edelstein wrote Guardian editor Ian Black to express his outrage that his newspaper would publish a letter that calls for the murder of innocent civilians. He asked that Black print an apology and clarification stating that the newspaper did not condone terrorism in any form and did not consider it a legitimate tool in a struggle for freedom.

Edelstein also instructed GPO head Oren Helman to “urgently summon”Guardian correspondent Harriet Sherwood to discuss the letter. (Apparently, however, Sherwood is currently in Egypt.)

Coming on top of the heated criticism by Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, of the Guardian’s commentary of the “Palestine Papers” (which, Prosor said, was so sympathetic to extremism it risked “out-Hamasing Hamas”) it appears that the Israeli government has made a decision to rightly “name and shame” the Guardian for their egregious anti-Israel agenda – an ideological orientation which increasingly seems sympathetic to the most radical, not to mention reactionary, violent movements.

While we eagerly await Ian Black’s reply to Edelstein, the paper’s Readers’ Editor, Chris Elliott – as we noted previously – already offered a curious response to criticism over their decision to publish the letter by Honderich.

Elliott said:

“It is the policy of the Guardian not to publish letters advocating violence against others…”

But, then, justifying the letter, he argued:

[Honderich] is not advocating suicide bombing, he is questioning how it is regarded by most people in the west, and how it might be seen as something other than terrorism by people in other places and circumstances.

However, this argument ignores the wording of Honderich’s letter, which (as we’ve noted) wasn’t some philosophical meditation on the ethics of war and conflict but, rather, a specific reply to the “revelations” of the “Palestine Papers” – which Honderich argued provided moral justification for specific acts of terrorism against Israeli men, women, and children.

In other words, contrary to Elliott’s defense – and regardless of the defense that may be provided by Ian Black or anyone else at the Guardian – no amount of sophistry or obfuscation can change the fact that Honderich’s letter was solely addressing (and sanctioning) acts of murder in a particular country and against a specific group – Israeli Jews.

While we’re heartened to see that more and more people, from across the political spectrum, are beginning to realize how morally reprehensible the Guardian’s commentary on Israel truly is, there is no sign at this point that their correspondents, editors, or management are any closer to engaging in any serious reflection on the issue.

In other words, regardless of the facts and consequences of their behavior, their ideology is far too rigid and, seemingly, ingrained in their company’s culture for us to expect any growth or understanding.

It’s certainly interesting that a newspaper which so fancies itself as an agent of change in the world – one which “speaks truth to power” –  has become what they supposedly are dedicated to fighting: A behemoth far too crippled by their own hubris to be open to true reform or self-examination – an orientation, it should be noted, which is decidedly illiberal.

12 replies »

  1. Der Schwarze Guardian has become a trash tabloid that barely hides its antisemitic obsession. This blog does a great job exposing it. What remains to be done is let that propaganda hate-machine drown in its own filth.

  2. Nice article and great to see hyperbole, indeed dangerous incitement being checked, as it should.

    However, I’ll have to disagree on your definition of ‘illiberal’. You’ve taken what liberals would like you to think it means, not what it actually is. Although, with your reference to the Nietzschean soundbite ‘truth to power’, you correctly identify liberalism’s roots: those based in anti-Enlightenment, anti-democratic thinking (ie fascism). Which is exactly what modern liberalism is, as is the Guardian.

    Sorry to go on.

  3. “…it appears that the Israeli government has made a decision to rightly ‘name and shame’ the Guardian for their egregious anti-Israel agenda…”

    That won’t work. The Guardian have no shame. On the contrary, they take pride in their grandstanding for the “Resistance” against “The Man” (one examplar of which is the State of the Jews).

    For starters, there needs to be a ban on any presence of Guardian staff in Israel (both pre- and post-1967). A charge of “Aid and Comfort to the Enemy” must be placed on the Guardian as declaration of intent prior to this ban. Israel must starve the hostile media outlets by depriving them of information. Without raw materials from which to spin their yarns, they will tire of their obsession with Israel. They will be forced to recycle their dirt about Israel, something that media sources tire of very quickly.

  4. The government of Israel should withdraw the Guardian’s press credentials and instead require it to register as an agent of a foreign terrorist organisation (Hamas).

  5. Sorry to harp on about it but in another article about wikileaks and the Guardian falling out, wikileaks declares its intention to, ‘take action’, against the malicious libels put out by the Guardian. Why cannot, therefore, the state of Israel do the same?

    Nothing, but nothing focuses the mind of an editor more keenly than the threat of a court case that may result in the payment of substantial damages and costs. The Guardian is not doing so well financially that it can afford to be cavalier with its opinions and continue to slander Israel if swingeing payouts will be result.

  6. An Israeli minster has taken action? SO WHAT….when a UK minister takes action is will mean something!

  7. So Sherwood is in Egypt? Instead of summoning her for an official ticking off, give that sanctimonious arse of hers a well-aimed kick on her return to the Israeli border, and boot her out for good. In the bigoted mind set of der Guardian, Israel is always going to be the equivalent of a black defendant in a segregationist-era dock. May as well have the satisfaction of giving the prejudiced and mean-spirited judge and jury the finger before being sent down.