A guest post by Geary
As Harriet “Hen the Pen” Sherwood joins Jeremy “Our Man in Hamas” Bowen in Tripoli, we might reflect for a moment on the freedoms and privileges bestowed by their despotic hosts on them and the likes of Fisk, say, and Ugly Orla (Guerin).
Are they permitted to file from Arab capitals by blood soaked dictators thanks to their reputations for fearless independent impartial even-handed reporting? Of course not. Quite the opposite. They are welcome precisely because they have a track record of never calling an Arab spade a spade, never calling Arab terrorists by that name, of being as indulgent as they can get away with towards Hamas, Hezbollah and their puppet-masters.
Never mention the inter-Palestinian murders, the Syrian torture chambers, the Jew-genocidal Charters of foundation. Or Arafat’s unscrupulous personal “proclivities”. And, if you’re Barbara Plett, shedding a tear for the dying terrorist mafioso does your BBC career no harm at all. Oh, and of course, they are also welcome in the Palaces of Blood for their fame as being metronomically reliable in taking every opportunity on offer to badmouth Israel. Do you want a career as journalist in the Middle East? Be nice to dictators and terrorists but spit venom at the one democratic and civilised country they wish to destroy. After all, Israel will always let you back in. The worst that can happen to you is a black look from the border police.
Sherwood and Bowen are no fools or, rather, they have no lack of low cunning. They know that one day, to further their careers, they might want to report from Gaza or Lebanon or Damascus, just as they are now reporting from Tripoli. (By the way, on Libya, both the Guardian and BBC are calling in old favours. The Guardian for its pro-Gaddafi family special pleading (here and here and here), the BBC for Bowen’s Bambi-eyed adoration of the old goat himself. You rub my blood-soaked back, I’ll rub your unscrupulous mercenary spine). And so they are careful to lay the cautious groundwork: don’t be hard on dictators, be nice to the terrorists, dump on Israel.
They know that, when they apply to enter some repressive Arab badland, their portfolio is going to be scrutinised by the Intelligence Services (aka the Torture Police). Ah good, Mr Bowen talks of the “Israeli occupation of Gaza”, excellent. Ah, Ms Sherwood, she of the chicken-heart and blind eye to Israeli virtues and Arab misdeeds. Very good. Let them in.
And, in the meantime, the one country in the region with a free press gets such a bad press from the collaborationist Guardian and BBC. But there is a special punishment reserved in Dante’s Hell for sycophants like Bowen and Sherwood, like Ugly Olga, Plett, Brian Whitaker and the squalid Chris McGreal. They are destined to pass eternity steeped in excrement, commensurate to the ordure they speak and write.
Strange thing is, they seem to be up to their necks in it already.