2010: Not Harriet Sherwood’s Finest Year (Part 1 of 2)

A guest post by Geary

Over the course of 2010, Ms. Harriet Sherwood filed just over 100 stories from her perch in Jerusalem, which makes an average of roughly two stories a week for her paymasters in London.  And what, I’m sure you’re asking, did our intrepid correspondent-on-the-ground actually find to write about?

The highlight of Sherwood’s year was, of course, the wretched flotilla and the Mavi Marmara incident. The MM was, you will recall, the ship of would-be jihadis and actually-are dolts who set sail hoping to free the inhabitants of Gaza from the iron grip of the evil Israelis whilst simultaneously poisoning them with out-of-date medicine. Manna from Heaven for our Harriet, who dedicates a healthy 21 stories to the flotilla and its diplomatic fallout (that is, Turkey and Israel fell out as the former demanded an apology from the latter for defending itself).

And what else? Well, surprisingly perhaps, there were only a couple of mentions of the so-called snub to Joe Biden, but then again, the Guardian had bigger attack dogs on this story. There was also a fatal incident on the border with Lebanon, of which more later.

Beyond this we have, let’s see, the tragic story of the person mistakenly killed by Israeli border guards and the wildfire. And then we’re into real small-fry territory: a few olive trees chopped down and a vandalised mosque (both in response to attacks on settlers).

Sherwood doesn’t seem to like Orthodox Jews very much with a whole four stories about a group of renegade rabbis (condemned by just about every other rabbi in the world) who don’t want you to rent to Arabs, and another about a group who want to school their female children at home.

All in all, it was a relatively slow year (in Israel and Palestine that is). Indeed one wonders whether this paltry product really justifies the considerable expense of keeping a correspondent in Jerusalem, especially for a newspaper like the Guardian which loses money like a leper loses friends.

But maybe the point of la Sherwood is not so much what she writes on Israel but how she writes on it. When the story is substantial, rest assured that Israel will be painted in the worst possible light. Per Sherwood:

“Israel last night flouted pressure for an independent international inquiry into the lethal assault two weeks ago on a flotilla of ships attempting to break the blockade on Gaza…”

Note “flouted”, “lethal assault” – and on the whole flotilla? Indeed, she’s a recidivist. She talks of the assault on the whole flotilla in five separate pieces, whilst whoever writes her headlines entitled eight of her articles “Gaza flotilla assault”. Poetic license, I suppose. And there was me thinking all the other boats had already meekly obeyed the Israeli coastguard and sailed untouched into port. I even trusted those Zionist video recordings which show the Israelis boarding rather than assaulting the MM and being met with attempts to murder them.

Sherwood likes the words assault and attack, and you can guess who, according to Harriet, does most of the attacking. There’s the occasional recognition that there might be the odd spot of bother from Palestinian “militants”. Sherwood writes:

“In a second attack last night Israeli police said Palestinian gunmen had wounded two Israelis driving in the West Bank […]”

But far more sorrow is expressed for trees than Israelis:

Eyewitness: West Bank: Palestinian heartbreak as attacks increase on olive trees

The only missile attack she ever mentions is one which lands in Jordan:

One person was killed and four injured when a rocket hit the Jordanian coastal city of Aqaba yesterday. The attack took place when a salvo of rockets was fired from the Sinai peninsula towards the resort city of Eilat, in southern Israel.

From which one can safely infer that (a) the Hamastards are in dire need of an optician and (b) those “home-made” rockets, lovingly crafted by Iranian hands are, in truth, quite deadly.

Next question I’m sure is on your lips: what happens when Israel is unavoidably and undeniably in the right? Easy. Obfuscate. Remember that incident on the border with Lebanon, mentioned earlier? This is how the Guardian headlines Sherwood’s first piece on it (August 4th):

UN calls for restraint after Israeli-Lebanon border tensions erupt, leaving five dead: Israeli colonel and four Lebanese killed in firefight. Spark was uprooting of trees on Lebanese side

Who started shooting first? Dunno. But what were the dastardly Israelis doing to those Lebanese trees? Do these Jews have something against trees? But oops. It transpires that the tree (singular) was on the Israeli side and so there was no breach of the border (August 5th). Sherwood writes:

The tree that sparked a deadly confrontation between Israeli and Lebanese troops along the border was on Israeli territory, the UN said yesterday.

Only in the penultimate sentence of this extremely brief corrigendum do we find:

… which Israeli troops were cutting  down when Lebanese forces fired on them

And in the very last sentence, normal Sherwood service is resumed:

Meanwhile, a Palestinian militant was killed in an air strike in Gaza yesterday.

No mention of why, what he’d been up to. It’s just what you do if you’re an Israeli and bored. In fact, those Israelis, they’ll attack anyone. Notes Sherwood:

Binyamin Netanyahu, yesterday attacked Turkey for rejecting appeals at “the highest level” to prevent confrontation between  Israeli forces and activists on the Gaza aid flotilla

Israeli P.M. attacks Turkey? Man bites dog? Dear Harriet, haven’t you heard? Even the Guardian has suggested that Erdogan is throwing a tantrum.

Finally the prize for the weirdest “attack” passage has to go to the following dispatch by Sherwood:

Israel ‘faces renewed attacks by Hamas and Jewish extremists’

Hamas and Jewish “extremists”. Sure. Two peas in a pod.

(To be continued)

11 replies »

  1. Pingback: One The Finest
  2. Don’t forget Sherwood’s breathless ‘exclusive’ on Sabbar Kashur for the Observer magazine (where she gave the rape victim’s first name making it easy to identify her) – and Sherwood’s complete silence on the facts of the case (plea bargain etc) when the facts emerged. Hopeless hack that she is.

  3. Geary, like every other intelligent satire this is excellent because not a bit of it can be denied and it works at many different levels.

    Given the Groan’s/CiF’s lamentable record of nepotism (David Leigh is Rustbucket’s brother-in-law and got himself in the doo-doo as regards VMI, and as for BellaMac….) I wonder whether Sherwood related to the Rustbucket family too? That might explain her continued employment in spite of her lamentable record all round.

    sencar,you should know about poor taste. Do you think that the post is racist towards the Muslim Palestinian (who one would think would have far more sense) or towards Sherwood? Do tell!!!

    John, Sherwood gives hacks a bad name.