An organized programme of publicity, selected information, etc., used to propagate a doctrine, practice, etc.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary
Imagine for a moment that you know nothing whatsoever about the Middle East in general and the Arab/Israeli conflict specifically. It’s a lazy Sunday morning and you’re flicking through the headlines on the Guardian website when you come across this one:
What conclusions could you draw from this? You would immediately know that the Israelis were active and the unidentified ‘militants’ passive. You might reasonably assume that all nine were killed in the same incident. You would certainly have no idea why the Israelis suddenly woke up one morning and decided to kill nine people who, according to this headline, appear to have done nothing in particular to warrant such a fate, apart from being ‘militants’.
Then you read the strap-line below:
So now you know that it’s a ‘tit for tat’ affair – an ‘exchange’ of presumably equal and equivalent ‘cross border attacks’, although you’re still none the wiser as to what the ‘militant’ side did, or who they are, but you do know that the Israelis carried out air strikes and might even conclude that they initiated the exchange of fire and therefore breached the ‘relative quiet’. Without perhaps even knowing it, you are already being steered in the direction of apportioning blame for the hostilities because so far, you can only identify one side.
Then you begin to read the body of the article. You would, however, have to read right down to paragraph eight before understanding that there were existing factors which lead to the very precise air strike presented erroneously in the headline as the start of the story – a theme further developed in its first seven paragraphs.
“The Israeli Defence Forces said that its first air strike on Saturday targeted a squad responsible for the firing of a Grad missile last Wednesday, which fell in an open area and caused no casualties nor damage. No Palestinian militant group claimed responsibility for the launch.”
So, you would now understand that something called a Grad missile was fired three days previously, but that it was a harmless incident and that nobody knows who actually fired it. In fact, it is deliberately made to sound like as innocuous an affair as is possible (considering that Sherwood is actually describing the war crime of firing of military-grade hardware at a civilian population) in order to suggest over-reaction on the Israeli side as well as casting doubt as to whether the people killed in the air strike actually had anything to do with the firing of last Wednesday’s missile. After all, according to Harriet Sherwood we only have the IDF’s word for it and she naturally does not bother to present her readers with the filmed evidence of the terror cell preparing to launch another missile on Saturday morning.
Continuing with her underlying theme of moral equivalence, Sherwood states that:
“This weekend’s exchange of cross-border attacks punctuated around two months of quiet since a deadly confrontation in August following a militant attack near the Israel-Egypt border in which eight Israelis were killed.”
In fact, after the August 18th terror attack in which eight Israelis were murdered, a considerable number of rockets were fired from Gaza at civilian conurbations in Israel.
August 18th: 4 rockets.
August 19th: 17 rockets and several mortars.
August 20th: 64 rockets.
August 21st: 2 mortars and 16 rockets.
August 22nd: 5 rockets.
August 24th: 20 rockets.
August 25th: 15 rockets.
August 26th: 3 rockets.
August 27th: 1 rocket.
August 28th: 2 rockets.
August 29th: 1 rocket.
August 31st: 2 rockets.
September 5th: 1 rocket.
September 29th: 1 rocket.
September 30th: attack prevented.
October 4th: 2 rockets.
October 11th: 1 rocket.
October 26th: 1 rocket.
This is what Sherwood would have her readers accept as ‘quiet’ (although one doubts that either she or her audience would be quite so sanguine were even one Grad missile to fall on their own family home) and it does imply some sort of double standard in Sherwood’s mind as regards the conditions Israelis are expected to tolerate.
She further tries to exonerate the ruling Hamas faction in Gaza from all responsibility by writing:
“Hamas has largely adhered to a ceasefire that came into effect at the end of a three-week war in Gaza in January 2009. However, smaller militant groups such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees have continued sporadic rocket fire.”
In fact, the last twelve months of the ‘ceasefire’ actually looks like this:
In other words, Sherwood wishes to convince her readers that the Hamas regime has little or nothing to do with the fact that missiles and mortars continue to be fired upon Israeli civilian communities. She certainly wishes to absolve Hamas of all responsibility for the attacks originating in territory under its control.
The trouble with that theory of course is the fact that whilst Hamas was busy negotiating the release of 1,027 imprisoned terrorists in exchange for one kidnapped Israeli soldier, it did manage to prevent the execution of any and all rocket, mortar or missile attacks from the Gaza Strip, thus proving that it has considerably more agency than Harriet Sherwood would care to admit.
With her use of distortion and selective information Harriet Sherwood and her employers have become propagandists extraordinaire for an internationally proscribed terror organization which has for a decade been both directly and indirectly involved in missile attacks on Israeli civilians.
One has to wonder about the roots of an ideology so strong that it can over-ride professional ethics and inspire attempts like those in this article (later slightly updated) to magic away the fact that almost one seventh of all Israeli men, women and children are currently held hostage in their homes and subject to repeated trauma as depicted in the video below.
True ‘liberal voices’ would not engage in propaganda on behalf of those who terrorise civilians in this manner, but of course the Guardian long since sold out on liberal.
- The Israeli humanity, and terrorist malice, which Harriet Sherwood will never report (cifwatch.com)
- 2010: Not Harriet Sherwood’s Finest Year (Part 1 of 2) (cifwatch.com)
- The Guardian or Gaza TV News? Harriet Sherwood continues to run interference for Hamas apologists (cifwatch.com)
- Harriet Sherwood’s report on ordinary Palestinians seeking statehood includes profile of Abu Ahmed: Profession, Terrorist (cifwatch.com)
- Shoddy Sherwood and the abandonment of critical thinking (cifwatch.com)
- Harriet Sherwood’s latest report erases the humanity of Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism (cifwatch.com)