Harriet Sherwood’s latest anti-Israel lie by omission: LGBT Edition

Harriet Sherwood must surely wake up in the morning and check her unique (Guardian designed) Google Alert – one set with an ideological algorithm which only highlight stories in the media and on the wires capable of showing Israel in a negative light.

Indeed, Sherwood’s Schadenfreude in the face of even the most minor Israeli embarrassment is palpable and literally seeps off the pages.

A case in point: her latest schoolyard taunt of the Jewish state in “Israel military accused of staging gay pride photo“, June 13th, which begins with a sentence that I couldn’t help but find humorous.

“The Israeli military has been accused of staging a photograph published to celebrate its progressive attitude to homosexuality.”

At question is a photo of two presumably gay IDF soldiers holding hands which went viral on Facebook, though it later was revealed that the soldiers are not in a relationship.

But what I find amusing is the final part of Sherwood’s sentence, which charges Israel of celebrat[ing] its progressive attitude to homosexuality“.

Is there any other country in the world which would stand accused of celebrating a clear and undebatable progressive advantage?

But a broader point needs to be made about the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent. She did not attend the media tour for reporters and bloggers on the subject of Gay rights in Israel in which I participated during Tel Aviv’s Gay Pride Week.

The session included informative talks by, among others, Shai Doitsh – Chairperson of the Board for The Aguda, “Israel’s pioneer lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization” and Adir Steiner – Deputy Service Manager and Coordinator of City Pride Events (for Tel Aviv – Yafo).

Also, quite interestingly, neither Sherwood nor any other reporter at the Guardian deemed it newsworthy (in the context of their obsessive coverage of Israel) to report on the city’s internationally famous Gay Pride Parade – a hugely popular event which drew an estimated 30,000 attendees. 

But it is in the penultimate paragraph that Sherwood pivots from mere characteristic agenda-driven journalism to downright dishonesty through lies by omission:

“The US repealed its ban on openly gay and lesbian service personnel last September. Its previous policy, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell”, had forced gay and lesbian soldiers to “lie about who they are”, said the president, Barack Obama. There are an estimated 65,000 gay and lesbian service personnel in the US military.

The ban on gay and lesbian people serving in the British military was lifted in 1999.” [emphasis added]

Yet somehow during the the course of writing these last passages Sherwood evidently made the editorial decision not to inform her readers of one rather vital and yet supremely inconvenient fact in the context of U.S. and UK policies regarding gays and lesbians noted above.

Israel has allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly in the IDF since 1993 – that is, 6 years prior to similar rights being granted in the UK and 19 years prior to such LGBT rights being codified in the U.S.!

Finally, note that the Guardian’s Live Blog from Gaza on June 8 didn’t once so much as mention the repression of gays and lesbians by Hamas.

The hypocrisy is stunning.

I’ll leave you with a photo of a mural – completed last month and appearing in New York City’s West Village – contrasting gay rights in Israel and Arab states. As Times of Israel reported:

“Adem Carroll, a member of the steering committee of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition for Truth and Justice, called the mural “blatantly divisive, opposing Israel against its neighbors in the region,”

Yeah, THAT’s what divides Israel from its neighbors!

Click to Enlarge

41 replies »

  1. There’s something I don’t understand. CIF recently made a scandal because an OCHA employee posted a photo on her Twiter account that was later proven to be fabricated (something which, we all agree, she should not have done).

    Why not also make a scandal when Tsahal posts a photo which is proven to be fabricated as well?

  2. Nat,

    1. The mission of this blog is to fisk, and otherwise scrutinize the Guardian, and their reporters.

    2. As such, Sherwood’s factual omission represents an egregious example of journalistic bias: a news reporter (not a polemicist or blogger) who decided on a particular narrative, and wasn’t about to let facts or context get in the way.

    3. As far as Tsahal. Their photo was already sufficiently fisked by, among others, the Israeli media. The story was over.

    4. Plus, the story had no greater significance, as gay rights in Israel, despite that particular staged pic, far surpasses most other countries.

    If you disagree with any of these points, please let me know.

    • So far, I don’t see any affirmation that this photo, issued by the IDF was “fabricated”. Furthermore, even Sherwood didn’t have the temerity to state something so blatantly false, saying “The Israeli military has been ACCUSED…”; “Accusations” like these are sadly made everyday, with hope that some of them, due to an omission, an oversight, or even apathy, might stick.

    • Nat – I would add to Adam’s riposte:

      5. Badawi said that her photo was of “another child killed by Israel” in 2012. It was actually a photo of a child injured in an accident completely unrelated to Israel – in 2006. Badawi is (was?) an employee of a UN agency which is supposed to be neutral, who had specific responsibilities for co-ordinating with the media. Her attempt to pass off an old photo of one thing as something entirely different was for the purpose of slandering a Country.

      6. This is a photo released by the IDF about the IDF. It represents the true, actual and accurate position of gay soldiers in the IDF. Spot the difference?

      6. I recently saw a TV advert of a family enjoying a day out together at a theme park. To my shock, I have since discovered that this was not a real family – in fact, the people in it were actually unrelated to each other. Worse, they were PAID to PRETEND to be enjoying themselves! I have written to the Guardian, asking them to publish the news that this theme park is “accused of staging a photograph published to celebrate its attractiveness to families.” I have yet to receive an answer.

      • This OCHA employee made a gross mistake, definitely, by posting this photo of a child who was killed neither by Tsahal , nor in March 2012 during the latest spate in violence.

        However it was true that some Palestinian children were killed and injured in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in March 2012.

        • That children are, regrettably, due to the harsh nature of the conflict, the terrorists’ use of minors as human shields, firing and attacking from densely populated civilian sectors, killed, doesn’t give anyone the license to spread a libel against Israel, simply because it “could happen”. A meteor could also strike the Earth, does it justify running scaremongering campaigns everyday too?

          • Palestinian children were indeed killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in March 2012, the week when that UN employee tweeted.

              • It is always more than sad when children die. But I’ve never once seen Israelis handing out sweets and otherwise celebrating the deaths of Palestinians.

                Meanwhile, some Palestinians find child murder a cause for joy:

                “Gaza residents from the southern city of Rafah hit the streets Saturday to celebrate the terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Itamar where five family members were murdered in their sleep, including three children”

                The source for the above snippet was Ynet – but you can find it pretty much anywhere on the net – along with similar examples.

                • The story of Gazans celebrating the death of children in Itamar settlement is a fake. It never happened.

            • Palestinian children are also sometimes killed when they are brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers.

              For me, that is the greatest evil of all, by an order of magnitude.We aren’t talking collateral damage, we aren’t talking the Palestinian targeting of civilian locations that include children, we are talking the cold-blooded decision to use a small, impressionable child as a wallking weapon to carry out an attack that will result in their death.

              I have a small child, and I would die for her in a heartbeat but there are no circumstances under which I would put her at risk, never mind send her to her death.

              That is the difference.

              That is the moral imbalence.

              That is the nub of the problem.

                • Ha ha! Ahaha! Oh I split my sides laughing at the stupidity you display in your post.

                  First, you may not have heard, but there is such a thing as compulsory National Service in Israel. All schoolkids know that they have to join the armed forces at 18. Of COURSE army officers are “authorized to enter high schools”, but to “advertise” the army? What for? As if they have a choice? No – to help prepare them for their compulsory service.

                  Second – have you not heard of Cadet Forces, which exist in most nations, certainly the UK, in which “young souls” enlist in junior versions of the Army, Air Force or Navy?

                  Third – have you never been to a careers fair where the Armed Forces really do advertise, just like any other employer, to school kids as a career option.

              • “Palestinian children are also sometimes killed when they are brainwashed into becoming suicide bombers.”

                Can you please tell us when and where a Palestinian child was sent as a “suicide bomber”?

      • “This is a photo released by the IDF about the IDF. It represents the true, actual and accurate position of gay soldiers in the IDF.”

        This photo cannot “represent the truth” since it was staged and features two assistants of Tsahal’s spokesperson.
        Your comparison to a TV advert is irrelevant. Tsahal did not state that the photo was staged when it was released, it was introduced as a real p
        As to Tsahal’s liberal, progressive policies regarding the Gay community, we both agree 100%.

        • OK Nat, how’s this. My wife recently published a photo on her facebook page of our kids smiling in the pool while on a recent holiday. I admit to you that she actually asked them to stand there and “smile” for the camera. Nowhere on her facebook page did she admit that this photo was staged.

          It is true to say that our children were not smiling all the time they were in the pool. In fact they had a couple of arguments over use of the li-lo at one point. But I do genuinely believe it was fully representative of the good time we had on our holiday.

          However, I will send my wife an angry email asking her to add a note to the photo to say that it was posed and not an actual reflection of their facial expressions at the time the photo was taken.


          • In any event, where did the IDF say that this was an actual photo of an actual gay couple? It merely said “It’s pride month. Did you know that the IDF treats all of its soldiers equally?” What part of that is not true?

            • And finally, a “staged” picture of gay soldiers harms nobody. A staged picture of a dead child incites hatred and violence.

              And you say the two are comparable?

          • Tsahal’s spokesperson released a photo showing two soldiers holding hands, which everyone assumed to be genuine. However Israeli media discovered that the photo was staged and showed two of the spokesperson’s assistants at the foot of Tsahal’s offices in Tel Aviv.

            This made headlines in Israeli newspapers, so I’m not sure why you think thyat foreign press should not be allowed to also talk about the subject.

            • Nat – I refer you to Jeff’s post at 1:37 on 14 June (directly below this as I type). I don’t think the Times of Israel should have reported it either because it’s simply a non-story.

              And for the billionth time, nobody is saying the foreign press “should not be allowed to talk about it”, but we are entitled to ask why (of all the news that happened in Israel on that day) this pathetic non-story is seen as worthy of reporting in such an “important, influential” forum as the Guardian?

        • “This photo cannot ‘represent the truth’ since it was staged and features two assistants of Tsahal’s spokesperson.”

          Actually, it is a depiction of the acceptance of gays in the IDF. Now, if the photo were of the two mens’ faces and the caption read something like “two of Israel’s gay soldiers,” and they weren’t, then I would agree with you. But as it stands, apparently at least one of the soldiers is gay and evidently had no problem with it. Would it have been better if both the anonymous, unidentifiable men were both gay? Maybe all the other gay soldiers were on patrol or busy massacring Palestinian babies that day, so they used a stand-in. Big deal. Get a life.

          Such a non-story.

      • “Her [Badawi’s] attempt to pass off an old photo of one thing as something entirely different was for the purpose of slandering a Country.”
        In other words, it had the same purpose as Sherwood’s current article.

        • Jeff, one of Tsahal’s spokerpersons posted a photo showing a mother and a child sheltering from rockets in Southern Israel in march 2012.

          Turned out that this photo was an old one.

          Badawi posted a photo of a Palestinian child injured in Gaza.

          Turned out to be an old one.

          The press saw no difference. In both cases people used old photos to illustrate something which was happening : Israeli civilians being targeted by rockets in Southern Israel, and Palestinian children being killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

  3. The human face of a child is designed to call out responses in adults so that the child can grow to adulthood protected in this cut-throat world of ours. Choosing an appealing face on the basis of its looks is manipulation of emotion, an advertising trick. The backs of two soldiers, attractive though they may be, are happily anonymous.

    There is no comparison.

    • Hold the front pages! I accuse the Guardian of staging a photograph to suggest City workers would steal large wads of money!

      At the Guardian, that proud prosecutor of the publishers of “staged” photos, flagrantly printed a fake photo of a man in a pin-stripe suit with a smart tie pocketing a large wad of cash he is implied to have found on the street. The caption does not point out that this is not an actual photo of an actual man actually finding an actual wad of actual money on an actual street and actually deciding to put it in his actual pocket.

      I am sure that this story will be syndicated in the press around the world because it is such an important indicator of how the Guardian attempts to curry favour with its “liberal” readers by inferring that City workers are greedy bastards with no morals.

  4. “Some Israeli activists have accused their government of “pinkwashing” – presenting Israel as enlightened because of its gay-friendly attitudes while denying human rights to Palestinians.”

    This final paragraph from Harridan’s Guardian blog made me wince. You just can’t win with such a mindset. Imagine if Israel discovered a cure for breast cancer or AIDS.

    The Guardian’s headline would be : Good news and bad news from Israel.
    Good news: a dramatic cure for AIDS that may save millions of lives.
    Bad news: Israel still denies human rights to Palestinians.

    Yes, I can hear the malevolent lurkers shouting at the screen: But it’s true!
    To which I would reply : Maybe, but don’t you see that the damn Palestinians deny OUR human rights as Israelis/Jews ???

  5. Sherwood and her pals at Guardian Towers simply can’t stomach the fact that Israel IS a progressive liberal country.

    Israel holds up a mirror to the Muslim world, and the reflection is so ugly the Guardian cannot conceal it. So it wants to smash the mirror.