Guardian

Sherwood’s pedicure & other harrowing tales from the Tweet Life of a Guardian Blogger in Gaza


A guest post by AKUS

After a long day blogging in Gaza for the Guardian’s Gaza Live Blog what’s a girl to do to relax in the world’s largest open air prison?

Well, Harriet Sherwood found a way to reduce the strain of reporting on students studying, factories working, fishermen selling fish, kids relaxing at the seaside:

On her way back, perhaps from the luxury hotel she reported about last year:

She was upset to see that Israel does not simply allow people to walk in from Gaza (perhaps as she waltzed past with her UK Passport and press pass?)

(Note to Harriet: Can you meet me at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport next week and rush me through the Zionist checkpoint that will no doubt keep me and my wife, despite our Israeli citizenship, in line for at least a half-hour before we squeeze past the immigration check?)

Harriet forgot the first rule for the foreign traveler – never drink the water and brush your teeth, assuming you do, with bottled water even if you stay at the Gaza al-Mashtal:

(Note to Harriett: I spent 18 months working in Mexico and never had a problem with Montezuma’s revenge because I scrupulously obeyed the first rule).

But of course, if the water is bad, it’s not because the stuff that is smuggled in from Egypt is luxury goods, food, cement used to build five-star hotels and malls, or pipes that are converted to Kassams instead of being used to fix the sewage and water systems. It’s all Israel’s fault, as Tricky Dicky Silverman, now reinstated at the Guardian, makes haste to point out (and polish his credentials as a bona fide Israel hater):

Yes, it’s tough being a Guardian Middle East reporter, shuttling between 5 star hotels in Jerusalem and Gaza. But someone has to do it.  Even a tweeting idiot like Sherwood can do it, even if she loses the plot now and then and points out that things are not as bad on the ground (Pedicures! Royal suites in 5 star hotels! Beaches! Luxury restaurants!  Traffic jams! Fresh fruit and vegetables!) as they appear from London. 

But it does make me want to resurrect Evelyn Waugh. He would undoubtedly update “Scoop” to satirize the Guardian and its ace reporter in the Middle East if he were alive to see them today.

85 replies »

  1. Well written AKUS

    What a vapid, air-headed twerp is Harriet Sherwood! She has the insight of the cactus on my window sill (correction, my cactus probably has more insight) otherwise she wouldn’t shed crocodile tears about the Erez turnstiles and at the same time share the details of her pedicure. Coming soon no doubt the equivalent from her to Marie Antionette’s “Let them eat cake.”

    But the sickness proves that her stomach is human whatever else of her isn’t.

    Actually, I think it was part of some sort of aversion therapy. Gaza obviously didn’t like her.

    • Since when can’t a working woman have a pedicure? The level of sexism on CIF Watch is becoming disturbing.

      • What would we do if CUIF Watch did not exist? We would never learn about journalists having pedicures! What a scoop!

    • Last time I was in Israel, I also got a pedicure. Will CIF Watch publish an article about me and the numerous British expatriates having a pedicure in Israel?

  2. I can’t understand why Israel allows her to flit between Gaza and Israel,and bring diseases with her from Gaza back into Israel.Next time she goes to Gaza to do a pedicure,don’t allow her back into Israel.The woman has sheer wood for brains.

    • “..and bring diseases with her from Gaza back into Israel”

      This has to be the sickest, more racist comment I’ve ever read on CIF Watch.

      Shame on you!

    • “I can’t understand why Israel allows her to flit between Gaza and Israel.”

      Maybe because Israel is a democracy where freedom of the press is guaranteed by law?

  3. I’m still chuckling over the ‘ace reporter’, Akus.

    I’d say she’s closer to a gossip columnist, forever tattling about the Jewz down the road, exaggerating, imagining, cackling about their outlandish customs and costumes. Her own pastimes as revealed by these tweets are hardly inspiring.

    More seriously what is revealed about her range of understanding and sympathy makes one wonder what criteria a newspaper would have for its bloggers. If women with babies, toddlers and parcels only arouse her sympathy in one particular instance and if she is unable to generalise and understand that this is something that all mothers of young children have in common then it is evidence of severe limitation of imagination, or extraordinary malice.

  4. That is not a hotel, it is a cell block. That is not a pool, it is a moat. She did not get sick from a disregard for decent sanitation, she was poisoned. And when you are locked up in an open air prison, everybody knows the inmates give each other pedicures to fight off the boredom. And now we know that they are not smuggling weapons, they are bringing in nail polish. And last but not least, why is it that the Israelis make the Gazans go through the world’s skinniest turnstiles? This story has now been updated by the Guardian editorial staff. Comments are now closed.

    • And when you are locked up in an open air prison, everybody knows the inmates give each other pedicures to fight off the boredom.

      Loved it.

      Very appropriate to highlight her repetitive misrepresentations and omissions.

  5. “I blame the horrible contaminated water, maybe a droplet squeezed thru my teeth.”
    Poor Harriet, the contaminants must have “squeezed” thru her teeth into her own mouth this time, instead of her usual outward trajectory.

  6. I wonder what toenail polish color she went for? My mother-in-law got hers done brilliant purple today. But in Kentucky, not Gaza.

      • It may come as a shock to you but human beings who are in REAL dire situation, that are subject to a REAL humanitarian crisis and live under TRUE brutal occupation dont have time for pedicure and/or 5 star hotels

        And if they do have time to a 5 star hotels, then they should also have time for something as basic as a water and sewege treatmant plant.

        This is clearly not the case in Gaza.

        • There are no five-star hotels in Gaza. The so-called Movenpick hotel, now called Acme hotel, would rank two-star in London. There is no electricity 12 hours a day due to the electricy crisis in Gaza.

          • I think it’s also important to add that this hotel is not for Palestinians in Gaza but for Western citizens staying in Gaza while on mission: aid workers, UN workers, foreign correspondents like Harriet, diplomats…

            • Oh I’m sorry, my apologies, i didn’t realize 5 star hotels in Gaza would rank only 2 stars in London!
              regardless my points still stands.

              And as for the electricity, if the Gazans suffer from ‘electricity shortage” then perhaps the democraticly elected government of Hamas should DO SOMETHING about it? and by do something i dont mean shoot rockets into Israel.
              I’m no electrician but last time i checked shooting rockets is not a viable way to solve your energy problems.

              • Your point does not stand. Many Gazans canot afford three meals a day. They cannot afford to stay in a hotel. Hotels in Gaza are for foreigners who came to the coastal enclave to work – aid workers, diplomats, journalists…

                The electricity crisis in Gaza dates back to 2006, when Israel bombed several transformers of Gaza’s only power plant.

                Undoubtedly, the State of Israel has the right to protect the lives of its citizens from threat, including, the threat posed by Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. However, not all means of response and action are permissible. Aiming attacks at civilian objects is forbidden under International Humanitarian Law and is considered a war crime. The power plant bombed by Israel is a purely civilian object and bombing it did nothing to impede the ability of Palestinian organizations to fire rockets into Israeli territory.

                • The power plant was bombed in 2006

                  Its 2012.

                  At the time the PA said it would take six months to repair the powerstation.

                  Its been six years.

                  Why do you think that is?

                  • The Palestinian Authority has been unable to fix the power plant so far because of Israel’s blockade on Gaza, which makes it impossible to import the needed spare parts into Gaza.

                    • The Palestinian Authority is the legitimate government of the Palestinian territory (West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza). They do have a say in what happens in Gaza since they are the recipient of international aid, not Hamas. All projects funded by foreign donors, including Western governments, are agreed on with the PA, not with Hamas.

                • “Aiming attacks at civilian objects is forbidden under International Humanitarian Law and is considered a war crime.”

                  Please tell that to you friends in Hamas!

                  • The fact that Palestinian armed groups (not Hamas) target civilian areas in Southern Israel with their rockets does not give Israel the right to strike a civilian object.

                    A violation of international law can never justify another violation of international law.

                    • Israel never “aims” attacks at civilians. That Hamas and its proxies do use civilians as human shields and site rocket launchers and arms dumps in schools and clinics is well documented.

                      You are effectively admitting that Palestinians do indeed target Israeli civilians (hard to deny!) and furthermore you believe those actions are justified, whereas Israel’s defensive actions are not.

                      I can’t decide whether you’re a nasty piece of work, an ignorant fool, or both.

                    • What I see is that everything I write is backed by international law, and accompanied by links to relevant websites. What you write is not.

                    • You say that all that you write is backed by links, can you quote me a link which proves that Israel deliberately struck a civilian object (and please, spare me Goldstone)

                    • “You are effectively admitting that Palestinians do indeed target Israeli civilians.”

                      That’s not accurate. Palestinians (they are four millions…) do not target Israeli civilians; Palestinian armed groups, including some affiliated to Hamas, do.

              • Dan, there are loads of five-star hotels in Israel. If I follow your logic, this has to mean that every Israeli is billionaire.

            • From the Sherwood report on the hotel:
              http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/08/gaza-first-five-star-hotel

              In the absence of tourists Balletbo hopes journalists, visiting delegations and United Nations staff will stay at the hotel. There are signs that affluent Gazans are keen to enjoy the hotel’s restaurants and cafes and there have already been a number of bookings for weddings and conferences.

              Do you get that Nat?

              affluent Gazans

              • The handful of people rich enough to afford it rent rooms in the hotel to celebrate weddings. Some have saved for years before being able to afford this. They do not stay at the hotel.

                • You really are becoming tiresome in your attempts to push your own (and the Palestinians’ agenda) and ignoring what is right in front of your eyes.

                  Read this part again, from Sherwood’s own piece:

                  There are signs that affluent Gazans are keen to enjoy the hotel’s restaurants and cafes

                  They are AFFLUENT GAZANS. Where does she say that they’ve saved for years?

                  Saved for years to enjoy a restaurant or cafe?

                  Puh-leeze!

                  • Of course they are affluent Palestinians in Gaza, as a result of the blockade. Israel’s closing of official crossings has led to the development of a parallel economy through the tunnels undert he Gaza-Egypt border. You meet tunnel owners in Gaza City’s restaurants.

            • This must be one of the funniest comments I’ve seen for a while.

              So all those Westerners run around Gaza trying to find a destroyed building to photograph or write about to show the terrible conditions there before scuttling back to the 5 Star hotel and bar to file a tear-jerker abut Gaza to drum up anti-Israeli sentiment without ever showing how they live when they are there?

              And all those hypocritical aid-workers, whose room charges would feed a Gazan family for a month, mournfully telling us that things are terrible, just terrible also get to live the life of Riley there as well.

              • Akus, you seem totally ignorant of daily life in Gaza.

                Aid workers / UN workers / foreign correspondents / diplomats who are permanently based in Gaza live in compounds where they have neither runnign water, nor aircon, nor electricity 12 hours a day because of the electricity crisis. This is not what I’d call a life of luxury.

                Aid workers / UN workers / foreign correspondents / diplomats who go to Gaza on mission stay in hotels suich as rthe “movenpick”.

                • Obviously no one reading CIF Watch is part of the diplomatic or journalist circles, so they will neither listen, nor understand.

                  • Are YOU part of those very covens of power?
                    Do you make the world turn, Mr. “Benyamin”…?
                    Perhaps all the world’s religions have been mistaken.
                    All along we should have been genuflecting to you! :-O

              • Akus, I can count at least 100 five star hotels in Israel. Does that mean that Israel should not complain about being surrounded by hostile neighbours?

          • Nat – your comment really deserves a full column with photograpsh of the good life from Gaza.

            1) The description of the hotel, which, from the photograph provided by the Guardian appears to be “5 Star”, was provided by Sherwood, who also gushed about the wonderful view from the Royal Suite”

            2) It is far from being the only 5 Star hotel. One such hotel has a visitor’s book in which it endorsed by no less a figure that Mia Farrow for its quality and service. See. for example: http://www.grandpalace.ps/ – “Opened since 2004, Grand Palace is one of the best hotels in Gaza city. Built to exceed customers expectation as it is located at the beach side of Gaza city with the direct beach view, the hotel welcomes its guests.”

            3) The “electricity crisis” in Gaza is a running joke when one considers the number of Grads fired at Ashkelon where you can find the power station from which Israel supplies most of Gaza’s electricity. Its hard to feel any sympathy under the circumstances.

            But the I’ve noticed there are people, and you are apparently one of them, on whom satire is lost. So let me spell it out for you.

            The Guardian, and Sherwood as its primary representative in the area, go to enormous trouble to paint a picture of Gaza as suffering, specially because of the blockade. There is not a lie about Gaza accusing Israel of every sin and war crime under the sun that has been too great or too specious not to have been published by the Guardian.

            But many of us know that that is not the case. There has been enough counter-evidence available of 5 Star hotels, elegant shopping malls, Olympic-size swimming pools, posh houses for the elite, expense cars – I believe there are now at least two Hummers and a Porsche in Gaza, apparently with enough gasoline available to run them – markets full of everything money can buy.

            And, now, we find you can get a “nice” pedicure at Rosie’s. This from the very same person who spends most of her life scribbling furiously about things such as the wicked Israeli turnstiles at Erez as if such things do not exist elsewhere – for example, the entrance to the NY subway.

            No one here thinks the Gazans are not people. That is not the point. The point is the attempt by the Guardian to paint them as somehow worse off than any other group on the planet even when they are the group that receives more handouts, per capita, than any other on the planet. They have a pretty good life when they are not rocketing Israel, something supported by the overwhelming majority of Gazans, not just by the Hamas leadership. If you do not believe me its time for you to visit some of the slums of Africa, even South Africa, or Latin America, or India, to compare the misery there with the life in Gaza.

            The hypocrisy, bias, and evil intent of the Guardian are breathtaking.

            • A basic rule if journalism is called: cross-check your information and only accept credible sources.
              There are no “5 Star hotel, elegant shopping malls, Olympic-size swimming pools, posh houses for the elite, expense cars” in Gaza.

              I dare you to prove me these things exist in Gaza.

              1 – A big hotel was built, the so-called Movenpick (now called Acme hotel). However this is neither a five-star, nor a luxury hotel. In any case, it is not for Palestinians, it’s for Western diplomats, journalists and aid workers, who need a place to stay when in Gaza. It was built to cater for their needs.

              2 – There are no “Olympic swimming pools” in Gaza, this is an urban legend created by a far right wing website.

              3 – There are no “elegant shopping malls”, only a run-down, small mall that the New York Times called particularly unimpressive, and unworthy of an American provincial town.

              4 – There are no expense cars in Gaza, this an urban legend created by a far right wing website.
              If you want to read about Gaza, please read credible Israeli newspapers, there are loads of them. Far right wing, racist websites only spread fake rumors and will make their readers look dumb.

              http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/world/middleeast/23gaza.html

              • Now you’ve fallen into your own trap, I see:
                From the link YOU YOURSELF provided(try actually reading your own lot, before you submit it):
                “But the broader point many of these advocates[Israel’s- Commentary101] are making — that the poverty of Gaza is often misconstrued, willfully or inadvertently — is correct. The despair here is not that of Haiti or Somalia. It is a misery of dependence, immobility and hopelessness, not of grinding want.”
                ***
                And here you go:
                http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/135871#.T98ZUNOKmBs
                “Haniyeh buys 4 million dollar property(!)”…
                Secondly, since you have a tendency to disregard your own sources, I must quote, via Biodegradable whom I must thank for this, your beloved Harriet Sherwood:
                “There are signs that affluent Gazans are keen to enjoy the hotel’s restaurants and cafes and there have already been a number of bookings for weddings and conferences.”.
                Clearly some Gazan are able to enjoy luxury, and lift themselves from the squalor allegedly imposed on them by the “eeeeevil” and dastardly Israel.
                Furthermore I don’t know where you get “acme” from; Al-Mashtal, is not “acme”/pinnacle/summit in Arabic. It means “plantation”, or flowery bed.

              • Frankly this is a ridiculous discussion. I have no @&*$ing idea if a hotel in Gaza is “2 star” or “5 star” or if you can get a pedicure there, or if there are two humvees, a porsche or an olympic-sized swimming pool, and frankly I simply don’t care.

                Focussing on that is like admiring the swirly patterns in the metal of the sword that is swinging towards your neck.

                The vital points are:

                1. Anybody with any serious grip on reality realises that it’s not easy for the majority to live in Gaza.

                2. Anybody with any serious grip on reality realises that the majority in Gaza are not suffering anywhere near as badly as others in the region, let alone the world (I would far rather be poor in Gaza than in, say Cairo – well, as a Jew and a Zionist, I wouldn’t last long in either place, but you get my meaning).

                3. Anybody with any serious grip on reality knows that there is corruption in Gaza, and that the leaders have done very nicely out of the billions in aid that come into the strip.

                4. Anybody with any serious grip on reality will understand that the blockade on Gaza (by land or sea) is a necessary defence against the arming of people who have declared their wish to destroy Israel and who have consistently attacked civilians in Israel. True, some may argue that the extent of the blockade is excessive.

                5. Harriet Sherwood and others paid by the Guardian, by the tone and content and framing of their incessantly biased, often factually wrong “reporting” from Israel and Gaza, clearly fall outside the category of “anybody with any serious grip on reality”.

            • The “grand hotel in Gaza” is certainly not a “five-star hotel”. Many foreign correspondents would have a good laugh, were they to read your lines!

            • I’m still waiting for evidence of that “olympic pool” in gaza which exists only in the fantasies of a handful of far right wing websites.

              I can tell you that many foreign correspondents looked for the “olympic pool”, hoping to have a swim, and never found it: it does not exist.

              • Per your request:(And I am tired of doing your work for you ;-):
                “And despite the fact that almost all building materials have to be smuggled into the territory, the park includes a new wedding hall and work is under way on what managers say will be an Olympic-sized swimming pool.


                The 1.5 million dollar project, built on government land under the supervision of Hamas interior minister Fathi Hammad, charges 75 cents for adult admission, with children entering for free.

                http://www.france24.com/en/20100725-hamas-thrives-gazas-besieged-economy

                  • I might have beaten you to it; but this “Nat” is exasperating… I am starting to think that a wall would be more receptive to cogent arguments than this dolt.

                    • I’m reminded of that old saying, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

                      And no Nat, I’m not calling you a pig, that would be unfair to pigs.

                    • Another saying could be: “never try to teach Biodegradable about human rights or international law; it wastes your time and annoys him.”

                • This information written by Bethleherm-based Ma’an News turned out to be mistaken. They retracted it. Can you find ma another credible source confirming this information? Or a photo of this swimming pool?

                  There is not any olympic-sized swimming pool in Gaza. A bunch of foreign correspondents looked for it last year and never found it as it does not exist. This is hw Ma’an News was led to retract their story.

                  • Any proof that it was “retracted”? Show us the rescission of that story.
                    To paraphrase you, by-the-way: “Links or it didn’t happen”.

                  • Link from Maannews retracting their statement please.
                    You rely too much on anecdotal evidence. I fear you’re just one of those Guardian trolls.

          • From the hand-carved bed in the al-Mashtal’s royal suite you look straight out to the setting sun casting pink and orange hues over the darkening Mediterranean. Below the expansive terrace, scattered with wicker sun loungers, is a lavish swimming pool set in tastefully landscaped gardens.

            Six floors down, polished glasses line the shelves of the hotel’s piano bar. Crisp cotton sheets dress the beds; fluffy bathrobes hang in gleaming bathrooms. Behind the oak reception desk in the vast marble-floored lobby….

            Two star? I don’t think so. Just admit it Nat, the so-called poverty in Gaza is Palestinian bullshit.

            • The Movenpick / Acmed is a two-star hotel, at best. The “al-Mashtal” suite is the one room built to impress, which you will find on the hotel’s website and which the manager will show you if you ask nicely. Sadly, it has nothing to do with the real rooms.

              Again: the hotel is not for Palestinians, it’s a kind of guesthouse for aid workers, foreign correspondents, UN staff… It was chosen as guesthouse for Westerners because it’s relatively isolated from the rest of Gaza City. You even have the “UN” logo at the entrance.

              • “Al-Mashtal” is the name of the Hotel… Learn Arabic first, before you spout nonsense.

                • Al Mashtal is the official name of the hotel built by Movenpick in Gaza, and later sold to Acmed. Locals in Gaza and Westerners call the hotel either “Movenpick” or “Acmed”. This is the same hotel, easily recognized by its pyramid shape.

                  Honestly … try to do some research before posting mistaken information.

                  • “Locals”… are you one of those “locals”?
                    Do you read Arabic?(I do, by the by).
                    In all my scouring of the Pal. press, i.e. Wafa, “PalToday”(Hamas organ), Ma’an &c, not once is it referred to as “Acmed”; nor, according to the pictures I’ve seen, does it have a “pyramid shape”.(Granted, I’ve not seen it myself, but neither have you).

                    • Acmed / Movenpick / Mashal: it’s all the same. And I confirm that diplomat and journalist mates all call it the Movenpick. Never heard them call it Acmed or Movenpick.

                      It does have a truncated pyramid shape.

            • Andy, ever been to Gaza?

              Or are you inflicting your comments upon us while speaking about a place you never visited?

              Between you and Sherwood, who’s been to Gaza many times, people belive Sherwood. No surprise here, at least she knows what she’s talking about.

        • Dan, if Gaza is such an attractive place where everyone lives in wealth and happiness despite the blockade, why not settle there yourself?

          • It was decided that people like me could not stay. We were an impediment to the peace process.

            Seriously, dude. Gaza is not where I would choose to live, but I wouldn’t choose to live in Juarez either, and Juarez’s plight is not an obsession of half the damn press corps.

            Difference is, Juarez has nothing particular against Jews.

            • Gaza has nothing particular against Jews either. I know diplomats and humanitarian workers who are Jews and work in Gaza.

              • The problem is not between Palestinians in Gaza and Jews, the problem is between Hamas and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza and Israelis as the former attack Southern Israel.

                In case you did not know it, many Jews in the world are not Israeli citizens.

                • Perhaps you could tell that to Hamas, whose rantings often talk of killing Jews everywhere (not Israelis, Jews).

      • I can’t imagine why you think that would come as a shock to me, unless you figure that anyone who thinks Harriet Sherwood is a bit of an airhead automatically lacks all compassion for humanity.

        Are you seriously offended by my wondering what color she had her nails painted? Or is this Much Too Serious to Make Light Of?

        I spend far too much time hearing Gaza described by foreign journalists, inaccurately, and for agenda based reasons, as a simmering hellhole of malnutrition, deprivation, and abject poverty. I don’t think it’s mocking the people of Gaza to be mildly amused when one of these journalists finds the time to get her nails done there.

        I hope she tipped well.

  7. “”(Note to Harriett: I spent 18 months working in Mexico and never had a problem with Montezuma’s revenge because I scrupulously obeyed the first rule”.

    Duvidl would like to make Harriet aware that in Gaza, Montezuma’s Revenge is of projectile (Kassam) intensity and known as “Haniyeh’s diarrhoea.”

  8. “Upseeting watching Plestinian women carry babies + toddlers + suitcases…”

    Maybe those Palestinian women should ask their husband to share some of the burden?
    Oh well, i guess thats how it is to be a woman in an extreme Patriarch society.

  9. Hamas spends millions if not billions on arming themselves ( I would love to know where does all this money comes from) Hamas members live very well,and their leaders live in luxury,these Hamas leaders drive the latest model cars,and they live in three stories mansions.

    Yet there are no basic necessities for the people of Gaza.Foreign governments have to pay for the desalination and sewage plants.That show no signs of being built.

    Israel should cut them loose let them supply their own bloody electricity.

    • “Hamas members live very well,and their leaders live in luxury,these Hamas leaders drive the latest model cars,and they live in three stories mansions.”

      Really? Can you prove this? Where did you get such an information from?

      Please give us your source – a credible one, not some far right wing website.

        • Honest Reporting is a political website. I’d not call it a credible source, as Haaretz or the Jerusalem Post would be.

          • Read the piece in The Economist!
            http://www.economist.com/node/21556961
            In the meantime, Hamas leaders seem increasingly content to enjoy the fruits of splendid isolation. The parliamentary car park, full of rickety bangers when Hamas first took office, now gleams with flash new models hauled through the tunnels under the Egyptian border. Two Hummer H3s and a golden Porsche were recently spotted cruising the streets. Ministers and members of parliament seem unbothered by the lack of accountability as well as reports of money-laundering. “We’re hunted and targeted,” explains a self-pitying MP on Hamas’s parliamentary ethics committee, who recently spent $28,000 on a new car with the help of a $12,000 loan from the movement.

          • Haaretz a credible website??????????????????????

            As credible as the Guardian????????????????????????????