IDF stymies Harriet Sherwood’s obsessive coverage of Israeli conscientious objector

Conscientious objectors have been with us as long as there have been wars, and the fact that there are a few Israelis who claim this status in an attempt to exempt themselves from the state’s universal conscription is not at all surprising. Yet the story of one such objector, Nathan Blanc, seems to have especially captivated the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood.

Blanc is a Haifa resident who, in 2012, reported to the IDF induction center but refused assignment to an army unit due to his objections to Israeli policies.  Blanc has been imprisoned for a total of 177 days at a military prison (based on ten separate arrests for continuing to refuse to serve) before the IDF recently allowed him to do alternative non-military service instead.

Over a two month period Sherwood has published three reports and over 1500 sympathetic words about Blanc’s case, including a piece yesterday about the decision by the IDF exemption committee “to allow Blanc to undertake a period of civilian service in lieu of a three-year stint in the army”.

sherwoodAs my colleague Hadar Sela observed in a post about Sherwood’s previous report on Blanc, in contrast to the Guardian, the story has barely registered on the radar of the Israeli media, but has been “energetically promoted by a plethora of fringe far-Left Israeli [groups], including Amnesty International IsraelNew Profile,Kibush‘ and…the anti-conscription group Yesh Gvul“.

In comparison, Sherwood only saw fit to devote one report on the lethal terrorist attack, in late April, on an Israeli man named Eviatar Borovzky – whose human rights were violated when he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian as he waited for a bus – and even that managed to refer to the victim in the pejorative, in both the text and in the strap line.


The report also devoted a majority of the text to the unrelated IDF killing of a global jihad-affiliated terrorist in Gaza, with only 6 of 21 passages (encompassing 316 words) focusing on the murder of Borovsky.

We’ll of course never know how much additional coverage Sherwood would have devoted to the case of Nathan Blanc if the IDF didn’t allow him to opt out of regular military service, so whilst Israel’s Military Prison Number 6 has lost an inmate, it seems that Harriet Sherwood has lost an Israeli protagonist. 

33 replies »

  1. The actions of governments, shoring up a policy condemned by everyone else in the world, are bound to be more interesting to observers of international affairs than the actions of criminals. The on-going persecution of conscientious objectors and the carrying out of extra-judicial executions are both actions of much greater interest on a global scale.

    And that’s particularly true in this case, since the victim of this criminal action is suspected of being an armed racist who has deliberately moved into a home built on stolen land. Its difficult to imagine how the killing of a squatter could ever be a significant international incident. Especially not when the killer was presumably caught immediately – the real news interest is more likely that his conviction is guaranteed at the hands of a racist military court.

    Alternatively, the psychotic Palestinian with the knife may not have known his victim – but in that case, it’s not an act of terrorism. It might not even be a case of race-hatred.

    • Nick, is this a parody of an extreme-left comment or is it genuinely how you feel? I truly can’t tell.

      • Sadly, you can be sure he believes every single word of that incoherent rant.
        He has been demonstrating his proclivity toward Fascism and anti-Semitism on these very threads.

      • “Nick, is this a parody of an extreme-left comment or is it genuinely how you feel? I truly can’t tell.”
        It just might be both.

    • The on-going persecution of conscientious objectors … actions of much greater interest on a global scale.

      There are plenty of other countries that have mandatory military service. They will all inevitably have their conscientious objectors – and in some cases that will lead to jail sentences.

      Quite why Sherwood considers this Natan Blanc to be deserving of such coverage is beyond me. Frankly there are far more interesting local issues for her to address.
      Example: Shawarma – with fries or without? Discuss.

          • “How often does she do the same with Israeli/Jewish culinary delights?”

            No such thing as per Sherwood, Pretz!
            Didn’t you know that our cuisine came from elsewhere or was stolen from the Arabs?

            That was sarcasm…

      • I’m sure there are plenty of other countries throwing conscientious objectors into prison.

        None of them share our values.

        And in fact, I cannot think of any such countries … so Israel’s doing it is really very newsworthy. (Israel is also doing it over and over again, that’s newsworthy)

        Can you think of any other country doing this?

        • “And in fact, I cannot think of any such countries…”
          Is that a fact, ‘Nick’?
          How about the U.K.? A brief search would have illuminated the darkness you inhabit caused by your ignorance.
          From an article on the website of the Stop the War Coalition, dated 15th May 2013 by Graeme Green;
          “In the UK, Malcolm Kendall-Smith, Joe Glenton and Michael Lyons all served prison sentences for refusing to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan”
          One of whom is a ‘celebrated’ contributor to Comment is Free.

          • I didn’t realise we were doing anything like that.

            However, those were not conscripts seized from the street. They were career soldiers in their 30s refusing to obey orders. “Glenton spent two years on the run before handing himself in. He was sentenced to nine months in prison (mainly on charges related to going AWOL and talking to the media), served five, and has now left the army.”

            So that’s very different from Israel, where a 19 year old CO is being jailed over and over again.

            (55 Royal Navy sailors requested conscientious objection in 40 years, 42 granted, + 3 winning on appeal. Also 4 Royal Air Force airmen claiming conscientious objection, all accepted).

        • “None of them share our values.”
          Nick, your “values” include regarding Israelis as subhuman.
          As for me, I’m right now watching the “Celebrate Israel Parade” on TV, live from the greatest city in the world, New York. There I can see thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children (you do like children, don’t you?) celebrating the miraculous 65 years of existence of the State of Israel, built on a portion of those ancestral jewish lands which lie to the west of the Jordan River.

          • I’ll tell you what my values include – not kidnapping the children of the untermensch and torturing them.

            Not firing white phosphorus on the heads of my neighbours.

            Not beating people in airports, opening their e-mail or stealing their identities.

            Not keeping people out of their homes and lands.

            Need a whole pile more?

            • Where/when have children been “tortured”?
              White phosphorous is not illegal as a flare — which was its use during all of Israel’s campaigns.
              Do you grant the US the right to refuse entry to anyone(even at the airport itself) — with gruelling and invasive questioning, detention, as carried out by US immigration, almost daily?

              Are those the types of values you do share?
              Need a whole pile more?

              • Palestinian children continue to be tortured – its been going on since at least the days of “Bone-breaker” Yitzhak Rabin.

                In 2012, around 600 Palestinian children were arrested by the Israeli military. … There has been no change in the way Palestinian child prisoners are treated during the various phases of arrest, pretrial detention, interrogation and imprisonment. Physical and verbal abuse, solitary confinement, illtreatment, threats, strip searches and detention inside Israel in violation of Article 76 continued to be used by the Israeli authorities and perpetrators have not been held accountable for the violations they commit.

                Share our values, do you?

                • “Share our values, do you?”

                  ‘Nick’ your values those are the ones you share with the Assad regime in Syria, branded as war criminals by the UNHRC but defended by you.

                • There’s no “torture” going on, you anti-Semitic prick.
                  The only reason Israel arrests these so-called “children”(many of them, fully grown teenagers), is the murderous rock-throwing they’re engaged in:

                  A woman and her three young daughters were wounded on Thursday when Palestinians hurled rocks onto their vehicle, causing their car to swerve off the road and collide with an oncoming truck.

                  dele Biton, 3, is fighting for her life after she sustained critical injuries in a terror attack.
                  On Thursday, March 14, Adva Biton, 32, was traveling home with her three daughters, when a rock was thrown through the window of her car, prompting her to lose control of the vehicle, and crash into a parked truck.

                  You kill and maim children, and then you shriek and whine…
                  Share “our values”, do you?

                • I didn’t know you cared – you mean that, when the UNHRC condemns a country we should all pull together and take effective means to stop that country getting away with crimes against civilians?

                  You have my whole hearted support!

                  What do you think, should we set a deadline for the government to investigate these claimed abuses themselves, as they’re required to do by law?

                • “… you mean that, when the UNHRC condemns a country we should all pull together and take effective means to stop that country getting away with crimes against civilians?

                  You have my whole hearted support!”

                  So ‘Nick’ when are you going to retract the ludicrous remark you made on BBC Watch?

                • Nothing to retract – a few quite serious allegations by the UNHRC have been made against Syria recently but, as best I know, it is otherwise a member of the International Community in good standing.

                  I don’t know of any World Court of Justice decisions that Syria is defying, do you?

                  I don’t know of any mandatory UN Security Council resolutions that Syria is in breach of (let alone resolutions that have been re-affirmed 6 times) – do you?

                • She’s obvious lying, probably drunk or having a row with her kids in the car. Rocks thrown at a car will not cause it to swerve. (Even boulders dropped from a bridge and injuring the driver don’t cause it to swerve).

                  And she had no business there in the first place, let alone taking her children into danger. Using them as human shields, was she?

                  “By Friday morning, 10 Palestinians from a nearby village had been arrested and taken into custody for questioning.”

                  So a drunk woman crashing her car is used as an excuse for carrying out a pogrom.

                  Don’t you have some imaginative reason for inciting the genocidal faith-hatred you’re obviously so keen on?

                • Why you disgusting son of a bitch; a Woman very nearly lost her Child because of your murderous savages, throwing rocks — which DO kill, you idiot — and you accuse her of being “drunk”?!
                  What about Asher Palmer? Who died with his infant son because of your anti-Semitic killers?
                  Wherein, by the way, they also gleefully admitted, like the murderers they are, carrying out the attack.
                  And arresting people for an attempted-murder charge is a “pogrom”?
                  Well, fuck you, anti-Semitic heap of trash.

                • So ‘Nick’ when you wrote @8:11 AM ” you mean that, when the UNHRC condemns a country we should all pull together and take effective means to stop that country getting away with crimes against civilians?

                  You have my whole hearted support!”

                  By @ 1:38 PM this had become “Nothing to retract – a few quite serious allegations by the UNHRC have been made against Syria recently but, as best I know, it is otherwise a member of the International Community in good standing.”

                  The report by the UNHRC, a relevant extract of which I posted elsewhere on this blog, is more than mere allegations as you are aware.
                  Your pathetic attempts to twist and turn cannot mask the truth that you tried to defend the Assad regime while the UNHRC were condemning them for among other things war crimes. Try and divert attention as much as you like but all you succeed in doing is to demonstrate your ignorance and that you are a liar.

                  I wonder if you are not the love child of Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister, Comical Ali and, a former poster on this website, ‘dubitante’. Like you ‘dubitante’ was also an egotistical liar whose knowledge of the Middle East was very limited.

            • Also, I note that you’re now sock-puppeting, having switched from “Nick” onto “Adler”..
              What’s the matter? Have you run out of Jew-hating steam with the previous moniker?

              • Nick-a-natzie, aka “nick”, “nickadler” and “dubitante” was banned from everyplace he tried to pollute with his nonsense. Time to ban the dumbass from here too.

            • “Need a whole pile more?”
              No, Nick. But I do find that “pile” is an excellent word for what you do here, as in pile of dung. If you’re going to insist on propagating slanders and smears, go find some freshman and sophomores to sell it to. It’s not going to work here.

  2. Harriet Sherwood is only doing the bidding of her masters in Guardian Towers. It’s part of her job description to present Israel in the worst possible light, and downplay the terrorism and racism of the Palestinians.This has been the Guardian’s strategy for years.

    But despite the Guardian’s best efforts, the appalling atrocities committed by Muslims against each other in the Middle east have opened people’s eyes to what Islam actually entails, and what Israel’s enemies are really like. The Guardian’s rabid anti-Zionism is now causing it to lose influence. Keep exposing the Rusbridger cabal till it has been flushed down the toilet.

  3. That Guardian is one screwed up newspaper. That headline and strap line about Palestine’s murder of a jewish civilian and the death of a violent jihadist is pretty cheap.

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