Harriet Sherwood yawns as Hamas orders closure of Gaza media outlets

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi 

Poor Harriet Sherwood, missing the big picture while obsessively reporting about the latest round of Middle East peace talks that promise to end the six-decade-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a mere nine months.

While Sherwood, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, breathlessly relayed US President Barack Obama’s praising of the rebooted peace process, the Hamas-led government in Gaza – located a mere 50 miles away from Israel’s currently undivided capital city – was shutting down uncooperative media outlets in the territory.

Journalists in Ramallah protest against a previous clamp-down on press freedom by Hamas

Journalists in Ramallah protest against a previous clamp-down on press freedom by Hamas

In a July 29 post by the Guardian’s media blogger, Roy Greenslade, Gaza’s Attorney General Ismail Jaber was quoted as saying that the broadcaster Al-Arabiya and news agency Maan “fabricated news” that “threatened civil peace and damaged the Palestinian people and their resistance” to Israel.

Thankfully for freedom loving journalists such as Sherwood, this latest human rights violation by the demopathic Hamas movement is expected to be temporary – although when precisely the offices will actually be allowed to resume operations remains a question mark.

Sherwood’s unwillingness to shed a bright light on Hamas’ latest crackdown on ‘counter-revolutionary’ voices represents a glaring and dangerous ideologically driven moral blind-spot – denying her significant readership access to uncomfortable facts about the neighborhood bullies who share a volatile border with Israel.

According to the independent watchdog organization Freedom House, the media in Gaza are not free. Following its takeover of Gaza, Hamas replaced the PA Ministry of Information with a government Media Office and banned all journalists not accredited by it; authorities also closed down all media outlets not affiliated with Hamas, whose security forces have allegedly tortured detainees.  Furthermore, Hamas has significantly restricted freedoms of assembly and association, with security forces violently dispersing public gatherings of Fatah and other groups.

Now, none of this is meant to imply that Sherwood can’t find Gaza on a map. Bright, curious and well-read, the Guardian’s intrepid Jerusalem correspondent has indeed filed reports about the goings-on in Gaza. Yet, she seems impervious to any news item that may distract her readers from the Israel-as-Goliath fable – and often fails to adequately fact check claims made by her Palestinian protagonists.

Yet, the broader issue is Sherwood’s chronic myopia vis-à-vis alleged human rights violations by Hamas against its own people.

And when facts prove to be stubborn and persistent, Sherwood simply tortures the English language in an attempt to whitewash any pesky Palestinian human rights abuses. Indeed, it takes an imagination most fertile to conceive of a group a group recognized as a terrorist movement by the United States, the European Union, the UK, Australia, Canada and Japan as merely “conservative“.

Indeed, Sherwood’s selective reporting is taking place at a most inopportune time. Try as she may to turn a blind eye, human rights violations in Gaza – not to mention the Palestinian Authority – are reportedly increasing. According to the Palestinian Independent Commission For Human Rights (ICHR) report, 2012 saw a 10 percent increase in the number of complaints about human rights abuses by the PA and Hamas, compared with 2011.

According to, Randa Siniora, executive director of ICHR, many complaints were related to arbitrary and political detentions, as well as torture and mistreatment.  The organization recommends that the PA and Hamas stop violating freedom of expression by interrogating Palestinians who are simply expressing their political views.

Why hasn’t Ms Sherwood followed up on the findings and recommendations of this report? Are not the alleged human rights violations of Israel’s presumptive peace partners of any relevance to the final configuration of a Palestinian state? 

Whilst Sherwood relentlessly reports every slight endured by Palestinians at the hands of Israelis, she evidently sees nothing newsworthy about severe abuses perpetrated by Hamas against its civilian population.

Lying by omission is lying by either omitting certain facts or by failing to correct a misconception, and it appears that Sherwood has made a career out of overplaying news stories about every conceivable Israeli miscue, while leaving out information that would detract from the Palestinian victim narrative.

Her ho-hum reaction to the horrific treatment of her cherished Palestinians effectively perpetuates the racist assumption that Palestinians lack moral agency.

And now…back to the negotiating table!

(Gidon Ben-Zvi is a Jerusalem-based writer who regularly contributes to Times of Israel and the Algemeiner.)

19 replies »

  1. Now, none of this is meant to imply that Sherwood can’t find Gaza on a map
    You are mistaken Gidon. She can’t.
    the Hamas-led government in Gaza – located a mere 50 miles away from Israel’s currently undivided capital city
    She has serious problems with much smaller distances – a mere three nautical mile.

  2. Seems a memo went out several decades ago to all left wing “journalists” purporting to cover the Israeli-Arab conflict:

    *Gloss over, distort or simply ignore any facts, such as Palestinian terrorist attacks, that may evoke sympathy for the Israelis and understanding of their dilemma.

    *Strive to portray the Palestinians as innocent victims and the Israelis as unyielding brutes.

    *Never criticise the Palestinians, no matter what they do, but miss no opportunity to criticise the Israelis.

  3. Hapless Harriet must be the world’s worst newspaper correspondent. The poor woman wouldn’t recognize a story if it walked up and slapped her in the mouth.

  4. Here is an ali baba joke –

    An Ali Baba comes up to the man snatches his wallet takes all the money from it and than turns to the man and says I am an honest person I will give you the empty wallet back in a spirit of compromise and if you do not accept this you will lose it all – the man says at least give me the key to my house and Ali baba says no that is not negotiable. The House is no longer yours. There has to be consequences for arguing with me.

  5. Harvey every joke has a reality embedded in it that is ugly. The Ali Baba came from Europe in many forms, as an English man, as a French, as a German and ultimately as a Zionist. No matter what its main characteristic is exploiting others hospitality. It has now overstayed its hospitality better bugger off some where else. I suppose as a Zionist you find it difficult to see the joke in what is your reality.

    • It has now overstayed its hospitality better bugger off some where else.
      So we overstayed the hospitality of the Arabs and Europe and we need to move somewhere else. But we will stay anyway. If you have a problem with this then please come and try to make us to bugger off somewhere else. You will be surprised how quick you will meet your heavenly colleagues…
      BTW reading your joke – what could I say? This is your sense of humor? Now I understand why you are a pathetic loser.

      • I think the following joke is a little closer (sadly) to how the world actually works nowadays:

        An Israeli in Paris saw a pit bull attacking a toddler. He killed the pit bull and saved the child’s life.

        Reporters swarmed the fellow. “Tell us! What’s your name? All Paris will love you! Tomorrow’s headline will be: “Parisian Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!”

        The guy says, “But I’m not from Paris.

        “Reporters: “That’s OK. Then the whole of France will love you and tomorrow’s headline will read: ‘French Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!'”

        The guy says, “I’m not from France, either.”

        Reporters: “That’s OK also. All Europe will love you. Tomorrow’s headlines will shout: ‘European Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!'”

        The guy says, “I’m not from Europe, either.

        Reporters: “So, where ARE you from?

        The guy says, “I’m from Israel.

        Reporters: “OK. Then tomorrow’s headlines will proclaim to the world: ‘Israeli Kills Beloved Pet Dog!'”

        • The UK version: A lion attacks a little girl in the London zoo and an Israeli saves her. The headline in the Guardian: Yesterday an ex-IDF soldier robbed an African immigrant taking away his breakfast.

  6. Angel aks Rafi aka Nazisse Sharon/Jane/Catherine/Samantha aka HarpalSingh/AaronPatel/AnrewBird/Jeremy Bowles/AlanThornton aka NS-
    Ismail/Alan/Deborah/Jim/Jason/Dirk/Nick/Natzie/Rob, amended by Gerald with Dopey/Grumpy/Sneezy/Sleazy/Tosser/Dorothy/Straw Man/Dick Head/Drek is an obsessive and stupid Antisemite, which is quite self-evident.

  7. Trolls like ‘Angel’ seem to consider that being among Jews and Zionists give them stature, just like a decrepit old man talking to a teenager imagines himself her contemporary

  8. All kidding aside for just a second. What Harriet Sherwood and her fellow travellers seem to be perpetuating is a soft bigotry of low expecations in relation to the same Palestinians that are the focal point of so much ersatz moral outrage. Ms Sherwood and her ilk hold Palestinian leaders to a lower standard of acceptable behavior while simultaneously judging Israel by a moral code that is not applied to any other sovereign nation on earth. Israel should pull out of the entire West Bank, Golan Heights and east Jerusalem…just as soon as China pulls out of occupied Tibet. Thank you for reading and responding to my post!

    • Gidon, why not try and become a journalist yourself, instead of insulting journalists?

      Is it because you don’t think you have the skills that are necessary to become a foreign correspondent?

      • And the trolling continues…
        What I don’t understand is what sort of a low-life you must be in order to troll for money…
        Are you really that daft? Incapable of doing anything else? Got enormous amounts of debts? Or simply anti-social?
        Did you get banned from the Jpost? Is that why you’re lashing out here?
        Back to Holland with you, miserable cretin…