Guardian

A note to Harriet Sherwood on the difference between a rock and a spitball


A guest post by AKUS

Approximately two years ago an ugly incident in the Israeli town of Bet Shemesh drew wide – in fact, global – attention.  An ultra-Orthodox fanatic spat on a little (orthodox) girl on her way to school.  Hillary Clinton was even moved to condemn the incident.

Of course, Harriet Sherwood reported for the Guardian on the truly outrageous behavior of the ultra-Orthodox in Bet Shemesh. Her first article, ‘The battle of Bet Shemesh‘,  appeared on October 31st, 2011. On December 27th, 2011 she published an article about additional incidents in the town, titled ‘Shimon Peres condemns ultra-orthodox extremists as tensions escalate‘.  There was also a video report on December 28th, 2011 about a protest against ultra-Orthodox extremism in Bet Shemesh.  

(More recently, Giles Fraser wrote a column at the Guardian about attempts by some to force women to sit at the back of buses in Israel, titled ‘Ultra-orthodox attitudes towards gender segregation go to the core of what Israel is all about‘, outrageously drawing the inference that these minority attitudes are “at the core” of Israeli attitudes towards women.)

So, when I read that a two-year-old Jewish toddler had almost been killed by a rock thrown by Arab teens at the car her mother was driving, I naturally assumed this would receive considerable coverage in the Guardian. After all, a toddler being hit by a rock is surely more serious than an 8 year being spit upon, as horrible as that is.

car

Photo of the location where the rock struck the vehicle

However, Harriet Sherwood, now barely managing to turn in one story a week, evidently found the matter so mundane that it was not worth an article.  Giles Fraser has not drawn the conclusion that this kind of violence goes to ‘the core’ of what Arab society is “all about”.

In fact, the attack and its consequences were only mentioned in passing.  The reference is at the end of an AP article (‘Seven Israeli Arabs jailed for lynching IDF soldier who went on shooting spree‘, Nov. 28) about an entirely different incident:

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, a two-year-old girl was moderately wounded when she was struck in the head by a stone hurled at the car in which she was traveling. A police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said the attack appeared to be nationalistic in nature as Jewish vehicles are often targeted in the area by youths in nearby Arab villages.

The baby girl was taken to hospital, where the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, called on authorities to crack down on a recent wave of stone-throwing attacks in the city. “It’s about time we start treating a stone as a weapon,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 TV.

The prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, wished the girl a speedy recovery. “We will find these criminals and bring them to justice,” he said.

But perhaps the “moderate” injuries the little two-year-old sustained were not worth noting. After all, her mother Shirin Ben-Zion told Channel 2

“Avigail will be fine. She has a fractured skull, and we wait. I never thought that something like this could happen. Initially, I thought it was an accident, but then I realized very quickly that what crashed into us wasn’t any vehicle.”

So a fractured skull, if it belongs to a two-year old Jewish toddler, merely represents a “moderate wound”. How, I wonder, would AP and the Guardian report a similar attack in which an Arab toddler was dangerously wounded in the same manner?

Experienced Guardian readers, I am sure, will have no difficulty in imagining the outpouring of articles and comments below the line in that event.

17 replies »

  1. After all, a toddler being hit by a rock is surely more serious than an 8 year being spit upon, as horrible as that is.
    Big mistake Akus. The seriousness of an incident according to the Guardian world view depends of the identity of the victim. According to Harriett’s price list Jewish blood is very cheap (only the Jewish saliva is worth to mention on the pages of the world’s leading liberal voice).

    • Or the identity of the victimizer. Just think of Harriet Sherwood getting spat on by an ultra-orthodox man in Bet Shemesh. There’d be more hissing than by Arsenal fans at a Tottenham game.

    • According to Harriett’s price list Jewish blood is very cheap (only the Jewish saliva is worth to mention on the pages of the world’s leading liberal voice).

      Oh FFS. Give it a rest and get a life.

  2. Although I agree wholeheartedly with the main point of this article, I suspect that the “moderately wounded” was probably a translation of the reports in Hebrew.

  3. However, Harriet Sherwood, now barely managing to turn in one story a week, evidently found the matter so mundane that it was not worth an article. Giles Fraser has not drawn the conclusion that this kind of violence goes to ‘the core’ of what Arab society is “all about”.

    Yes. One has to wonder at Harriet’s position. And cost. With the Guardian hemorrhaging money now for quite a few years, one has to wonder how Harriet survives the ‘chop’ with only one article per week and the article often gleaned from articles in the Israeli press. (That is – unless some Palestinian is injured when we are treated to the photograph of the distressed family).

    Another thing that annoys me about Harriet’s articles is that they are mostly not open for comments as though the editors are aware of how the pro Israel commenters will dismantle her offerings double quick.

    Harriet is the type of reporter who, if fired from The Guardian would only have the possibility of being employed by the BBC.

    She should be considering that. Carefully.

  4. Overall the article is quite right the Guardian is shocking for not writing about the incident with the toddler.

    However 3 things were missed

    The fact is that the spitting incident as Jew on Jew was a gift for anti semites and the condemnation could have been far stronger.

    The spitting incident will have involved shouts and threats . It is hard to believe it was just a spitball as suggested.

    To say it was far worse for the toddler is simply guesswork . Any child protection worker knows a toddler is often protected by the lack of understanding. The physical injury sounds horrendous but the 8 year old will have witnessed events she will never forget.

    The impact on the older child should have been explored . “Horrible” is not enough given the detailed description of the attack on the toddler . Her classmates will have seen it..her family will have been shaken, the international community spotted it.

    Overall though the Guardian is at fault for poor reporting.

  5. After all, a toddler being hit by a rock is surely more serious than an 8 year being spit upon, as horrible as that is.

    Precisley.

    From the AP report:
    Netanyahu, wished the girl a speedy recovery. “We will find these criminals and bring them to justice,” he said.

    And to his credit I’m sure he would say the same about a similar attack by an Israeli on an Arab child.

    • In fact scratch “to his credit” – because such balance is a matter of course for an Israeli PM.

  6. http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2013/12/muslim-family-attacked-in-jerusalem.html#.Upy2CZ0o6M8
    Sunday, December 01, 2013

    Muslim family attacked in Jerusalem – because attackers thought they were Jewish
    From YNet:

    A Muslim family from east Jerusalem was attacked two weeks ago by three Arab youths near the road of Sur Baher. Only after the group learnt that the family was in fact Palestinian did they leave them alone.

    Rashuan Salman, his wife and their baby daughter were making their way from Umm-Tuba to Jerusalem, using the same road used by the family of two-year-old Avigail Ben Zion who was moderately injured after being hit in the head by a rock, when they were attacked.

    “After driving along the road near Sur Baher three Arab youths jumped up on us,” Salman told Ynet on Sunday.

    “They tried to pull us out of the car and hit us, it seemed they were intent on lynching us. They tried opening the doors and my wife begged them to leave us alone. She spoke to them in Arabic and only then did they understand that we ourselves are Arabs, and left us alone. I hit the gas and drove away as fast as possible.”

    According to him, the youth clearly mistook them for Jews: “Me and my wife look Jewish, even the police officer who arrived said ‘at first sight I was sure you were Jews.’ He told us that these types of things happen all the time.”
    What’s that word again when people target Jews for no other reason except that they are Jews?

    It’s on the tip of my tongue…

    Well, whatever it is, I’m sure it doesn’t apply to the attackers here.

    (h/t Gary)