Goodbye, Harriet Sherwood: Three years covering Gaza and no lessons learned.

Harriet Sherwood’s latest 3200 word report, Goodbye Gaza, accurately reflects the Guardian’s unwritten ideological ‘style guide’ which seems to dictate that even the most malevolent Palestinian political actors are framed in a sympathetic light.  “With a heavy heart”, the strap line begins, Sherwood “pays a farewell visit to Gaza and pays tribute to the resilience, creativity and humour of its people.”

gaza gloom

Photo from print edition of her recent report

After a few paragraphs in which we’re introduced to her Guardian stringer, Hazem Balousha (who played a key role in Jon Donnison’s infamous fauxtography scandal in 2012), Sherwood, who recently announced her departure from Jerusalem, engages in characteristic obfuscations concerning Hamas:

The people of Gaza are reeling from a series of blows that have led some analysts to say that it is facing its worst crisis for more than six years, putting its 1.7 million inhabitants under intense material and psychological pressure. Israel’s continued blockade has been exacerbated by mounting hostility to Gaza’s Hamas government from the military regime in Cairo, which sees it as an extension of Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptians have virtually cut off access to and from Gaza, and as a result Hamas is facing crippling financial problems and a new political isolation.

Power cuts, fuel shortages, price rises, job losses, Israeli air strikes, untreated sewage in the streets and the sea, internal political repression, the near-impossibility of leaving, the lack of hope or horizon – these have chipped away at the resilience and fortitude of Gazans, crushing their spirit.

First, as a report at the Algemeiner by Elder of Ziyon demonstrated, “the current Gaza fuel crisis started when Hamas decided in 2011 that it didn’t want fuel from Israel and instead chose to run Gaza’s power plant with Egyptian fuel, sold by smugglers at lower prices that reflected the subsidy that Egypt provides”. When the Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood lost power, the tunnels were closed and Hamas lost its source of cheap fuel. However, instead of paying market prices, Hamas cynically chose to shut down the power plants, causing a crisis as water treatment plants shut off. Qatar then offered to transfer to Hamas large amounts of fuel which it held in storage tanks in Egypt, and Israel agreed to transport Qatari oil from Israel, after unloading it in Ashdod. However, Palestinians objected to both of these proposals.

Yet, Sherwood assigns no blame to Hamas for the Gaza fuel shortages she describes.

Further in her report, Sherwood gives a broader view of Gaza and her coverage of the region since 2010.

This was my last visit to Gaza before returning to London to live and work. I moved to Jerusalem in May 2010, to report principally on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also social and cultural issues and the regional upheavals that erupted three years ago. Since I first came here almost 10 years ago, I had been fascinated by the place, its people, its history and its compelling complexity.

I arrived eager to learn more about what is frequently called the world’s most intractable conflict, and to try to understand the powerful feelings of historical injustice on both sides. I am leaving angry about an occupation that has lasted close to half a century, weary of Israel’s grinding oppression of the Palestinian people, cynical about the political leadership on both sides and in the international community, and pessimistic that a fair resolution will be reached.

Again, note how, other than her criticism of “political leadership on both sides”, Sherwood’s concluding assessment of the conflict singles out Israeli “occupation” and “oppression”, but leaves Hamas unscathed.

Later, reporting on the crossings between Israel and Gaza, Sherwood writes the following:

…the vast hangar-like terminal on the Israeli side echoes to the footsteps of these few, plus a tiny number of Palestinians, nearly all of whom are going to or returning from business trips or hospital visits

According to figuresreleased regularly by COGAT, about 400 Gazans are permitted to travel (for various reasons) into Israel each day through the Erez crossing. This number includes an estimated 100 Palestinians (and family members) who enter Israel for medical care each day – hardly a “tiny” number.

Further along in her report, there are the following passages detailing the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza which again aptly illustrate Sherwood’s failure to hold Hamas morally accountable for their decisions:

Fourteen months after that mini-war [Operation Pillar of Defense], on this last visit, Hazem and I talked of the hope – now long faded – that swept Gaza when the Israeli army and Jewish settlers pulled out in 2005. The sense of liberation at the time, and the dream that Gazans might be free to determine their own future, and become a model of a future state of Palestine, was swiftly dashed on the rocks of Israel’s political actions and military operations, and the rise of Hamas.

Of course, Sherwood’s prose characteristically blurs cause and effect, obfuscating the plain fact that Israel’s military actions followed the rise of Hamas – particularly the Islamist group’s decision to focus its energies (and limited funds) not on economic development, but on the production and importation of thousands of rockets to launch attacks against Israeli communities, and on hate indoctrination of their youth against ‘the Zionist entity‘.  

Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad speaks to graduates of the organization's youth camps in Gaza, calling on them to annihilate Israel and take their struggle across the world. (screen capture: MEMRI)

Jan. 15, 2014: Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad speaks to graduates of the organization’s youth camps in Gaza, calling on them to annihilate Israel and take their struggle across the world. 

Sherwood also all but ignores Hamas’s decision to spend millions of dollars on terrorist tunnels, funds which could have been spent on infrastructure projects and other vital social needs.

Indeed, the closest Sherwood comes to blaming Hamas for the plight of Palestinian in the territory is her brief mention of the “continued political enmity between Hamas and Fatah”. And, though she laments “grieving [Palestinian] mothers who expressed fervent hope that their infant sons would grow up to avenge their dead fathers or siblings by killing Jewish children”, she contextualized such a disturbing dynamic as “a profoundly depressing illustration of the cycle of violence here”.

Near the end of her story, Sherwood does allow one Palestinian to express criticism of the Islamist group governing the territory:

Mkhaimer Abusada, professor of political science at Gaza’s Al Azhar university old me over sweet mint tea. “But we are very afraid. Hamas does not allow any protests, any opposition. We’re sick and tired of Hamas, but we don’t have an alternative.

Though, the despotic regime in control of Gaza does indeed limit Palestinian options, they did have the ability to make a very important decision about their future following Israel’s unilateral disengagement in September 2005. In January 2006, Palestinian legislative elections were held and Hamas took 44.45% of the vote, whilst Fatah received 41.43%.  One of the only ‘moderate’ factions running, Salam Fayyad’s Third Way Party, garnered a mere 2.5%.

Alternately, it’s is quite telling that when Israelis are poised to make decisions considered injurious to the peace process, Guardian journalists aren’t nearly as circumspect in rendering moral judgments.  In the weeks leading to Israel’s Jan. 2013 national elections, Sherwood (and Guardian journalists across the board) were warning that the new government would represent a move far to the far right, with some even suggesting that the 33rd Israeli government would be “the most right-wing government in its history”, an alleged rightward lurch which Sherwood cautioned was resulting in the state’s increasing international isolation. 

As we know now, the Guardian got it wrong and, in fact, a more centrist government emerged from the elections, one which has engaged in serious peace negotiations with the Palestinians – though their warnings and castigations about the injurious effects of Israeli “provocations” such as building homes in eastern Jerusalem continues.

Alternately, there seems to be no degree of Palestinian pathos which elicits similarly ominous warnings by Sherwood, or others at the Guardian, about the inevitable negative consequences of freely choosing such dangerous paths.  When free of Israeli occupation, and given the freedom to vote in relatively fair elections, a plurality of Palestinian voters cast their lot with an extremist movement – ostracized by the West – which oppresses women, gays, religious minorities and political opponents, and openly calls for Israel’s destruction and the mass murder of Jews.

Palestinians will never learn the most intuitive lessons from their self-destructive embrace of extremism – and other similarly dangerous political decisions – as long as they’re continually denied moral agency by assorted liberal racists, faux humanitarians and activist journalists like Harriet Sherwood.

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70 replies »

  1. Harriet Sherwood reminds me of the poem:

    You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God)
    The British journalist
    But seeing what the man will do
    Unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

    Humbert Wolfe, poet, 1930.
    This fits her perfectly but for her not being a man. Yet she proves that the extreme feminists were right: A woman can be just as much of a liar as a man.

  2. “First, as a report at the Algemeiner by Elder of Ziyon demonstrated,… ”

    This is surreal. You want to call as support a report from someone who call themselves Elder of Zion?

    The article is decent enough tho..and there are no other such blunders.. but she deserves more than being tarred with .. “openly calls for Israel’s destruction and the mass murder of Jews.”..which is desperate in its search to pin some negatives on a fairly decent and reasonably honourable journalist.

    • You’re showing your ignorance about Elder of Ziyon (not Zion), he’s certainly not just “someone”…….
      How nice to describe Ms Sherwood as “fairly” decent and “reasonably” honourable, I’m sure she will be proud of that.

      • ” Elder of Ziyon ..not just someone. ”

        He clearly doesnt know that this was a famous forgery designed to attack Jews…unless he is being hilariously witty . It s like me calling myself Baruch lover trying to suggest people here are extremists. However to be fair I will have a look and see what the boy is saying.

        I have to say tho I srtart being a little suspicious of his neutrality !

        • “unless he is being hilariously witty ”

          Berchmans being ‘witty’ is a concept you do not understand as it is clearly beyond your own very limited capabilities.

          “It s like me calling myself..”
          Berchmans you calling yourself other than what you are, which to remind you is a lying, boring, sick Racist weasel, is not witty. It shows that you have descended back into your own fantasy world.

          • ” a lying, boring, sick Racist weasel, .. not witty..fanta(cist.) ”

            I am witty. 🙂

            PS What you are doing by stringing out a tirade is allowing me to individualise one bit in order to get a laugh. Try understatement and you maybe wont get annihilated every post can maybe start to draw a few. No charge for the lesson

              • ” compared to you, a gold fish is a rocket scientist.”

                Sometimes less is more. You should hint more rather than actually write the first thing you think about . In fact nothing at all would be stronger than animalism . You just dont get it, do you? If comparing Jews to furry animals a la Nazi propaganda films is wrong then comparing anyone to animals is wrong.

                Also Rocket scientists nearly destroyed my nations biggest city ..thats smart is it?

                • koufaxmitzvah

                  ” compared to you, bullshit smells like roses.”

                  To argue in terms of how your opposition smells is not new to me, I well remember losing my first argument as I didnt know what ” worse than a Fifers jockstrap “meant. Id never been to Fife.. I was just a kid. Never heard that sort of argument since. Does something happen over there that reduces the IQ. More lead in the air that sort of thing ?

                • “I didnt know what ” worse than a Fifers jockstrap “meant. Id never been to Fife”

                  Berchmans now that you have been to Fife is that why you were sacked as a social worker going around sniffing jockstraps? Or was that the excuse you used for your disgusting activities but they sacked you anyway?

            • “..allowing me to individualise one bit in order to get a laugh”
              Berchmans the next laugh you get will be the first.

              Berchmans obviously you haven’t learned yet that when you walk in a room, or post on a website, and people start laughing they are not laughing with you they are laughing at you. Cruel maybe but you insist on continuously making a fool of yourself so on your own head be it.

              • ” they are not laughing with you they are laughing at you. ”

                I accept your quite caring-sounding post as genuine , you are quite wrong as for an outside audience but because you dont know the facts. I am doing this for a reason. I need to hone my interpersonal skills with people who dont like my views. You dont need to talk to your friends They love you anyway.

                • How to use Jews for honing his antisemitic skills. At least a sincere answer of this piece of …

          • I remember reading his posts on CIF and when he thought he was being witty, he came across as being smug, flippant and glib ( not very snap, crackle and pop ) and so freekin patronising to muslims to the point of embarrassment.

        • I have to say tho I srtart being a little suspicious of his neutrality !

          While nobody here would be suspicious of your ‘neutrality’ Titterton.

          • ” nobody here would be suspicious of your ‘neutrality’ ”

            Too right. Given I have posted hundreds of posts specifically condemning attacks on Israel and way way more than visa versa, it would be clear I had a bias towards protecting Israeli lives.

  3. 10 years and she hasn’t learnt a feckin’ thing. Like WHY there needs to be a military presence. Thick as lard.

    • Yes. I remember that post. Trying to provoke the Israeli navy. Thank the little green people that Guardianistas are ‘professional media people who don’t get involved’.

      • You may have a point. She possesses all the characteristics of the mindless not-even-useful idiot and is as much use to Gaza as a fat headache or the contents of the Gaza “blockade-busting” flotillas

  4. Ah, the creativity of Gaza. Where else can markets of food be a direct indication of mass starvation? Where else can 10,000 rockets launched be considered calls for peace? Where else is throwing your political opponents off of rooftops considered high brow debate?

  5. I expect Jerusalem breathed a sigh of relief as Harriet’s arse disappeared over the horizon on the way to London.

    Israel’s gain is our loss.

  6. For got to add..

    “We do not want Palestine or something. We want them to get us out here. We ask for Israeli citizenship, we do not want the right of return, we have sold Palestine. We do not even know anything about Palestine! We do not want Mahmoud Abbas. There are 1 billion and 300 million Muslims and they can do nothing! If there were even a single Israeli child in the Yarmuk camp, the problem would have been solved a long time ago.”

    • “She came to Israel knowing nothing, and left having learned nothing.”

      Poor student ? No …poor teacher ( The Simpsons )

    • She came to Israel and Palestine knowing a lot, she learnt more and she shared her knowledge with millions of readers.

      While you were busy posting comments on Adam’s website, she was busy interviewing Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and meeting with top notch journalists and diplomats. She was busy being a foreign correspondent, the kind of job which makes less successful people jealous.

  7. A real expert on Israel who got his/her amazing knowledge of the I/P conflict from the “reports” of Harriett Sherwood reading the Guardian:posts in CIF:

    thoughtcrimewhine liarsforhire
    26 January 2014 8:53pm
    The two things are incompatible.
    The simple question to as oneself is this: what would Israel seek to do about Iran if Iran treated Jews the same way that Israel treats the predominately Shia Muslim Palestinians?

    And this cretin got 17 recommendations from his peers….

  8. I would hope that Harriet Sherwood takes away with her much, much more than she ever produced in her mostly banal “reports” for the Guardian. I cannot believe that anyone spending three years in Israel can have failed to appreciate many of the good things in this remarkable country- unless he is a blind bigot, which I don’t think Harriet is. It must be very difficult to be the ME correspondent of the Guardian, having to accept the biased directives of the editorial staff as a working brief, with almost no latitude to present a balanced picture. Still, one must give credit for some of her imaginative reports, like the last one presenting Gazans as little angels.

    • … unless he is a blind bigot, which I don’t think Harriet is.
      Why not? She is definitely a bigot blinded by her ideological background or by anything else.

      • ” She is definitely a bigot blinded by ”

        Speaketh the one who calls Pretzelberg a “Holocaust denier” in a spectacular case of blue on blue attack.She was neither great nor a blind bigot churning out antisemiitism by the scroll.

        You honestly think a first world country keeping a million folk in rubbled deprivation isnt news? You are so used to it you have forgotten just how strange it is . And yes” it is Hamas’ fault.. they hate us “etc etc etc …but its still amazing news. A tiny country standing up to the entire world except the Marshall Islands ?

        And yes there are many worse places to be but none whose supporters tell you you are full for hate or pointing out an elephant decorating in the corner.

        • berchmans I suggest you look up on the web the meaning of the expression “white noise”. You are a really rare phenomenon in physics – white noise smelling as shit.
          And now go back to dream about raping Anne Frank and silvertree in front of her ffriends, this is the only thing you will be remembered…

          • Is that THE Berchmans from CIF ? The one and only Berchmans ?? I can’t say ‘ here is to all the wonderful, peaceful Berchmans around the world who want to live in peace in spite of living in lands where the sewage system has been obliterated by the Americans ‘ because of his unique nature. I will refrain from further comment. Stay cool P.T.H. !

  9. Familiar to most, but for the benefit of the clueless and witless WEbbsite: He still won’t get it, though:

    • I am not going to watch what is clearly an anti semitic cartoon without any details as to what Im watching. I guess it is trying to tie a Guardian journalist in with anti semitism .

      I can only repeat the mangling of Cardinal Camara ” When I say the recent rise in anti semitism is a foul disgusting thing they call me a saint …when I ask if it has anything to do with the stunning success of Israel they call me an antisemite.”

      • Berchmans you are such a martyr to political principle, it drives me to tears to see how you are treated.

        Next time I’m in Rome I’ll pop in and have a word with Papa Francesco and see if the process of beatification, leading to becoming a saint, can start.
        Of course you will have to die first, but that will not be a loss.

        • ” you will have to die first,”

          This cant happen because just like in the film Spartacus ..from all over they will spring up saying “I am Berchmans” Wherever there is injustice… 🙂

          PS Only 2 more weeks of this I promise.

          • “This cant happen because just like in the film Spartacus ..from all over they will spring up saying “I am Berchmans” Wherever there is injustice”

            Berchmans even when it comes to films you really are a bell-end!
            In the film, they were all crucified.
            I am not suggesting the same fate for you, it would be a waste of good timber.

            • What is your problem with the Martians? You shouldn’t be so cruel to these poor beings…Extreme temperatures, hardly any water and adding to these hardships the presence of berchmans?

  10. Is she off to yarmouk now ?
    Didn’t bother reading the guardian article ( read the comments ) but it seems Pat Condell is right as in the video posted above.

  11. She’s probably on the blower now finding out if she can get a good pedicure and manicure in Yarmouth. Aren’t this bleeding hearts pathetic ?

  12. Webby:

    …” When I say the recent rise in anti semitism is a foul disgusting thing they call me a saint …when I ask if it has anything to do with the stunning success of Israel they call me an antisemite.”

    You clearly like to push this agenda don’t you?
    You know full well that AntiSemitism existed long before modern day Israel did, so is the cardinal reffering to biblical Israel?

    Israel is also the name of Jacob or the entire Jewish nation.
    So of course Antisemitism, whether modern or old, has to do with Israel’s success, after all they hate that Jews succeed.

    You need to be specific.
    And you buddy are towing a very greasy line.
    The sad thing, as i put it to you many times before, is that you seem to know it and yet choose to ignore the points placed before you.
    Why do you?

    btw, how’s your family in Iran?
    Site seeing?

  13. Sherwood’s ‘sense of gloom’ wasn’t activated when political opponents of Hamas were thrown alive off the rooftops, or when the Fogel children had their throats slit in their beds in the name of liberating Palestine (hardly even newsworthy in der Guardian), or when the Hamas moped boys – beaming with pride and happiness, dragged their lynched brethren through the streets, or by Hamas’ use of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as the raison d’etre behind its chic and cuddly liberation theology.

    In fact, you kind of get the feeling that Sherwood and the liberal-left just use Israel as a canvass on which to project their superior ‘humanitarian’ credentials, while the real human tragedies engulfed by oppression and conflict in the Middle East are just superfluous extras, obscured in the shadows of their self-serving egos.

  14. Sherwood has been a foreign correspondent for the Guardian in Jerusalem for three years and will now be one of the senior foreign editors of one of Britain’s most influential newspapers.

    Adam writes for on his own website.

    Need we say more?

  15. by mounting hostility to Gaza’s Hamas government from the military regime in Cairo,

    So the Egyptian military in power is a regime (despite the fact that it appears more moderate than the prev. Muslim Brotherhood government) and Hamas is NOT a regime but a government. That is somewhat telling…

    which sees it as an extension of Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood.

    doesn’t Hamas describe itself in its own charter as having ties to the muslim brotherhood?

    But why doesn’t it surprise me any longer that Sherwood supports the most fundamentalist Muslim Terrorist group?