Harriet Sherwood‘s economies of truth

Back in Jerusalem after her Christmas holidays, Harriet Sherwood continues to be in fine form when it comes to being economical with both truth and facts. In her January 7th article she focuses upon the accidental killing of a Palestinian man during an operation to capture his nephew and four other Hamas terrorists.

“An IDF statement said it happened during an operation to arrest five Hamas militants who were released from a Palestinian prison yesterday. “A Palestinian man who was present in one of the terrorists’ homes was killed,” the statement said. “The IDF regrets the outcome of the incident.” Its investigation would present its conclusions “as early as next week”.”

Of course, in accordance with Guardian protocols, Sherwood cannot bring herself to use the word “terrorists”, so we get the euphemistic term “militants” instead – a word more evocative of striking miners than people who murder civilians in cold blood.

Predictably, Sherwood makes no reference to the fact that Wael Bitar – the dead man’s nephew – was in the Palestinian prison mentioned (in her passage cited above) due to his alleged role in the murders of Yitzhak and Talya Imes,Kochava Even-Chaim and Avishai Shindler on August 31st 2010, or the connection of some of the captured men to the Dimona suicide bombingin 2008.

Neither does she elaborate on the circumstances of the release of these five Hamas terrorists; no mention of the fact that it came not because of the outcome of a trial or because they had completed a prison sentence, but as a result of pressure applied on Mahmoud Abbas by various parties, including the emir of Qatar and the leader of the Islamic Movement in Um el Fahm –Raed Salah.

A conscientious journalist might have explained to readers that this is just the latest incident under Mahmoud Abbas’ ‘revolving door’ policy of arresting terrorists involved in attacks on Israeli civilians and then releasing them when the outcry has died down.  In fact, the Palestinian Authority admits that it only incarcerates Hamas terrorists in order to keep them safe from arrest by Israel.

“Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the Hamas men were kept in a PA prison so that they wouldn’t be arrested by the IDF.”

A journalist worth his or her salt might also have raised the question of the efficacy of the investment on the part of the US of hundreds of thousands of dollars in five years of building Palestinian security forces if captured terrorists are not subject to judicial process – their imprisonment merely dependent upon the prevailing mood of the ‘Rais’.

But for Harriet Sherwood to actually start writing like a journalist, instead of a mouthpiece for Palestinian propaganda, is obviously too much to ask, and certainly would not fit in with the Guardian agenda. So in the ‘related’ section to the side of her article we see nothing at all actually connected to this story; not the Dimona bombing, not the murder of the four residents of Beit Hagai four months ago, not the strange circumstances under which the wanted men were released from the Hebron prison.

Instead, we see a series of articles from as far back as nine years all relating to Palestinian deaths during Israeli operations.


  • 30 Apr 2002
  • 6 Jun 2007
  • 7 Jun 2007
  • 29 Apr 2002

Heaven forbid that Guardian readers should forget the script for even a minute or begin to ask questions about the wider background to the stories Sherwood brings them. Instead they must be kept blinkered and focused solely upon Israeli mistakes and wrongdoings; something she continues to make quite sure of in the rest of her article by handing out truth and facts very economically in a most patronising manner.

Worry not, dear reader; Auntie Harriet will be there to shield you from the inconvenient facts and less than romantic truths about the cuddly heroes of the radical Left.  Otherwise, who knows what would happen?

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