Parsing the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood

A guest post by AKUS

Harriet Sherwood upholds the Guardian’s tradition of airbrushing history and facts in her two latest efforts. Let’s start with her blog, “The View from Jerusalem”:

Israel to get first museum of Arab art and culture

Not quite, Harriet. You need to get out and about Jerusalem more. What about the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem, which has been there for decades?

Of course, it was donated by a Jewish woman to foster inter-community harmony, so I suppose that means it doesn’t really count even though when we visited the staff was almost entirely Arabs:

Visitors to Jerusalem’s L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art are privileged to view one of the foremost collections of Islamic art and Antique Watches & Clocks. The L.A. Mayer Museum was founded by the late Mrs. Vera Bryce Salomons, realizing her long-standing idea of giving expression to the impressive artistic achievements of Israel’s Muslim neighbors. Mrs. Salomons dedicated the Museum to her friend and teacher, Prof. Leo Arie Mayer. Many scholars of international renown took part in the establishment of the Museum, attracted to both its research activities and to the challenge of bridging the gap between the two cultures. The Museum was opened to the public in 1974.

Harriet says the new (yet to be built) museum will be in: “Umm al-Fahm, an Israeli-Arab city just north of the West Bank.” No, Harriet – Umm al-Fahm is an Israeli Arab village (at least she did not refer to it as a “Palestinian village” – she will get a few black marks from home office about that) just south of Afula in Wadi Ara or east of Haifa or Megiddo. London, for example, is not generally described as a British city north of France, nor Dallas as an American city north of Mexico.

Harriet, never one to hide her ability to airbrush the fact and skillfully avoid giving all the facts, also gave us the latest batch of nonsense about the eviction of Arab squatters in Jerusalem:

“The Hamdallah family have lived in the home in Ras al-Amud since 1952. The extension, in which Ahmed, Amani and Yazan Hamdallah now live, was built in the mid-1980s.”

Hmmm … and who lived there before 1952 I wonder…???  Oh… here’s a clue …

“The Hamdallah family came to Ras al-Amud after fleeing their village near Ramle in the 1948 war”.

Well, I’m sorry they lost their house in a war their leaders started to destroy the new State of Israel.  Perhaps they should not have. How strange and fortunate, however, that they just happened to find an empty house in Jerusalem after the Jordanians forced all the Jews out. But equally, how unfortunate that  King Hussein, who illegally occupied the land on which the house stands, attacked Israel in 1967 and a few days later the Hamdallah’s found themselves once again on the wrong side of history.

Clearly, Harriet seems to think they have “squatters’ rights” despite the fact that the house belongs to someone else:

“However, the land on which the home is built was bought in 1990 by Irving Moskowitz, a Florida businessman, from its pre-1948 Jewish owners. Moskowitz has spent millions of dollars purchasing property in East Jerusalem to create pockets of hardline Jewish settlements in Palestinian neighbourhoods.”

Ah … those mysterious “pre-1948 owners”…  I wonder who they were and how they lost their property and why they have no “right of return” in Arab eyes…?? And those “hardline Jews” who seem to hold the utterly ludicrous belief that if they pay Moskovitz rent or purchase the property from him they should be allowed to live there!! What an odd lot these “hardline Jews” are!!

Clearly Harriet believes that merely paying for the property gives Moskovitz no rights to it since Jews should be willing to pay for property but not actually be allowed to use it. She may have redeemed herself for her slip regarding the location of the not-so first Arab museum in Israel.

Parsing Harriet – so ridiculously easy for anyone with some knowledge of Israel and its history.

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