Fool’s Prophecy: Harriet Sherwood’s latest compelling tale of Israeli oppression…that hasn’t yet happened

In reading Harriet Sherwood’s recent tale of the cruel Israeli Goliath raking havoc on innocent Bedouin victims, Bedouin children hope their West Bank school will be spared Israeli bulldozers, one salient fact stood out: The unauthorized Bedouin school that Sherwood speaks of has not been torn down and won’t be until the community can be adequately relocated.  In other words, no demolition has occurred and, per Israeli officials Sherwood interviewed, whatever the outcome of the structures, the community certainly won’t be left homeless or without schools for their children.

Of course, a restrained, sober, objective analysis of the land dispute – one which would take into account the complex moral, legal and social issues involved with the nomadic Bedouin communities who reside in the West Bank  – simply wouldn’t produce the desired narrative.

Indeed, the story seems based on merely anecdotal evidence, one statement by the head teacher Hanan Awad who “fears that if the building is left empty, bulldozers will rumble up the hill from the main road to tear down the illegal two-year-old structure built out of old car tyres and mud.”

The fact that Sherwood provides no corroborating evidence that such plans are in the works doesn’t stop her from posting a story with a requisite photo of small Bedouin children “dressed in her blue-and-white striped uniform”  juxtaposed with a characteristic imagery of Zionist oppression – those ubiquitous “Israeli bulldozers”.  Further, Sherwood accepts, at face value, Bedouin claims of “settler…attacks on Bedouin villages.”

A broader story of Israel’s treatment of her Bedouin communities would inevitably contrast Bedouins in the West Bank with Bedouin communities in Israel proper, and conclude that, regarding the latter, Israel’s Bedouins enjoy conditions that their brethren in Arab counties (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc.) lack in two areas: civil rights and land ownership.  

Additional research by Sherwood would lead her to note that a Ministerial Committee for the Advancement of Bedouin Affairs has been established by the Israeli Government, that this Committee comprises ten government ministers, and that billions of Shekels have been allotted for the implementation of new programs to assist the Bedouin.  

Sherwood may even have come across the revelation that the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Middle East Adviser is a Muslim Bedouin named Ismail Khaldi, who once stated: 

“I am a proud Israeli – along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Bedouin, Druze, Bahai, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deals honestly. By any yardstick you choose — educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay’s rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation — Israel’s minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East.”

A less ideologically driven post would balance concerns about the possible relocation of one Bedouin community in the West Bank with figures noting the ten fold increase of the Bedouin population in Israel since 1948 (a population which now exceeds 170,000), and their dramatically reduced infant mortality and increased life expectancy.

Of course, why bore her readers with such dry data when she can more easily conjure a tale of Israeli oppression – which hasn’t yet happened – much more familiar to Guardian readers?

As Guardian Assistant Editor Michael White acknowledged in a revealing blog post in March about his paper’s institutional bias against Israel, the Guardian “strives much of the time to tell [their readers] what [they’d] rather know rather than challenge [their] prejudices.”

Indeed, if nothing else, Sherwood’s latest boilerplate anti-Israel agitprop exceeds spectacularly at the urgent task of feeding her readers’ anti-Israel prejudices. 

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