Harriet Sherwood’s talent for avoiding the word “terrorist” when characterizing Palestinians who’ve murdered Israeli civilians

By the standards of the Guardian, and Harriet Sherwood for that matter, Sherwood’s latest blog post (Gilad Shalit: Tentative signs of fresh moves ahead of 5th anniversary) – before her announced 3 week absence – on the upcoming 5 year anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s captivity by Hamas actually wasn’t too bad, and even seemed to express a bit of sympathy for the Shalit family and their unimaginable ordeal.

However, Sherwood, as with her reports on the Itamar massacre, and other acts of terror she’s reported on, simply refuses to use the word “terrorism”, or refer to even those Palestinians responsible for deliberate acts of violence against Israeli civilians, as “terrorists”. 

Typical is this passage:

“The basic outlines of a deal have been known for a long time. Hamas is prepared to swap Shalit for around 1,000 prisoners including some high-profile names. The main stumbling blocks are the names on the list, and whether they would be allowed to return to the West Bank – or released to Gaza or abroad.” [emphasis mine]

One of these “high-profile names”, Sherwood later admits, is Marwan Barghouti.

“The highest-profile name on the Palestinian list is Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for his involvement in the killing of Israeli soldiers and civilians.  Popular and influential, many Palestinian observers see him as a likely successor to President Mahmoud Abbas – assuming he is released from prison.”

The original indictment, against the “popular and influential” Barghouti, outlined in Israel’s indictment, demonstrates his involvement in no less than 37 terrorist attacks, resulting in the murder of 25 Israelis, including a one year old baby, and serious injuries to over 100.

The only time the word terrorist was used was when quoting Israeli Prime Minister’s red line that no “arch terrorists” are to be released. 

As I’ve noted previously, Sherwood’s talent for avoiding the “morally charged” word was on full display in her three reports, encompassing 2064 words, on the massacre of 5 innocent Jewish civilians in Itamar in March – as, again, the only time the word “terrorism” was used was in quoting Israeli officials. 

I did a brief search on the Guardian’s site of past blog posts and articles by Sherwood and couldn’t locate an instance where the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent used the term “terrorist” or “terrorism” other than when quoting Israelis. 

And, any counter arguments that Sherwood, as a journalist, is trying to avoid the use of subjective language is easily contradicted by the fact that she’s not beyond referring to Jews (“settlers”) who live across the green line in the pejorative, nor subjectively assigning moral attributes to Palestinians she’s fond of – like her characterization of Vittorio Arrigoni as a “peace activist.”

Barghouti – like hundreds of other Palestinians being considered in a prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit, and held by Israel for often brutal crimes against Israeli civilians – is a terrorist with the blood of innocents on his hands.  The degree to which Barghouti is “popular” and “influential” is not evidence of his “moderation” but, rather, would indicate a Palestinian culture which sadly views such acts of violence as a legitimate means of “resistance” – a sad story of Palestinian intransigence which will never be told by Harriet Sherwood.

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