Harriet Sherwood parrots ugly smear about Israel

In June 2007, Hamas violently took over Gaza, overthrowing the Palestinian Authority. In its place, Hamas, committed to the annihilation of Israel, set up a radical Islamist entity.

Supported by Iran, Hamas used Gaza as its launching pad to conduct terrorist attacks against Israel, and amassed an extensive armed force which included thousands of rockets.  By late 2008, Hamas rockets could reach some of Israel‘s largest cities.

Between 2007 and 2008 Israeli citizens were bombarded by over 5,000 rockets and mortar bombs, deliberate attacks which caused deaths, injuries, and terrorized tens of thousands of Israelis.

In 2007 alone, 15 Israelis were killed, and 578  injured, by rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel pursued numerous non-military efforts to try and stop attacks, including appeals to the U.N. Secretary General as well as diplomatic overtures.

On Dec. 25, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued an appeal to Palestinians in an interview with the Arabic language satellite channel al-Arabiya, saying “Israel would not hesitate to respond with force if the attacks continued”.

The attacks didn’t cease and Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27.

What other nation on earth would fail to defend itself from constant rocket attacks launched by a designated terrorist movement on its borders? 

It’s a simple story of a nation defending its citizens – as it is morally obligated to do – from enemy rocket fire, right?

Well, if you’re the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, and you’re contemplating any act or policy by the Jewish state, you’re inclined to see darker motives.

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report, on Nov. 11, is ostensibly about the latest round of violence from Gaza, but also includes news of IDF warning shots fired into Syria in response to a number of Syrian shells from their civil war which landed in the Golan over the past several weeks.

The piece, titled ‘Israel fires warning shots into Syria as violence escalates in Gaza, focuses on the Syria dimension for several paragraphs before pivoting to the Gaza situation, thus:

“In the south, dozens of rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza between Saturday evening and midday on Sunday by militants from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other organisations. Six Palestinians, including four civilians, were reported killed in at least nine separate Israeli air strikes.

Netanyahu warned that the military was ready to intensify its response to rocket fire from Gaza following the escalation of attacks and counter-attacks.

The round of violence followed a similar spike almost three weeks ago, which subsided after intervention by Egyptian mediators. But some observers believe Netanyahu may be more inclined to order a robust approach in the runup to Israel’s general election on 22 January. [emphasis added]

While we’ll likely never learn the identity of the sage “observers” Sherwood is referring to who believe that Netanyahu is likely to launch a war to boost his prospects of being re-elected, they obviously influence her thinking a great deal, as she employs their political logic in the next passages as well:

“Militants in Gaza were “sustaining harsh hits” from the IDF, Netanyahu told ministers at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “The world needs to understand that Israel will not sit with its hands tied in the face of attempts to harm us. We are prepared to intensify our response.”

Operation Cast Lead, the three-week assault on Gaza in which about 1,400 Palestinians were killed, was launched in the build-up to Israel’s last election in 2009.” [emphasis added]

In these paragraphs Sherwood reveals one of the more telling polemical ticks often employed by Guardian journalists reporting on Israel: using blurry language which conveys an idea in a manner which is clear to those who understand the context, but without explicitly advancing the narrative – a journalistic version of ‘plausible deniability’.

While it is narrowly true that Cast Lead was launched on Dec. 27, 2008, and the Israeli elections were held on Feb. 10, 2009, Sherwood’s attempt to connect the dots – noting that the war “was launched in the build-up” to the election, without including even a word about the thousands of rocket attacks which preceded the war – represents ideologically driven propaganda at its worst.

The crude Israeli caricature Sherwood conjures, of an aggressive, hostile, violent state cynically ‘beating the drums of war to gain political points, or divert attention away from other issues, indeed often colors the Guardian’s analysis of the region, particularly in their coverage of the Iranian nuclear crisis.

Sherwood’s latest narrative of Israeli villainy is merely a more sanitized, “respectable” version of the explicitly anti-Zionist malice expressed on sites such as Mondoweiss, CounterPunch and Indymedia.

One of the most chilling cartoons (published by Indymedia and elsewhere) involving Cast Lead depicted Olmert cradling a dead Palestinian baby while dreaming of the votes he’ll garner as the result of Zionist infanticide, suggesting that not only do Israeli leaders intentionally kill Palestinian children, but also that such child murder can help Israeli politicians get elected.

The cartoon was the work of an extreme left antisemitic activist named Carlos Latuff. (Open link and scroll to section on Latuff.)

If you think my suggestion that the anti-Zionism of “mainstream” journalists at the Guardian at times overlaps with such extremism is over-the-top, here’s a cartoon the Guardian published during their ‘Palestine Papers’ series, on the apostasy of Mahmoud Abbas.

This cartoon, conveying the idea that Abbas was a traitor for allegedly expressing a willingness (during peace negotiations with Israeli leaders) to compromise on the refugee issue, by depicting him as the most loathsome possible figure, a religious Israeli Jew, was a Carlos Latuff production.

When, as a media institution, you’re willing, in the name of leftist solidarity, to make common cause with political extremists, antisemites, terrorists, and their apologists it is inevitable that some of your “journalists” will begin to normalize, at times even advance, elements of their radical, racist ideology. 

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