Harriet Sherwood gets it right

I never thought I’d be writing these words, but Harriet Sherwood deserves credit for providing balance in a Guardian report on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Sherwood, whose Palestinian sympathies have been revealed time and again, wrote a piece on Dec. 3 (‘Israeli settlement move risks further isolation say Netanyahu opponents‘) which, to put it mildly, was unlike almost all of her other ones.

Of course, the main thrust of her report was consistent with the Guardian narrative on Netanyahu’s decision to build homes in the area known as E-1 (between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim), focusing on the possibility that such plans will isolate Israel diplomatically and framing the decision as an indication of the nation’s move to the right.

However, in the fourth to the last paragraph Sherwood pivots and provides context on Israel’s political environment rarely explored on the pages of the Guardian or ‘Comment is Free’.

Sherwood writes, thus:

“The Israeli public has moved steadily to the right over recent decades, and the political reach of relatively leftist and “pro-peace” parties has collapsed. Part of the explanation is disillusion in the so-called peace process and alarm at the rise of Islamist parties in Gaza and elsewhere in the region.”

While the definition of “right” is open to interpretation, Sherwood deserves credit for accurately characterizing Israeli disillusionment with the the logic underlying Oslo, and the general concern over the rise of radical Islamist parties in the region.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom of the Western and Israeli left, territorial concessions (particularly in S. Lebanon and Gaza) since Oslo have largely not produced the desire results.  Israeli withdrawals only strengthened Islamist terror groups (Hezbollah and Hamas), producing greater instability on the state’s southern and northern borders, thus undermining the rationale of the ‘land for peace’ formula.

Sherwood concludes her report by quoting a surprising source – and Israeli who doesn’t work for a radical NGO, nor otherwise identifies with the far left:

Increasing diplomatic isolation could indirectly shore up support for Netanyahu, according to Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent of the Jerusalem Post. “Israelis are under the impression that the entire world is against them, no matter what they do,” he said.

Most Israelis supported the expansion of “quality of life” settlements close to the pre-1967 Green Line, as distinct from ideologically hardline settlements deep inside the West Bank, he added. “By making such an uproar over a consensus issue, the international community is actually discouraging concessions in the future.”

On issues relating to Israel’s security and the Palestinians, “no one on the right can challenge Netanyahu. This strengthens him, it plays into his hands,” Hoffman said. “The international community has made that mistake time and time again. It’s not Netanyahu who’s shifting Israel to the right, but European politicians like [the British foreign secretary] William Hague.”

While Hoffman’s analysis is open for debate, it’s refreshing to read a Guardian analysis which gives voice to the overwhelming majority of Israelis who tire of the imperiousness and moral condescension consistently displayed  by the European left towards their nation – a hubris which manifests itself in the audacious belief that citizens of the Jewish state continually need to be ‘saved from themselves’.

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