More on Harriet Sherwood’s love letter to the “miraculous” people of Gaza

We posted recently about a 3200 word love letter to the people of Gaza by departing Guardian Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood – a farewell report which “paid tribute to the resilience, creativity and humour of its people… despite their adverse circumstances and repeated setbacks”.

The moral pass given to the extremist antisemitic movement ruling Gaza by Sherwood – reflecting the paper’s proclivity to frame even most malevolent Palestinian political actors in a sympathetic light – was evident in the following passage:

I arrived eager to learn more about what is frequently called the world’s most intractable conflict, and to try to understand the powerful feelings of historical injustice on both sides. I am leaving angry about an occupation that has lasted close to half a century, weary of Israel’s grinding oppression of the Palestinian people, cynical about the political leadership on both sides and in the international community, and pessimistic that a fair resolution will be reached.

Well, it turns out that the print edition of The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) published additional content related to Sherwood’s apologia, one which included a simply risible headline:

Observer, Jan. 25, page 16

First, the misinformation in these “facts” about the “miracle” of Gaza is significant.

  • Electricity and Fuel: Even Palestinians are blaming Hamas for the fuel shortage – and related power outages – which was largely caused by the Islamist group’s decision not to pay for fuel from the open market, but instead rely on taxes gained from the illegal transfer of cheaper fuel through tunnels.  These elaborate and extremely expensive underground structures have been largely closed down (by both Israel and Egypt) due to Hamas’s decision to utilize these ‘humanitarian’ tunnels for weapons smuggling and other terrorist uses
  • Construction: Again, Sherwood fails to reveal that the export of most construction material to Gaza was (temporarily) suspended only after the IDF uncovered the terrorist tunnels Hamas was using to transfer deadly weapons, and plan terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Prior to these restrictions, construction materials for both UN projects and private contractors were being imported into the territory.   
  • Imports: Again, Hamas was using the tunnels to not only import “cheaper” consumer goods, but to import deadly weapons and plan terror attacks. (Additionally, every month, Israel oversees the transfer of roughly thousands of trucks of goods into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing – supplies which include food, humanitarian products, medical supplies and electrical products.)
  • Exports: Sherwood again misleads, as she fails to note that Gaza exports over 50 truckloads of goods each month to mostly European markets – goods which includes fruit, spices and flowers.
  • Exit: Sherwood fails to note that, in addition to the pedestrian crossings into Egypt, between 4,000 and 5,000 Gazans are given permits each month to enter into Israel. A large percentage of these Palestinians are allowed into Israel to get medical treatment at Israeli hospitals.
  • Rockets: Remarkably, the number cited by Sherwood is actually HIGHER than what was reported by the Israeli Security Agency. According to figures released by the ISA, there were 74 rockets and mortars fired into Israel from Gaza in 2013.

Additionally, Sherwood failed to note that Gazans receive a large percentage of the roughly $2.4 billion that the Palestinians (in both Gaza and the W. Bank) receive annually in international aid, making Palestinians the third largest recipient of aid in the world.

Beyond the misleading nature of Sherwood’s specific claims, the decision (presumably by Guardian editors) to use the word “miraculous” to describe Gaza’s survival is a great illustration of the fetishization of Palestinians continually on display in their reports and commentaries, most which lack the critical scrutiny that Israelis are typically subjected to.  A more sober assessment of Gaza since Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 would surely evoke Abba Ebban’s dismay over Palestinians’ tendency to “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.  

When the last Israeli soldiers left Gaza, Palestinian Arabs were free of ‘occupation’ for the first time in their history, yet didn’t respond by working towards the development of democratic norms and the promotion of economic growth and social progress.  Instead, they elected a reactionary, extremist and ideologically antisemitic religious movement whose primary focus was inculcating Palestinians with hatred towards Jews, and ridding the region of the Zionist entity.

Gazans’ economic woes – exaggerated, though they are – can be directly attributed to their destructive decision during the 2006 legislative elections, and they will only know true freedom and real economic prosperity when they figure out how to free themselves from the yoke of Islamist fanatics who speak in their name. 

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