A Harriet Sherwood tale of Palestinian love and Israeli darkness

Harriet Sherwood doesn’t like Israelis very much.

Though she at times remembers her professional obligations as a journalist and attempts to achieve a bit of balance, in the three and half years she’s occupied the Guardian’s Jerusalem desk she’s never effectively hidden her pro-Palestinian sympathies, nor her immutable belief that the sole cause of the Israeli and Palestinians Conflict relates to blockades, settlements, and occupation.  So, consuming is her belief in the invisible hand of Zionist oppression that she once even suggested that Israeli policies were responsible for a Gaza man’s suicide.

Though she’ll soon be stepping down as Jerusalem correspondent – to be replaced by the paper’s foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont – she’s still firing a few parting shots at the Jewish State. Her farewell stories have included a love letter to the people of Gaza and, most recently, a nearly 4000 word story about the toll of the ‘occupation’ which is so one-sided as to be indistinguishable from the propaganda associated with Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

palestine

Here are some representative passages from Sherwood’s public relations work for the Palestinian cause published at the Guardian on Feb. 8:

Sherwood:

…in the southern West Bank, 12-year-old Nawal Jabarin lives in a cave. She was born in the gloom beneath its low, jagged roof, as were two of her brothers, and her father a generation earlier. Along the rock-strewn track that connects Jinba to the nearest paved road, Nawal’s mother gave birth to another baby, unable to reach hospital in time; on the same stretch of flattened earth, Nawal’s father was beaten by Israeli settlers in front of the terrified child.

Even home is not safe. “The soldiers come in [the cave] to search. I don’t know what they’re looking for,” she says. “Sometimes they open the pens and let the sheep out. In Ramadan, they came and took my brothers. I saw the soldiers beat them with the heel of their guns. They forced us to leave the cave

This alleged comic book cruelty by Israeli forces is of course impossible to verify, though it’s interesting that the only other account of the Jabarin brothers being beaten we could find was a ‘report’ on the website of the International Solidarity Campaign.

Sherwood: 

The first generation – Nawal’s parents and their peers – are now approaching middle age, their entire lives dominated by the daily grind and small humiliations of an occupied people. Around four million Palestinians have known nothing but an existence defined by checkpoints, demands for identity papers, night raids, detentions, house demolitions, displacement, verbal abuse, intimidation, physical attacks, imprisonment and violent death. It is a cruel mosaic: countless seemingly unrelated fragments that, when put together, build a picture of power and powerlessness

Of course, in nearly every report she files, Sherwood tries to build a picture of Israeli power and Palestinian powerlessness in a manner consistent with the Guardian Left narrative.

Sherwood:

In the South Hebron Hills, the shepherds who have roamed the area for generations now live alongside ideologically and religiously driven Jews who claim an ancient biblical connection to the land and see the Palestinians as interlopers. They have built gated settlements on the hilltops, serviced with paved roads, electricity and running water, and protected by the army. The settlers and soldiers have brought fear to the cave-dwellers: violent attacks on the local Palestinian population are frequent, along with military raids and the constant threat of forcible removal from their land

The gratuitous evocation of “settlers and soldiers” inspiring fear in Palestinian “cave dwellers” befits a fairy tale – a facile moral paradigm which suggests parody.

Sherwood:

Like Nawal, 12-year-old Ahed Tamimi boldly asserts that she, too, has no fear of soldiers, before quietly admitting that sometimes she is afraid. Ahed’s apparent fearlessness catapulted her to a brief fame a year ago when a video of her angrily confronting Israeli soldiers was posted online. The girl was invited to Turkey, where she was hailed as a child hero.

Sherwood’s tribute to Ahed, the young girl cynically exploited by her parents and pro-Palestinian activists for propaganda purposes, is classic Guardian.  See the following video about Tamimi (dubbed “Shirley Temper”) produced by Israellycool:

Sherwood:

Amid tree-covered hills almost three hours’ drive north of Jinba, Nabi Saleh is a village of around 500 people, most of whom share the family name of Tamimi

Sherwood fails to mention the most notorious resident of Nabi Saleh, Ahlam Tamimi, the Palestinian who escorted a suicide bomber to a crowded Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001. The resulting massacre when the bomb exploded left fifteen people dead, including Malki Roth, the daughter of Arnold and Frimet Roth, who was only fifteen years old at the time.

http://commentisfreewatch.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/sbarro-bombing.jpg?w=544&h=388

Aftermath of Jerusalem Sbarro bombing in 2001

Sherwood:

When settlers appropriated the village spring five years ago, the people of Nabi Saleh began weekly protests. Ahed’s parents, Bassem and Nariman, have been at the forefront of the demonstrations, which are largely nonviolent, although they often involve some stone-throwing

Sherwood fails to tell readers that Palestinian coordinators of the protests often instruct Palestinians teens as young as 14 to throw rocks at police, and that the weekly orchestrated violence includes Molotov cocktails and other explosive devices routinely thrown at Israeli security personnel. 

Sherwood:

Nowhere in the West Bank do Israeli settlers and Palestinians live in closer proximity or with greater animosity than in Hebron. A few hundred biblically inspired Jews reside in the heart of the ancient city, protected by around 4,000 soldiers, amid a Palestinian population of 170,000. 

Hebron is the oldest Jewish community in the world. Jews have lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods, and it was only in 1929 — as a result of an Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered and the remainder forced to flee — that the city became temporarily free of Jews. Under Jordanian control from 1949 to 1967 Jews not only were forbidden to live in Hebron but were barred from entering the Tomb of the Patriarchs, while authorities undertook a systematic campaign to obliterate any evidence of Jewish history in the city. Shortly following Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jewish community of Hebron was re-established, and Israelis live there today in accordance to the terms of the 1997 Hebron Agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority.

Sherwood:

[A Palestinian named] Muslim, now 14, is well-known to the Israeli security forces in the East Jerusalem district of Silwan. A few minutes’ drive from the five-star hotels around the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, Silwan is wedged in a gulley, a dense jumble of houses along steep and narrow streets lined with car repair workshops and tired grocery stores.

It has always been a tough neighbourhood, but an influx of hardline settlers has created acute tensions, exacerbated by the aggression of their private armed security guards and demolition orders against more than 80 Palestinian homes. The area’s youths throw stones and rocks at the settlers’ reinforced vehicles, risking arrest by the ever-present police.

Jewish residents in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah are in fact often attacked without cause.

A Jewish Israeli friendly with this writer named Yaacov was stoned by Palestinians outside of his Sheikh Jarrah  home in 2011

Sherwood:

Mousa describes his own detention while trying to prevent the police arresting his son. “They carried me in my underwear from here to the Russian Compound [a cell and court complex in central Jerusalem]. Can you imagine more humiliation than this? We are religious people – we don’t even let our children see us without clothes. If you gave me a million dollars, I would not go outside in my underwear.”

Of course, anyone even casually aware of Palestinian on Palestinian violence can likely conjure a scenario more cruel than being arrested in your underwear:

hamas-body-drag

2012: Hamas drags body of Palestinian (after he was summarily executed for ‘treason’) through the streets of Gaza

Finally, here are few quick stats about Sherwood’s piece, highlighting the degree to which it is devoid of any semblance of fairness or balance:

The total number of paragraphs in the report: 55

  • Number of paragraphs devoted to the Palestinian view or clearly sympathetic to Palestinians: 55
  • Number of paragraphs devoted to the Israeli view or clearly sympathetic to Israelis: 0

Even by Guardian standards, Sherwood’s latest pro-Palestinian advocacy marketed as professional journalism is especially appalling. 

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Harriet Sherwood visits town of Nabi Selah – forgets to mention the little monster it spawned

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood has returned after a short absence and filed a report on June 12, from the West Bank town of Nabi Selah, about efforts by British foreign office minister Alistair Burt “to revive moribund peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians”. Sherwood, in a story titled ‘Middle East peace talks must succeed to avoid despair says UK minister‘, describes Burt’s visit to the Palestinian town, where he urged Palestinians involved in “grassroots protests” against the “occupation of their land” to give their leaders a “completely free hand” to re-engage with negotiations.

In recounting the supposed difficulties of Burt’s efforts to restart talks, Sherwood includes only those obstacles allegedly created by Israeli leaders to a degree that the reader would be forgiven for believing that a culture of incitement, as well as preconditions set by Palestinian leaders to resume talks, had any role whatsoever in obstructing the political process. However, it’s when Sherwood pivots to detailing the UK minister’s visit to Nabi Selah, a town along the hills of southern Samaria, when the most pronounced obfuscation about Palestinian intentions occurs.

Sherwood writes the following:

Burt’s visit to Nabi Saleh – his third in two years – was part of a personal commitment to track the village’s protests against the encroachments of a nearby Jewish settlement and the forceful response by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to weekly demonstrations. Two villagers have been killed by IDF fire, in December 2011 and November 2012.

“This is a very important stop for me,” he told village representatives. “The reason I keep coming is to maintain a relationship with the families [of the dead men], to make clear they are not forgotten and that those of us who care about the issues of Nabi Saleh will continue to support you in the hope the suffering is not in vain.

“What’s happened here has been wrong; wrong for the settlers to take your land, and wrong in the way the IDF handled demonstrations.”

Naji Tamimi, the leader of the local protest group, said: “We consider you a brother … As a politician, it’s important to know what the people think, not just the [political] leaders.” He appealed for the British government to “support the popular resistance”, adding that the IDF response to protests had become harsher.

Another village protest leader, Bassem Tamimi, said: “The visit is important, but it’s not a big issue. We need real pressure on Israel to stop settlements. The UK is a big state, and we expect more action.”

You may recall that the town of Nabi Selah (and Sherwood’s protagonist, Bassem Tamimi) was featured in a New York Times magazine cover story by Ben Ehrenreich, which romanticized the culture of terrorism in Bassem’s ‘little village’, and whitewashed the crime of its most famous resident, a woman named Ahlam Tamimi – whom, per Ehrenreich, is still much-loved in the town.   

As Arnold and Frimet Roth explained in-depth recently, in response to Ehrenreich’s story, Tamimi (released in 2011 during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange) is the Palestinian who escorted a suicide bomber to a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem in 2001 – a massacre which left fifteen people dead, including the Roth’s’ daughter Malki who was only fifteen years old at the time:

[Ahlam Tamimi] was 21 years old and the news-reader on official Palestinian Authority television when she signed on with Hamas to become a terrorist. She engineered, planned and helped execute a massacre in the center of Jerusalem on a hot summer afternoon in 2001. She chose the target, a restaurant filled with Jewish children. And she brought the bomb. The outcome (15 killed, a sixteenth still in a vegetative state today, 130 injured) was so uplifting to her that she has gone on camera again and again to say, smiling into the camera lens, how proud she is of what she did. She is entirely free of regret. A convicted felon and a mass-murderer convicted on multiple homicide charges, she has never denied the role she embraced and justifies it fully.

sbarro-bombing

Aftermath of Jerusalem Sbarro bombing in 2001

Sherwood completely fails to mention Ahlam Tamimi in her report.

Further, we humbly suggest that if Mr. Burt truly wants to understand Nabi Selah and, relatedly, the reluctance of many Israelis to take seriously the casual and ubiquitous assurances of Palestinians’ peaceful intentions, that he consider paying a visit to grieving mothers and fathers who continue to suffer as the result of the monsters spawned by such tiny Arab villages in the hills.

What the Guardian won’t report. More Palestinian exploitation of a young girl named A’hd Tamimi

On Sept. 12, Tamar Sternthal (director of the Israel office for CAMERA) reported on the dangerous use of children by Palestinian protesters to score political points, in Cheap Shots: Palestinians put kids in the line of fire.

“There’s nothing like a photograph of an innocent child caught up in military conflict to elicit sympathy, rage, and at times, international intervention.

On a media stage far away from Hollywood, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, where photographers gather every Friday to document repetitious scenes of Palestinian residents and international activists clashing with Israeli soldiers, Palestinian activists are placing their children in ever-more-visible roles. Unlike scenes in “Wag the Dog,” a black comedy, there’s nothing funny about parents exploiting their own children to score propaganda points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Unfortunately, that’s just what happened on Friday, August 24, when A’hd Tamimi, and her cousin Marah Tamimi, both 11, were photographed by Agence France-Presse tearfully being restrained by Israeli soldiers.

Days later, photos of the distraught girls appeared in Australia’s Fairfax media outlets alongside a Page-1 article charging the Israeli army with the routine abuse of Palestinian children. “An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh,” stated one caption in the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Slamming the article’s “unnamed sources, hearsay and propaganda,” Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, also charged that the Palestinian leadership “blatantly use[s] children” and “presents a fable where Israel’s curtailing of violence is tantamount to abuse of children.”

Chester was not specifically addressing the photographs of the appealing young Tamimi girls under the thumb of the Israeli military, but he may as well have been.

A’hd is the daughter of Narimen and Bassem, prominent activists in the Popular Resistance, and Marah’s father is Naji, another leader in the weekly demonstrations.

In other words, the girls’ parents are among those who determine the protests’ strategies. Rather than keeping their children at a safe distance from the often-violent clashes, the parents encouraged their children to play highly visible roles in the confrontation with the army.

Narimen is a participant in B’Tselem’s video project, in which the prominent Israeli NGO distributes video cameras to Palestinians to “present the reality of their lives to the Israeli and the international public.”

This is not the first time she has exploited children and distorted reality. In a 2011 video of the arrest of an 11-year-old stone-thrower, Narimen filmed as a Palestinian man instructed the boy’s mother not to join him on the police vehicle, even while Israeli authorities repeatedly asked her to board the van. Later media reports falsely claimed that the Israeli police forbade his parents from accompanying him.

Despite complaints about her cynical exploitation of Palestinian children in order to produce anti-Israel propaganda, Narimen has not stopped using children as props. To the contrary, she has since enlisted her own daughter.

In a 16-minute video posted on the Nabi Saleh Solidarity blog, the two girls can be seen leading a crowd marching toward a spring that the army has deemed off-limits. A’hd and Marah are filmed at length, cursing the soldiers and trying to get around them. Marah can be seen running some distance to approach and confront soldiers. And when Narimen and two other women are arrested, the girls refuse to let go, interfering with the arrests. An army spokesman later said that the detainees, who were held for a few hours, had been throwing rocks.”

Here’s a screen capture from the video.

Here’s photo taken that day promoted on pro-Palestinian sites.

But, that isn’t all.

Here’s Marah and A’hd with PA President Mahmoud Abbas getting official recognition for her ‘bravery’ at the August 24 incident.

Here’s another photo of the event:

The site where the photo was published, Nabi Selah Solidarity, added the following:

“The actions of A’hd Tamimi and Marah Tamimi, the two young girls who attempted to prevent the arrest of non-violent resistance leader Nariman Tamimi by Israeli Occupation Forces on Friday, was recognised on Monday.  A’hd is the daughter of  Nariman and Palestinian non-violent resistance leader Bassem Tamimi who was jailed for over year for leading the non-violent resistance in Nabi Saleh.  Marah is the daugher of  Naji Tamimi, another Nabi Saleh non-violent resistance leader who was also jailed for over a year for his non-violent opposition to Israel’s military occupation.”

But, the exploitation of the two girls has not ended.

The Algemeiner reported the following, in ‘Video captures Palestinian girl attempting to provoke IDF‘, Nov. 5:

“A video shot at a Friday protest in the village of Nabi Salih, in the central West Bank, captured a striking image: that of a young Palestinian girl [A’hd Tamimi] attempting to provoke Israeli soldiers. Soon thereafter the girl is joined by many other seemingly young-looking people from the village.

A senior IDF source told Ynet that intelligence indicates that pro-Palestinian activists pay Palestinian children from Nabi Salih and other nearby villages to confront the soldiers. “The soldiers are briefed on the fact that these protests are staged for the sake of provocation, so that they could be filmed acting violently and so that those videos could be distributed worldwide in an effort to harm the IDF’s image,” the officer said.

According to Ynet, Abir Kubati, spokesperson of the popular protest coordination committee, said: “I don’t understand what the army wants – they send soldiers into a Palestinian village and then dare to depict themselves as victims because the residents don’t welcome them.”

“You’re a traitor! I know you speak Arabic. Our soldiers are stronger than you! I’ll smash your head,” the 10-year-old girl is heard in the video screaming at the soldier in Arabic, according to a translation provided by Ynet.”

Placing innocent Palestinian children in potentially dangerous situations, cynically hoping for a media coup stemming from any overreaction by IDF soldiers, is indeed shameful.  

However,  such provocations by the Tamimis pale in comparison to an antisemitic Palestinian political culture which consistently sends messages to their youth that martyrdom – dying, or even murdering Israeli Jews, to advance the Palestinian cause – is one of the most important political values they should aspire to.

Here are a few clips of chilling child abuse, routinely sanctioned by Palestinian society, which the Guardian won’t report.

Cheap Shots: Palestinians put kids in the line of fire

This is cross posted by Tamar Sternthal (director of the Israel office of CAMERA), and originally published at Times of Israel

There’s nothing like a photograph of an innocent child caught up in military conflict to elicit sympathy, rage, and at times, international intervention. In 2000, the iconic footage of 11-year-old Mohammed Al-Dura enflamed the Muslim world against Israel and generated world-wide outrage. By the time the evidence emerged, proving that the Israeli army could not have killed the boy, the damage had been done.

In the 1997 fictional film “Wag the Dog,” a Hollywood producer and a Washington spin doctor fabricate violence in Albania in order to divert attention from the president’s sex scandal. To persuade the country of the need for war, they manufacture footage of a young orphan girl fleeing from mayhem.

On a media stage far away from Hollywood, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, where photographers gather every Friday to document repetitious scenes of Palestinian residents and international activists clashing with Israeli soldiers, Palestinian activists are placing their children in ever-more-visible roles. Unlike scenes in “Wag the Dog,” a black comedy, there’s nothing funny about parents exploiting their own children to score propaganda points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Unfortunately, that’s just what happened on Friday, August 24, when A’hd Tamimi, and her cousin Marah Tamimi, both 11, were photographed by Agence France-Presse tearfully being restrained by Israeli soldiers.

Days later, photos of the distraught girls appeared in Australia’s Fairfax media outlets alongside a Page-1 article charging the Israeli army with the routine abuse of Palestinian children. “An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh,” stated one caption in the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Slamming the article’s “unnamed sources, hearsay and propaganda,” Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, also charged that the Palestinian leadership “blatantly use[s] children” and “presents a fable where Israel’s curtailing of violence is tantamount to abuse of children.”

Chester was not specifically addressing the photographs of the appealing young Tamimi girls under the thumb of the Israeli military, but he may as well have been.

A’hd is the daughter of Narimen and Bassem, prominent activists in the Popular Resistance, and Marah’s father is Naji, another leader in the weekly demonstrations.

In other words, the girls’ parents are among those who determine the protests’ strategies. Rather than keeping their children at a safe distance from the often-violent clashes, the parents encouraged their children to play highly visible roles in the confrontation with the army.

Narimen is a participant in B’Tselem’s video project, in which the prominent Israeli NGO distributes video cameras to Palestinians to “present the reality of their lives to the Israeli and the international public.”

This is not the first time she has exploited children and distorted reality. In a 2011 video of the arrest of an 11-year-old stone-thrower, Narimen filmed as a Palestinian man instructed the boy’s mother not to join him on the police vehicle, even while Israeli authorities repeatedly asked her to board the van. Later media reports falsely claimed that the Israeli police forbade his parents from accompanying him.

Despite complaints about her cynical exploitation of Palestinian children in order to produce anti-Israel propaganda, Narimen has not stopped using children as props. To the contrary, she has since enlisted her own daughter.

In a 16-minute video posted on the Nabi Saleh Solidarity blog, the two girls can be seen leading a crowd marching toward a spring that the army has deemed off-limits. A’hd and Marah are filmed at length, cursing the soldiers and trying to get around them. Marah can be seen running some distance to approach and confront soldiers. And when Narimen and two other women are arrested, the girls refuse to let go, interfering with the arrests. An army spokesman later said that the detainees, who were held for a few hours, had been throwing rocks.

Though photographs of the crying and constrained A’hd and Marah are actually products of Palestinian manipulation and exploitation of children, the Australian media outlets publish them unquestioningly as ostensible evidence of Israeli abuse of Palestinian children.

In other words, the Tamimi girls pulled off a photographic coup, as their parents had hoped. For this, they were rewarded with a meeting with Laila Ghannam, the Palestinian Authority’s Governor of Ramallah, and President Mahmoud Abbas, who congratulated them for their “bravery.”

But what if next time their parents send them out into a violent confrontation they are injured, or worse? This would be tragic — but think of the pictures and articles incriminating Israel in the next day’s paper.