Guardian flash of fairness: Sherwood gets it right, again.

This post actually represents our second observation of a ‘flash of fairness’ by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood.

Sherwood in Itamar, March 2011

Sherwood in Itamar, March 2011

On Dec. 7, in Sherwood gets it right, we praised Sherwood for a piece she wrote on Dec. 3 titled ‘Israeli settlement move risks further isolation say Netanyahu opponents‘, for giving voice to mainstream Israeli views, rather than merely those on the far-left.

While Sherwood is not going to be nominated for a ‘Guardian of Zion’ award anytime soon, her latest piece, ‘Binyamin Netanyahu fights surge from right-wing opponent before poll‘, Jan. 7, again displays a fair amount of balance – at least in comparison to what she typically has written, and definitely compared to other Guardian reporters.

While Sherwood’s piece is broadly consistent with the Guardian narrative in its characterization of Naftali Bennett (leader of the Jewish Home Party) as an extremist in a manner she never would with Palestinian political leaders who espouse much more extreme views, she also quoted the Jerusalem Post chief political correspondent, Gil Hoffman, to provide an alternative view.

Sherwood wrote the following:

“Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent of the Post, said: “Bennett is seen as a cool guy and salt of the earth. You couldn’t come up with two things more respected in Israel than hi-tech success and serving in Sayeret Matkal [the elite special forces army unit] – and Bennett has both”.”

Then, to add context to Bennett’s political success, Sherwood quoted Yedida Stern of the respected think-tank, the Israeli Democracy Institute.

“According to Yedidia Stern of the Israel Democracy Institute, “a long-term change in Israeli society” underlies Bennett’s immediate popularity. “More and more Israelis are strengthening their Jewish identity, not necessarily becoming more religious but becoming more connected to Jewish identity. We’ve seen it in academia and the media; now we’re witnessing the political expression.” The conviction among many Israelis that the Palestinians were unwilling to negotiate an acceptable peace settlement bolstered a belief that “we have to be strong. And to be strong in Israel means to be rightwing,” said Stern.”

As a friend observed upon reading Sherwood’s report: “It’s an analysis that an Israeli could have written as far as tone is concerned.”

While we will, of course, continue to hold Sherwood and her colleagues accountable, fairness demands that we give Guardian reporters credit when they make a credible attempt, despite their particular views on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, to provide their readers with a degree of balance and context.