Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Guardian's Harriet Sherwood Continues to Invent Stuff

Harriet Sherwood is The Guardian's reporter in Israel. As such she can't be balanced or cool headed; if she wasn't well versed in the party line she'd never have been sent here. We understand that, and recognize the rules. Still, being ideologically biased doesn't necessarily have to mean being factually challenged. Ms. Sherwood is. Just recently she reported that 30% of Gaza's arable land is snuggled right next to the border with Israel, and now lies fallow because of the nasty Israelis:
Following the three-week war in Gaza in 2008-9, the Israelis established a 300m-wide "buffer zone" on Palestinian land abutting the hi-tech security fence that marks the border. The aim was to prevent militants from firing rockets into Israel or launching attacks on military posts. Palestinians were warned that anyone entering the buffer zone would be shot dead. The zone has swallowed 30% of Gaza's arable agricultural land, and many farmers have been forced to abandon their crops.
That was then. Today she's got another blooper:

Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006 after Lebanese militants fired rockets across the border and abducted two Israeli soldiers. Their bodies were returned two years later in exchange for the release of Lebanese prisoners. At least 1,500 people, mostly Lebanese civilians, were killed in the conflict. Since the war ended, Unifil has been stationed in southern Lebanon. [My italics]

This assertion is technically true: indeed, UNIFIL has been stationed in Southern Lebanon since the end of the war in 2006. And also since the last IDF troops left Lebanon, in 2000. As well as before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. As a matter of fact, UNIFIL has been stationed in Southern Lebanon since March 1978. Moreover, its mandate is renewed every six months, and sometimes one of the sides - Israel, or Lebanon, or Syria, or anyone else - hijacks the routine discussion at the UN to make a diplomatic point about something or other. Which means, UNIFIL not only plays a (minor) role in the annals of the ME conflict, it even has its uses for the machinations at the UN.

You'd expect someone whose profession it is to inform readers about a certain topic might be expected to know something about it - and if she doesn't, at least she shouldn't contradict Wikipedia. Alas, when it comes to The Guardian, you'd be wrong.


AKUS said...

Sherwood, even by the Guardian's low standards, is remarkably ignorant.

Imagine being in Israel, burdened with all your prejudices against the country that are so visibly on display, unable to speak Hebrew or Arabic and understand what’s going on and what everyone else around you knows,, racing from Jerusalem to Gaza to Lebanon and back like a white mouse in a maze, under orders from the Guardian to constantly find fault with the country.

Its a tough job. But does she really have to do it?

Anonymous said...

Be fair... Basic arithmetic is not english people's strong point. Her claim basically means there is about 50 square km of arable land or that about 85% isn't arable.

What I dont understand for the life of me is why Israel does not sue these people for libel. It is clearly a lie.


Anonymous said...

for those of you who'd like to give a helping hand to Ms. Sherwood Elder of Ziyon has an interesting map

Turkey is given watch over part of the coast ...
Indonesia "supervised" yesterday's attack on the IDF

and I#ve spent about an hour trying to find an organigram of Unifil, telling me who currently is the head of the fish who has begun to smell so strongly.
No such luck - all in all a very sluggish looking website btw except of course when it comes to self-congratulating.


Bill Poser said...

Even if she didn't know Hebrew or Arabic before being assigned to Israel, she could maybe learn some. Lots of people have done so.There are even courses and people to practice on...