Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Melbourne Zionist Uproots Sherwood's Forest Of Stones

The Age once carried this cartoon ...
Harriet Sherwood, Jerusalem correspondent of the notoriously anti-Israel Guardian, frequently features on the Guardian-monitoring website CiF Watch, and with good reason.  The Melbourne Age, one of the worst offenders in Australia as far as bias against Israel is concerned, recently published an article of hers entitled "No Stone Left Unpunished".

Emily Gian, Israel Advocacy Analyst at the Zionist Council of Victoria and a doctoral candidate in Israeli literature at the University of Melbourne, has issued a riposte, carried in the latest J-Wire:

Writes Emily Gian:

'An article appeared in last Thursday’s Melbourne Age entitled "No stone left unpunished". Penned by Harriet Sherwood of The Guardian, it told the story of Palestinian children detained by Israeli authorities for committing crimes such as "throwing stones at soldiers or settlers… flinging petrol bombs… [or] more serious offenses such as links to militant organisations or using weapons".

I couldn’t help but sense from the way Sherwood dismissed such activities as stone throwing and flinging petrol bombs as not being serious, that the writer was preparing to unleash what is now becoming stock standard fare from this publication on matters relating to Israel. Plenty of one-sided accusations without context and a token response from the Israeli side usually derided or sneered at by the author in the next paragraph or somewhere further down the line.

In its original incarnation in the Guardian, it was a termed a “special report” but, to its credit, the Age avoided the embarrassment and described it more correctly as an “opinion piece”. Perhaps “propaganda” might have even been more apt.

Dealing with children involved in conflict is a serious issue that needs to be handled responsibly. So does reporting on their treatment and, in this case, allegations of their mistreatment. Sherwood’s piece is problematic on three levels.

In the first place, there is the matter of the veracity of the claims made against the Israelis. Both Honest Reporting and CiF Watch have comprehensively refuted many of the article’s allegations so I will not repeat too much of what they say. However, what is of interest is how little time Sherwood dedicates to the Israeli response to the claims made and the inadequacy of her fact checking. It seems as though she simply wishes the allegations to be true and leaves it at that hoping that nobody (and certainly not the editors at the Guardian or the Age) will detect or care about the shoddiness of her work.

The Israel Security Agency (ISA) responded directly on the claims to the Guardian before the article went to print but the response was never fully published. The ISA states that “the claims that Palestinian minors were subject to interrogation techniques that include beatings, prolonged periods in handcuffs, threats, kicks, verbal abuse, humiliation, isolation and prevention of sleep are utterly baseless”.

The full ISA statement explains how all employees act within accordance of Israeli law and that those detained receive the full rights for which they are eligible. The statement also provided a categorical denial of “all claims with regard to the interrogation of minors. In fact, the complete opposite is true – the ISA guidelines grant minors special protections needed because of their age”.

Sherwood simply chose to ignore much of this statement, and instead used information provided to her by an organisation called the Defence for Children International. The DCI is a BDS supporter that calls for the full Right of Return of Palestinian refugees and previously lobbied for the now discredited Goldstone Report to be endorsed. Given its commitment to causes aimed at deligitimising the Jewish State and ultimately destroying it (a fact not disclosed in the article), the DCI is hardly an objective observer. Interestingly, one of its board members is Shawan Jabarin, a member of the terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. CiF Watch notes that his position on the board of a group that purports to protect children is strange “for someone involved with an organisation with such obvious disregard for the lives of either terror victims or the brainwashed teenagers sent to perpetrate terror attacks”.

It goes without saying that Sherwood also brushes over the crimes committed by some of the children. Her emotive piece attempts to paint a picture of harmless little pebbles being tossed at Israeli soldiers carrying guns – the old David and Goliath image. Never mind that such attacks have had fatal results such as the instances of Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan, who were killed when a rock hit the car in which they were travelling last September.

We see occasional instances of people throwing rocks at cars on Australian roads which have also caused serious injury but there is no reason to make light of such behaviour (see more) let alone of the throwing of petrol bombs which Sherwood doesn’t apparently consider too seriously when those attacked happen to be Israeli.

The second matter is one of  timing. The initial Guardian piece appeared on Sunday 22 January. Honest Reporting and CiF Watch both published their rebuttals on Tuesday 24 January reprinting the Israeli response, which had already been ignored by the Guardian. The Age decided to republish the Sherwood article on Thursday 26 January, days after all of the information was available.

One expects that Age editor Paul Ramadge, Foreign Editor Carolyn Jones and Foreign Desk News Editor Maher Mughrabi are intelligent, well-read people, who would have seen the ISA response to the Guardian piece, and yet somehow, it appeared in its original form days later. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened (see more here and here).

Thirdly, and to their everlasting shame, it seems that neither the journalist nor any of the agencies mentioned in the article appear to have the slightest interest in coming up with a solution to the problem of children becoming embroiled in the violence of the conflict. That their usefulness is measured only as a propaganda tool for those with more sinister motives leaves a stench far greater than that which offended Sherwood so much when she visited Cell 36, deep within Al Jalame prison in northern Israel.'


  1. Soz OT
    Douglas Murray on a nuclear Iran (video - Cambridge debate)



  2. Thanks as usual, Ian.
    Douglas Murray is a courageous commentator, and I'm a big fan of his.

  3. This article in the Guardian by Harriet Sherwood is one of the most abhorrent piece of junk journalism I have encounter for long while. It attempts to emotionalise Israel hatred using “children” and their unverified stories about their experience in Israeli detentions and jails.

    When we talk about Palestinian “children” let us not forget that the massacre of the Fogel Family in Itamar on 11 March 2011 (the father, mother, and three children 11, 4 and 3 month baby) was carried out by “children”.

    Anyone who knows anything about returned Palestinian prisoners, or indeed any returned Arab prisoners, would know that as soon as they are back home they ALL claim mal-treatment and torture; even if they were to be accommodated in the presidential suite of the Dan Hotel in Tel-Aviv or King David Hotel in Jerusalem for the term of their incarceration, their story would not have changed one bit.

    Whether they are “children” or not, upon return, they are all coached, made to sign a “affidavits” and hurled before the international press – not that media organisations such as the Guardian need any encouragement when it comes to Israel hatred.

    These two “children” that the Guardian interviewed did not produce a shred of physical signs of torture, nor were they asked to do so by the Guardian (or if they were and could not, it was edited out).

    Does anyone really believe that the IDF, Sheen Beth and the military courts would waste their time in arresting and interrogating and convicting innocent children at random? If you do, I have a Harbour Bridge to sell you, the Opera House will come as a bonus.

    Much was made on the fact that these “children” were arrested at 2:30 am; I have some news for Ms. Sherwood, most arrests by police, any police, in any country, take place in the early hours of the morning because this is the best time to find the suspects at home – the fact that in the West Bank the Army does the arrest is a reflection of the applicable military law (Israel Police has no jurisdiction over Palestinians living in the West Bank).

    However, once Palestinian suspects are brought into Israel the Israeli Law applies although he or she are still under the military jurisdiction.

    The military court system in Israel IS NOT part of the IDF but forms an independent subsection of the Israeli justice system – the judges are PROFESSIONAL JUDGES, and are appointed by the president of Israel (as all judges are); they may be in active or reserve military service; the proceedings are no different than those in the civilian courts, except that the judge(s), the prosecution and the military defence have military ranks and wear uniform (civilian defence lawyers are permitted to represent the accused).

    The decisions of a military courts in Israel can be appealed in the Military Appeal Court whose decisions can be further appealed in Israel High Court of Justice (equivalent to the Australian High Court) – How does this compared with the “justice” system of the PA, the Hamas or indeed any Arab country for that matter.

    As to accusation of “torture”, the Israeli Law, specifically prohibits “enhanced interrogations methods” UNLESS in cases known as “ticking bomb”; throwing stones certainly does not fall into that category. This law has passed the scrutiny of the High Court of Justice.

    But you would not find any of that in the Guardian and its ilk in a months of Sundays.

    Here is the link to the Guardian article:

  4. Thank you for another erudite insight, Jacob.