A call from the Guardian's Israel bureau
By Stephen Pollard
May 17, 2011
UPDATE: Ms Sherwood left me a voicemail after seeing my initial post below, complaining that she did not scream. And you know what, listening to the conversation, it's a fair point and I'm happy to change that. It felt like screaming to me as her voice was very loud on my phone. I've edited the post to take that out. I've also changed the post so that it's made up of verbatim quotes, now that I have been able to transcribe the conversation.
How did I listen to it? Because she recorded it. She casually dropped into the voicemail the news that she had an MP3 of it.
At no point did she tell me that she was recording it. So she has broken the law. What a fantastic piece of Guardian hypocrisy, to (rightly) lead the charge against phone tapping but then to break the law so casually in recording our conversation.
I've just had a truly bizarre conversation with Harriet Sherwood, the Guardian's correspondent in Israel (with whom, I should say, I have never before exchanged a word, either in person or via email).
Normally when a mainstream journalist calls it's for help, for a quote or for something specific. Not this time. Ms Sherwood rang me to have a go at me for publishing a piece by Geoffrey Alderman last week, which began:
Few events - not even the execution of Osama bin Laden - have caused me
greater pleasure in recent weeks than news of the death of the Italian
so-called "peace activist" Vittorio Arrigoni.
Pretty arresting, indeed, and not something I would have written. But then the editor of a paper doesn't agree with everything in the paper. Ms Sherwood doesn't seem to realise that.
'Do you not think that to relish in the vicious death of someone at the hands of Hamas is something you had second thoughts about publishing?'
I pointed out that it's not my view but it's the view of the writer.
'But if you publish stuff in the paper you have to accept that, even opinion pieces...For someone to write about the pleasure they have in!...This was a peace activist!'
I pointed out that Mr Arrigoni was not a 'peace activist' but a member of ISM, a hardcore anti-Israel group.
Ms Sherwood then asked, as if the argument that he wasn't a peace activist was ridiculous: 'Do people deserve to be murdered for that!?'
Her questioning was frankly unintelligible, since it was predicated on my holding Geoffrey Alderman's opinion, which I don't.
I pointed out again that I don't agree with all the columns in the JC.
This came as a big shock to her: 'But you're defending your printing of the piece!'
'Of course I am. I edit the paper.' I replied.
There's more, but you get the full drift.
Utterly bizarre. Or maybe not, given what she writes in the Guardian.
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