A poster at Jihad Watch recently wrote: “Once upon a time I lived in the NE. The anti Israel bias of the Boston Globe turned me into a Boston Herald customer. The Globe had more than one op-ed columnist weighing in against Israel. HDS Greenway was the worst.”
Was, and is. Though he is officially retired, the vaporings of HDS Greenway, half or 2/3 of them devoted in some way to Israel (his main topic, practically his only topic these days) can still be found on Fridays at The Boston Globe, where he has spent many years. Greenway is a Peter-Jennings sort of fellow. He never liked the Jews in Israel, something about them, but always liked the American Colony Hotel, the Arabs, smooth and accommodating. He never, not once, appears to have studied the cadastral (land-ownership) or demographic history of the area under the Ottomans, nor for that matter does he appear to know anything about the history of the wider and always demonstrated a preference for the Arabs. He had lots of friends among them — charming, liquid brown-eyed. He found them his sort.
He is not quite as bad as Robert Fisk, more sure of himself than the uncertain but vicious Chris Hedges, and more intelligent than the vacuous Tom Ashbrook — who after having proved his intense dedication to journalism by leaving The Globe for a get-rich scheme of some Internet company that was going to sell household goods, rushed back and begged for a job, and was finally taken in by Jane Christo. While the smarmy Dick Gordon was fired, the just-as-smarmy and even dumber Ashbrook was kept on, and there he is today, with his “On Point” that, whenever it comes to the Middle East, apparently vets the callers so that those offering a word of support of Israel are always swamped by the others. I know several such callers whom Ashbrook has banned — he has their phone numbers and names. The young people who answer the phone take these down, then go away, look up the list of those whom Ashbrook has banned because they are too damn convincing, and then they always come back — several people have told me — and always say “Gee, we have another question just like that ahead of you” or “Gee, afraid we won’t have time to get to you.” So much for the phoniness of that invitation to “join the conversation” that Ashbrook keeps repeating.
Well, back to Greenway. He would show up on Morrissey Boulevard, wowing the inkstained wretches with his rotation of cars each day, and his Yankee bowties (there’s one bow-tie wearer in every Ropes & Gray or Hill & Barlow, and so too at The Boston Globe), and the Winships thought he was just fine.
He knew, and knows, nothing about the Middle East. He knows nothing, even though he spent years reporting from there, because he has never understood Islam, its centrality, its relevance to everything that happens. He deeply believes in the existence of the “Palestinian people.” He deeply refuses to find out very much — he never showed any interest — about the history of the Mandate for Palestine, the history of land ownership in that area under the Ottomans and later, the demographic history of the area, or for that matter the demographics related to Jews and Christians in what became Mandatory Palestine, or all over what Greenway no doubt thinks of as “the Arab world.” He has no linguistic gifts, no historical training. Some find him ornamental. From time to time he has been pressed into service to introduce a visiting speaker for some local foreign-affairs-council, for those who like to think they keep up with events, and for whom a good lecture by, say, Rami Khouri or Brent Scowcroft, or someone else of that ilk and bias, will tell them all they need to know in order to understand the Middle East.
Greenway fits right in with an Op/Ed page that favors outside commentators of the Wiliam Pfaff-Jonathan Power variety, all of whom overlap on one point: their complete lack of sympathy or understanding for Israel, their deep belief that there is no problem with Muslim peoples or polities that cannot be solved by giving them what they demand from Israel, now and in the future.
Has H.D. S. Greenway ever taken the trouble to study the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the biography of Muhammad? In the hundreds of thousands of words he has produced, in his mere reporting over many years, and in his attempt more recently to make his own kind of sense of men and events, he has never given the slightest hint of having done so.
His entire professional life has been, thus, worthless.