A recent segment of On Point discussing the Gaza flotilla incident provided a reminder of why National Public Radio has been referred to derisively as "National Palestine Radio". The segment hosted by Tom Ashbrook was broadcast on June 2, 2010 in the wake of the Gaza flotilla events and featured five guests not a single one who defended Israeli actions. The show featured:
Dianna Buttu, the Canadian-Arab lawyer who has been been faulted by CAMERA for unabashedly distorting the facts and was caught brazenly lying during Israel's Operation Cast Lead, asserting that Hamas rockets directed at Israeli towns do not contain explosives. Ashbrook introduced the former Palestinian Authority spokeswoman as an "Arab citizen of Israel." Buttu provided her usual calumnies"the blockade is a war crime"..."nothing linked to security"... "Israel cannot use the defense that the blockade is legal"... etc. Apparently, the two Iranian ships, the Karine A and the Francop (Nov. 2009) intercepted by Israel and found to be loaded with vast quantities of armaments do not count.
Edward Peck, member of the Gaza flotilla and a friend to Hamas and Hezbollah, is associated with the Council for the National Interest, an organization that endeavors to end the close relationship between America and Israel. Peck describes the flotilla as "a humanitarian gesture, not in any way... hostile to Israel... The people were all of the humanitarian variety, " he assured listeners. We have since learned that among that "variety" were Turkish militants seeking martyrdom.
Christopher Dickey, Middle East regional editor for Newsweek, has long contended that Israel is trying to drag the USA into a war with Iran. He reiterated this point-of-view again on the program. Dickey also falsely assured the audience that Israel, "knew there werent any lethal weapons to Gaza."
Ehud Eiran was the sole Israeli representative. However, he did not present the dominant Israeli perspective. Polls have shown most Israelis solidly back their government's stance on the blockade, but in typical NPR fashion, the person chosen to represent the Israeli perspective stated that he "does not even support the Israeli position." On June 14, he published a piece in Newsweek describing Israel as a modern-day Sparta afflicted with a "hardening of the heart."
Janine Zacharia, a Middle East correspondent with the Washington Post, was the only one who did not overtly criticize Israel. Neither did she defend its actions.
So there you have it - five perspectives and not one voice to present the mainstream Israeli perspective. Thats Ashbrooks and NPR's version of a balanced discussion on Israel.