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Media Analyses





CAMERA ALERT: NPR Continues Its One-Sided and Erroneous Broadcasts


National Public Radio coverage continues to be marred by distortion, inaccuracy and severe lack of balance. In particular, NPR continues to broadcast entire programs presenting inflammatory allegations against Israel, while including no Israeli response.

A July 5, 2002 CAMERA Alert called attention to a story by Peter Kenyon that accused Israel of deliberately targeting innocent Palestinian sewer repairmen in Gaza. So ruthless were the Israeli “snipers,” according to the network, that international “activists” had to position themselves between the repairmen and the Israeli gunmen. (The Israel Defense Force Spokesman's Office categorically denied such deliberate targeting occurs and told CAMERA that NPR never contacted them about the claims.)

In response to public complaints about the segment, NPR posted on its website a paragraph expressing “regrets” about not having included an Israeli spokesman, but there was no on-air broadcast of the “regrets” nor was there any follow-up report presenting Israel's side of the story.

The skewed, accusatory reports continue. For example, an August 31 report by Anne Garrels presented an entirely one-sided, inaccurate and inflammatory picture of the problems of water resources and distribution in the West Bank, with all responsibility and blame assigned to Israel. Six Palestinians, including a Palestinian water official, are heard leveling grievances, but not a single Israeli is interviewed.

*** Garrels repeatedly states deceptively that only half the Palestinian towns in the West Bank have tap water, while Jewish settlements have running water. She says:

From '67 to '94, when Israel was in charge of the Civil Administration for the West Bank, all the Jewish settlements were supplied with running water, but only half the Palestinian communities had tap water.

Garrels neglects to mention that Israel had, during its administration of the West Bank, offered to connect Palestinian Arab towns to Israel's national water carrier, which is why many towns have tap water. Others refused on political grounds, not wanting to recognize Israel's presence and authority in any guise.

*** Garrels repeatedly interjects strident characterizations of Palestinian views, omitting any context or balancing comment. For example:

And when villagers here turn toward the hills overlooking the village, they see the Israeli settlement of Itamar with its green lawns, flower gardens and swimming pools. This just inflames hatred of Jewish settlers even more and reinforces the perception that Israel is trying to starve them out.

In fact, Jewish communities are suffering water shortages as well in a region experiencing a long period of drought. Nor is Israel trying to "starve" the Palestinians.

*** While casting in emotive, sympathetic terms the difficulties of Palestinians in meeting their water needs, Garrels is brief, dismissive — and careless with facts — in describing murderous attacks on a nearby Jewish community. Indeed, she presents the Palestinian violence as understandable and refers to the killers of Israeli women and children as “militants.” She states:

Iat wants to become a lawyer to fight what she believes is Israeli injustice. Others here in [the Palestinian town of] Beit Vereq have taken up weapons. In the past few months, militants have attacked the nearby Jewish settlement of Itamar, killing seven. The last incident involved an elderly Palestinian armed with a knife. He slightly injured two settlers before he was shot. Villagers say his only motivation was desperation.

The Palestinian “militants” to whom Garrels refers have murdered eight, not seven, Israelis in the last several months in Itamar. The victims include Rachel Shabo and three of her children, ages 16, 12 and 5, along with a neighbor who rushed to help the family when terrorists stormed the Shabo home. Three other children were badly wounded in the attack. In a separate attack, another “militant” murdered three Israeli high school boys playing basketball at Itamar. And the stabbing incident which Garrels waves away as the minor act of an “elderly” Palestinian whose “only motivation was desperation” involved an assault with two knives on a sleeping couple that left a woman hospitalized. The airing of a segment as thoroughly prejudicial and one-sided as this one — only weeks after the network came under criticism for a similarly partisan piece — once again underscores the serious concerns about NPR's disregard for journalistic standards.

[In the original alert, action items and contact information were included here.]

UPDATE: NPR Correction of Garrel's Segment on Water Resources

Almost a month after the original broadcast, NPR issued the following “correction”:

From All Things Considered Aug. 31, 2002; corrected on air on All Things Considered Sept. 28, 2002:

In a story that aired on All Things Considered on August 31st, we reported on water shortages in Palestinian communities on the West Bank, including the fact that half of those communities had no tap water. We reported the Palestinian view on the issue, but we should have also included an Israeli response. We regret the omission.


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