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Media Analyses





NPR Clarifies Claim That Israel "Helped" in Shatila Massacre


CAMERA's Israel office prompts clarification of a National Public Radio broadcast which misleadingly referred to the killing of Palestinians in Shatila, Lebanon as "a massacre of mostly Palestinian civilians by Christian militias helped by Israeli forces, in 1982."
 
Yesterday CAMERA noted the misrepresentation, which aired in NPR's "Cities Project" report on Beirut Oct. 2 ("Ghosts Of The Past Still Echo In Beirut's Fragmented Neighborhoods"). The report about the fragmented neighborhoods of Beirut was also marred by glaring omissions, including the failure to note discriminatory Lebanese laws and policies which ensure the continuing poverty and segregation of Palestinians born in Lebanon.
 
Regarding the Shatila misrepresentation, the Israeli Kahan commission found that Israeli figures held "indirect responsibility" for not anticipating that the Phalangists would massacre the Palestinians. A federal jury in New York concured with this conclusion. The jury found that Time Magazine defamed Ariel Sharon with false information when they claimed he "consciously intended" the killing of civilians in the camps.
 
It is a huge, untenable jump to say that failing to anticipate that Phalangists would massacre Palestinians is tantamount to "helping" in the massacre. "Helped" suggests that Israeli forces carried out killings; gave intelligence, arms or other support to facilitate the killings; or sanctioned the killings by the Christian forces. But Israeli leaders and soldiers did none of these things.
 
NPR editors agreed, and immediately amended the language on the online article accompanying the broadcast. The revised language states:
 
 
In addition, the following clarification was commendably appended to the bottom of the article, including a link to the Kahan commission report:
 
 
CAMERA continues to urge NPR to broadcast an on air correction for those countless listeners who heard the original misleading report and did not visit the Web site to see the clarification. We also continue to urge a clarification of the transcript available online.

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