NPR reporter Kate Seelye, a former Manager of Media
Relations for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), regularly
interviews speakers from the Arab world and routinely gives them a platform for
distorted, self-serving claims about Middle East events. Rarely, if ever, does
she ask challenging questions or contradict her guests.
Two recent stories are typical examples of this
**** In an April 17 interview with Syrian officials about
Syrian-American diplomacy, Seelye interjected misinformation, blaming Israel
for the failure of negotiations over the Golan Heights. She said:
Syria came close to
reaching a peace agreement with Israel in 1999, but the deal broke down over
Israel's refusal to return all of the Golan Heights, a key Syrian demand. . .
In fact, in the 1999 negotiations, Israel offered to
withdraw entirely from the Golan Heights. The deal fell through because Syria
demanded Israel hand over additional territory, all the way up to the Sea of
Galilee, land which was never legally Syrian. The only official border between
the two countries historically was the 1923 International boundary slightly
east of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. (Britain and France
deliberately drew up the boundary this way to protect Palestine's sparse water
sources from Syria.) In 1948, Syria invaded Israel, conquering land west of the
boundary, but afterwards accepted the 1949 Armistice terms requiring a
withdrawal from that area.
Negotiations also broke down over questions of
whether Syria would fully normalize relations with Israel after it
signed a peace treaty, and over what security guarantees Syria would give
Blaming Israel for the breakdown of Syrian-Israeli
negotiations is the generally-held Arab perspective. Seelye presents it as
**** In an April 21 story from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Seeyle
interviews a prominent Saudi business woman, Lubna Olayan. The topic is what
Olayan believes the United States should do to improve American-Arab relations.
Lubna says she
hopes the US will also try to repair its strained relations with the Arab
world. Many Saudis have scaled back their links to America, but Lubna continues
to maintain close ties to the United States. . . . Lubna says with certain
steps the US could regain Arab trust.
Seelye quotes Olayan saying:
If America really
cares to get the Arab world back, then they have to do a major PR [sic] and
build Iraq to what it was. And then solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem,
which is what they said they will do. If they do this, I'll tell you, the Arab
world will look at Americans as heroes.
At no point in the broadcast does the reporter challenge
Olayan or ask any probing questions about Saudi Arabia which, after all, was
home to 15 of the 19 terrorists who killed almost 3,000 American civilians on
9/11. Instead, without a hint of irony or reference to Saudi responsibility,
Olayan offers recommendations for how the U.S. can repair its
strained relations with the Saudis. Seelye omits any reference to the many
policies and actions by the Saudis that strain relations.
** There is no mention that Saudi Arabia has used its
enormous wealth to export the extremist Wahhabi strain of Islam globally. (In a
Feb. 9 New York Times Magazine article, the brother of the alleged would-be
Sept. 11 suicide terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui acknowledged that Wahhabi groups
in Europe were his brother's inspiration. Similarly, Hasan Akbar, the American
soldier who attacked his colleagues in Kuwait, killing two and injuring 15, was
affiliated with Saudi-funded institutions in California. Likewise, Al-Qaeda
member Christian Ganczarski, a Polish convert to Islam suspected of the 2002
bombing of a Tunisian synagogue in which 21 were killed, was also involved in
Wahhabi institutions in Saudi Arabia.)
** Nor is there mention by NPR that Saudi-US relations are
damaged by anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda in Saudi media.
(Prince Nayef Ibn Abd-Al-Aziz, Saudi Minister of Interior, gave an interview to
a Kuwaiti newspaper which was translated into English Nov. 29, 2002 by a weekly
news magazine published online by the Saudi royal family:
We put big question marks and ask who committed the events
of September 11 and who benefited from them. Who benefited from events of 11/9?
I think they [the Zionists] are behind these events. . . .It is impossible that
19 youths, including 17 Saudis, carried out the operation of September 11. . .
See www.memri.org for
** Nor is there reference to the extreme religious
intolerance in Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslims are prohibited from openly
practicing their religion, including visitors, journalists, and American
serviceman who are protecting their country.
Seelye's role in acting as an uncritical mouthpiece for Arab
regimes is one more instance of NPR's abusing its tax-supported status and
violating its mandate to provide objective, balanced coverage.