BOSTON – Expressing dismay at the scheduled October 21 appearance of National Public Radio's Scott Simon at a U.S. Holocaust Museum Memorial event, Andrea Levin, Executive Director of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), said the Museum must be unaware of NPR's chronically biased coverage of Israel and Jewish affairs.
“The Holocaust Museum was erected as a monument to Jewish victims — and also as a powerful warning about the consequence of lies and defamation,” said Levin. “Unfortunately, NPR has maligned Israel for years in distorted news and commentary, often presenting baseless, inflammatory allegations while permitting Israel little or no response.”
CAMERA asserted that Simon is part of the problem, citing programs involving the commentator. “In a June interview with a strident critic of Israel,” Levin observed, “Simon actually asked: ‘Is there still a need for the state of Israel?’ ” Under fire from listeners arguing he would never have posed such a question about any other nation in the world, the longtime NPR host issued a deceptive apology. He claimed he regretted the irate public missed his guest's answer affirming the necessity of Israel “so that anyone who is Jewish anywhere in the world has a safe place…”
In fact, the critic had not said any such thing, but rather claimed Jews had an “imperative” psychological need to experience “fear.” He said “without threats...Zionism itself needs a new rationale..” That is, there are no real threats — only imagined ones.
According to Levin, Simon's question was unsurprising. “If you have as skewed a view of Israel, the challenges it faces and its meaning in the Jewish world as do many at NPR, it can seem logical to debate whether the Jewish state should even exist. It's an outrageous question but logical in the NPR context.”
In another Simon program months earlier – one CAMERA considers characteristic – the NPR host interviewed a single speaker, an extreme Israeli journalist who likened Israel to racist South Africa. In a convivial exchange, Simon did not question at all the journalist's charge that essentially was ideological slander.
CAMERA, the Boston-based media monitoring organization with more than 50,000 members nationally, noted it had registered protests about Simon as far back as 1993 when he alleged: "The Jewish quarter of the Old Walled City was respected but neglected during the years of Jordanian rule." Levin pointed out that Jordan reduced much of the Jewish quarter to rubble in 1948, destroying synagogues, burning tens of thousands of religious books and expelling all the Jews. Thereafter until 1967, Jews were prohibited from praying at their holiest sites.
“The portrayal of Arab states as benign and the obscuring of real threats to Israel typifies NPR's biased approach,” said Levin.
CAMERA has published numerous studies of NPR's coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict (www.camera.org ), repeatedly finding a quantitative anti-Israel tilt in the presentation of speakers and the time allotted those speakers. Qualitative tilt is also apparent in story choice, language and carelessness with accuracy.
The organization also has cited the disturbing track record of NPR Senior Foreign Editor Loren Jenkins who has termed Israel a “colonizer” in Jerusalem and who has linked Israelis to Nazis in his own writings.
“What could be more inappropriate than for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to host a representative of an institution that contributes to subverting public understanding of the Jewish state, when the museum's primary mission is to recall and warn against anti-Jewish bigotry and persecution?” said Levin.
For more on Scott Simon, click here.