BOSTON Calling for Congressional investigation into what it termed "anti-Israel
propaganda" broadcast by National Public Radio, CAMERA announced today it
will submit a complaint about the network to members of the Senate and House
Committees that oversee public networks and to the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting, the agency that dispenses tax dollars to public networks. The
Boston-based media-monitoring organization has sent a detailed letter of protest
to the network about recent broadcasts.
"It's time to take a hard look at what NPR is doing in its Middle
East reporting," said Andrea Levin, CAMERA Executive Director. "We've
been critical in the past about the network's shoddy reporting, but recent
broadcasts are more reckless and distorted than ever." Levin cited as an
example a lengthy, pre-Easter report by Eric Weiner commemorating events at Deir
Yassin, an Arab town captured by Jewish forces in Israel's 1948 War of
Independence where a massacre is said to have occurred. She called the program "irresponsible,"
saying it violated the basis on which NPR receives tax dollars. "Under law,
public radio is supposed to provide `objectivity and balance in programs or
series of programs of a controversial nature.' Unfortunately, there was neither
balance nor objectivity in the April 9 segment. It was totally skewed against
Levin charged that the Deir Yassin episode is only one of a number of
long reports aired by the network recently that have levelled distorted and
inaccurate charges against Israel. She pointed to a March 12 report by Mike
Shuster on Arab building in Jerusalem and another by Shuster on April 18 on the
status of Israeli Arabs.
"The crux of the debate about Deir Yassin," said Levin, "is
whether it was a peaceful town or one that had menaced Jewish communities and
roads, and whether the Arab casualties occurred in the course of a military
operation or as a deliberate massacre." According to Levin, Weiner
virtually ignored anything that did not support the massacre claim, such as
eyewitness Jewish accounts.
Likewise he omitted authoritative Arab sources which have repudiated claims
of atrocities by the Jews.
According to Levin, Weiner simply repeated the assertions of a fringe
group of Israeli revisionist historians, two of whom were included in the
program. These so-called "new historians" routinely allege Israeli
abuse of the Arabs. Weiner interviewed Ilan Pappe, for example, and quoted his
claim that Israel's leaders wanted to "forcibly expel or kill as many Arabs
as possible," but he made no reference to Pappe's extremist politics,
including his longtime membership in the Communist party and his 1996 candidacy
for the Knesset on the Communist party ticket. (Israel's Communist party opposes
the Zionist character of the state, and supports an Arab-Israeli peace based on
UN General Assembly resolutions. Such a peace, of course, would be the end of
Only brief comments by Tel Aviv professor Anita Shapira presented the
mainstream, consensus perspective that the revisionists "have gone
too far" and are "rewriting Israeli history in order to advance a
left-wing political agenda."
"This is classic NPR," said Levin. "Give
disproportionate and sympathetic weight to fringe views such as Pappe's, and
throw in a token quote from the mainstream. That's what passes for balance."
CAMERA noted that Weiner not only promoted revisionist views, but then faulted
Israeli schools for not teaching them.
"Why not interview Efraim Karsh?" said Levin. Karsh is
chairman of the Mediterranean Studies Program at Kings College London, and
author of Fabricating Israeli History, a book on the "new-historians."
Karsh argues that Ilan Pappe and other revisionists have fashioned their
research precisely "to suit contemporary political agendas" and have
systematically distorted "the archival evidence to invent an Israeli
history in an image of their own making."
Levin also described as "outrageous" a portion of the
broadcast in which Weiner interviewed Mohammed Radwan, said to be an Arab
eyewitness at Deir Yassin. Radwan claims Jews at Deir Yassin prevented the Red
Cross from treating a severely injured Arab baby whose mother was dead. The
reporter provides no corroboration for the allegation and CAMERA has called on
NPR to substantiate the charge or retract it. "How do you put someone on
the air with a statement like that and not make sure there is credible proof to
back it up?" asked Levin. "Where are the Jewish eyewitnesses? Weiner
interviewed people from all over Israel and the PA areas, but excluded Jews who
saw what happened at Deir Yassin."
CAMERA noted that while NPR devoted intensive coverage to the
anniversary of Deir Yassin, the network was silent four days later on the
fiftieth anniversary of the murder of more than seventy Jewish doctors, nurses
and hospital personnel trying to reach Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus in
Jerusalem ( April 13, 1948.)
"NPR's bias against Israel is dangerous and extreme ," said
Levin. "We think the public and Congress should be made aware of this.
We're looking for a full, open examination of National Public Radio's coverage