National Public Radio reporters may not be fair or balanced when it comes to covering the Middle East, they may not be paragons of accuracy, or exemplars of journalistic ethics, but say this much for them – they are consistent. When it comes to putting forth a pro-Palestinian line, day in and day out, they have no equals in the United States.
On the morning of July 27, for example, there were two Middle East stories for NPR to cover:
Palestinian gunmen shot and killed a seventeen-year-old Israeli boy named Ronen Landau as he was driving home with his father and brother. Just before this attack the same gunmen had shot at Israeli children in a playground.
The funeral of Saleh Darwazeh, a senior Hamas operative who had been killed by Israeli troops. Darwazeh had engineered numerous fatal attacks against Israelis.
Which story did NPR emphasize, which person did the publicly-funded network humanize with details and names and interviews? In an 1141 word story, NPR devoted exactly 26 words to the murder of the Israeli boy in front of his father and brother, not even bothering to mention his name:
Israeli tanks shelled Palestinian security posts in the West Bank early today after Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli teenager at the entrance to a Jewish settlement.
The rest of the story – all 1115 words – were devoted to Saleh Darwazeh, who was described as an “activist,” and his cause. The Governor of Nablus, Mahmoud Aloul, was quoted by reporter Linda Gradstein as saying “They are killing our children everyday, so we have no choice but to resist and to struggle.”
Hassan Ayoub, described as a “Palestinian activist” from Nablus (listeners could only guess at Ayoub’s “activities”), tells Gradstein:
This is an act of aggression that produces more anger and more demands to take revenge for the people who have been killed by Israeli forces.
The NPR reporter then helpfully describes to listeners the Israeli “siege” of Nablus:
A trip between Jerusalem and Nablus used to take just over an hour, but now only Jewish settlers are allowed to travel on the main road. Palestinians must take a long detour on a winding road through the Jordan valley, almost triple the distance. They must also pass several Israeli roadblocks, often waiting for hours at each one. Israeli troops have also sealed off more than a dozen villages near Nablus.
Of course, Gradstein is wrong – it’s not just “Jewish settlers” who can travel on the main road, it’s anyone with an Israeli license plate, including Israeli Arabs. And while Palestinians might be inconvenienced by having to take a detour, many Israelis must also take long detours as they attempt to avoid deadly Palestinian ambushes. Like the Palestinian ambush that killed Ronen Landau, which NPR barely reported.
Gradstein also never mentions that had the Palestinians not started a virtual war against Israel, there would be no detours, not for Israelis and not for Palestinians. Gradstein interviewed no Israelis in her report who might have articulated all this, she interviewed no Israelis who might have explained why the Hamas leader, Saleh Darwazeh, was targeted. Instead she offered an entirely Palestinian view.
In contrast, when Gradstein covered the suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem on August 9, which killed 15 Israelis including 7 children, she first interviewed Israelis, but then gave the last word to Yasser Abed Rabbo, the Palestinian Information Minister. Rabbo blamed the bombing not on Hamas, which sent the bomber, and not on Arafat, who refuses to arrest the bomb makers and even collaborates with them, but on Israel’s Prime Minister:
It is the responsibility of Mr. Sharon. He provoked it. He wanted it and he waited for it. His policy depends on avoiding any possibility of the resumption of peace negotiation.
NPR’s tax supported bias is an affront to journalism, and an insult to the taxpayers who are forced to subsidize it. Until NPR begins to report accurately and fairly, it certainly does not deserve subsidies or charitable gifts. Neither do the local public radio stations that broadcast its shoddy work.