After Latest Suicide Bombing, NPR’s Ludden Gets it Wrong Again
June 3, 2001
NPR’s Israel correspondent Jennifer Ludden incorrectly reported on All Things Considered (June 3, 2001) that some victims in the Tel Aviv suicide bombing were barred from burial in public cemeteries because they were not Jewish under Israeli law:
In fact, contrary to Ludden’s report, no such determination had been made by the hevra kadisha (burial society), and the victims were not barred from burial in a public cemetery. Ludden carelessly repeated false assertions by an Israeli politician, who assumed that the victims would be barred. By Saturday evening, well before Ludden’s report, it was well known in Israel that these assertions were false. (See the Haaretz article excerpted below.)
Whether intentionally or not, Ludden made it seem like the grief for all the victims felt by people across the world was somehow not shared by certain official authorities in Israel.
Contact NPR and let them know that they lose credibility when their reporters neglect to check facts, and when the network refuses to broadcast corrections. Challenge them to correct Ludden’s careless and false assertion. Please bcc a copy of your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
Haaretz (excerpts) June 4, 2001
Hevra kadisha never refused to bury three terror victims
By Shahar Ilan
The hevra kadisha (burial society) in Tel Aviv never refused to bury three victims of Friday’s suicide bomb attack because they were born of mixed marriages (a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother). Contrary to reports on the burial issue that were widely circulated all day Saturday, every possible official in the religious establishment made it clear on Saturday night that appropriate solutions would be found for burying the victims.
Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Meir Lau, who strenuously denied the reports Saturday night, ordered the hevra kadisha’s rabbi to ask the families where they wanted to bury their children and to carry out the parents’ wishes. Religious Affairs Minister Asher Ohana (Shas) issued a similar order to the hevra kadisha.
The hevra kadisha in Tel Aviv was having a hard time understanding how they could have issued a refusal to bury someone, during the Sabbath. “No one approached us and, anyway, we couldn’t have refused,” said the society’s director, Yehoshua Yishai, on Saturday night.
The hevra kadisha has a special section in Tel Aviv’s Kiryat Shaul cemetery for people whose Jewishness is uncertain.
It was Labor MK Sofa Landver who told the media on Saturday that the hevra kadisha was refusing to bury the three. Because the information was broadcast on Shabbat, the hevra kadisha was not aware of the reports and could not respond to them.
Landver sounded somewhat chastened yesterday morning, telling Israel Radio that based on past experience, she assumed there would be a burial problem and simply went ahead with plans to try and help the families.
Landver says she first heard the claims from Tel Aviv municipality social workers. Based on the assumption that the hevra kadisha would not be prepared to bury the three girls, Landver organized for them to be buried at Kibbutz Givat Brenner.