On Jerusalem Attacks, NPR Pushes False Moral Equivalence Narrative

Last Friday shortly after 8:00 PM a gunman fired on a group of people leaving a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven civilians, including a 14-year old boy. The next day, an NPR report by Daniel Estrin and Larry Kaplow, unsurprisingly, pushed the well-worn moral equivalence narrative, purporting to tell readers, “Here’s what is driving the latest spiral of Israeli-Palestinian violence.” (January 28, 2023.)

What did Estrin and Kaplow find to be driving this “latest spiral”? The heading of the first section of the story is “Israel’s 10-month crackdown in the West Bank.” In other words, in NPR’s illogical view, Israel’s prevention of terror attacks is responsible for terror attacks.

According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, 19 people were killed in Israel by terrorists primarily from the West Bank between March and May of 2022, spurring Operation Break the Wave – what NPR refers to as “Israel’s 10-month crackdown in the West Bank.” Though NPR does mention “a series of fatal attacks by Palestinians on Israelis last year,” those attacks, somehow, are not considered to be a cause of the “latest spiral” of Israeli-Palestinian violence – only the prevention of further attacks is. Nor, of course, are the Palestinian Authority’s pay-to-slay policies found by Estrin and Kaplow to be a cause.  

What else did Estrin and Kaplow find? “Israel’s half-century occupation shows no sign of ending,” is the heading of the third section. NPR tells its readers, “Palestinian leaders want to establish an independent state in the West Bank.” But the uncontestable fact that Palestinian leaders have rejected an independent state on multiple occasions has somehow eluded NPR’s intrepid reporters.

Estrin and Kaplow even go so far as to claim, in the following section, that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, “has tried to promote Palestinian independence through nonviolence and diplomatic negotiations with Israel, but that approach has failed.” But it didn’t just fail. Abbas himself rejected independence, not once but at least twice.

As CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal noted, “One pathetic trick for covering up the morally indefensible nature of a fatal terror attack is to draw a false equivalence to deadly counter-terror activity.” That’s exactly what NPR did:

What’s often summed up as the “cycle of violence” in Jerusalem and the West Bank has suddenly surged to levels not seen in years.

Thursday marked the deadliest Israeli army operation in the occupied West Bank since at least 2005. Troops killed nine Palestinians including gunmen and a 61-year-old woman during a raid against suspects in the crowded Jenin refugee camp. Dozens more were injured.

Friday marked the deadliest Palestinian attack against Israelis since since [sic] 2008. A Palestinian gunman killed seven people — and wounded three — outside a synagogue in an Israeli settlement neighborhood of Jerusalem, at the start of the Jewish Sabbath. Saturday saw another Palestinian shooting outside an Israeli settlement enclave in Jerusalem, wounding two.

As CAMERA previously explained, of those nine who were killed in Jenin the day before the Jerusalem synagogue attack, “at least seven of them were affiliated with designated terror organizations and violently clashed with Israeli troops engaged in a counter-terror operation.” NPR, however, merely notes that among the dead were “gunmen.” And the audio broadcast clip included with the print article online also reinforced the “cycle of violence” narrative, with Estrin somberly pronouncing, “it really is a cycle of violence now.”

Moreover, Estrin and Kaplow claim, “Only one month in office, the [new] government has sparked a series of controversies, including over the status of the sensitive Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.” Of course, the “Al-Aqsa Mosque compound” is also known as the Temple Mount, but never mind those pesky details that might make a news article seem objective. Referring to the Temple Mount only as the “Al-Aqsa Mosque compound” is a consistent bias on the part of NPR.

NPR must stop promoting a narrative that puts terrorist attacks on civilians on the same moral plane as actions taken to prevent attacks on civilians. Israel has both the right and the obligation to protect its citizens.

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