The inaccurate, incomplete and distorted NPR reports described here are representative examples of a much larger body of flawed coverage of Israel on the tax-supported radio network. Moreover, it is significant that, far from being inconsequential errors, many of the distorted allegations are serious and defamatory, severely skewing the realities of history and of Israeli policies regarding law, housing, water, human rights and the search for peace. Pervasively minimized or omitted entirely are threats to Israel’s security and survival.
Although NPR has been provided detailed documentation regarding inaccuracy in numerous of its broadcasts, the network has neither addressed the substantive criticism nor issued corrections. This disregard for factual rigor and public accountability violate NPR’s own guidelines which state:
All errors of fact, bias, or omission must be corrected immediately.
Accuracy is a corollary of fairness, because providing accurate information keeps faith with our sources and our listeners. When we get it wrong, we undermine not only the credibility of own (sic) news organization but also the credibility of other journalists. (Independence and Integrity: A Guidebook for Public Radio Joumalism)
NPR severely distorts the facts about conditions for Arabs in Jerusalem, whether concerning their population numbers or their housing. A March 12, 1998, segment reported by Mike Shuster suggested the Israeli municipality engages in “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs and that Arabs are prevented from building houses. NPR host Linda Wertheimer claimed incorrectly in the introduction that:
NPR: “with its Palestinian East Side and its Jewish West Side, Jerusalem remains a divided city, but in recent years Israeli authorities have pursued policies that have made the city less Arab and more Jewish.”
(All Things Considered, March 12, 1998)
The population of Jerusalem is today more Arab and less Jewish than it was in 1967. Then it was 26% Arab, while now it is 30% Arab. Put another way, in that period, Jerusalem’s Jewish population grew by 114%, its Arab-population by 163%.
A building boom is underway in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. This is corroborated in multiple sources, including a study commissioned by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) that examined aerial photographs, tax records and building permit records. The data showed that Arab building has proceeded at a faster pace than Jewish building since 1967. Mike Shuster was handed a copy of the study before he did his report. However, he neither used the information nor contacted the author, Israel Kimhi, a former city planner of Jerusalem for two decades.
NPR reporter Mike Shuster also claims that Israel has destroyed “thousands” of illegal Arab structures in the city.
This too is false. In 1998, for example, Israel’s Interior Ministry issued 201 demolition orders against illegal building in eastern Jerusalem, but implemented only 9. The Jerusalem Municipality cited 578 cases of illegal Arab building, but demolished just 12 structures.