PRESS RELEASE: CAMERA Campaign Challenges NPR Bias

NPR coverage of the Wye River negotiations and subsequent Palestinian-Israeli friction has continued to distort the actions and obligations of the parties. Israel is held responsible for any difficulties and delays, while Palestinian violations of the agreements are ignored.

NPR reporters have consistently misrepresented the Wye agreements and accused Israel of imposing "tough pre-conditions" when Israeli officials have insisted on Palestinian adherence to the accords.

NPR’s Coverage

Benjamin Netanyahu now says a mid-election land transfer is possible but only if the Palestinians meet his tough pre-conditions. They include seizing more illegal weapons and reducing the Palestinian police force…
Steve McNally on Morning Edition, December 22, 1998

Netanyahu…went on today to list several issues very aggressively. The confiscation of illegal weapons in the hands of the Palestinian Authority. The incitement to violence. The threat to declare a Palestinian state unilaterally. These aren’t new issues, but Netanyahu is insisting now he wants satisfaction on all of them before he will redeploy Israeli troops—that is, pull them back from more territory on the West Bank.
Mike Shuster on Morning Edition, December 15, 1998

The Facts

• The Oslo Accords (whose conditions explicitly remain in force as part of the Wye Agreement) specifically require the confiscation of illegal weapons and specify the size of the PA police force. The Wye Agreement contains similar provisions. However, according to the head of Intelligence for the Israel Defense Forces, Major General Amos Malka, the Palestinian Authority is not making efforts to collect illegal arms. Israeli officials also believe the PA has begun manufacturing illegal weapons and has acquired anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. Nor has the PA submitted to Israel a complete list of members of the PA police force, as it is required to do. With at least 40,000 men deployed, the PA force is more than 30% larger than permissible under Oslo. (By way of comparison, that number represents four times as many policemen per capita as Israel and France have in their forces, and eight times as many as Switzerland.)

II. NPR has systematically distorted or omitted the PA’s incitement against Israel. The network has suppressed coverage of PA calls for violence and war against Israel, its denial of the Holocaust and its teaching of hatred to Palestinian school children via television and textbooks. When NPR does mention incitement, instead of reporting the facts directly, it disparages the issue, stating, for example, that Israel demands an end to what "Israel calls incitement" or what "it sees as Palestinian incitement." (emphasis added)

NPR’s Coverage

Israeli officials still insist they will not withdraw from one more inch of West Bank land until the Palestinians meet at least a dozen Israeli demands, including the confiscation of illegal weapons, and putting an end to what Israel calls incitement and threats of violence. (emphasis added)
Eric Weiner on All Things Considered, December 15, 1998

Israel wants an end to what it sees as Palestinian incitement to violence on the West Bank. (emphasis added)
Mike Shuster on Weekend Sunday, December 13, 1998

The Facts

Examples of anti-Israel rhetoric and propaganda by the PA omitted from NPR’s coverage (according to a search of the Nexis news database):

PA Chairman Yasir Arafat calls for violence, compares Israel to Satan

Our rifles are ready and we are ready to raise them again if anyone tries to prevent us from praying in holy Jerusalem…. (November 15, 1998)

[T]he struggle against this Satan, the Satan of money, the Satan of influence, the Satan of discord, the Satan of the robbery which the Government of Israel is attempting to commit. (June 28, 1998)

Intensify the revolution and the blessed Intifada…We must burn the ground under the feet of the invaders. (April 16, 1998)

(Note: These are but a few examples of many such statements made by Arafat and other PA officials and ignored by NPR)

The Palestinian Authority promotes Holocaust denial

Holocaust denial by the PA has prompted protests by Holocaust scholars and coverage in the New York Times (July 24, 1998), but NPR has ignored the story.

• [The Jews] invented the shocking story of the gas ovens, where Hitler allegedly burned them…. [T]hey focused on women, children and old people and have exploited this to arouse sympathy for themselves when demanding financial compensation, donations and grants from all over the world. (July 2, 1998, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, official PA newspaper)

• Moderator: It is well-known that every year the Jews exaggerate what the Nazis did to them…

Palestinian author Hassan al-Agha: [The Jews] have profited materially, spiritually, politically and economically from the talk about the Nazi killings. This investment is favorable to them and they view it as a profitable activity so they inflate the number of victims all the time…. [A]s you know, when it comes to economics and investments, the Jews have been very experienced ever since the days of the Merchant of Venice. (August 25, 1997, official PA television)

PA television and textbooks teach children to hate and urge violence and martyrdom.

  1. PA television programs for children in which young girls and boys sing songs extolling suicide bombers and promising to "drench the ground" with their blood have prompted coverage by other media. CAMERA’s President personally handed Foreign Editor Loren Jenkins a video copy of the PA’s "Children’s Club" program containing clips of young children praising violence and martyrdom. But NPR ignored this story as well.
  2. A non-government Israeli group, The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, has surveyed 140 textbooks being used by children in PA-run schools and has documented a systematic demonizing of Israel and the Jewish people (see the survey at the web address: Throughout the PA curriculum, whether in history, geography or Islamic studies, the theme of Israel’s alleged wickedness is reiterated.

    • An eighth grade literary text asks: "What can we do to rescue Jerusalem and to liberate it from the thieving enemy?"
    • An Islamic Education text for seventh graders asks: "Why do Jews hate Muslim unity and want to cause division among them? Give an example of the evil atte
      mpts of Jews from events happening today."
    • A section on Zionism in a tenth grade history book is headed "Zionist Greed."
    • An Arabic language text for fifth graders instructs its readers: "Know my son that Palestine is your country…that its pure soil is drenched with the blood of Martyrs …Why must we fight the Jews and drive them out of our land?"
    • On the maps studied by Palestinian children Israel does not exist. In its place is the state of Palestine.

III. In issue after issue, NPR promotes the perspectives of the Palestinians. The network severely misrepresented the controversy surrounding Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners in the wake of the Wye agreements, repeating the Palestinian characterization of those jailed as "political prisoners" and "freedom fighters."

NPR’s Coverage

Today’s violence was triggered by Israel’s refusal to release Palestinian political prisoners under terms of the Wye River agreement. Charges that Israel is violating the agreement are causing increased tensions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Bob Edwards on Morning Edition, December 8, 1998

A spokeswoman reads out a statement on behalf of the political prisoners who remain in Israeli jails….These are the families of the men jailed for their struggle against Israel. The families expected the first prisoner release would mean the return of their freedom fighters. Instead they got mostly petty criminals.
Steve McNally on Weekend Edition, November 28, 1998

The Facts

  • Israel has complied with its Wye commitment to release Palestinian prisoners. Contrary to NPR’s charge, Israel never agreed to set free prisoners with blood on their hands or those who are members of groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The United States supports the Israeli position on the prisoner release issue. Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk has observed, "It is our understanding that the Israelis have done in this first stage what they have agreed to in Wye." (December 7, Deutsche Press-Agentur)
  • NPR neglects to mention that Israel has released nearly 8,000 prisoners since the beginning of Oslo. Fewer than 2,000 remain in jail, and many of these were involved in violent attacks.
  • NPR’s reference to Palestinian prisoners, some of them incarcerated for multiple murders, as "freedom fighters" reveals unabashed partiality for Palestinian positions and enmity toward Israel.

IV. In the wake of Israel’s redeploying from 200 square miles of West Bank land in accordance with Wye, NPR misrepresented the related matter of Israel’s building bypass roads around newly-autonomous Arab towns to safeguard nearby Jewish communities. Israeli bulldozers building the roads were presented as both illegal and ruthless. They are neither.

NPR’s Coverage

[T]here’s another sound that can be heard among these rocky hills: the sound of Israeli bulldozers at work.

About 30 miles away, near the town of Daharia, Israeli bulldozers have transformed another Palestinian farm from fertile soil to barren rock. The reason this time: to make way for a so-called bypass road, a four-mile stretch of pavement that will connect two Jewish settlements.

Like most Palestinians, the farm’s owner…has been reading nothing but good news lately, so he was shocked when one day last week he arrived at his farm to find Israeli bulldozers destroying his crops.

Israel says the roads are needed to ensure the safety of Jewish settlements now that many will soon be surrounded by Palestinian-controlled areas. But the Mayor of Daharia, Ratab al Sabar, says the road construction is an ominous sign.
Eric Weiner on Morning Edition, November 27, 1998

The Facts

  • There is no prohibition whatever under the Oslo/Wye agreements against building bypass roads. Indeed, since the beginning of the Oslo process, the creation of new roads has been an essential accompaniment to Israel’s ceding land to the Palestinians. Moreover, land required for such roads is taken by eminent domain from Jews as well as from Arabs, and compensation is offered. Finally, a legal appeal process is available to landowners.

  • Jewish communities in the West Bank regularly experience violent attacks and must employ extensive security measures to protect residents. Jewish children, for example, travel in bullet-proof school buses. Vehicles are often stoned, and firebombings and terrorist assaults are not infrequent. (It should be noted that NPR largely ignores such violence.) Nevertheless, in a lengthy segment focused on the building of bypass roads, NPR interviewed only West Bank Arabs deploring the construction; Jewish residents and their concerns were entirely excluded

  • The single reference to Israeli security concerns was Weiner’s dismissive statement: "Israel says the roads are needed to ensure the safety of Jewish settlements…". (emphasis added) Indeed, Israeli bulldozers were made to seem the greatest menace to life on the West Bank—not those who attack school children and motorists.

  • As is commonplace on NPR, anecdotal Arab charges against Israel were repeated without any corroboration of their accuracy and without presenting an Israeli rebuttal.

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