PRESS RELEASE: CAMERA Urges Congress Action on NPR Israel Bias

BOSTON — Calling for Congressional investigation into what it termed "anti-Israel propaganda" broadcast by National Public Radio, CAMERA announced today it will submit a complaint about the network to members of the Senate and House Committees that oversee public networks and to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the agency that dispenses tax dollars to public networks. The Boston-based media-monitoring organization has sent a detailed letter of protest to the network about recent broadcasts.

"It’s time to take a hard look at what NPR is doing in its Middle East reporting," said Andrea Levin, CAMERA Executive Director. "We’ve been critical in the past about the network’s shoddy reporting, but recent broadcasts are more reckless and distorted than ever." Levin cited as an example a lengthy, pre-Easter report by Eric Weiner commemorating events at Deir Yassin, an Arab town captured by Jewish forces in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence where a massacre is said to have occurred. She called the program "irresponsible," saying it violated the basis on which NPR receives tax dollars. "Under law, public radio is supposed to provide `objectivity and balance in programs or series of programs of a controversial nature.’ Unfortunately, there was neither balance nor objectivity in the April 9 segment. It was totally skewed against Israel."

Levin charged that the Deir Yassin episode is only one of a number of long reports aired by the network recently that have levelled distorted and inaccurate charges against Israel. She pointed to a March 12 report by Mike Shuster on Arab building in Jerusalem and another by Shuster on April 18 on the status of Israeli Arabs.

"The crux of the debate about Deir Yassin," said Levin, "is whether it was a peaceful town or one that had menaced Jewish communities and roads, and whether the Arab casualties occurred in the course of a military operation or as a deliberate massacre." According to Levin, Weiner virtually ignored anything that did not support the massacre claim, such as eyewitness Jewish accounts.

Likewise he omitted authoritative Arab sources which have repudiated claims of atrocities by the Jews.

According to Levin, Weiner simply repeated the assertions of a fringe group of Israeli revisionist historians, two of whom were included in the program. These so-called "new historians" routinely allege Israeli abuse of the Arabs. Weiner interviewed Ilan Pappe, for example, and quoted his claim that Israel’s leaders wanted to "forcibly expel or kill as many Arabs as possible," but he made no reference to Pappe’s extremist politics, including his longtime membership in the Communist party and his 1996 candidacy for the Knesset on the Communist party ticket. (Israel’s Communist party opposes the Zionist character of the state, and supports an Arab-Israeli peace based on UN General Assembly resolutions. Such a peace, of course, would be the end of Israel.)

Only brief comments by Tel Aviv professor Anita Shapira presented the mainstream, consensus perspective — that the revisionists "have gone too far" and are "rewriting Israeli history in order to advance a left-wing political agenda."

"This is classic NPR," said Levin. "Give disproportionate and sympathetic weight to fringe views such as Pappe’s, and throw in a token quote from the mainstream. That’s what passes for balance." CAMERA noted that Weiner not only promoted revisionist views, but then faulted Israeli schools for not teaching them.

"Why not interview Efraim Karsh?" said Levin. Karsh is chairman of the Mediterranean Studies Program at Kings College London, and author of Fabricating Israeli History, a book on the "new-historians." Karsh argues that Ilan Pappe and other revisionists have fashioned their research precisely "to suit contemporary political agendas" and have systematically distorted "the archival evidence to invent an Israeli history in an image of their own making."

Levin also described as "outrageous" a portion of the broadcast in which Weiner interviewed Mohammed Radwan, said to be an Arab eyewitness at Deir Yassin. Radwan claims Jews at Deir Yassin prevented the Red Cross from treating a severely injured Arab baby whose mother was dead. The reporter provides no corroboration for the allegation and CAMERA has called on NPR to substantiate the charge or retract it. "How do you put someone on the air with a statement like that and not make sure there is credible proof to back it up?" asked Levin. "Where are the Jewish eyewitnesses? Weiner interviewed people from all over Israel and the PA areas, but excluded Jews who saw what happened at Deir Yassin."

CAMERA noted that while NPR devoted intensive coverage to the anniversary of Deir Yassin, the network was silent four days later on the fiftieth anniversary of the murder of more than seventy Jewish doctors, nurses and hospital personnel trying to reach Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem ( April 13, 1948.)

"NPR’s bias against Israel is dangerous and extreme ," said Levin. "We think the public and Congress should be made aware of this. We’re looking for a full, open examination of National Public Radio’s coverage of Israel."

Comments are closed.