The NPR Switch

NPR reporters are once again routinely misrepresenting the statements of Israeli spokesmen, inserting the term “militant” where the speaker has actually said “terrorist.” This error was repeatedly corrected by the network last spring:

* (4/26/04) NPR: First, a correction of a term that was used in a newscast earlier this month. Israeli military officials were quoted as saying they had arrested 12 men who were “wanted militants.” But the actual phrase used by the Israeli military was “wanted terrorists.”

* (5/9/04) NPR: In a newscast last Sunday about the killng of an Israeli mother and her children by two Palestinian gunmen, we attributed the description of the gunmen as militants to an Israeli army spokesman. The spokesman’s statement used the word “terrorists,” not “militants.”

The following erroneous attributions underscore NPR’s continuing failure to quote sources accurately:

1) NPR attribution October 3, 2004. Julie McCarthy

This is an attempt, according to the military, to drive rocket launchers out of range of Israeli towns that are being struck and to kill the Palestinian militants who are behind the attacks.

IDF October 3 statement by IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon

As far as we know, we have hit seven Qassam rocket launching squads so far. The most recent one was hit today immediately after it lauched a rocket at the Negev…Our troops — both those on the ground and in the air — whom you can hear above us right now — fire back and usually hit the terrorists.


2) NPR attribution November 18, 2004. Steve Inskeep

Israeli military officials said the tank crew mistook the Egyptians for Palestinian militants.

IDF November 18, 2004 IDF statement

During the night IDF forces identified a terrorist cell of three people approaching the Israeli/Egyptian border near Rafah, with the clear aim of planting explosive devices against IDF forces patrolling border. An IDF force opened fire towards the suspicious figures…

IDF (Israel Radio) November 18, 2004 Voice of Israel radio 0600 GMT

An IDF Israel Defence Forces tank last night mistakenly killed three Egyptian soldiers in the Rafah area. The tank fired at figures suspected of being terrorists.


3) NPR attribution December 30, 2004. Linda Gradstein

The Israeli incursion began overnight when Israeli tanks and troops poured into the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis to try to stop mortar and rocket fire at Jewish settlements in Gaza. It was the third Israeli incursion into Khan Yunis in a week. An Israeli military official said the missiles targeted two groups of militants.

IDF — December 30, 2004 Voice of Israel radio 1100 GMT

The IDF operation against launchers of mortar shells and Qassam rockets continues in Khan Yunis. Seven Palestinians have been killed so far. IDF sources say they were all terrorists


4) NPR attribution January 12, 2005. Linda Gradstein:

An army spokesman said the Jewish settler was working near a hothouse on the outskirts of the settlement when the explosion went off on a patrol route. He said the blast was believed to be caused by a bomb planted by a Palestinian militant in a tunnel dug under the patrol route.

IDF January 12 IDF statement

Regarding the attack by the greenhouses of Morag: During searches conducted at the greenhouses the body of the terrorist who activated the explosive devices and was killed by a force that arrived at the scene following the attack, was found. An additional terrorist, hiding in the greenhouses opened fire at the forces.


5) NPR attribution January 19, 2005. Linda Gradstein

Palestinian officials point to continued Israeli incursions into Gaza. They say Israeli troops killed 13 Palestinians in Gaza last week, including a mother and son who were shot by snipers while on their roof. Israel says its targets were Palestinian militants firing rockets and mortars.

IDF January 17, 2005 IDF quoted on Voice of Israel 0505 GMT

[The IDF expects] the PNA Palestinian National Authority to take action to prevent mortar, Qassam and anti-tank gunfire. The Shimshon Brigade has operated against mortar launchers and terrorist centres in an area north of the Qarni-Netzarim road since 14 January. This pinpointed action was directed against armed terrorists and was meant to hinder their freedom of movement. Some 19 terrorists have been killed since 14 January.


CAMERA has urged NPR to correct the erroneous citations.

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