THUMBS DOWN to National Public Radio’s Linda Gradstein for her remorseless hectoring of Israel, and her contempt for fact and context. On July 30, 1992, Gradstein focused on Israel’s supposedly capricious policy of keeping Palestinian Arab “exiles” waiting when they cross the Allenby Bridge from Jordan to visit family members in the West Bank. In customary NPR fashion Arabs, including a 37-year-old pregnant mother of nine, are interviewed in sympathetic detail while Israelis are permitted only limited self-defense against accusations and innuendo. And, true to type, Gradstein underplays Israeli concerns and omits critical information, stating “Israel fears many of these people are unfriendly to the Jewish state.” Among the conspicuous and essential facts excluded are the following:
- The heavy traffic (as many as 50,000 people this summer) on the Allenby Bridge goes one way only; Arabs crossing into Israeli-controlled territory. Israelis are not permitted in Jordan.
- Israeli fear that some of these people may be “unfriendly” is based on the experience of finding explosives smuggled across the border in children’s toys, coffins, luggage, and so on.
- There have been persistent, recent terrorist attempts against Israel from Jordan.
- Any tourist entering Israel, even from nations not in a state of war with Israel as Jordan is, submits to time-consuming security checks.
- Israel has a right and a duty to protect her citizens and bitter experience with the need to take precautions against terror attacks.