Minnesotans Against Terrorism

P.O. Box 368, Hopkins, MN 55343-0368.



EMBARGO UNTIL 5 P.M., May 14, 2003         





Terrorists Are Terrorists . . . Unless Their Victims Are Israelis, According to NPR

Saint Paul, MN, May 14, 2003 -- Why does National Public Radio (NPR) refuse to identify Palestinian homicide bombers who deliberately target Israeli civilians as "terrorists"? That's the question asked by concerned listeners and members of Minnesota Public Radio who demonstrated today outside NPR's Minnesota affiliate, KNOW FM.  The Minnesota "NPR: Tell the Truth" campaign, organized by the non-profit, non-sectarian grassroots organization Minnesotans Against Terrorism, is part of a nationwide coordinated protest against NPR which took place today in 35 cities across the United States. 

"Israel is protecting itself against terrorism by carefully targeting terrorists and their leaders, while Palestinian terrorists deliberately target civilians - women, children, teenagers and the elderly. NPR covers all these actions as though they were morally equivalent, part of a 'cycle of violence'" said Minneapolis attorney Mark Rotenberg, President and co-founder of Minnesotans Against Terrorism. "There is no moral equivalence and NPR must point out the difference. Otherwise it simply misses the story."

One of the issues protested is NPR's refusal to call the Palestinian killers of Israeli civilians by their true name - "terrorists," rather than euphemistically as "militants" or "activists" even though it will use the word "terrorism" to describe attacks against civilians in other parts of the world.  In one egregious example, on March 4, 2003, an Islamic extremist exploded a bomb amidst a crowd of civilians killing more than 20, including himself.  Less than a day later, another Islamic extremist exploded a bomb on a civilian bus killing more than 15, including himself.  In consecutive news segments on the March 5th broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, the first attack was described as a "terrorist bombing" with "Muslim insurgents" the likely perpetrators.  The report offered no explanation why the attack might have occurred and in particular nothing that might have been construed as a justification. That attack was in the Philippines and was carried out by the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

By contrast, the second attack was subsequently reported by NPR without using any form of the word "terror" and included nothing about who the likely perpetrators might have been, describing them only as "militants".  The attack, and similar attacks in the past, were described and implicitly justified as a "campaign . . . against occupation."  This second attack took place in Israel, targeted Israeli civilians riding a city bus and was carried out by Palestinians.


(Minnesotans Against Terrorism, page 2 of 3)

"NPR reporting on Palestinian terrorism and the victim's response to it should use the same terms and style as it uses to report other terrorism attacks in other parts of the world, e.g. the World Trade Center attack.  By not doing so, NPR implicitly suggests that terrorism directed at Israeli civilians is somehow more acceptable than terrorism targeted against other civilians," Rotenberg said.

NPR's selective use of the word terrorism is symptomatic of its general bias against Israel in its coverage of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.   The media watchdog group CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), in three separate in-depth studies over two years, has found NPR programming severely skewed, giving substantially more air-time to Arab/Palestinian and pro-Arab speakers than to Israeli voices, often omitting entirely any Israeli or pro-Israel voice.  For example, in a ten day review of all major news and interview programs between March 27, 2002 and April 10, 2002 - a period of unprecedented terrorism against Israelis, including the Passover massacre of 29 people attending a seder and the Matza restaurant attack in Haifa killing 14  -- 62 Palestinians and other Arabs were heard on NPR, often expressing bitter accusations against Israel, while just 32 Israelis were interviewed.  CAMERA also found that not a single Jewish victim of the terrorist onslaught was mentioned by name, not one bereaved family was interviewed, and not one injured survivor was the focus of a story.  

In another study of the two month period between June 1, 2002 and July 31, 2002, CAMERA found again that only 41% of the speakers in Middle East related stories were Israeli or pro- Israel, while 59% were Palestinian/Arab or pro-Arab.  The Israeli side received only 35% of words spoken, compared to the Arab/Palestinians 65%.  Segments that excluded any Israeli voice while presenting exclusively Arab or pro-Arab views numbered 29, compared to just 9 in which only Israeli views were heard with no Arab voices.

"Our immediate goal is to make the Minnesota public aware that NPR's Middle East coverage is biased and untrustworthy," Rotenberg said.

The Minnesota protesters are not seeking a boycott or other economic sanctions against Minnesota Public Radio, but instead seek constructive engagement on this issue.   Concerned listeners, members and patrons of MPR should:

  • Write or call National Public Radio and express their dissatisfaction with the unfair and biased reporting on terrorism against Israel.

Jeffrey Dvorkin

National Public Radio

635 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001

Phone: (202) 414-2000 Fax: (202) 414-3324

Bill Buzenburg

Senior Vice President, news

Minnesota Public Radio

45 East Seventh Street, Saint Paul, MN 55101


  • Demand that NPR report terrorist attacks on civilians by the same standards and terms, whether in the United States, Israel or any part of the globe.
  • Ask Minnesota Public Radio to request that NPR cover the issues fairly, giving at least equal airtime to Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism as it grants to the terrorist perpetrators.

-- more --

(Minnesotans Against Terrorism, page 3 of 3)

  • Encourage Minnesota Public Radio to broadcast an open dialogue on NPR's coverage of terrorism against Israelis.

Similar protests took place today in the following cities: Amherst (MA), Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Fairfield (CT), Fresno, Houston, Indianapolis, Hartford, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Nashville, Newark, New Haven, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR); Rochester (NY), San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Selden (Long Island), St. Louis, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Washington, D.C.  Dallas is planning a similar demonstration for a different date.  In some cities other than Minneapolis/St.Paul, protesters are calling for boycotts by members and sponsors of public radio.

About Minnesotans Against Terrorism

The mission of Minnesotans Against Terrorism (MAT) is to influence public opinion in support of the war against terrorism.  MAT promotes fair, accurate media coverage of terrorism against Israelis and Americans.  The non-profit, nondenominational and multi-partisan organization, co-founded by Minneapolis attorney Mark Rotenberg and marketing executive Marc Grossfield, who both witnessed a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem in December 2001, disseminates information and educational materials and sponsors events in support of its mission.

For more information, please contact Minnesotans Against Terrorism at or write Minnesotans Against Terrorism, P.O. Box 368, Hopkins, MN 55343-0368, or visit our website:

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