ANDREA LEVIN'S EYE ON THE MEDIA: NPR Ignores Israeli Terror Victims

Internet Jerusalem Post, May. 20, 2002
By ANDREA LEVIN

As Israel endured the blows of unprecedented Palestinian terrorist attacks in the last terrible days of March 2002, National Public Radio continued its long pattern of sharply underreporting and depersonalizing violence against the people of that nation while emphasizing the feelings, perspectives and accusations of the Palestinians.

In a period of six days, from March 27 through April 2, when 53 Israelis were slain, not one of the victims was mentioned by name, not one bereaved family was interviewed, not one injured survivor was the focus of a story.

The attacks were reported briefly with some references to the gruesome details, but almost invariably with emphasis on how such events might harm political developments. Bureau Chief Peter Kenyon said the Netanya bombing that killed 29 "ripped a hole in US-led cease fire efforts."
But among those who were actually "ripped" apart, though ignored by NPR, were Idit and Andre Fried who had immigrated from Hungary in the 1970's. Idit was a nurse at a Netanya hospital where her two children raced in search of their parents after the terrorist bombing at the Passover Seder. The children had been saved because they arrived late at the Seder.
Ernest and Eva Weiss were concentration camp survivors seated at the same holiday meal with a friend, George Yakobovitz. All were killed.

Frieda Britvich, a survivor of Auschwitz, was also slain.

Dvora Karim, originally from Iran like several other victims, was buried with her husband Michael, who was murdered with her, and is survived by two daughters.

Eighteen others with names and families were killed by the Netanya bomber, and scores more were wounded.

The next day, Rachael and David Gavish, their son Avraham, and Rachel's father Yitzhak Kanner, were slain in Elon Moreh when a terrorist broke into their home. The Gavishes left six children, Menashe, Yeshurun, Avigdor, Tzofia, Leah and Assaf.

The day after that, a bomber at a Jerusalem supermarket killed 17-year-old Rachel Levy, who was off on an errand for dinner.

Then on March 31, a bomber murdered 14 people in Haifa's Matza restaurant. Fifteen-year-old Gal Koren was having lunch with his brother, Ran, and his father, Shimon. All were killed, leaving the mother to bury her husband and sons.

The Ron family was similarly bereft. Aviel, the father of Anat and Ofer, died with his children, only the mother surviving.

Bright-faced Orly Ofir, just 16 and a player in the Maccabi Haifa girls' soccer team, had been lunching with her mother and two sisters. She spoke a few words after the explosion, as the ambulance rushed her to the hospital, but later succumbed.

Although none of these people or any other of the March terror victims was mentioned on NPR, there were human interest stories about Palestinians. The day after the Haifa slaughter, the network aired a segment devoted entirely to the discomforts of a woman in Ramallah whose large house was temporarily requisitioned by Israeli soldiers. The woman, who admitted the soldiers did not mistreat her family, declared that "terrorism is every time a human life is being threatened, is being terrorized and humiliated."

The NPR interviewer did not, of course, remark on the particular kind of humiliation experienced by Israelis engaged in removing maimed women and children, and body parts, from the streets and cafes of Israel.

But no human interest story of this crisis period captures NPR's avid pro-Palestinian ethos like that by Linda Gradstein on April 2. The piece concerns the alleged evils of checkpoints, with emphasis on the experience of Samar Hamdun, a Palestinian woman and mother of four who alleges having been delayed at a roadblock a month earlier and giving birth to a still-born baby as a result.

Characteristically, the report includes a lopsided lineup of speakers, this time including the comments of frequent NPR guest Mustapha Barghouti, who decries Israel's actions and details Palestinian grievances with regard to restrictions on Palestinian ambulances and delays at checkpoints. Not a word is uttered to indicate the purpose and need for checkpoints, which are presented simply as a gratuitous form of Israeli torment of innocent people. Israel's effort to restrict the movement of terrorists bent on killing innocents is entirely ignored.

Only at the end of the long and emotive segment does Gradstein report that an Israeli spokesman "insists most ambulances are allowed to pass checkpoints" and that the vehicles have been "misused" by Palestinians to transport explosives. Israeli spokesman Jacob Dalal is given one sentence to say terrorists have exploited ambulances before the NPR reporter hastens to inject that a "coalition of Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups" is seeking redress against the soldiers through the Israeli Supreme Court.

The depth of NPR's ideological favoritism for the Palestinians is singularly underscored when, in a week that saw multiple massacres of Israelis, the network could not bring itself to offer even a glimpse at the personal side of the losses suffered. For anyone concerned about the damage done to public understanding of the realities in the Middle East by this tax-supported, listener-funded network, protest and suspension of support are essential.

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