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
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
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
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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