US Jews who have waged an organized campaign to influence NPR's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have succeeded in enforcing at least one of their demands by withholding promised donations of thousands of dollars to NPR affiliate stations ( On The Media, NPR, 12/22/01 ). On Weekend Morning Edition, 1/12/01, host Scott Simon apologized for a Nov., 2001, statement attributing to Jewish settlers the shooting to death of an 18-year-old Palestinian girl.
After the feature segment about Jews from the Israeli peace activist movement helping Palestinians pick olives was aired, it became a centerpiece in the Jewish organization CAMERA's ( Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America ) campaign to portray the US media, and particularly NPR, as biased against Israel. Now the original description of the shooting has been retracted and replaced by an ambiguous statement which includes the possibility that Israeli Army soldiers may have killed the girl. NPR host Simon apologized for the possible error.
To some of us, the difference between these descriptions may appear slight, and indeed the retraction reflects the nit-picking quality of the CAMERA objections. Much of the "factual" basis for CAMERA objections to US media coverage depends on statistical analysis of the number of words spoken in reports of events in Middle East which CAMERA perceives as favorable to Israel compared to the words considered less than supportive of the organization's pro-Israeli spins.
Pending a more complete rebuttal of the CAMERA charges, including much evidence of precisely the opposite bias, we suggest CAMERA and NPR and Scott Simon reflect on the front-page commentary,
A Dangerous Liquidation, by Alex Fishman which recently appeared in the leading circulation Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, Nov. 25, 2001.
The Fishman statement is just one example of the considerably more open skepticism and critical analysis of official Israeli motives and policies, routine in the Israeli media, than can ever be found on NPR or in the mainstream US press.
Briefly, the Fishman commentary contains direct accusations of a deliberate provocation by Israel, authorized by top Israeli officials, calculated to incite Palestinian suicide attacks on Israelis, with the intent of frustrating the December peace mission by US General Anthony Zinni and putting the blame on the Palestinians.
The provocation charged is the Nov. 22, 2001, assassination of Mahmud Abu Hunud, senior Hamas leader, by Israeli helicopter gunships. The Fishman article is particularly striking for several reasons: the paper hitherto approved of the Israeli government's policy of assassinating Palestinians deemed to be terrorists, and on numerous occasions in the past year news and commentaries were published with an often crude anti-Palestinian slant.
In contrast, the Fishman statement was given a very conspicuous place, in a box on the paper's front page. The author, Alex Fishman, is Yediot's security commentator, and is far from dovish and is known to have close contacts in the army and the security services. The accusation of deliberate provocation is unequivocal in the following exerpt:
Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation knew full well that he is thereby shattering in one blow the gentleman's agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; under that agreement, Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside the Green Line. ....
This understanding was, however, shattered by the assassination. Whoever decided upon the liquidation of Abu Hunud knew in advance that that would be the price. The subject was extensively discussed both by Israel's military echelon and its political one, before it was decided to carry out the liquidation.
The Israeli plan was successful. Reprisal suicide bombings killed over two dozen Israelis and Zinni left without progress toward a truce. Palestinians were blamed. A month-long wave of Israeli "reprisals" against Palestinians followed, invasions, killings, demolition of homes, total confinement and bans on travel.
The left-leaning but mainstream Israeli paper Haaretz includes many other examples of the criticism of Israel's occupation and violence against the Palestinians. These examples from the Israeli media, contrasted with the US media, contradict the CAMERA claims of a pro-Palestinian bias in US media; in fact, the exact opposite is the case. Among the hundreds of examples, we offer the following specific items :
It is the intention of The Don Quixote Society Website to add to this list of examples and update this page as time permits. Contributions (and attempts at rebuttal) will be considered.