Letter to NPR from Ali Abunimah
April 18, 2001
Dear NPR News,
I continue to witness with disbelief NPR's continued failure to report on extreme Israeli violence against Palestinians. Yesterday three Palestinian children were killed, the youngest of them ten years old, by Israeli occupation forces. Israel also bombed a hospital in Hebron. NPR made absolutely no mention of this in its morning news or in the lengthy Q&A between Morning Edition host Bob Edwards and diplomatic correspondent Ted Clark. Jennifer Ludden's report on All Things Considered yesterday also made no mention of the dead children and several other serious Israeli attacks on Palestinians. Meanwhile NPR reports on the few harmless Palestinian mortar attacks on Israeli territory almost hourly.
Edwards and Clark recounting recent violence included only the following events:
*Palestinians fired mortars into Israel on Monday night which, according to Clark "crossed Israel's red lines." (The mortars hit the ground and caused no damage or injuries)
*Israel shelled and rocketed Gaza and made a brief incursion into Gaza and left after Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized ISrael's action as "excessive and disproportionate."
Clark and Edwards once again portrayed Israeli violence as "retaliatory." They did not mention at all constant Israeli shelling and rocketing throughout Tuesday night of Palestinians cities and villages including Hebron and Bethlehem. Clark and Edwards then engaged in a lengthy discussion of the US role in the conflict which painted the current US policy as "damage" control and "trying to keep this situation from escalating into a regional conflict that would inevitably involve the United States." Neither noted that the United States cannot currently be described as uninvolved given that it is actively supplying weapons and UN vetoes to one party in the conflict. But I realize that the pretense of US impartiality is necessary for political reasons and NPR is unlikely to challenge it.
The Associated Press described the serious violence against Palestinians that NPR has not reported at all as follows:
"three Palestinian boys were killed by Israeli gunfire Tuesday, Palestinians said. Bara el-Shael, 10, died when Israeli soldiers opened fire on the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza, relatives and doctors said. A 14-year-old boy, Hasma Obeid, was killed by Israeli fire near the Karni crossing in Gaza. In el-Khader, near Bethlehem in the West Bank, Rami Musa, 16, was killed when an Israeli tank shelled his home, Palestinians said. The Israeli military said there was an exchange of fire at el-Khader. Late Tuesday, there were heavy exchanges of fire near Bethlehem and in the West Bank city of Hebron, where a Palestinian was wounded." ("Palestinians Say Israel Enters Gaza," Wednesday April 18 8:16 AM ET)
I am not that pleased with the AP report either which buries the news of three dead children right at the end. I am certain that had three Israeli children been injured by a Palestinian attack--let alone killed--it would have been reported at the top of the news both by NPR and AP, since this has been both agencies consistent practice.
UPI reported the Israeli attack on Hebron as follows:
"Six Palestinians were wounded when Israeli tanks shelled two neighborhoods in Hebron and exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen. The Israeli army said its tanks shelled the areas after Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Jewish settlements from Hebron's Abu Sneineh and Harat al-Sheikh neighborhoods. The Israeli shelling led to an exchange of fire with Palestinian youths in which six people from one Palestinian family were injured. One of them, a 40-year-old woman, was seriously hit in the face and chest. A missile also hit Hebron's Alia hospital, smashing windows and damaging walls." (Violence continues after Israeli pullout, April 18, 2001)
The continued double standard and sanitizing of Israel's broad and continuous assault against the Palestinian people, and obsessive focus on a few Palestinian attacks, and your consistent treatment of Palestinian lives as worthless and Israeli claims of "self defense" and "retaliation" as sacred has indeed crossed all red lines of honesty and responsibility.