Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Use NPR’s Budget Squeeze to Amplify Calls for Reform

National Public Radio’s budget crisis presents CAMERA members and all others dedicated to reforming the network’s chronically anti-Israel news coverage with an opportunity to be heard. A Washington Post headline on December 11 announced "NPR to Cut 64 Jobs and Two Shows; Company-Wide Layoffs Seek To Close $23 Million Shortfall". The lead sentences in Post staff writer Paul Farhi’s article read:

Faced with a sharp decline in revenue, National Public Radio said ... it will pare back its programming and institute its first organization-wide layoffs in 25 years. Washington-based NPR said it would lay off about 7 percent of its workforce and eliminate two daily programs [‘Day to Day’ and ‘News & Notes’] ....

Now, more reliant on goodwill and financial support of listeners than ever, the network and its local affiliate stations should hear a clear message from potential donors, new or previous.
ACTION ITEMS to / Top / In Brief / Action Item


Please contact Interim NPR President and Chief Executive Dennis Haarsager

E-Mail: or
Telephone: 202 513-2000
Contact the station manager of your local NPR affiliate. Let the manager know you’re aware of budget cuts and that before donating, NPR’s coverage must end its chronic anti-Israel slant and meet the legal requirement for objectivity and balance. To locate the affiliate in your area, go to and click on "Station" and then enter your zipcode.

Send blind copies (bcc) to

IN DETAIL to / Top / In Brief / Action Item

*NPR’s veteran Israel correspondent, Linda Gradstein, also substituting for The Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, explained to a December 22 synagogue audience in Rockville, Md., why she avoids using the word "terrorist." "I prefer the term ‘gunman,’" she said, responding to a CAMERA member’s question. "It’s a more neutral term than terrorist. After all, many people feel that one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter."

Her answer summarizes much of what’s wrong with NPR’s Arab-Israeli reporting, journalistically and morally. A journalist’s job is not to be "neutral" — it’s to be accurate. The gunman-for-terrorist substitution is anything but accurate. And equating terrorists with freedom fighters is a lie, morally and historically.

Terrorism, the U.S. State Department notes, is premeditated, political violence aimed at noncombatants. That includes Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in Sderot or the shooting of yeshiva students in Jerusalem, not to mention November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. There, terrorist gunmen murdered more than 170 people. But for Gradstein and NPR when terrorists murder Israelis it's just gunmen killing people. Neutral. But not accurate, not objective. Not the truth. And that untruthfulness renders it immoral as well.

The false equivalence that "one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter" sanitizes terrorists while staining freedom fighters. Greek freedom fighters fought Ottoman oppression during the 19th century; bands of freedom fighters resisted Nazi oppression from forest hide-outs during World War II; Hungarian freedom fighters opposed Soviet domination in 1956. Freedom fighters don't commit premeditated murder of civilians. But Arab terrorists from the PLO, Hamas and other groups intentionally have murdered Israeli noncombatants for decades in an attempt to destroy the Jewish state and drive the Jewish people from its homeland. Gradstein and NPR's "neutrality" in describing terrorist crimes — terrorism violates international law — falsifies the truth on which both moral judgment and journalistic description rest.

*NPR's December 8 "Talk of the Nation" program featured an interview with Avrum Burg, former Israeli Knesset speaker and author of a book titled The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes. (Hebrew title Defeating Hitler) that caused an uproar when it appeared. Burg, who has left Israel and taken French citizenship, compares Israel to Germany on the eve of the rise of Nazism. He urges Israel to cease being a Jewish state. In a notable interview with Ari Shavit in Ha'aretz (June 8, 2007), the journalist challenged Burg repeatedly about the extreme "loathing" of Israel he expresses.

Few voices on the Israeli scene are more extreme and out of the mainstream – indeed literally out of the country itself – than Avrum Burg's.

For "balance," host Neal Conan brought in Omar Bartov, professor of European history at Brown University. Bartov is no Burg in his verbal assaults on Israel but to the extent that Burg and Bartov debated, it was whether what Burg called "the Holocaust industry" kept Israelis and Diaspora Jews mired in past horrors or what Bartov claimed was misuse of Jewish memories of Holocaust-era powerlessness to keep Palestinian Arabs under occupation.

Burg holds that "a nation of refugees [displaced European Jews] created another nation of refugees," the Palestinian Arabs. In reality, the reason Arabs became refugees was that the Arab states and Palestinian Arab leadership rejected the 1947 U.N. partition plan. It would have given them a second Arab state in what had been Mandatory Palestine — Jordan being the first — and after rejecting partition they went to war, unsuccessfully, to prevent a single Jewish state. Arab aggression caused Arab refugees.

Any interview involving an extreme figure like Avrum Burg clearly warrants a speaker to counter the inflammatory charges he makes about Israel and the Holocaust. NPR's failure to balance far-left attacks on Israel, such as those espoused by Burg, has been a chronic feature of its coverage for many years.

The opportunity presented by the network's financial difficulties to be heard regarding reform of NPR's Arab-Israeli coverage should not be missed.

CAMERA's Web site (, details scores of examples of pro-Arab, anti-Israeli bias in NPR reporting going back to 1992 (click on NPR at bottom of home page).

The Public Telecommunications Act of 1992 requires, among other things, "strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature." NPR does not hold itself to the standard, despite claims to the contrary.

No comments: