This morning (Thursday) NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ ran a piece by their correspondent in Jerusalem, Eric Westerveldt. Naturally it was about alleged bad behavior by IDF soldiers in Gaza. On Tuesday evening I had posted an item about how some of the most serious accusations, the ‘testimony’ of IDF soldiers that in two cases innocent Palestinian women and children had been shot and killed by Israeli snipers, were proven to be entirely false: rumors that had grown legs before the truth got its pants on, to mangle a remark by Mark Twain.
Now I do not think that NPR editors read my blog, but on Tuesday this fact was made public by CAMERA, on their website and in a mass email after it was published in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv in Hebrew on Monday. It also appeared — in English — in the Jerusalem Post and on the Post’s website on Wednesday. Even before this, doubts had been raised about the third-hand nature of the allegations and the bias of Danny Zamir, who reported them to the press.
So, at 6:05 this morning when I heard Westerveldt begin, I assumed that he was going to say something about how this evil slander was untrue. “Listen,” I said to my wife, “they’re going to say it didn’t happen.”
Westerveldt, unable to hide a tone of moral outrage in his voice, proceeded to recite a whole series of allegations of war-crimes and misbehavior by the IDF, including the reports that the women and children were shot by IDF snipers. He interviewed Yehuda Shaul of the extreme left-wing “Breaking the Silence” organization, who passionately added more of the same. Westerveldt also repeated Human Rights Watch accusations of the use of white phosphorus ammunition against human targets, etc.
The IDF point of view was provided by a spokesperson who said, correctly but woodenly, that the accusations were “anecdotal and uncorroborated”, “hearsay unless our investigations will prove otherwise”. Well, they have proven otherwise, but the clear sense of the piece was that it was all over but the public hanging.
The ‘shocking’ part of this is not so much that NPR is biased against Israel — I’ve written about them numerous times, particularly about their sophisticated use of emotional content (see here and here) — but that by Thursday morning they should have known that the accusations of sniper shootings — accusations that the IDF is guilty of murder — were false.
I don’t know when Westerveldt recorded his piece, but I do know that NPR’s editors should not have allowed it to air on Thursday. My guess is that it was just too emotionally juicy to pass by.
Congratulations, NPR. You have put yourself in the same class as the UK Guardian and Pacifica Radio.