Archive for the ‘NPR’ Category

Multiculturalism vs. the Melting Pot

Friday, April 19th, 2013

From the NPR website:

NPR this week is introducing a new team that will cover race, ethnicity and culture. Code Switch is the name of the new blog. Code-switching is the practice of shifting between different languages or different ways of expressing yourself in conversations.

Honestly folks, do we need more “race, ethnicity and culture?”

Do we need more ethnic politics, based on the proposition that, for example, only a ‘Hispanic’ person — whatever that is — can understand the concerns of other ‘Hispanics’?

Do we need more emphasis on ethnic and gender studies in our schools? Especially when such courses are often presented from a separatist point of view, one which emphasizes the victimhood of a particular group and its need for reparations of various kinds?

Do we need to encourage particular groups to see themselves as separate from other groups and in competition with them?

Do we need to create even more hypersensitivity to the slightest instances of ethnic stereotyping? Do we need for these issues to be uppermost in our consciousnesses at all times? Do we need more restrictions on speech due to political correctness?

Tribalism is a normal human characteristic, which evolved as a response to pressures created when disparate groups encountered each other. Like many aspects of human nature, tribalism can be constructive or it can be destructive. Tribalism is the root of patriotism and nationalism, which I see as generally good things (many will disagree, but that’s part of my point). But tribalism can also lead to conflict, and when multiple groups within a nation give their primary loyalty to their group rather than to the nation, such conflict is unavoidable.

In much of the world this kind of conflict is the rule rather than the exception. Lebanon has been racked by ethnic and religious conflicts for generations; Iraq and Syria can only be held together by totalitarian regimes. The most stable countries in the world are ethnically homogeneous, and when this homogeneity is disturbed by an influx of immigrants the result is internal conflict, such as we are seeing now in Europe. Israel faces a tremendously difficult task of finding a modus vivendi among its Jewish and Arab citizens (one could consider the Haredim a separate culture as well).

The US chose a different, but still practical, path. It was intended to be different from ethnically-based nations, following the now-unpopular path of the ‘melting pot’ in which a new, American, culture would be created from people of different cultures who, while retaining some distinctive characteristics, would primarily see themselves as ‘Americans’, loyal to the nation as a whole.

The melting pot was criticized by those who said that it didn’t exist: in fact, they argued, the majority white Anglo-saxon culture simply erased the others, sometimes brutally. Disadvantaged status was inherited and didn’t ‘melt’ away, they said. Individuals lost essential parts of their heritage in the process of ‘assimilation’. They proposed to replace it with a policy of ‘multiculturalism‘:

Multiculturalism is closely associated with “identity politics,” “the politics of difference,” and “the politics of recognition,” all of which share a commitment to revaluing disrespected identities and changing dominant patterns of representation and communication that marginalize certain groups (Young 1990, Taylor 1992, Gutmann 2003). Multiculturalism is also a matter of economic interests and political power; it demands remedies to economic and political disadvantages that people suffer as a result of their minority status.

Multiculturalists take for granted that it is “culture” and “cultural groups” that are to be recognized and accommodated. Yet multicultural claims include a wide range of claims involving religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, and race. Culture is a notoriously overbroad concept, and all of these categories have been subsumed by or equated with the concept of culture (Song 2008). Language and religion are at the heart of many claims for cultural accommodation by immigrants. The key claim made by minority nations is for self-government rights. Race has a more limited role in multicultural discourse. Antiracism and multiculturalism are distinct but related ideas: the former highlights “victimization and resistance” whereas the latter highlights “cultural life, cultural expression, achievements, and the like” (Blum 1992, 14). Claims for recognition in the context of multicultural education are demands not just for recognition of aspects of a group’s actual culture (e.g. African American art and literature) but also for the history of group subordination and its concomitant experience (Gooding-Williams 1998).

Multiculturalism is associated with the academic Left and postcolonialism. An academic fashion, it is a dangerous one. Europe has taken this path, and we can see the results. Much of the criticism of Israel comes from the standpoint of multiculturalism. But Israel’s success is based on the primacy of one culture, the Jewish, Zionist one. It will continue to exist only if it can maintain this. There is no room there for multiculturalism.

NPR, naturally, is squarely in the multiculturalist camp. And multiculturalism is non-trivially different from the melting pot: it rejects equality of opportunity and calls for special privileges for groups deemed historically disadvantaged; it emphasizes accommodation of linguistic differences rather than encouraging a common language; and it even permits some degree of legal or governmental autonomy for special groups.

While there is no doubt that the melting pot had its downside, multiculturalism is a lot more than annoying political correctness. It has the potential to tear a society apart, as it is doing today in Europe. The melting pot, as long as there is also a commitment to equal justice and civil rights, can succeed here and should be given a chance.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Today’s media failures (mostly NPR)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
Before and after Corrie's death. Different bulldozers, different time of day.

Before and after Corrie’s death. Different bulldozers, different time of day.

Here are three examples of what is either utter incompetence, deliberately slanted reporting, or both. I’m going for ‘both’.

***

This morning’s news mentioned that France was preparing to open a homicide inquiry into the death of Original Terrorist Yasser Arafat, based on the allegations of his porcine widow Suha that he was poisoned by Polonium 210.

Simple arithmetic proves that even if there had been an impossibly large amount of Polonium 210 in Arafat’s underwear that Suha tenderly saved for 8 years, it would be undetectable today. Anyway, his symptoms were not consistent with polonium poisoning.

Yet the New York Times and NPR report this insanity with a straight face!

***

NPR struck again with this report from Sheera Frankel in Haifa:

Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer as she stood trying to block the demolition of Palestinian homes, in Rafah, Gaza. Today, a panel of judges ruled that she could have saved herself by moving out of the way. And they dismissed her family’s lawsuit against the government.

In a document released by the court, the Haifa district court judges said that they found no negligence on the part of the army of the State of Israel. The judges called Corrie’s death a regrettable accident, and noted that she had ignored repeated warnings to leave the area.

Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, said she was saddened by the verdict and the seeming impunity of the Israeli military. The family averred that Rachel was clearly visible to the driver of the bulldozer, in her bright orange vest and loudspeaker. Corrie’s family fought a nine-year battle in Israel’s courts, arguing that the military never launched a full and credible investigation into the case. The Corrie family lawyer said they would appeal the case to Israel’s Supreme Court.

First, Corrie wasn’t ‘crushed’. The court established, based on testimony from other ‘activists’ as well as IDF personnel, that she became entangled in a pile of dirt that the bulldozer was pushing, and probably died after her head was struck by a piece of concrete. Yes, she’s still dead, but the emotional content of ‘crushed’ is much greater.

Second, she wasn’t trying to “block the demolition of Palestinian homes.” The bulldozer was clearing debris in a place where numerous tunnels used to smuggle weapons and explosives across the Egyptian border to terrorists in Gaza were located. Many of the ‘homes’ nearby were covering tunnel exits.

Third — and most important — the piece doesn’t mention that court very carefully examined the question of whether the bulldozer operator could have seen Corrie and concluded that he could not. It quotes the family’s contention that she was holding a bullhorn and in plain view, but this is based on a deliberate photographic fraud. Eyewitnesses said that she was immediately in front of the bulldozer’s blade where she could not be seen when she was hit (see yesterday’s post for a summary of the court’s decision).

One would think that a reporter on the scene would be able to do better with the simple facts. The piece also employs the usual NPR technique of emphasizing the emotional content of the anti-Israel side and barely mentioning opposing views.

***

A couple of weeks ago, an anti-Israel blogger copied a fanciful scenario about an Israeli cyberattack on Iran from a discussion forum, and claimed it was an actual war plan ‘leaked’ to him by an Israeli official. He managed to fool a few media outlets with it, even the BBC.

It was quickly debunked (see also here and here).

But guess who picked it up this week? Apparently NPR’s reporter Tom Gjelten found it too delicious to ignore, despite the fact that it was 100% bull pucky. Do they ever check this stuff?

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Toulouse and NPR, ideology, and Fayyad

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

The murderous rampage of Mohammed Merah has been weighing on my mind.

It has been widely reported (for example, here) that Merah, the young Islamist terrorist who killed three French soldiers two weeks ago, and four Jews (including three children) at the Otzar HaTorah school in Toulouse this week, murdered Jews “to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children.”

But NPR went one even better, reporting — in the words of “All Things Considered” host Robert Siegel — that “the gunman told officials that he killed his victims in part to avenge slain Palestinian children.”

As far as I can tell, there is no direct quotation available from the terrorist (not ‘gunman’), or even a second-hand report that included an equivalent statement. NPR’s correspondent on the scene, Eleanor Beardsley, said (in the same segment) that

He’s been speaking to police and he told police that he’s angry about children in Palestine, he’s angry at France being in Afghanistan, he’s obviously angry at Jews, he’s angry at fellow Muslims who would wear the French uniform…

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who should know what Merah told the police, said that he

wanted to avenge Palestinian children and take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions.

Some time after the attack and 24 hours before the police raid in which he was killed, Merah called the newsroom of French TV station France 24, where he spoke to News Editor Ebba Kalondo (video in English here). He gave his reasons for his actions, a litany of Muslim complaints against France, particularly including the ban on Islamic veils. With regard to the Otzar HaTorah murders, she said,

As for the attack on the Jewish School, he was adamant that it was revenge, for the killings of what he termed “my little brothers and sisters, in Palestine.”

In the absence of a direct quotation from Merah, NPR host Siegel could have quoted Kalondo or Gueant — or used a more neutral paraphrase. The phrase “slain Palestinian children” is more than journalistic exuberance: it implies that there is an equivalent, deliberate and vicious, action on the Israeli side to avenge. It suggests the narrative that “both sides are engaged in tit-for-tat violence” that NPR is always at pains to promote.

Although it is a staple of anti-Israel propaganda that Israel deliberately kills Arab children, the proposition is a blood libel and a case of reality inversion, given the long list of Israeli children targeted by Palestinian Arab terrorists. NPR shouldn’t help it along.

***

Of course, there is also the incredible craziness of the idea of ‘avenging’ the actions of France or Israel by grabbing an 8-year old girl by the hair and shooting her through the temple. The various news reports seem to accept this as expected in the world of Islamist terrorism.

Our administration seems to think that only al-Qaeda shares the ideology that works this way. But what is the ideology behind the random launching of rockets into Israel, a staple of Hamas, Hizballah and other Arab terror groups? What was the ideology of the terrorists that slaughtered the Fogel family, including 4-month old Hadas?

If we are not already numb, there’s this:

Merah, born in Toulouse of Algerian parents, told police negotiators he had murdered three small Jewish children, and a teacher, outside a school on Monday to “revenge Palestinian children”. However, he also, chillingly, told police that he had attacked the school in a random act of frustration after he failed to locate a soldier to continue his series of street killings of off-duty paratroopers.

So we have an ideology in which it makes sense to murder little children to ‘avenge’ actions by other people with whom they share an ethnicity, and the selection of Jews as the default murder victims when the preferred ones are not at hand.

Think about being the default murder victims when you wonder if the government of Israel is paranoid about Iran, for example.

***

Finally, there is the technocratic Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, so moderate that Hamas would not have him in a unity government, who made  this statement on the murders:

It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life.

Either he is a hypocrite or entirely non-representative of his movement, because the official media of his own Palestinian authority this very month found it appropriate to honor terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who murdered 37 Israelis, including 13 children.

Perhaps the real Palestinian leadership should pay attention to his words.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Media distort reality of terrorrist rocket attacks

Monday, March 12th, 2012
An Israeli girl in Beersheva examines ball bearings embedded in the wall of a school building damaged by a Grad missile fired from Gaza. The school was closed when the rocket landed, and no one was hurt.

An Israeli girl in Beersheva examines ball bearings embedded in the wall of a school building damaged by a Grad missile fired from Gaza. The school was closed when the rocket landed, and no one was hurt.

While southern Israel hunkers down under a massive barrage of deadly rockets — only effective warning and anti-missile systems have so far prevented any deaths — the usual suspects in the media are pumping out the usual message: Israel is the aggressor, killing Palestinian civilians.

For example, an AP report begins like this:

Israel Airstrike In Gaza Kills 2 Palestinian Militants, Schoolboy

Israeli airstrikes killed two Palestinian militants and a schoolboy in the Gaza Strip on Monday and Palestinian rocket squads barraged southern Israel, in escalating fighting that has defied international truce efforts.

Leaving aside the fact that the 15-year old ‘schoolboy’ was almost certainly not killed by an Israeli airstrike, but rather when an explosive device that he was carrying went off, the emphasis in the article and the headline is placed on Israel’s actions to suppress the attack in which about 240 rockets have been fired at Israel since Friday, and not the attack itself.

This morning NPR broadcast a report from its Jerusalem correspondent. I’ve transcribed some of it and I’ll intersperse my comments:

[Steve Inskeep] …and we’re also reporting on violence on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip: The shooting stretched through the weekend and into today. Israeli airstrikes killed two more people today in Gaza, that Palestinian-held area, bring the total to 20. Israelis have been bombing, Palestinian have been firing rockets into Israel, and NPR’s Lourdes Garcia Navarro has been following the story. Lourdes, what’s the latest?

Note that they take the same approach as the AP, emphasizing defensive Israeli actions against combatant targets and de-emphasizing terrorist rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. ‘People’, not ‘militants’ or ‘fighters’ or (fat chance) ‘terrorists’ were killed.

[Lourdes Garcia Navarro]: Well Steve, this morning we’ve seen more sorties by Israeli aircraft, and multiple strikes inside the Gaza Strip. Medical officials in Gaza confirm two men were killed so far today. The Israelis say they were targeting a team preparing rockets to fire into Israel. Overnight there were rockets successfully fired and landed inside Israel. In fact over fifty rockets were fired in total yesterday. For a second day today Israeli schools have been closed in the area around Gaza and people are staying close to shelters. Around one million people lie within reach of those Gaza rockets.

The reporter begins again by emphasizing Israeli actions and Palestinian casualties. Palestinians ‘confirm’ that two ‘men’ were killed, while Israelis only ‘say’ they were attacking a terrorist rocket squad. Only after this does she mention the rocket attacks themselves.

Inside Gaza, you can hear the sound of Israeli jets circling overhead. There are around 1.6 million Palestinians who live there in densely populated areas. We already know that two civilians were killed yesterday, a young boy and an old man.

She continues, making sure we understand that Israel is deploying massive military force against helpless Palestinians. I rather doubt that ‘jets’ were ‘circling’; more likely helicopters and drones hit the rocket squads, but it sounds so much more frightening. We ‘already know’ — of course, we don’t, really — that two civilians were killed, and the suggestion is that this is just the beginning.

[Inskeep]: There have been rocket firings, many, many of them over the years, along that border. What caused an escalation here?

[Garcia Navarro]: Well, this current flare-up began when Israel targeted and killed the leader of one of the main militant groups in Gaza. Israel said he was planning an attack on Israeli civilians in the Sinai…

So we see that not only is this a story about Israeli violence against Palestinians, Israel started it. But the terrorist that was killed, PRC leader Zuhair Mussah Ahmad Qaisi, was responsible for an attack in southern Israel from the Sinai (not in the Sinai as the reporter incorrectly says) in August 2011 in which 8 Israelis were murdered, and it is quite credible that he was, as Israel says, about to launch another one (Qaisi was also responsible for the attack in which Gilad Shalit was captured in 2005, and also served as a conduit for money and weapons between Hizballah in Lebanon and terrorist groups in Gaza).

After Garcia Navarro talks about the remarkable success of Iron Dome in intercepting so many of the rockets, her partner cuts to the chase:

[Inskeep]: OK, no fatalities in Israel, quite a few of them on the Gaza side, is anyone talking seriously about a cease-fire?

Thus NPR manages to turn what should be a story about terrorism and defense against terrorism into one about the imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians, and how Israel initiated fighting which has killed Palestinian civilians (well, maybe one).

There is no mention that the event that began it was a classic case of eliminating a ticking-bomb terrorist, or that despite the density of the population in Gaza, Israel is killing the fighters that are firing rockets without killing civilians.

Only a few lines of the report allude to the massive disruption of the lives of Israelis, who have been running to shelters for four days (read the story of an Israeli schoolgirl here). And there is no comment about the fact that the objective of the Arab terrorists is to kill as many Israelis as possible.

And here is something else you won’t hear about on NPR: despite the fighting, Israel is continuing to supply necessities to the Gaza population! Every day, truckloads of food, goods and cooking gas are supplied to Gaza through the border crossings. Yesterday more than 180 truckloads passed through the crossings. This morning, truck traffic was interrupted for a few minutes, when Palestinian terrorists attacked the trucks with mortars. Think about that.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

The Lie Insertion Key

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
The lie key

The lie key

Here is yet another example of how much of the media are incapable of writing an honest story that concerns Israel.

On my way to the gym this morning I listened to an NPR story about how Christian volunteers are helping out at a Jewish agricultural community called Shilo.

The article by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is entitled “Christians Provide Free Labor On Jewish Settlements,” and mentions pointedly that the volunteers pay their own way. The implication is that this is somehow scandalous. Would they also write “Animal lovers provide free labor at shelters?”

The sixth paragraph of the article delivers the payload. Remember that this is a news story, not an editorial:

The problem is that the world doesn’t recognize this West Bank settlement or any other as part of Israel. The Palestinians and most of the international community view the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast War and has established settlements throughout the territory, which the Palestinians are seeking for part of a future state. The settlements are one of the most contentious issues between the Israelis and Palestinians, and have been a major obstacle in attempts to restart peace negotiations.

This is presented in a matter-of-fact tone — “ho hum, everyone knows this.” In fact, I am certain that ‘journalists’ at NPR, the BBC and the New York Times have a special key on their keyboards to pop this into every article they write on the subject of Israel.

Nevertheless, every line of it is misleading. It is true that the climate of opinion in, say, the UN, tends to be anti-settlement. But it’s an inconvenient truth that a very good case can be made for the legality of Jewish communities in the parts of Mandate Palestine that happened to be occupied by Jordan from 1948-67.

Without going into too much detail, the right of Jews to settle anywhere in Palestine was expressed by the “international community” in the League of Nations Mandate. Security Council resolutions demanded that borders be established by negotiations, which have never succeeded. And attempts to apply the Geneva Conventions to delegitimize such settlements are a very far stretch.

Yes, the Palestinians don’t agree with this, and want the ‘West Bank’ (Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem) — as well as the rest of Israel — for yet another Arab state. But why should we give credit to their racist desire to end Jewish self-determination and ethnically cleanse, for a second time in 63 years, this land? What have they done for the past 100 years to qualify themselves for statehood other than terrorism and murder?

The NPR-BBC-NYT boilerplate says that communities like Shilo are “a major obstacle to the attempt to restart negotiations.” But they are only an obstacle because the Arabs insist that they are. The real major obstacle is that the Arabs want Israel to give them everything — including agreeing to evacuate settlements and a return to 1949 lines — as a precondition to negotiations, rather than an outcome of them.

Note also that it says that “Israel captured the West Bank … and has established settlements.” But Jews lived there before the Arab conquest and ethnic cleansing of 1948. Why shouldn’t they come back? And who did they ‘capture’ it from? Jordan, who had grabbed it in 1948 contravening the UN partition resolution — not the ‘Palestinians’ who claim it!

There are many motivations for journalists, academics and politicians to push the settlements-are-illegal line. Some of them are ideological, because you just can’t be ‘progressive’ today if you don’t support the (in truth) very reactionary Arab cause. Some are payoffs — European politicians concerned with oil, or academics who get Saudi money (Georgetown University, from which NPR’s reporter Garcia-Navarro graduated, got $20 million of it in 2005).

Regardless of the reason, the insertion of the very partisan Arab point of view into ‘news’ stories as background is universal today in the left-of-center media. And regardless of the reason it is bad, biased journalism.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Moty & Udi and the Arab Spring

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The view of the unrest in the Arab world that’s presented in some of the media is remarkably far from reality. In a recent NPR program, the significance of Hosni Mubarak’s trial was discussed by several commentators:

After Egyptians toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February, many thought that their revolution, driven by peaceful, mass demonstrations, would be duplicated elsewhere in the Middle East with the same powerful results.

All too soon, they saw on their TV screens that would not be the case, as uprisings in Libya and Syria brought bloodshed and slaughter. That led to uncertainty and fear in Egypt, because many agree with activist Hossam al-Hamalawy, who says that Egypt’s revolution cannot fully succeed on its own.

“You cannot build a democracy in a country where you are surrounded by a sea or an ocean of dictatorships,” he said.

In the meantime, many who brought about Egypt’s revolution began to lose hope. They watched as the Supreme Military Council, which now holds power, cracked down on protesters and slowed down change, says Hossam Bahgat, the director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

“There were many days and weeks in which many of us felt our transition is being blocked by the interim forces,” he said.

But then Mubarak was put on trial, wheeled into the courtroom on a hospital bed, and put in a cage used for common criminals. It shocked Egypt and the wider Arab world, says Bahgat.

“Seeing Mubarak on trial will strengthen the popular demand for a democracy and dignity and full accountability,” he said. And, he added, it could also “further terrify these autocrats and once again deliver the message that their days in power are numbered” …

According to Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics, what is taking place across the Arab world is a genuine revolution.

“There is a new order in place. And I think there’s a rupture,” Gerges said. “The rupture that has to do with the mood and psychology of the Arab people. Citizens who are empowered, emboldened. They have rights as opposed to being subjects, ruled by their powerful leaders like Mubarak.”

The message in this is that there are two alternatives: the old order, represented by Mubarak, Qaddafi and Assad, and the new one, characterized by “democracy and dignity and full accountability” and “citizens who are empowered, emboldened. They have rights as opposed to being subjects.”

Of course there is another alternative: that is that these conservative dictatorships will be replaced by revolutionary Islamist regimes. This is precisely what happened in Iran in 1979.

Islamism is waxing strong in the Middle East today. Lebanon, a weak democracy, has been all but taken over by the Islamist Hizballah. In Turkey, formerly a secular democracy, the ruling Islamist AKP has systematically crushed its secular opposition in the military and the legal system, has deliberately wrecked its relationship with Israel, and is making noises about intervening in Syria (such intervention would be on behalf of Sunni Islamists, not democrats). In the Palestinian arena, only US dollars and IDF soldiers prevent the radical Islamist Hamas, which already controls Gaza, from getting control of all the territories.

Destabilizing forces are at work in Egypt, the largest Arabic-speaking nation in the Middle East:

Egyptian troops escorted by tanks entered the Sinai Peninsula region on Friday in an attempt to put an end to the anarchy that has erupted there since the fall of the Mubarak regime.

The aim of the operation was to halt Bedouin control of the northern Sinai area, which allows for the transfer of weapons to the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels…

In July, five people were killed when dozens of gunmen tried to storm a police station in al-Arish. The gunmen and hundreds more, reported to be Islamists, were wearing black and carrying black flags reading “There is no God but God.” Egypt’s military has detained 15 people suspected of involvement in clashes between gunmen and police in northern Sinai, including 10 Palestinians.

Following the attack flyers were distributed in the peninsula, threatening more attacks on police. The flyers were signed “Al-Qaida in Sinai.”

What’s coming in Egypt? Barry Rubin tells us that it’s the Muslim Brotherhood:

The West is still in denial about the Brotherhood’s role in Egypt. Many Egyptians are just becoming resigned to living in a country that’s increasingly Islamist, more Islamic-oriented, and perhaps even run by the Brotherhood. I don’t think the Brotherhood is about to take power in Egypt. I think it is about to become the single most powerful organization in Egypt and that it will play a central role in writing a new constitution and taking over institutions. More likely, within five years the Brotherhood will either be running Egypt or engaged in a very bloody battle to seize control over the state.

Democracy is not even one of the contenders, especially when you consider the fact that Egypt will soon be facing significant problems feeding its people.

In Syria, it appears that Assad and his regime understand that they are in a fight for their lives (literally). They are pulling out all of the stops, sending tanks against civilians, bombarding cities from naval vessels, etc. When the dust clears either Assad will remain (unlikely) or he will be replaced by those forces strong enough to take power. It’s not clear yet who this will be, but I think we can be sure it won’t be the Facebooking students.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

NPR presents 4:16 of anti-Israel propaganda

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Four minutes and 16 seconds on NPR’s premier daily news program, “All Things Considered,” is a major story. The longest one on Thursday, July 28′s program, about the difficulties facing the spouses of US military personnel, clocked in at 4:59.

Four minutes and 16 seconds were provided as a platform for Israel-bashing by one left-wing Israeli retired general, one Arab representing Fatah, the Arab terrorist organization that has killed more Israelis than any other — let’s call it what it is — and Daniel Levy, the co-founder of J Street who famously said (video here)

Maybe, if this collective Jewish presence can only survive by the sword, then Israel really ain’t a good idea.

Did I mention that these gentlemen are in the US on a tour sponsored by the same phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby, J Street? NPR did, but its piece didn’t talk about J Street’s funding from anti-Israel sources, or its history of lobbying against sanctions on Iran, for the Goldstone report, and for the condemnation of Israel in the UN Security Council.

As expected, the speakers blamed Israel for the lack of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and predicted disaster if Israel did not preemptively surrender to Arab demands. I won’t repeat most of it — you can read it at NPR’s site. But the most outrageous statement of all was made by Levy:

The U.S. hasn’t helped matters, says Daniel Levy of the New American Foundation. He says that the Obama administration tried, but failed, to get its partners — the U.N., European Union and Russia — to sign onto a statement encouraging the Palestinians to drop the U.N. bid. The text, Levy says, looked like it was drafted in Jerusalem.

“That’s where we got stuck. I think that isn’t helping get past this U.N. bump. It’s probably going to make a U.N. vote more likely and … this kind of approach, it’s really beginning to marginalize and almost make irrelevant U.S. diplomacy on such an important issue,” he says.

So what extremist demand from Jerusalem did the US ask for that made it impossible to get the Quartet’s agreement? Let me quote a news report:

One of the reasons the Quartet was unable to issue a statement was because [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov reportedly objected to a formula whereby the Quartet would have endorsed renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on a return to the 1967 lines, with agreed upon swaps, and Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Lavrov – reflecting Russia’s desire to play to the Arab League – wasn’t enamored of the Jewish state part of the equation. And it wasn’t only Lavrov.

According to Israeli officials, the EU’s Ashton came to the meeting hoping to get the Quartet to call for a renewal of talks based on US President Barack Obama’s parameters of the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, but without other language Obama used during his two Middle East speeches in May: language much more amenable to Israel that affirmed the country as a Jewish state and called for ironclad security arrangements before any future Israeli withdrawal.

In other words, the Russians, who represented Arab interests in the negotiations, wanted an agreement calling for Israel to withdraw to (more or less) pre-1967 lines without getting anything in return — not even recognition of what will be left of Israel as a Jewish state!

The recognition issue is key, and the Palestinian Arabs have consistently refused to agree to it. Even the language of the Obama plan, which represented a sharp shift in US policy toward the Arabs, was not enough for them.

The NPR piece didn’t mention recognition of the Jewish state, didn’t mention the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to negotiate anything other than acceptance of all of its demands, and — this goes without saying — didn’t discuss doubts about the ultimate intentions of the Arab side.

It was 4 minutes and 16 seconds of unrelieved propaganda, without even a nod toward balance.

Remember this when your local public radio station asks for donations. I will.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Who will keep NPR on the air?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

I admit that I’m feeling a little bad about the hit that NPR is going to take, as the Republican Congress almost certainly slashes funding for public broadcasting. Keep in mind that while NPR itself only receives a small amount of money directly from the government, the local stations that buy their programming get a lot. And it’s all likely to get cut.

I’m not the average consumer of news. I don’t have a cable connection and I don’t watch TV, ever. I read real paper newspapers and various Internet sites, and I listen to the radio. Radio has always had a special place in my life, from my childhood before there even was TV, through my job at a radio station that paid my way through college, to my compulsive listening today.

And I have to admit that most of what I hear on the radio is absolute crap. The music (OK, maybe that’s a generational thing), the ‘news’ and the talk. Except public radio stations and NPR, which — both in production values and content — try to do better. I’ll miss the classical music on my local station if it doesn’t make it.

But there is a big problem with NPR, and the fact that it is generally biased in the liberal direction is not it. One compensates. There are plenty of stations broadcasting very aggressively conservative programming. That’s fine, too. I listen to all of them, from the local Limbaugh/Hannity/Beck outlet to the extreme-left KPFA Berkeley.

It’s that NPR’s approach to issues concerning Israel has always been a systematic, highly sophisticated and effective campaign to influence Americans to stop supporting the Jewish state. It’s much more than a naive left-wing slant (or even obvious propagandizing like KPFA). NPR is an information war enemy of Israel.

In particular, they use the ‘emotive bias technique’ which I described here (2007) as a ‘psychological warfare technique’:

…psychologists have demonstrated that experiences with emotional content are much more likely to be remembered and more capable of affecting belief than simple recitations of fact without such content. And what NPR does — expertly, and so often that it must be deliberate — is to present the Israeli side as a recitation of facts, this many killed, that many injured. Then they present the Arab or Palestinian side in an interview with crying children, grieving relatives, and angry young men. The Palestinian story is always told in an emotional first-person voice, thus making it much more powerful than the dry, factual Israeli story.

They also selectively omit important context and allow clearly false statements to be made by interviewees without note or challenge. Virtually all of their reporting about the Israeli-Arab conflict has these characteristics.

They present a consistent picture: Israel is powerful, Israel is oppressive, Israel is cruel. The conflict is about Israel’s ‘treatment’ of the Palestinian Arabs. Hizballah’s missiles and the Iranian nuclear program are not connected to it.

This isn’t accidental. I wouldn’t even say that it’s because their reporters all happen to have the same anti-Israel bias. It’s just too systematic. It can only be the result of a deliberate policy.

As I wrote yesterday in my post about the exposure of the ugly prejudices of a top NPR executive, the identities of NPR’s donors are a closely-guarded secret. But consider that executive Ron Schiller was prepared to accept a $5 million donation from someone who clearly represented himself as an agent of a Muslim Brotherhood-linked group, one whose website (created for the purpose of the sting) indicated that its goal was “to spread acceptance of Sharia around the world.”

Do you doubt that NPR has already accepted donations from real organizations and individuals with similar agendas? I don’t.

Do you doubt that NPR is influenced by its big donors? I don’t. How can it not be?

Do you doubt that when Congress stops providing funds for public radio — and thereby reduces NPR’s income significantly — that the same crowd that funds J Street will step up to keep them on the air? I don’t.

Technorati Tags:

NPR executive exposed as anti-Israel and a snob to boot

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

I’ve written a lot about NPR, which has persistently displayed an anti-Israel and pro-Arab bias in its reporting about the Middle East.

Of course they are not required to disclose their donors, so it’s hard to accuse them of being whores. But thanks to James O’Keefe, the conservative activist that embarrassed Acorn by impersonating a pimp with his prostitute, we can actually see the transaction taking place.

In O’Keefe’s video we see Ron Schiller, former President of the NPR Foundation and Senior Vice President, Development — that is, top fund-raiser — saying things that we always knew they thought but that they usually don’t dare say out loud.

Schiller let it hang out after a pair of actors pretending to be members of a fake Muslim-Brotherhood-linked organization offered to contribute $5 million to NPR.

In the video below, you can watch Schiller nod in agreement as ‘Ibrahim Kassam’, one of the ‘Muslims’, expresses his appreciation for NPR’s giving voice to the Hamas and Hizballah point of view rather than that of Israel (at about 3:20), and nods again (about 7:20) when his interlocutor talks about Jews controlling the media. At about 7:45 he laughs a bit when he’s told that they have a “sort of a joke” calling NPR “National Palestinian Radio” because of the favorable coverage. His associate Betsy Liley, Senior Director, Institutional Giving, laughs loudly, saying “that’s good, I like that.”

Schiller nods yet again when  ‘Ibrahim’ says that he’s “not too upset about a little less Jewish influence, Jewish money into NPR, but, uh, the Zionist influence is quite substantial elsewhere…” Schiller responds (8:16)

I don’t actually find it at NPR…the Zionist or pro-Israel, even among funders. I mean it’s there among those who own newspapers, obviously, but nobody owns NPR.

‘Ibrahim’ says “what Israel does, I don’t think can be excused,” and Schiller nods again. I’m surprised his head doesn’t come loose. Is he worried that someone is wearing a wire?

There is plenty more.  Schiller says that it was absolutely right to fire Juan Williams (see here and also here) after he said that Muslims on airplanes made him nervous. The Republican party has been hijacked by uneducated, xenophobic racists, he says. Most Americans are stupid, he suggests.

Watch the supercilious snob make a fool of himself:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Schiller (apparently no relation to NPR CEO Vivian Schiller) no longer works for NPR. And they positively launched him under the bus:

In response, Dana Davis Rehm, NPR’s senior vice president of marketing, communications and external relations, said the organization is “appalled by the comments made by Ron Schiller in the video, which are contrary to what NPR stands for.”

Schiller had already announced plans to leave NPR prior to the controversy [that is, prior to its breaking in the media -- ed.]. Rehm also said that the phony Islamic organization tried to press NPR “to accept a $5-million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept.” — LA Times

Technorati Tags: , ,

NPR: cowardice or treason?

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
Bin Talal and Soros earn their official Car Talk coffee mugs

Bin Talal and Soros earn their official Car Talk coffee mugs

The flap over NPR’s outrageous firing of news analyst Juan Williams won’t go away. NPR CEO Vivian Schiller dug herself even deeper into the manure pit when she said that Williams should discuss his feeling “with his psychiatrist or his publicist — take your pick,” a quip for which she later apologized.

It may be true that Williams didn’t follow instructions about not mentioning his position at NPR when he appeared on Fox. It may be true that NPR management was really uncomfortable about his gig with its sworn enemy. I haven’t seen his contract and I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not prepared to argue about whether they had a right to fire him.

The usual pinwheels are madly spinning that it’s all a right-wing plot, pointing to Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Jim DeMint. It’s not a surprise that conservative politicians would take an opportunity to attack NPR, which clearly does have a liberal bias. But raising this point only distracts attention from the main issue.

All of the above is irrelevant except this:

Monday: Williams makes a remark which violates the unwritten commandment that Thou Shalt Not Piss Off Muslims No Matter How Touchy They May Be.

Wednesday: CAIR (and who knows who else) complains. Shortly thereafter, NPR fires Williams, issuing a statement which specifically refers to the remark in question.

Schiller claimed that she hadn’t seen CAIR’s complaint. Of course that doesn’t imply that she didn’t know about it, or that she hadn’t received any calls about it.

She also said that NPR had concerns about Williams for some time. Again, so what? This was what they chose to fire him for.

Barry Rubin argues that the real significance of this event is that the victim was a liberal, showing that the establishment — in this case NPR — actually has a far left, not liberal, orientation. He may be right.

But here is what I think we should take away from this:

Today the West is struggling with radical Islam, which wants to supplant it as the dominant world culture and impose its own mores and legal system. If you think that the principles of the Enlightenment — which, by the way, guided Madison and Jefferson when they wrote our Constitution — represent an advance over those of seventh-century Arabia, then it must be possible to have a public discussion in which you can say that.

When news media allow themselves to be castrated and censor discourse about Islam — and when the arbiters of what is acceptable or not are groups like CAIR, which are associated with radical Islamists — then it isn’t possible to depend on these media to report reliably on the conflict we find ourselves in today.

The problem is not “liberal bias.” There is nothing liberal about shutting down free speech and punishing dissidents. The problem is either that NPR is afraid to allow its commentators to speak freely, or it supports the triumph of radical Islam over the West.

In other words: cowardice or treason.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Juan Williams and the suppression of free expression

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Juan Williams. Canned for political incorrectness.

Juan Williams. Canned for political incorrectness.

Yes, I too have an opinion about the Juan Williams affair, even though in the world of blogs, something that happened four days ago is ancient history.

Juan Williams had a job as a ‘news analyst’ for NPR, a news organization that I’ve criticized numerous times (see also here). Williams also appears on Fox News, and had a conversation with Bill O’Reilly on Monday in which he said this:

I mean, look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.

[The Times Square bomber] said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts.

Two days later (and after a complaint from CAIR) he was fired by NPR, which said in an official statement that

his remarks on The O’Reilly Factor this past Monday were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.

Fox News quoted NPR President Vivian Schiller who explained further:

Schiller issued an internal memo on Thursday saying that Williams was fired for violating an NPR principle that states that on other networks “NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist,” reads the memo obtained by Fox News.

“News analysts may not take personal public positions on controversial issues; doing so undermines their credibility as analysts, and that’s what’s happened in this situation,” she added.

Many comments supporting NPR equated Williams with radio personality Don Imus (who was fired for calling the members of a girls’ basketball team “nappy-headed ho’s”) and compared his remark to “when I walk down the street and see a black person I get nervous,” which they view as clearly racist.

Let’s look at this.

Violent crime peaked in New York city around 1990, and muggings were particularly prevalent. People reported robberies on a regular basis, sometimes in the same place by the same person. The perpetrators were overwhelmingly young black males. Would it be racist at that time and place to say “young black males make me nervous” — or would it just be common sense?

Schiller’s and NPR’s responses do not accuse Williams of racism or ‘Islamophobia’. They say that as a news analyst it hurts his credibility when he expresses a personal view on a controversial subject. The view he expressed is certainly personal.

But is it controversial that terrorism by radical Muslims in the name of Islam is frequent and bloody today? I don’t think so, no more than saying that New York’s muggers were predominately young black males. These are just facts.

‘News analysis’ is something between straight news and opinion. I haven’t succeeded in finding a definition of it, although almost every media outlet claims to do it. An analyst, I suppose, would take the factual story provided by a reporter and explain how that story might develop, what its relationships are to other stories, why it is important (or not), and ultimately how it might affect people’s lives.

It’s hard enough for a news reporter to keep his interpretation out of a story. Could an ‘analyst’ make the value judgments, extrapolations, and even guesses that are essential to his job without letting his personal opinions show? I don’t think so, and of course NPR’s analysts do it all the time — and guess what, so do their news reporters.

There is something about Williams’ comment that crossed a red line at NPR. What was it? Here are some of the explanations people have offered:

  • NPR is obsessed with political correctness for ideological reasons.
  • NPR is uncomfortable with Williams appearing on Fox News.
  • NPR is afraid of CAIR.
  • NPR is afraid of some large contributors. George Soros recently gave them $1.8 million. Since their donor list is not public, it’s possible — actually, I would bet on it — that it receives recycled Arab petrodollars, too.
  • NPR is following what Daniel Pipes calls ‘Rushdie rules’.

I don’t know for sure which of these explanations may be true. Probably all of them.

I do know that in the US today, free expression about the subjects of Islam, Islamism, and both violent and nonviolent jihad is strongly discouraged.  This comes from the top, with both the Bush and Obama Administrations issuing guidelines that restrict the way government spokespersons can talk about these things.  NPR and my own local newspaper, the Fresno Bee, seem to have adopted the same approach.

I want to one more quotation, to which I can agree from personal experience.

Most people would not call Williams a right-winger. Overall, it seems to me that he has “called them as he sees them,” and the fact that he could work for both NPR and Fox supports this. He made this remark last year, also to O’Reilly:

When I say something that doesn’t hold to the orthodoxy of the far left, they are far more vicious and personal, ad hominem…than anything on the right.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

NPR ignores its own watchdog

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

You may recall that I ripped NPR a new, er, antenna, a couple of weeks ago because of their over-the-top bias against Israel. I pointed out that their reporter

  • used the Emotive Bias Technique to ensure that the Arab side of the story would stick with the listener while the Israeli side would be forgotten,
  • used the Selective Omission Technique to mislead without explicitly lying, and
  • quoted false statements without comment or challenge.

I sent a link to the local Public Radio station — which, by the way, was in the middle of one of its periodic schnorrs fund drives. I pointed out that NPR gets a great deal of funding from the local stations and that maybe they would clean up their act if the stations complained. I wasn’t surprised when I did not even get a “your opinion is important to us” in return, because I’m sure the local management is quite happy with NPR’s ideological slant.

I also sent it to NPR. They did send a response, and although it was boilerplate that did not relate to my specific concerns, it’s worth a further look. After saying that “there’s no room for bias in our organization” and drawing attention to their code of ethics, they add,

…in an effort to continually monitor the way we cover the Middle East, NPR has hired a freelance researcher to conduct quarterly reviews of our coverage. The reports are prepared by John Felton, a former foreign affairs reporter and NPR foreign editor who covered international affairs and U.S. policy for more than 30 years, and submitted to NPR’s ombudsman.

So I looked at some of Felton’s reports. While he claims that NPR coverage is fair overall, many of his specific reports are damning. For example, here is one about a story aired in March 2009 (emphasis is mine):

In a March 26 piece for Morning Edition [Eric] Westervelt reported on several allegations that the Israeli army used excessive force during the war. Westervelt’s piece centered around two reports in the Israeli news media: A March 21 report by Israel’s Channel 10 quoting an Israeli officer, in briefing his soldiers, as expressing little or no regard for the lives of Palestinian civilians; and reports in [left-wing papers -- ed] Haaretz and Maariv on March 19-20 quoting Israeli soldiers as citing accounts of unprovoked killings of civilians.

Westervelt’s piece also quoted Yehuda Shaul, director of a leftist veterans group, Breaking the Silence, who said he had interviewed soldiers who told similar stories of abuses of civilians during the war. In addition, the piece dealt with allegations that the army’s chief rabbi and his aides had encouraged soldiers to show no quarter when dealing with Palestinians. Finally, the story cited Human Rights Watch allegations that the Israeli army improperly used white phosphorous as an illuminating device, injuring innocent civilians when the phosphorous descended to the ground…

Although I am glad that NPR brought this story to its listeners’ attention, I do have concerns about this particular piece:

– The piece relied heavily on Shaul’s accounts without telling listeners that he is an active, vocal campaigner against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. Shaul is far from an unbiased source. While the information Shaul collected might well be true, he had an agenda in making this type of information public. Listeners should have been told more about him and his agenda.

– The central element of the Israeli atrocities allegations came from a February 13 meeting of Israeli veterans of the Gaza war held at the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Tivon. Haaretz, and later Maariv, published stories on March 19-20 based on that transcript. Israeli soldiers told several stories, including accounts of the unprovoked shootings of an elderly Palestinian woman and of a woman and child. Westervelt cited both incidents but did not make clear (as additional Israeli media reporting had found prior to March 26) that the soldiers recounting these incidents had not witnessed the events and had only heard about them.

– In the days after Haaretz first broke the story (on March 19) about Israeli soldiers accusing colleagues of committing atrocities, subsequent stories in the Israeli news media began to cast doubt on some allegations. The Jerusalem Post, YNet news, and other Israeli news organizations quoted soldiers as disputing both the specific atrocity accounts and the general idea that soldiers had disregarded Palestinian lives. Westervelt’s piece, however, did not mention any of these subsequent reports, which emerged before the piece was aired.

Westervelt’s piece did quote an Israeli army spokesman, Major Avital Leibovich as saying the alleged atrocities were under investigation and suggesting that the soldier’s accounts were “hearsay” [the effect was to make the IDF appear evasive -- ed].

Five days after the piece aired, the army’s judge-advocate general closed his investigation into misconduct allegations during the war, saying the newspaper reports were based on “hearsay” and had proven to be false. The soldiers who made the allegations had not actually witnessed or participated in the events they had described, the judge-advocate general said. Several human rights groups protested the ending of the investigation and suggested it was a whitewash.

Westervelt reported the closing of the investigation in a [short --ed] news spot that aired on March 30.

In short, the NPR reporter parroted accusations of murderous atrocities made by highly biased sources — sources which he should have known were biased — and then NPR aired the report after the horrific allegations had been shown to be false!

I well remember my fury when I woke to hear this dishonest story, and posted this: “NPR’s shocking lack of journalistic integrity“.

But apparently the NPR brass doesn’t pay attention to Felton, because they keep doing the same thing, again, and again, and again.

Technorati Tags: , ,