Archive for the ‘NPR’ Category

Why I have a problem with NPR

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The following is on its way to the program director of KVPR, my local Public Radio station.

Dear Jim,

As you might remember, I stopped supporting your station in 2006, after becoming outraged at NPR’s biased coverage of the war in Lebanon. But a couple of years ago I “rejoined” because, after all, I listen to it.

So here’s my latest complaint (you can read a few of my previous ones here, here, here, here, and especially here).

NPR provides arguably the best, most complete radio news coverage widely available in the US. But it consistently portrays events in the Mideast with a steep anti-Israel tilt. And since one of the most important sources of funding for NPR is the fees paid by local stations, those of us who have a problem with NPR also have a problem with the local stations.

For example, this morning’s newscasts carried a piece by Peter Kenyon, reporting from the Egyptian side of the border between Egypt and the Gaza strip.  Kenyon slanted his story in several ways:

  1. He 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
  2. He used the Selective Omission Technique to mislead without explicitly lying
  3. He quoted false statements without comment or challenge

Let’s look at some of it.

DEBORAH AMOS (host): The Gaza Strip doesn’t get many high profile visitors since the Islamism group Hamas took over three years ago and Israel imposed a blockade. But the territory is now back in the spotlight. International pressure has been building on Israel to end, or at least ease, the blockade. The head of the Arab League Amr Moussa was in Gaza yesterday to express solidarity with the people of Gaza. NPR’s Peter Kenyon traveled to the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, and sent this report.

PETER KENYON: Gazans were heartened by Amr Moussa’s visit and were glad to hear him repeat the Arab Leagues call for lifting the blockade.

Mr. AMR MOUSSA (Leader of Arab League): (Through translator) The position of the Arab League is clear: the siege must be ended. The Palestinian people deserve to be supported, not only by the Arab states, but by the whole world now.

KENYON: But on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border yesterday, international support wasn’t translating into much more than a trickle of Gazans making their way into Egypt. Those who did make it through, like Mohammed Awul Anane(ph), said the rest of the one-and-a-half-million Palestinians in Gaza were watching their economy and their society suffocate under the Israeli sanctions.

Kenyon and Amos have suggested that the “trickle” of traffic is due to the Israeli blockade. But this is the border with Egypt. What is omitted here is that Egypt has also closed its border with Gaza, because Hamas is aligned with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which is trying to subvert the Mubarak regime and install a radical Islamist one. These are the same folks that murdered Anwar Sadat for trying to make peace. This counts as selective omission.

The listener is also left with the assumption that Gazan society is ‘suffocating’, because  a Palestinian says so. But actually there is a huge amount of international aid reaching Gaza, plus a vibrant smuggling economy. Nobody is suffocating, but Kenyon doesn’t comment on this false implication.

Mr. MOHAMMED AWUL ANANE: (Through translator) How can I describe it? There’s no other word for it but tragedy, a tragedy. People are living as if they’re already in their graves.

KENYON: Israel defends the blockade, saying it has no intention of letting Gaza’s Hamas rulers acquire new weapons and military-style fortifications so they can resume firing rockets at southern Israeli towns. Israeli officials have also defended their decision to send an elite naval commando unit to raid a Turkish-registered aid ship two weeks ago. The raid left eight Turks and a Turkish-American dead and sparked an outcry that has evolved into mounting international pressure to at least ease the blockade and perhaps allow in items such as cement and steel to help rebuild Gaza’s shattered infrastructure.

This is wonderful! First, notice how the Palestinian complaint is put in the mouth of a real person, who speaks with emotional intensity, while the Israeli position is presented in one dry sentence. It’s a paradigm case of the Emotive Bias Technique.

Now look at the statement about the interception of a Turkish ship attempting to break the legal blockade of Gaza. Kenyon omits the most important facts about the incident, which are that the Israeli boarding party was viciously attacked by a group of thugs who boarded the ship separately from the other passengers, who did not undergo security checks, who were well-organized and armed with pipes, knives, axes, slingshots and other weapons, wore gas masks and ceramic vests,  who took over the upper deck of the ship and attempted to tear the Israelis to pieces as they landed (you can read more about it here and here or watch the video here).

Saying that the raid “left eight … dead” obscures the fact that the Israelis acted in self-defense — the dead were killed while trying to commit murder. That’s one hell of a selective omission!

The piece continues:

KENYON: Twenty-five-year-old Mohammed Howaja(ph) has a slightly dazed look as he steps onto the Egyptian side of Rafah. It’s the first time in his life that he’s set foot out of Gaza, he says, and he’s off to Alexandria to study law. When asked how he got approval to leave, he said as with many of his fellow travelers, he paid someone off.

Mr. MOHAMMED HOWAJA: (Through translator) Five times this month I tried to get a permit, and each time I was turned down. Finally, I brought money. I paid in order to come out.

KENYON: When asked how many Gazans would leave if they had the chance, he immediately said all of them. And it was hard to tell if he was joking.

Keep in mind that this is the Egyptian border. He paid Egyptians, Hamas people, or both; not Israelis. And we are not sure that he wants to leave because of the blockade: maybe he’s secular, Christian, a Fatah supporter, gay, or any number of things that would make life under Hamas quite literally impossible.

It concludes:

At the moment, support for the Palestinians of Gaza seems to be on a rare upward trend, while analysts say Israel is looking increasingly isolated. Israel’s defense minister canceled a trip to Paris – in part, officials said, because of difficult questions he might face. But as far as 35-year-old Palestinian Essam Ellion(ph) is concerned, Gazans have a long and forlorn history of trying to live on kind words of solidarity, and it’s not working.

Mr. ESSAM ELLION: (Through translator) As far as I can tell, it’s just empty talk, just words piled on words. I’m without hope right now. There’s nothing real, nothing we can touch or see on the ground when it comes to ending the siege.

KENYON: These Palestinians who have just walked out of a tiny, overcrowded coastal strip where 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, say that kind of pessimism may be one of the few things growing in Gaza these days.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, canceled his trip to Paris not because of  the possibility of “difficult questions,” but rather because anti-Israel activists were planning to embarrass him by filing trumped-up “war crimes” charges against him in French courts.

Regarding the long-suffering Gazans, keep in mind that all Hamas would have to do to end the blockade (it is not a ‘siege’, there is plenty of food, medicine, etc. getting in) is to stop the continuous attempts to infiltrate and tunnel into Israel in order to kill Israelis and take hostages, to stop firing rockets into Israel — yes, they are still doing that — and last but not least, release Gilad Shalit, who has been held incommunicado in an underground bunker by Hamas for four long years.

Jim, I think this makes it clear why I have a problem with NPR. I am suggesting that you and the station take it up with the network, because they certainly don’t care what I think.

But I hope that you do.

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NPR anchor displays shocking ignorance

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

NPR anchor Robert SiegelI was making a salad for dinner on Thursday (July 23) when I heard the following, on the NPR program “all things considered”:

The Israeli Ministry of Education has banned reference to the Arabic the word ‘nakba‘ from Arabic-language Israeli textbooks. The word ‘nakba‘ means ‘the catastrophe’ and it resonates for millions of Palestinians; it’s the word that they use to describe the creation of the state of Israel, when millions of Palestinians became refugees at the end of the 1948 war.

The anchorperson, Robert Siegel,  should know better, being an alumnus of one of the best high schools in New York, Stuyvesant HS. Of course he also went to Columbia University, where — if he were a student today — he could take courses from tenured professors Joseph Massad, who decries “the renaming of ‘Palestinian rural salad (now known in New York delis as Israeli salad)’ as an example of Israeli ‘racism’”, and Nadia Abu El-Haj, who — while rejecting “a positivist commitment to scientific methods” and accepting a methodology “rooted in … post-structuralism, philosophical critiques of foundationalism, Marxism and critical theory and developed in response to specific postcolonial political movements” — still expects us to believe her contention that Israeli archeologists deliberately falsify findings to show a Jewish provenance in the land of Israel.

To get back to the story, only about 650,000 Arabs became refugees in 1948 (reasonable estimates range from 550,000 to 700,000). The millions who today claim refugee status have ‘inherited’ it from their parents, or simply claimed it in order to get on UNRWA’s dole.

There is much to say about refugees, more than I can present in a blog post. Here are a few things for you and Robert Siegel to keep in mind when you think about Mahmoud Abbas’ demand that all 4.5 million have a ‘right of return’ to Israel:

  • The “1948 war” actually began in 1947 when the Jews accepted the UN partition resolution and the Palestinian Arabs chose to fight. It intensified in 1948 after Israel declared independence and was invaded by armies of five Arab nations. In other words, the Arabs bear responsibility for starting the war.
  • Of the Arab refugees from Israel, there were those that left in anticipation of war (many from of the upper classes of Arab society), there were those who left in response to exhortations from the leadership, there were those who fled as a result of exaggerated atrocity stories (e.g., the Deir Yassin incident in which about 110 Arabs were killed, many of them combatants, and nobody was raped), there were some that fled actual fighting, and there were some — a minority, mostly from hostile villages — who were actually expelled.

Israel launched a “build your own home” project in the 1970s that allotted a half dunam of land “to Palestinians who then financed the purchase of building materials and, usually with friends, erected a home. Israel provided the infrastructure: sewers, schools, etc. More than 11,000 camp dwellers were resettled… before PLO, using intimidation tactics, ended the program.” Israeli authorities contended that had the program been allowed to continue apace, “within eight years every camp resident could own a single-dwelling home in a clean and uncongested neighborhood.” Joel Bainerman, “Permanent Homes for Palestinian Refugees,” Christian Science Monitor, May 26, 1992.

  • UNRWA, the UN organization created specifically for the purpose of supporting Palestinian refugees, provides welfare services which encourage population growth and dependency without moving in the direction of providing permanent homes for refugees — precisely the most destabilizing policy imaginable.

That’s just a beginning.

The ‘nakba‘ concept is part of the Palestinian story that the situation of the refugees today is all Israel’s fault, which Israel should remedy by committing suicide. You can understand why the Israeli Ministry of Education doesn’t want to pay to print textbooks that promote this point of view.

The salad I was making? It was an Israeli salad.

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NPR’s shocking lack of journalistic integrity

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

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.”

Yeah, right.

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.

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NPR’s original take on the Sinai Subway

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Leave it to NPR to come up with a fresh perspective on things. This morning correspondent Eric Westerveldt did a story on what I call the ‘Sinai Subway’, the huge complex of hundreds of tunnels underneath the Gaza-Egypt border.

Over the past years these tunnels have been used to transport many things, but in particular they have enabled Hamas to build up its military capability. For example, some of the items smuggled in 2006 alone included 14,000 assault rifles and 28 tons of explosives. Anti-tank, anti-aircraft and surface-to-surface missiles have been brought in. Not only do goods come in, but terrorists go out — to Iran for training — and back. And al-Qaeda agents are thought to have entered via the Subway as well.

This is not new phenomenon. Between 2000 and 2004 — before Israel withdrew from the Strip in 2005 and before Hamas took full control in 2007 — ninety tunnels were found by the IDF and destroyed (and those were the ones they found). Since Israel left, Hamas has been able to dig unhindered.

But Westerveldt didn’t notice any of this. According to him, the Subway was built to supply Gaza residents suffering under the Israeli ‘siege’. The story begins as follows:

Israel imposed an economic blockade on Gaza when the radical Islamic group Hamas seized control last year. To bring in goods — from weapons to cigarettes — smugglers are using tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.

Then it goes on to describe the huge enterprise — controlled and taxed by Hamas — which carries everything from appliances to zoo animals, emphasizing the privations of Gazans under ‘siege’, forced to buy tacky, low-quality plastic Egyptian shoes.

There was only one more reference to weapons, something like “Israeli officials say the tunnels are used to smuggle rockets and explosives”.

So in other words, the Sinai Subway is not primarily a supply line for Hamas’ Iranian-financed military buildup, but rather a reaction to Israeli limitations on access! The story is not about how Hamas is preparing for war with Israel, but rather about how Israel is oppressing the Palestinians.

But the ‘blockade’ is a response to Hamas rocket attacks — more than 200 rockets fell in Sderot and Ashkelon last week. So one could say that the tunnels — at least the contents thereof — caused the blockcade, rather than vice versa.

As usual, NPR gets it backwards.

Update [1532 PDT]: I titled this post “NPR’s original take on the Sinai Subway”, but actually it isn’t original at all. Substantially the same piece appeared in Al Jazeera on October 5.

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NPR and talking with Hamas

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Maybe I need to change the station on my clock radio.

A few days ago I awoke to an NPR interview with a Palestinian plumber, in which the usual complaints about checkpoints, humiliation, and above all the security barrier were rehearsed in personal, emotional detail. Israel’s point of view was represented in entirety by the following statement by NPR’s Eric Westerveldt:

Israeli officials insist the wall and checkpoints are needed to stop Palestinian attacks inside Israel.

NPR has been criticized for their biased coverage on numerous occasions, and they say that although one piece may present a particular point of view, there will be others expressing the other side. So I said to myself “they owe us one”.

Today I got what they probably consider the Israeli point of view: “Israelis, Government Divided on Dealing with Hamas“. Big surprise, the four minute segment is almost all Israelis who want to talk to Hamas. Perhaps 30 seconds is given to a government spokesman who claims that the government is opposed to such negotiations — except indirect talks about the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas for over a year — and one woman who doesn’t trust Hamas.

NPR mentions a recent poll in which “two thirds of Israelis favored direct talks with Hamas“, but failed to explain that the question asked referred to talks intended to bring about the release of Shalit! So actually the government is in agreement with popular opinion on this issue.

Then they bring on Shlomo Brom, a former general who is far to the Left in Israeli politics, calling for a cease-fire, opening the crossings between Israel and Gaza, and for Israel to ‘supply the needs’ of Gaza’s population.

The impression is given that this position — which is held by only a tiny minority of Israelis — is actually popular, as opposed to the hard-line stance of the government. But of course this is not so.

The reasons to not hold direct talks with Hamas and especially not to negotiate a cease-fire are simple.

For one, Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. It’s not possible to reach an accommodation with someone whose goal and bottom line is wiping you out. There isn’t a middle path between being and non-being.

A cease-fire would be advantageous to Hamas and bad for Israel. Barry Rubin writes,

A cease-fire is riddled with problems, paradoxically bringing even more violence. Hamas won’t observe it, letting both its own members and others attack Israel while inciting murder through every institution. The ceasefire won’t last long; Hamas would use it to strengthen its rule and army while demanding a reward for its “moderation”: an end to sanctions and diplomatic isolation; even Western aid.

Hamas is not a ‘normal’ political organization, as NPR wishes us to think. Hamas was dedicated to destroying Israel when it was out of power, and continued to be so dedicated after it took control of Gaza. Hamas did its best to murder Israelis when Gaza was under occupation, and continues to do its best now that Israel has completely withdrawn. When Hamas could have had international recognition (and aid) simply by agreeing to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept prior agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, they refused.

Hamas today is funded massively by Iran, which uses it as one of its proxies (the other main ones are Syria and Hezbollah). Iran is very interested in eliminating Israel, as I recently wrote:

There are multiple reasons for Iranian policy towards Israel, which include religious motives, the desire to earn propaganda points in the wider Arab and Muslim world, and their understanding that Israel is a base for American power in the Mideast which must be neutralized in order to expel Western influence from the region.

Naturally, NPR and Shlomo Brom don’t mention the Iranian context at all.

Update [19 Mar 2008 1729 PDT]:

Soccer Dad points out that there is a new poll in which only 25% of Israelis and just 17% of Israeli Jews want to talk to Hamas. Why the difference from the Ha’aretz poll? Read his explanation here.

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NPR in Gaza

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Some time ago, I took National Public Radio (NPR) to task for employing what I’ve come to call the Emotive Bias Technique in its reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This morning, reporter Eric Westervelt provided another perfect example (as if any more are needed).

Westervelt interviews an ‘ordinary Gazan’, Salahadin al-Sultan, owner of a grocery store in Beit Hanoun, one of the prime locations from which Qassam rockets are fired daily at southern Israel.

Sultan shows him that there is almost nothing in the store, and that he has even had to sell off much of his family’s possessions to survive. This is because Israel — after the Hamas takeover — has “tightened its crossing points into the territories” (Westervelt does not mention that Hamas often attacks the crossings with mortar fire), so that “only limited humanitarian food and medical supplies are getting in”. What is getting in since Hamas took over, of course, are explosives — 112 tons of them — but he leaves this out too.

Westervelt admits that rockets are continuing to be fired into Israel, and so “Israel has declared Gaza a hostile entity” and is “tightening the screws”. Then we go back to Sultan, whose customers are unemployed or “government workers” (most of whom were likely employed by the ‘security services’) who get only partial salaries. Most of Sultan’s furniture is gone, sold to pay for food and bills. Sultan’s wife’s gold jewelry has been sold and — you can hear the heartstrings twanging — also his wedding ring.

A child passes with a donkey cart, selling vegetables from “forlorn boxes”, carefully driving around a refilled crater produced by an Israeli bomb not far from the shop. The explosion smashed his windows. We don’t know what the rocket launchers which must have been there did to Sderot. At one point, so many rockets were launched from Beit Hanoun, that angry residents wanted the army to return random barrage for barrage. Of course, the army only targets launchers and their operators.

The Emotive Bias Technique depends on the human propensity to remember emotionally loaded experiences much more than the recitation of facts. So Sultan’s depressing situation, his lost wedding ring, the child skirting the crater with his miserable vegetables — these make an impression. The matter-of-fact statement that, yes, rockets are being fired from Beit Hanoun does not.

In addition to Emotive Bias, Westervelt leaves out important context. Hamas is spending huge sums of money smuggling explosives and weapons into the strip, building fortifications near the border, digging tunnels under the border to attack Israel, manufacturing rockets, etc. This money could be spent on ameliorating economic conditions in Gaza, if Hamas wished to do so. Israel’s “tightening the screws” is a direct result of the rocket and mortar fire, sniping, and attempts to kidnap Israelis that are occurring every day. If Hamas would stop them, the restrictions would stop too.

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National Palestinian, er, Public Radio

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

On the 6 PM (Pacific time) newscast today, here is how NPR described events in Gaza:

Despite promises to observe a cease-fire, fighting broke out today between Palestinian factions in the Gaza strip. Palestinian security officials say the fighting killed at least 16 people. They said fighters from the ruling Hamas movement shot and killed 6 guards belonging to the rival Fatah party. Hamas gunmen also mistakenly killed 5 of their own fighters in an apparent friendly fire incident. Israel fired missiles at Hamas positions in Gaza, saying the attack was in response to Hamas rockets fired into Israeli territory. — NPR (transcribed from streaming audio, no link available)

Ignoring errors (fighting didn’t ‘break out’ today, it’s been underway for some time), was NPR unaware that about 50 Palestinian rockets were fired into Sderot in the last 24 hours, causing numerous injuries and resulting in the evacuation of hundreds of residents? Shouldn’t they have mentioned this?

The report gives the impression that Israel just attacked for the hell of it, ‘saying’ that it was in response to Hamas’ rockets. Of course I understand that the conscientious journalists of NPR don’t really know the motivation of the Israelis, so they have to depend on what they say – but honestly NPR, is it a mystery that Israel would want to stop the Hamas rocket barrage?

I’ve discussed NPR’s subtle and not-so-subtle pro-Palestinian bias before. The next time your local Public Radio station asks for your donation, tell them ‘no’, and explain exactly why.

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NPR’s psychological warfare technique

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

National Public Radio (NPR) is a personal bête noir. I used to be a regular supporter of my local Public Radio station, but stopped because of what I felt was biased coverage of Israel and related issues from NPR. Organizations such as CAMERA and Honest Reporting have documented this bias for some time.

NPR was generally criticized on the basis of which events they chose to cover (they somehow ignored the 2002 Passover Seder Massacre in which Hamas murdered 30 people), and the relative amount of time they gave to pro- and anti-Israel voices. In response, NPR started providing free transcripts of their Mideast coverage from major news programs in 2002. They also appointed an ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin, to deal with complaints about biased reporting.

So when I woke on February 27 to another anti-Israel segment from NPR’s Linda Gradstein, describing an Israeli incursion into Nablus [Shechem] on the West Bank, I planned to obtain the transcript and complain about it to the ombudsman. Unfortunately, as of today the transcript has not appeared (they usually are provided within a couple of days at most). And Dvorkin, the ombudsman, apparently doesn’t work there anymore. An automatic reply to my email of March 2 said that his assistant would read all mail until a new one was hired, but as of today I have received no response. I’ve transcribed it myself, and it appears below.

(more…)

What NPR didn’t ask Carter

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Jimmy Carter was interviewed this morning on NPR. The interviewer pressed him on his use of the word ‘apartheid’, an obvious and reasonable question. However, there are a few other questions, also obvious and reasonable that were not asked. For example:

  • Do you think that you were influenced in any way by the millions of dollars you personally and the Carter Center received from Arab sources?
  • You said in your book that the Arabs must recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace. Don’t you think that it’s reasonable to expect an end to terrorism before Israeli concessions are made that compromise her security? Wouldn’t it be irresponsible for the Israeli government to give up territory while rockets are falling?
  • The thrust of your arguments is that Israel is responsible for the conflict as a result of her occupation of ‘Palestinian land’ in 1967. How do you account for the Palestinian terrorism against Israel (and the pre-state Jewish presence) since at least 1920? Don’t you think that the Arabs — both the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbor states — must bear some responsibility for the sustained terrorism and war that they’ve waged against the Jews over the years?

Update [25 Jan 1453 PST]: Read Kenneth Stein’s review of Carter’s book. Stein was Executive Director of the Carter Center from 1983 to 1986, and the Center’s Middle East Fellow until 2006, when he resigned in protest of the book.

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NPR distorts the facts yet again

Monday, January 8th, 2007

This morning I was awakened to NPR’s Linda Gradstein reporting as follows:

“…while Olmert was meeting President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in trying to push through a prisoner exchange…Israeli troops in an arrest raid killed four Palestinian civilians in the Center of Ramala, wounded about 20 others, embarrassing Olmert.” — NPR

Olmert was embarrassed, but in fact the four ‘civilians’ were armed guerrilla fighters, probably from the ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction.