Letter to NPR about its coverage of the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

Dear Mr. Dvorkin —

Three observations about the reporting on Israel’s assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

First, like most American media organizations (and some international ones with a reputation for caving to Israeli pressure), NPR is largely avoiding the term “assassination”. In an interview during the 7 am segment, Peter Kenyon slavishly uses the expression “targeted killing”, foisted upon journalists by Israeli government propagandists. Why? (And bystanders were also killed — does NPR claim they were also “targetedly [sic] killed”?)

Yassin may well have been a terrorist, or an organizer of terrorists. He was also clearly a leader, as NPR has repeatedly stated. Can you or anyone at NPR deny that the killing of a comparable Israeli would be termed an assassination?

The Guardian, one of the few anglophone news organizations that will risk the ire of Israel and its idolaters, offers the least convoluted headline, “Israel assassinates Hamas leader”.

Ha’aretz, Le Monde, Suddeutsche Zeitung also speak of “assassination” in their coverage. Meanwhile, NPR, the New York Times, and Americans speak of killing (with an occasional reference to assassination, for “balance”?), use the passive voice — report the assassination just as Israel’s propaganda ministry would prefer.

And that raises the second observation: Leader of Hamas “killed by Israeli rockets” (the rockets, not the Israelis). “Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis in the past three and a half years”.

Why did NPR’s anchor (in the 6am/8am intro) make a point of noting that hundreds of Israelis have been killed in the past three and a half years but NOT the thousands of Palestinians (or the tens of thousands of Palestinians killed and hundreds of thousands made homeless since Israel’s occupation began)? If the tacit claim is supposed to be that Yassin was responsible, surely that is something for a jury to decide (even in Israel’s racist judicial system), and what would such a standard of responsibility imply for NPR coverage of Ariel Sharon?

Finally, will we see any stories detailing Ariel Sharon’s pattern of provoking Palestinian violence? He did so in October 2000 to trigger the current intifada (though even that calculating war criminal likely did not foresee the full measure of the consequences of his actions). What does Sharon intend now by doing what he knows will draw terrorist attacks (or should I say “reprisals”)?


Hugh Sansom
Brooklyn, NY

Related Links

  • National Public Radio
  • BY TOPIC: YASSIN, Ahmed — HAMAS founder
  • BY TOPIC: Israel’s Assassination Policy