NPR’s Gradstein takes her bias road show back to Hebron

To: National Public Radio

Dear NPR News,

Linda Gradstein’s report ostensibly about Israel’s demolition of Palestinian houses in Hebron, on Weekend Edition Sunday, was biased and unfair in many ways. Here are only the most egregious features:

The report allowed the occupation forces’ spokesperson to justify the crimes that Israel has been committing in the area. In the report, the Israeli spokesperson, Sharon Feingold, stated:

“Hebron has turned into a safe haven for terrorists over the past few months. We lost 22 people in Hebron over the last two and a half months, and there’s a very big Islamic jihad infrastructure in Hebron. That is the reason we went into Hebron, to dismantle this infrastructure.”

Gradstein then went on to report, “Two days after Sharon’s decisive election victory last month, Israeli tanks and troops moved back into Hebron in strength, targeting what army spokesmen described as the infrastructure of terror. Their initial objective was a vegetable market.”

No doubt the destruction of the market was a cruel and vindictive measure by the occupier, but it pales a bit next to the enormous death toll Israel has exacted in the Hebron area by shelling and bombing homes, and shooting civilians in the streets.

Gradstein mysteriously failed to mention that not only did Israel destroy a vegetable market, but in recent months, Israeli occupation forces have killed many unarmed Palestinian civilians in the Hebron area, including children, and injured many more. I have provided specific examples in earlier letters. Second, the majority of the Israelis killed in the area were armed, combatant occupation soldiers. Once again, Gradstein has conveyed the utterly false impression that Israelis are the principle victims of violence in the area, when the exact opposite has been true. Not only have Palestinians been murdered and maimed by the occupation forces, but they have faced regular attacks and harassment by Israeli settlers whose illegal colonization of the city the army is there to enable.

After reporting the vegetable market destruction, we heard a Palestinian stallholder say, “Such actions and acts by the Israelis push us to be violent, you know? When you see these destruction, the first thing that come to my mind and to other people’s mind is to hurt them as much as they hurt us.” Thus Gradstein masterfully left the impression that Palestinians are so violent that they will kill dozens of Israelis just for knocking over a few stalls.

The false impression that Palestinians ‘attack’ and Israelis ‘react’ was reinforced in the report’s introduction which stated, “Late last year after a spate of Palestinian attacks in the area, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed to expand and tighten Israeli control over Hebron and to link it with nearby Jewish settlements.” Can anything be more unfair and inaccurate than this?

Third, Gradstein framed the issue of home demolitions as being one about whether the destroyed homes are ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ as far as Israel is concerned. For example Gradstein reported, “Thirty-five-year-old Abu Hamid and his family had lived in the house for the past six years. He said it was built on land that belonged to his grandfather, but without a permit, which Israeli authorities refused to issue.”

She then said, “Israeli army spokeswoman Sharon Feingold denies this accusation and says homes are demolished only when they are built illegally.”

Hence, Gradstein accepts the notion that Israel is allowed to impose its laws on Palestinians in the occupied territories, and therefore Gradstein recognizes Israel’s de facto annexation of these areas. This essentially aligns Gradstein entirely with Israeli government policy and the settlers. Gradstein has thrown out the fact that under dozens of United Nations Security Council resolutions, it is Israel’s settler colonies that are illegal. Israel’s demolition of homes is illegal both under UN Security Council Resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Conventions. That Gradstein refuses to mention these facts, and chooses to apply only Israeli military decrees, demonstrates clearly that she is nothing more than an apologist for the occupation, prepared to tinker a bit at the edges in order to demonstrate a false ‘balance.’

Finally, Gradstein referred to “the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the traditional burial place of Abraham, sacred to both Jews and Muslims.” If she recognizes that the site is sacred to Muslims and Jews, why does she use only the Hebrew name? It is Israel’s policy to ‘Judaize’ Palestinian areas by getting journalists to adopt its Hebrew nomenclature for occupied lands. It’s kind of Gradstein to lend a helping hand.


Ali Abunimah