NPR’s unbalanced reporting of violence continues

To National Public Radio

Dear NPR News,

Yesterday I was scolded for missing NPR’s minimal and cursory attention to a Tuesday night Israeli attack in the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarm which killed six Palestinians, two of them children, three others bystanders and one the target of the Israeli death squad carrying out the attack.

But nobody addressed my point basic point which is that while virtually ignoring the violence against Palestinians, “No doubt NPR will be quick to report whatever Palestinian retaliation follows this murderous provocation.”

And indeed, a suicide bomber who killed 12 people including himself on an Israeli bus today provided an early gruesome opportunity to test this assumption. Today’s Morning Edition opened with a detailed eye witness report from Linda Gradstein of the horrible carnage, including sounds from the scene and an interview with a fearful Israeli child who witnessed the attack. Every newscast I have heard has included similar reports from Gradstein, including one at 7 AM Eastern Time in which Gradstein described seeing children’s effects, such as colored pencils and a backpack at the scene. I have no doubt that we will be treated to a similar report every half an hour at least for the rest of the morning, and probably all day.

What about the children in Tulkarm? What were they carrying with them when they were killed by heavily armed Israeli troops? Where were they going? What were they wearing?

We do not know, and we will not know because NPR did not rush a reporter to the scene to interview eyewitnesses or to help us understand the horror of that Israeli attack or what life is like in Tulkarm or, say, nearby Nablus whose residents have been under permanent curfew for more than 170 days.

While NPR will describe Israeli attacks on Palestinians as “retaliation” and refer to earlier Palestinian violence as context sometimes for days, the attack in Tulkarm was not mentioned this morning, and was quickly forgotten after Gradstein’s brief pro-forma reference to it on Tuesday afternoon.

It is of course absolutely appropriate that NPR should report on attacks like that in Jerusalem today. What is unacceptable is the consistent pattern of downplaying and ignoring muderous attacks on Palestinian civilians, especially when they immediately preceded and likely provoked an attack on Israelis.


Ali Abunimah