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October 17, 2001
NPR--Continuing to hide the truth about Jerusalem

By Ali Abunimah


Dear NPR News,

In her report on Morning Edition today about the assassination of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi, Linda Gradstein said that the killing took place in east Jerusalem "which Israel annexed in 1967 and which palestinians say must be the future capital of a palestinian state."

This is a lawyerly way for NPR to avoid reporting the fact that east Jerusalem is considered to be occupied territory by the entire international community and the United Nations Security Council, with the exception of Israel. Gradstein's formulation includes only those facts that don't embarass Israel, and leaves out those that do and no facts at all that would tell listeners that Palestinians have actual rights in Jerusalem and not just desires, aspirations and claims. It is breathtakingly and transparently dishonest.

Jerusalem's status as territory under belligerent military occupation has been determined repeatedly by the body which the international community has established to form such judgments; the United Nations Security Council. In particular UN Security Council Resolution 476, of June 30 1980, "reaffirms the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem."

This resolution was passed in response to Israel's attempts to annex East Jerusalem in 1980 and reconfirmed that "that all measures taken by Israel which have altered the geographic, demographic and historical character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council."

Security Council Resolution 298 (1971) "Confirms in the clearest possible terms that all legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel to change the status of the city of Jerusalem including expropriation of land and properties, transfer of populations and legislation aimed at the incorporation of the occupied section are totally invalid and cannot change that status."

These are only two of dozens of Security Council resolutions that emphasize that East Jerusalem is occupied territory and that Israel is the occupying Power, and that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies in these territories. The most recent of these was passed on October 7, 2000 (Resolution 1322).

In the past the NPR's ombudsman has defended Gradstein's refusal to report the facts about Jerusalem on the grounds that they are too "emotional" and might upset someone. This is an unconsionable derogation of NPR's duty to tell its listeners the unadulterated truth.

In the absence of any fact-based explanation I can only conclude that Gradstein is permitted to continue to mislead listeners because she supports wholeheartedly Israel's unique and outlaw position on Jerusalem or that NPR is too intimidated by the threat of a backlash from some of its listeners if it were simply to report the facts.

What other explanations could there possibly be for NPR to blithely cast aside decades of established and clear international law and policy on an issue of central importance to both Israelis and Palestinians? By adopting Israel's policy on Jerusalem, NPR is not only siding with Israel against the Palestinians, but siding with Israel against the entire world and international law.

Ali Abunimah