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April 14, 2002
NPR--Chadwick's Inquisition

By Ali Abunimah


To: National Public Radio (morning@npr.org)
Cc: ombudsman@npr.org
Subject: NPR--Chadwick's Inquisition

April 12, 2002

Dear NPR News,

Alex Chadwick's insistent questioning of PLO legal advisor Michael Tarazi on Morning Edition Today on why Yasir Arafat allegedly refuses to condemn suicide bombs and attacks on Israeli civilians grimly demonstrated how NPR is either unable or unwilling to distinguish between readily and indisputably verifiable facts, and Israeli government propaganda claims. As Tarazi pointed out, Arafat has done so repeatedly. But NPR could just as easily check the Israeli claims itself by looking at transcripts of Arabic language broadcasts provided by the BBC. These are available on Nexis.

Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab compiled some of Arafat's numerous, repeated condemnations of such attacks for The Electronic Intifada. Here are just two.

*On Palestinian TV, in Arabic, on 28 March 2002, at 20:08 GMT, Arafat stated:

"On this occasion, I would like once again to reiterate our condemnation of yesterday's operation in Netanya, in which a number of innocent Israeli civilians were killed and wounded. This operation constitutes a deviation from our policy and a violation of our national and human values. I affirm our commitment to working toward an immediate cease-fire, as we informed General Zinni. We highly value his efforts. We informed him that we are ready for the immediate implementation of the Tenet's work plan without conditions, and without prejudicing any of its articles. Also, we have informed him of our readiness to implement the Mitchell Report recommendations in cooperation with the four-way US-Russian-European-UN committee headed by Gen. Zinni."

*On December 16, 2001, Arafat, in his speech on the occasion of Id al-Fitr in Ramallah (Gaza Palestine Satellite Channel Television, in Arabic, on 16 December 2001 at 16:00 GMT) stated in Arabic:

"Today, I emphasize once again the complete and immediate halt to all armed operations. Once again, I call for a complete halt to all operations, especially suicidal operations, which we have always condemned. We will punish all those who carry out and mastermind such operations. This also applies to the firing of mortar shells, which have no objective but to provide an excuse for the Israeli attacks on us, our people, our children, and our women. Any violation of this decision will be considered an attempt to harm the higher national interests of our people and of our Arab nation."

These are just two statements of the many both by Arafat and his associates, and since they are easily available to NPR there is no excuse for this morning's ridiculous interview. You should be taking Arafat's statements and confronting Sharon and Bush with them and asking why they keep claiming that Arafat has not said, in Arabic, what he has said repeatedly.

Similarly, Chadwick treated with great reverence the claims that Israel has found documents linking the Palestinian Authority to documents. My own sense is the documents are probably real since those that have been released do not at all say what the Israelis claim they do. The Israelis perhaps relying on the lack of curiosity of American journalists thought they could get away with such a fraud. I fear they were correct in their calculation.

The Electronic Intifada has provided a detailed analysis of the alleged documents at:

"Israel's "smoking gun" a damp firecracker: Israel's crude attempt to 'link Arafat to terror' backfires" electronicintifada.net/actionitems/020404aamb.html

While Chadwick bombarded Michael Tarazi with all of Israel's entirely bogus claims, he failed to challenge Ariel Sharon's spokesman Dore Gold with the indisputable evidence from every human rights group that has examined Israeli conduct of deliberate targeting and killing of huge numbers of Palestinian civilians, gross violations of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, including deliberate denial of food, water and medical care, massive detentions, systematic use of torture, and widespread destruction of public and private property.

The contrast was stark.


Ali Abunimah

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