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January 13, 2002
NPR--Demolishing the Truth

By Ali Abunimah


To: atc@npr.org, morning@npr.org
Subject: NPR--Demolishing the Truth

January 10, 2002

Dear NPR News,

Today Israeli occupation forces carried out a massive attack against Palestinian refugees in Rafah in the occupied Gaza Strip, destroying more than 70 civilian homes, and leaving 700 people homeless, according to local authorities. Even the US government--the most pro-Israeli government in the world--condemned Israel's action. Last week in Gaza, five children from a family forced to flee for their lives from an earlier Israeli rampage in Khan Yunis, were killed when their tent burned accidentally. What will become of the hundreds of new refugees who sat weeping today in the rubble of their homes? How many times will these people be driven by Israel from their homes and lands?

NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered today did not report one single word about this act of pure vengeance and terror. By contrast the Palestinian assault on Israeli soldiers which was the pretext for this attack was reported on in detail by NPR.

How are we to comprehend this amazing, breathtaking double-standard and complete and total disregard for what Palestinian civilians are living through under the world's longest military occupation?

I expected that at the very least one of your two correspondents would make what is for them the short trip from their perches in west Jerusalem to witness for themselves the horror that happened this morning and bring this news to your listeners. For the last week, Peter Kenyon and Linda Gradstein have reported every lurid detail on the arms ship seized by Israel--even Israel's internal debate and recriminations about how the press conference about it was handled! But when Israel's weapons are used to destroy at a stroke the lives of hundreds of people, already suffering under a suffocating blockade and daily bombardment your intrepid reporters have not a word to say.

What happened today may accurately be described as war crime: Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that:

"No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited."

The fact that the UN Security Council has repeatedly demanded that Israel abide by the Convention; the fact that last month the United States stood against 118 countries, including many of its closest allies who convened in Geneva to examine Israel's grave and constant breaches of the Convention is of no interest to you. If it is not on Raanan Gissin's agenda for the day, then it is not on NPR's.

NPR's coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has in recent weeks (and particularly since the departure of Jennifer Ludden) become a sick joke, an insult to those who are still proud of their profession. You don't even try. You seem to be content with utter mediocrity. It is as if, as far as NPR is concerned, Palestinians as actual human beings with a perspective and a lived experience have entirely ceased to exist.

Shame on you.

Ali Abunimah