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March 09, 2002
Dear NPR News

By Ali Abunimah


From: Ali Abunimah
To: National Public Radio (morning@npr.org, nprnews@npr.org)
Cc: ombudsman@npr.org
Subject: NPR--Gradstein's misleading report

March 8, 2002

Dear NPR News,

Linda Gradstein (a reporter who has for years been accepting thousands of dollars in unethical payments from Zionist groups), gave a very biased and misleading report about events in the Occupied Territories today on Morning Edition. Reporting on the two dozen Palestinians killed so far today in broad Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugee camps and towns, she failed to state that most of the Palestinian dead were civilians, and in fact gave the wholly misleading impression that most might have been military personnel or "gunmen."

Twice Gradstein's report gave Israeli descriptions of Palestinian refugee camps as nests of "terror," thus implicitly providing a justification for the Israeli attacks. She did not say that the refugee camps are homes to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians forced from their original homes by previous Israeli actions. Only the Israeli characterization of them as 'hubs of terrorism' stood.

The Haaretz website reported this morning that according to Palestinian sources "most of the [Palestinian] dead were civilians and dozens of others were wounded." What is clear from other reports is that at the very least a large number of the dead are civilians.

But, Gradstein only mentioned that among the dead was a Palestinian Major-General, Ahmed Mifrij, and by accompanying this information with Israeli military justifications Gradstein gave the impression that most of the Palestinians killed may have been security force personnel or "gunmen." Certainly no one listening to her report would have learned that most of the dead were civilians. According to news agency reports, at least one of the dead was a 10 year old boy, Mahmud Abu Alia, killed by Israeli tank fire in the city of Tulkarm. There are reports of widespread damage to homes, shops and institutions in several refugee camps. Gradstein, however, only mentioned attacks on "security targets."

When it came to Israeli casualties, it was of course a different story, with Gradstein, as usual, providing all kinds of detail. Gradstein said:

"The ongoing assault comes just hours after a Palestinian gunmen infiltrated a Jewish settlement in Gaza. He went into an Israeli boarding school and began firing and throwing grenades. Five 18 year old students were killed and more than 20 injured. Hamas claimed responsibility."

There are several things to note about the above. First, Gradstein's phrasing suggests that the attack on the settlement was the direct cause of Israel's killing of two dozen Palestinians today. Gradstein could just as easily have said 'last night's settlement attack came just hours after Israel killed 18 Palestinians and injured dozens of others in attacks all over the occupied territories.' In fact Gradstein almost always places the Palestinian attack as the cause, and the Israeli attack as the 'response.' Gradstein made no mention of the 18 Palestinians killed yesterday, which included in addition to a large number of civilians, several medical personnel and ambulance workers.

What this suggests is that Gradstein has absorbed the Israeli view that violence to resist a military occupation is 'terrorism' whereas violence designed to maintain a military occupation and hundreds of thousands of soldiers and settlers outside their own borders in someone else's country is 'self defense.'

Second, while Gradstein almost always mentions the number of Israelis injured in an attack, she often leaves this out for Palestinians, as she did today. According to all reports, dozens of Palestinians, the vast majority civilians have been wounded as Israel used Apache helicopter gunships to attack people in refugee camps.

While Gradstein allows Israelis to define Palestinian refugee camps as 'hubs of terror,' she does not allow Palestinians to say that the settlements are in fact armed outposts built in the heart of their land, and are at the hub of a system of military repression unparalleled anywhere on earth at the present time.

Since Monday, at least 80 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed by Israeli occupation forces. It is a disgrace that Gradstein continues to treat Sharon's declared campaign to kill as many Palestinians as possible as merely a counter-reaction to Palestinian 'terror' and to provide so little detail about Israel's actions at the same time that she does the opposite wherever Israelis are concerned.


Ali Abunimah

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