Yesterday National Public Radio had a travel report from the Herodium in the occupied West Bank of Palestine, and host Steve Inskeep called the region “Israel’s West Bank.” NPR has now corrected the error at its site– “We incorrectly refer to the West Bank as Israel’s West Bank. We should have called it the Israeli-occupied West Bank.” But why do they do this sort of thing in the first place? Inskeep is an Indiana teacher’s son who has interviewed Obama and Netanyahu and should know this kind of thing.
Maybe he picked up the mistake from the correspondent, David Plotz, who states at his travel website that the Herodium is located in Tall Furaydis, Israel. On NPR, Plotz treated the Herodium as a magic place outside of modern time:
You’re driving through the desert and all of a sudden, this cone juts up from it. And as you get closer, you realize they’ve taken this mountain and built a huge structure on top of it. The they in this case was Herod, the king of Judea. You emerge in this open space at the top of the mountain. You can then look out and have this incredible expansive view of the whole desert around you. So it has a human story and then this strange, artificial wonder about its appearance that are magical for me.
But I’ve been there, and the entrance to the Herodium has a military checkpoint at it, and it neighbors occupied Palestinian villages with huge red signs saying it’s dangerous for any Israeli to enter them. And I’m sure you can see Gush Etzion settlement bloc from the top. Two years ago Israeli archaeologists looted the place to make an exhibition at the Israel Museum, promising they’d return the artifacts. So yes, the Herodium has a human story. A living one of apartheid and exploitation.
Speaking of NPR, the other day National Public Radio quoted the eminent constitutional lawyer Jules Lobel on the California solitary decision and trailblazing Columbia Law prof Katherine Franke on that Kentucky county clerk’s refusal to grant marriage license because she has a religious objection to same-sex marriage. But I have never heard Franke and Lobel interviewed about Palestine. Lobel has documented Israeli war crimes; Franke is a leading anti-Zionist. Why doesn’t NPR ever interview these intellectual leaders about Israel and Palestine? Because it’s PEP, progressive except Palestine. NPR is progressive on solitary confinement and progressive on LGBT rights but has its head in the sand on Palestine.
Update: Henry Norr picked up an error in my piece; I called Gush Etzion Gush Emunim. Apologies!