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Public radio station fires editor who dared to speak out about Israel’s ‘brutal military occupation’

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Ugly news about the American discourse, and the role of the Israel lobby inside liberal institutions. A longtime editor at a public radio station in Baltimore has been fired in part because he questioned US pandering to Israel. David Zurawik reports in the Baltimore Sun:

Sunni Khalid, managing news editor at WYPR-FM, has been dropped by the public radio station after more than nine years on the job there.

Khalid, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, had been on probation in February for comments he posted on the Facebook page of a friend questioning the influence of Israel on American politics.

“I, for one, have had enough of this pandering before the Israeli regime,” he wrote. “The war-mongering toward Iran has, once again, distracted the world from Israel’s brutal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.”

Neither Khalid nor the radio station could be reached for comment by the Sun.

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14 Responses

  1. Scott
    March 22, 2012, 9:51 am

    Americans will have to develop a samizdat discourse, or learn irony and indirection and sarcasm, like Eastern Europeans before the fall of the Berlin wall.

    • pabelmont
      March 22, 2012, 11:01 am

      Mondoweiss is our samizdat, but it is direct rather than ironic. Of course, we are not employees of public radio stations. I guess those people have to prop up AIPAC to keep their jobs — possibly a question of who the major donors are, the folks who put up “matching funds”, etc. In NYC I have those thoughts about WNYC-funding regularly.

    • CigarGod
      March 22, 2012, 11:44 am

      Scott: Of course sufficient numbers will have to recognize the problem first.

  2. eljay
    March 22, 2012, 10:26 am

    >> “The war-mongering toward Iran has, once again, distracted the world from Israel’s brutal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.”

    Mr. Khalid appears unaware that the Jewish state is a glorious democracy that is merely defending its 1948 1967 borders interests against the holocaust of Iranian nookyoolar Hitlerdinejad. And Hamas.

    Anyway, the Jewish state has offered to give Palestinians a few scraps of land they can use to pretend they have an actual state, so what’s up with all this negativity about the Jewish state? I mean, c’mon, it’s a glorious democracy!

  3. American
    March 22, 2012, 12:38 pm

    This is hysterical. I received an email last week outlining how NPR was changing their ‘code’ of ethics in broadcasting and programing from one of ‘he said,she said” presentations to one of announcing the truth based on where the facts fall and pointing out when interview guest make false statements. I though to myself this can be good or bad depending on whether or not this is a real change for presenting ‘facts or just another set up to harden Israeli propaganda.

    And now I see a NPR station monitoring a employees ‘private statements on a Facebook page and putting him on “probation” for his own opinion? Regardless of whatever else he may have done to get himself fired there is no justification for probation for personal opinions.

    Send the station a email…..the President of wypr and the programing directors:

    [email protected]
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

  4. annie
    March 22, 2012, 12:52 pm

    there’s more to this story than meets the eye

    Before the suspension was lifted, a Khalid nemesis from their days years ago at the Baltimore Sun, G. Jefferson Price, a former editor and foreign correspondent, visited WYPR studios for an interview.

    Price could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but he wrote about the episode March 15 on his blog:

    “A man flipped me the bird this week!

    “He did it in a place where one might least expect it. This was not an expression of road rage on a busy roadway; it was at the studio of Baltimore’s local public radio station, WYPR where I was participating in a discussion of conditions in Uganda and the astounding impact of the viral video ‘Kony 2012.’ I was in the sealed interview booth. He was outside, on the other side of the large window looking into the booth. The gesture astonished me so much that I lost track of the first question posed to me by the host, Dan Rodricks.”

    That person was Khalid, though Price did not name him. Price went on to recall Khalid unfavorably from their Sun days, adding, among other comments, “He had an exclusively-held high opinion of himself but management was unimpressed.”

    Steiner, a staunch Khalid defender, recalled that Price and others urged the powers-that-be at WYPR not to hire Khalid nine years ago, a possible motivation for Khalid’s gesture. “Sunni says what he has to say. He wasn’t a diplomat. I don’t think Jeff Price was used to a black man talking to him like that,” Steiner said.

    Moreover, “everybody who’s worked in the business knows people give each other the finger all the time in the newsroom.” Maybe it’s worth a suspension. “But to fire him? This is a guy who built that newsroom,” Steiner said.

    Khalid, a former foreign correspondent for NPR and a Muslim, filed a lawsuit in 1997 against the network that sought more than $2 million in damages, accusing NPR and its then-foreign desk editor, Loren Jenkins, of racial and religious discrimination. It was settled out of court in 2003.

    The lawsuit was cited by detractors as a reason WYPR shouldn’t hire Khalid — he was called “litigious” — but also a reason why Steiner welcomed him.

    “He was blacklisted, even though you can’t prove it,” Steiner said. “Sunni’s really bright, a fearless reporter, a strong, sharp guy. Public radio in general is just a white male institution. They have no black reporters. This is a majority African American city. Sunni helped produce over 4,000 stories over nine years. He was the head of that news department, along with Mary Rose Madden,” a producer. “He worked harder than any man I ever knew. He trained young people. He mentored so many young reporters.”

    Steiner left WYPR, where he also hosted a talk show, in 2005. Since May 2008, “The Marc Steiner Show” has aired on WEAA-FM, an NPR member station at Morgan State University. He says he is working on other projects.

    “I think they were just looking for a way to get rid of him,” Steiner said of WYPR and Khalid. “If I can, I’ll hire him again.”

    • gazacalling
      March 22, 2012, 1:05 pm

      Wow, thanks for that follow-up Annie. Really interesting.

    • Chu
      March 22, 2012, 3:54 pm

      Firing a black man who is a major contributor to the radio broadcast. Not to smart. The sad part for the lobby is that there is going to be a resurgence of all of these axed reporters and their audiences. Create enough anger and they go underground and eventually resurface. And it’s their right to criticize Israel.
      It’s like Helen Thomas and that lowly rabbi with the video camera. People saw what happened and they are watching guys like Sunni get screwed as well for not being the lapdog they want.

  5. Chu
    March 22, 2012, 3:41 pm

    Too bad radio station hosts do not get tenured. They should, as they are the 4th branch of government.

    James Abourezk: Tales of the Israel Lobby: Threats, Dershowitz, & Embedded Lobbyists
    “James Abourezk represented South Dakota in Congress from 1971 to 1979. CNI asked Senator Abourezk about his experiences with the Israel Lobby. In his first response he told of an Israeli plot to assassinate him. In this column he discusses threats to his family, Alan Dershowitz, and Israeli lobbyists embedded in the U.S. State Department:”

  6. DICKERSON3870
    March 22, 2012, 4:17 pm

    RE: “A longtime editor at a public radio station in Baltimore has been fired in part because he questioned US pandering to Israel.” ~ Weiss

    FROM WIKIPEDIA: (excerpt)

    Henry Norr (born 1946) is an American technology journalist and activist. He was formerly a technology columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle.
    In 2002, Norr wrote in the Chronicle about Intel Corp.’s Fab 18 chip plant in Qiryat Gat, Israel, which was responsible for $1.8 billion in exports. The story was controversial because of the land ownership issues stemming from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Pro-Israel organizations accused him of being anti-Semitic, which he denies, pointing out that he is Jewish.
    Norr was fired in April 2003. He had been arrested in an anti-war demonstration on March 20, the day after the United States attacked Iraq. The Chronicle suspended him without pay a few days later, then fired him. The Chronicle’s employee rules, and California law, permitted workers to attend demonstrations and engage in political activity. The Chronicle told Norr he was fired for falsifying his time card. Others in the newsroom said that he was fired for his political activity, which included involvement in Palestine solidarity work.[1][2]
    In 2004, Norr received a financial settlement with The Chronicle over the firing, which included his retirement, health benefits, and a statement published in the Chronicle. California law prohibits employers from firing employees on the basis of political activities. Norr said the settlement would allow him to continue freelance writing.[3]…

    SOURCE –

    • DICKERSON3870
      March 22, 2012, 4:21 pm

      P.S. MY COMMENT: I only buy computers with AMD processors (rather than Intel “blood processors”)!

      SEE: Intel chip plant located on disputed Israeli land, by Henry Norr, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/08/02

      (excerpts) Just how diligent was Intel’s due diligence when it chose to build a multibillion-dollar chip plant in Qiryat Gat, Israel? . . .
      …Intel calls the plant Fab 18 (“fab” being chip-industry jargon for a facility where the silicon wafers that are eventually turned into working chips are fabricated). The fab, which went into production in 1999, was the fruit of a $1 billion investment by the Santa Clara company, supplemented by a $600 million grant from the Israeli government. . .
      …But from a legal and historical point of view, Qiryat Gat happens to be an unusual location: It was not taken over by the Israeli military in 1948. Instead, it was part of a small enclave, known as the Faluja pocket, that the Egyptian army and local Palestinian forces had managed to hold through the end of the war.
      The area was surrounded by Israeli forces, however. When Israel and Egypt signed an armistice agreement in February 1949, the latter agreed to withdraw its soldiers, but it insisted that the agreement explicitly guarantee the safety and property of the 3,100 or so Arab civilians in the area.
      Israel accepted that demand.
      In an exchange of letters that were filed with the United Nations and became an annex to the main armistice agreement, the two countries agreed that “those of the civilian population who may wish to remain in Al-Faluja and Iraq al Manshiya (the two villages within the enclave covered by the letters) are to be permitted to do so. . . . All of these civilians shall be fully secure in their persons, abodes, property and personal effects.” …
      . . . Within days, the security the agreement had promised residents of the Al- Faluja pocket proved an illusion. Within weeks, the entire local population had fled to refugee camps outside of Israel.
      Morris presents ample evidence that the people of the Al-Faluja area left in response to a campaign of intimidation conducted by the Israeli military. He quotes, among other sources, reports filed by Ralph Bunche, the distinguished black American educator and diplomat who was serving as chief U. N. mediator in the region.
      Bunche’s reports include complaints from U.N. observers on the scene that “Arab civilians . . . at Al-Faluja have been beaten and robbed by Israeli soldiers,” that there were attempted rapes and that the Israelis were “firing promiscuously” on the Arab population. . .


      • March 22, 2012, 5:25 pm

        BDS Intel.

  7. Henry Norr
    Henry Norr
    March 22, 2012, 9:12 pm

    Heh, funny to see my name pop up here. I’m going to write to Sunni tonight to welcome him to the fraternity (is there a non-gendered alternative word?) of journalists canned for speaking some truth about Israel.

    One question I have about Khalid’s case: did some Zionist vigilante complain to station management about his Facebook comment, or was management tracking such things on their own? Probably the former, but nowadays you never know. The lobby is extremely aggressive in policing the media and media people (as they are in politics, the universities, and everywhere else!), but very often they don’t need to intervene because the media organizations do the dirty work for them, preemptively, for fear of bad press and losing subscribers, advertisers, or donors.

    In my case my immediate editors thought my Intel column was great – they even made a little extra space for it, and got the art department to add a color map. I even warned them that it would be controversial, and turned it in early so we’d have time to argue about it if they were going to ask me to water it down, but they had no problem with it – until it appeared in the paper and the poop hit the fan. I didn’t know it at the time, but I found later that the local lobby and even the Israeli consul in San Francisco were on the phone demanding a meeting the publisher within hours after the paper hit the streets, and they met in his office two days later.

    Aside from the injury to immediate targeets, the really bad thing about these cases is that they have a very chilling effect on other journalists: they’re a pretty stark reminder that crossing the lobby even once can cost you your job – and quite possibly prevent you from ever getting another in the media. Especially in the current media environment, few journalists can afford to take that risk, so nearly all of them toe the line or just avoid the whole I/P issue.

  8. Justice Please
    Justice Please
    March 25, 2012, 5:07 pm

    The New McCarthyism.

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