News

Story glorifying US tourists’ gunplay in settlement is denounced as AIPAC propaganda by angry NPR commenters

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr
commando tourism 0011 sq 8a5ae4954c0af3d65dc981d1b1c8101e3a261be1
Businessmen from Philadelphia practice with wooden cutouts of rifles at Caliber 3, a counterterrorism training center in an Israeli settlement area south of Jerusalem. (photo:NPR)

This is unseemly. Yesterday National Public Radio’s Emily Harris aired a story about “a group of American businessmen” going to a military camp in occupied Palestinian territory to play with guns. “U.S. Tourists Become Israeli Commandos For A Day.” 

You would think that the focus of the story would be those American businessmen. I am an American; and I am very curious about who these interlopers are, going off to some illegal settlement in a foreign occupied country, to a camp “that offers short shooting courses for tourists”– what is driving them?

No, the focus of the story was the military trainer Steve Gar, an ideological Zionist who moved from South Africa to Israel.  

At the end of the story, Harris sought to balance her account by describing a Palestinian man who had lost his son to settler violence. She said:

Which side is right in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict? Which is wrong? The battle to have one narrative seen as more legitimate or more just than the other often permeates ordinary conversations here, and certainly many interviews.

But her story is devoted to the Jewish immigrant/occupier’s “narrative.” This is unseemly. We are talking about a military occupation with vastly unequal power quotients, and one side supported by gunhappy “American businessmen” whose anonymity is preserved by American public radio. 

The remarkable thing is that the NPR commenters are all over Harris, denouncing the piece as propaganda, and saying that her balancing act is a coverup for a vicious occupation. 

First an excerpt of Emily Harris’s story in which she promotes Gar, then excerpts of the comments:

[Gar’s] storytelling has a purpose: humanize the image of Israeli soldiers.

“I wanted to tell you this because I want you to see what we’re all about,” he says. “I’m a family man. I see myself as an educator.”

About his military work: “We do this because we love, we don’t do this because we love killing.”

Gar asks the American visitors to “help fight terrorism” by speaking up against negative views of Israeli soldiers they might see or hear back home. To seal the deal, there’s one more story: Gar describes how five members of a Jewish family — a husband, wife and three of their children — were killed two years ago in their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar. He says he was part of the team that took two Palestinian suspects back to the family’s house to re-enact the murders, using toy knives and dolls.

“They had smiles on their faces as they went from room to room slaughtering a family,” Gar said. “Once they left, they heard a baby crying. They responded. One terrorist held the baby while the other took a knife and slit her throat.”

Now here are some of the comments. And it is worth noting that a couple of these are among the most “liked” comments:

Sean Gay:

Great, humanize the Israeli soldiers building apartheid fences and illegal settlements while the story of the Palestinian farmer gets shoved to an afterthought designed specifically to create false equivalency… Unfortunately this is not a story about war-mongering propaganda, this story is war-mongering propaganda.

MouserMouser:

Disgusting…Just another “peace loving” Israeli promoting the idea of Americans getting in on occupation and oppression…

“Which side is right, in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict? Which is
wrong? The battle to have one narrative seen as more legitimate or more
just than the other often permeates ordinary conversations here, and
certainly many interviews.”

Jim Crow had two sides (White Southern who were fearful of African Americans and fearful for their security vs the oppression African Americans who were denied many civil rights by use of violence against them). Slavery in American had two sides( Slaver and Slave).

How can a multicultural American democracy who prides itself on multiculturalism support an Ethnocentric so-called democracy who views it’s minorities as an demographic threat and are occupying another group of people in which the Likud Government believes all the West Bank is part of “Greater Israel” but give no rights to the non-jews that live their?

Even in this article NPR didn’t once ask any Israeli non-jews what they thought about it or even Palestinians compare this to the http://www.npr.org/blogs/paral… story in which NPR went to the IDF spokesman to get his point of view while NPR did no such thing for the other side while doing this story.

Amjad Faur:

This article is an absolutely stunning example of journalistic and moral cowardice. Rather than asking serious questions about the illegal Jewish colony this pitiful occupation getaway is built on , we get this bizarre infomercial for the IDF and their settler leaders. I’ve seen and heard some excruciating paeans to Israeli centers of power on NPR before but this is just extraordinary.

Laurence1066 [edited]

What a disgusting , one sided presentation that gleefully promotes Zio-Fascist hate and violence of illegal occupiers as though it is some sort of entertaining excursion for… American jews who want to vicariously experience shooting Palestinians tending olive trees. Zio-Fascists are no better that Islamo-Fascists but clearly NPR supports radical, Zionists, illegal settlers. As someone else put it best, this sounded like a paid advertisement from AIPAC.

Update: Harris’s piece as aired was different from the transcript I read today. It does include two voices of Americans. Pam Pearlmutter of the Jewish Federations in Philadelphia, who says that the tour shows Americans the real fear of Israelis. And David Berkman, one of the businessmen, who speaks stirringly of the “heart” and “soul” of the Israelis, and says he wants to come back with his kids. The piece also highlights Gar’s target practice using the keffiyeh, the Palestinian scarf and symbol.

The piece was introduced by the NPR host in this manner:  “Now we’ll pay an unusual visit to Israel.” But it’s not Israel. It’s occupied Palestinian territory.

89 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

“humanize the image of Israeli soldiers”. Of course they are human. I’m sure they are great friends and some of them really care for their parents and others are really cool but the system they work for is evil. And it is so hard for ordinary schmucks in the IDF… Read more »

“Gar describes how five members of a Jewish family — a husband, wife and three of their children — were killed two years ago in their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar” Jewish murder syndrome. They can’t be called Israelis if they are murdered. Calling them Jews otherwise… Read more »

So should we dehumanize Israeli soldiers? “but the system they work for is evil” I don’t think protecting civilians is evil. There is plenty of evil on the Palestinian side. “Jim Crow had two sides…” This is not Jim Crow. Black people were not blowing up white people and talking… Read more »

>> About his military work: “We do this because we love, we don’t do this because we love killing.” You do it because you love your brand of Jewish supremacism and the supremacist state it has created. You don’t do it for anything resembling justice, equality or morality.

One of the commenters was me. :)