I thought Israel had a bad week. There was all the fearful boycott talk by Netanyahu and his ministers, from Herzliya to New York, not to mention the prime minister compelling the head of the French telecom Orange to come to Jerusalem to apologize for saying he wanted to leave Israel. The Financial Times calls boycott, divestment and sanctions Israel’s latest existential threat.
And there was that Israeli military report whitewashing the country of any war crimes during its attack on Gaza a year ago in which 2200 Palestinians were killed. The slaughter of the four boys on the Gaza beach last July– no problem, the Israeli report said; and the world is shocked.
Well, TGIF- and TGINPR too! You’d never know Israel was having a hard week on National Public Radio this weekend. I get a lot of my news from NPR (and yes I contribute) and they ran one happy story after another.
Yesterday I was painting a door when I thought I heard an Israeli accent, and yes– Arun Rath was interviewing the Israeli writer Etgar Keret about his new memoir. Keret spoke about Palestinians rockets hitting near Tel Aviv; and there was not a word about all the Israeli missiles that hit Gaza:
The moment that you hear the alarm, if you’re in the middle of the street then you have 30 seconds, you know, to find a hiding or if you don’t have a hiding to lie on the ground. And I was with my wife and son when the alarm went off and it was like the first time in his life that he was in a missile attack and we asked him to lie on the ground.
And he said, “If it’s too dirty to eat from it when something falls on it, then it’s too dirty to lie on it.” And you find yourself that you have kind of 25 seconds to convince your son to lie down. And you don’t want to be stressful, you don’t want to shout at him.
So I suggested to him a game called “Pastrami Sandwich,” in which my wife lies on the ground and he lies on her and I lie on him and together we form this pastrami sandwich and he kind of liked it because it was warm and cozy. And after the missile attack, he asked me if I can promise him that there would be more missile attacks so we can play the game again.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t hear Israeli stories. But remember, five Israeli civilians were killed in the war a year ago. And one of them was a child. By contrast, more than five hundred Palestinian children were killed. Would NPR cover the Ukraine or Syria– any other foreign conflict, with similar imbalance, even if it was a cultural story? I don’t think so. Not on the week that Israel gave itself a pass for slaughtering four boys playing soccer, saying they believed they were part of the Hamas Navy, whatever that is. The NPR coverage reflects pro-Israel bias.
Then today I slept in and turned on the radio at 8:30 when I was brushing my teeth and — another Israeli accent!
The report was “Israel bringing its years of desalination practice to California,” by Emily Harris. What a feel-good story. An Israeli company is helping build a big new desalination plant near San Diego to help California. But San Diego was mentioned only once more. This was about Israel’s water policy.
The story was about the miracle of Israel’s extracting fresh water from salt water. As if it’s the only country that does this. “Israel has learned, desalination is not the only answer.”
The story was about Israeli water policy; and there was not a mention of all the water that Israel takes from Palestinians, the fact that Israel uses an aquifer in occupied territory and gives its citizens at least 2-1/2 times the amount of water stateless Palestinians get.
Then an Israeli gets to lecture the United States about our water management, how screwed up it is.
[Avraham] Tenne says U.S. drought problems are due to hodgepodge management.
“There is no central management of the water sector in the United States — not even states!” he says. “Nobody is responsible for the water sector.”
Like maybe we should be stealing more water from across borders? I’m not saying that our media shouldn’t report on Israeli desalination efforts. But when I google international desalination, this website tells me that 150 countries around the world practice desalination; and its annual report shows that plenty of other countries beside Israel have large projects. As for San Diego, the LA Times says that a Boston company is building the plant, though Israelis will run it.
And Israel is a foreign country that occupies another people’s land, and water issues are a huge political issue there; and you’d never know that from the NPR report. Americans deserve better.