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NPR fails to mention occupation– while Barghouti says in Guardian it is ‘root cause’ of violence

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At a time when violence is flaring between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, Americans are being deprived of crucial information about the conflict. Our press portrays the clashes as a cycle of violence between two groups with ancient enmity; and while there is some truth in that description, it is vacuous if reporters fail to describe the power balance here. At the very least, reporters should say that the violence is taking place in the context of a 48-year-old military occupation of Palestinian lands by Israelis.

Today National Public Radio did a piece on the latest violence in Israel and Palestine and referred again and again to events in occupied territory, but never provided that simple fact to readers. Host David Greene began by saying that the latest stabbing took place “just outside Jerusalem’s Old City.” Yes: it took place in occupied East Jerusalem, at the Damascus Gate. Palestinians who live there can’t even vote for the government that controls their lives.

NPR’s correspondent Emily Harris reported that the stabbing “didn’t come out of nowhere. There are always tensions simmering at some level here, though it does go up and down.” The ancient enmity idea. Then she referred to the murderous arson attack in a “Palestinian village last summer.” That July 31 attack was inside the occupied territories, and said to be perpetrated by Israeli colonists. She didn’t say so.

Harris went on to talk about the dispute over access to the Holy Sanctuary, or Temple Mount, in occupied Jerusalem. Again, not a word about occupation, and religious zealots were made out to be “interested” in equal rights:

Jewish groups that are interested in expanding Jewish rights on the Holy site

Harris spoke of Israeli security forces’ efforts to “figure out how to respond to” Palestinian attacks; again, not a word about their being occupiers. And spoke of the killing of an Israeli couple “in the West Bank” and another stabbing at “a checkpoint.” That couple were settlers killed deep in the occupied West Bank. Checkpoints exist to enforce an occupation.

The terrible paradox here is that other parts of the world are getting this information. In today’s Guardian, imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti writes that the occupation is the root cause of the violence:

Imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti on Sunday delivered an impassioned plea to the international community to tackle the root causes of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, as he praised the “new Palestinian generation” for resisting the Israeli occupation.

In an article for the Guardian written from his cell in Hadarim prison – his first for an international publication since 2002 at the height of the second intifada – Barghouti said he was pleading with the world as then to “to deal with [the violence’s] root causes: denial of Palestinian freedom”…

Here are excerpts of Barghouti’s op-ed:

“This new Palestinian generation has not awaited reconciliation talks to embody a national unity political parties have failed to achieve, rising beyond political divides and geographic fragmentation.

“It has not awaited instructions to uphold its right, and its duty, to resist this occupation. It is doing so unarmed, while being confronted by one of the biggest military powers in the world….

“The escalation did not start with the killing of two Israeli settlers [in the West Bank]. It started a long while ago and has been going on for years. Every day there are Palestinians killed, wounded, arrested.

“Every day colonialism advances, the siege on our people in Gaza continues, oppression and humiliation persist. As many want us today to be overwhelmed by the potential consequences of a new spiral of violence, I will continue, as I did back in 2002, pleading to deal with its root causes: denial of Palestinian freedom…

“Some suggested that the reason why a peace deal could not be reached was late President Yasser Arafat’s unwillingness or President Mahmoud Abbas’s inability, while both of them were ready and able to sign a peace agreement.

“The real problem is that Israel has chosen occupation over peace and used negotiations as a smoke screen to advance its colonial project. All governments across the globe know this simple fact and yet so many of them pretend that returning to the failed recipes of the past could allow us to achieve freedom and peace.”

Shouldn’t NPR be reflecting this perspective? Any Palestinian would describe the conflict in these terms, if not so eloquently. They just want their freedom.

Finally, look at this report from South Africa:

“Apartheid in South Africa was a picnic compared to what we have seen in the occupied territories,” Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete said following a visit to Palestine.

A picnic compared to South African apartheid. I was told very much the same thing nine years ago in Hebron by a South African church worker. Jimmy Carter tried to tell Americans Palestine was headed for apartheid that same year and was slamdunked by Terry Gross for the analogy. Charney Bromberg regretfully told a Columbia audience it is apartheid, The Nation has said it’s “apartheid on steroids,” even Jeffrey Goldberg has said it’s apartheid but “temporary” or “provisional.” When will our press decide that the public is adult enough to hear this truth? I do believe that #BlackLivesMatter is our greatest ally in this discursive struggle, because its efforts have been treated fairly, even sympathetically by many NPR journalists, including Arun Rath and Audie Cornish.

Thanks to James North.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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30 Responses

  1. John O on October 12, 2015, 1:04 pm

    Glad to see that the Guardian article had a vigorous below-the-line discussion, with not too many posts being moderated. I didn’t take part myself (I often do) as there were already over 500 comments when I read the article, by which time discussion has usually degenerated into schoolyard name-calling. I was encouraged to see see someone linking to the Adalah database of discriminatory laws in Israel. I publicised this link on the Guardian site a few weeks ago, so maybe – just maybe – I, through MW, have had some little effect on the debate.

  2. Les on October 12, 2015, 2:11 pm

    This is the same NPR that never distinguishes between East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem. Did they not distinguish between East Berlin and West Berlin when that was a divided city? Which Jerusalelm has the “mayor” NPR refers to? Which Jerusalem does NPR mean when they refer to Jersalem’s “expanding” border?

    NPR well represents the PEP Jews who run the operation.

    • JWalters on October 12, 2015, 6:15 pm

      “PEP Jews” must believe that Jews get a pass on inflicting massive injustices and cruelties on non-Jews in Greater Israel because either
      (1) the Bible grants them this pass, or
      (2) the Holocaust grants them this pass.

      In either case they are reprehensible bigots, or reprehensibly out of touch with reality. They have no business whatsoever working on a “news” program.

      Honest reporters who know the truth, and keep quiet out of fear, must feel remorse at not having the courage to speak up against this subversion of America’s freedom of speech and democracy.

    • Kathleen on October 12, 2015, 11:37 pm

      NPR has been dominated by PEP Jews since its inception.

  3. Boomer on October 12, 2015, 2:30 pm

    I’m pleased to see you mention this: it is such standard operating procedure that many people who should know better don’t even notice it. It isn’t just NPR, of course. It is true of most U.S. media, but the bias appears more egregious at NPR because of its pretense of following high journalistic standards (and our reasonable expectation that it should do so). What is exceptional is not the source, but the topic. Most MSM that purport to do serious journalism still abide by some semblance of the “fairness doctrine,” even though the FCC abolished it long ago. Palestine is the prime (though I don’t say the only) exception. On that topic fairness is not required, and will elicit intense criticism. Think how different public discourse would be if the Palestinian perspective were given more than token voice.

    For young readers who don’t remember the “Fairness Doctrine”

  4. JWalters on October 12, 2015, 6:20 pm

    Boomer, thanks for the good link. The demise of the fairness doctrine was engineered by the oligarchy for precisely the purpose of deception like this.

  5. Bumblebye on October 12, 2015, 6:36 pm

    The bbc seems to have been just as bad as npr. R4 started its p/I report with the stabbing of 4 Israelis followed by the killing of the assailant, then mentioned killing of palestinian 13 year old. World service, which I listened to next, failed to even mention the latter. Total zionist takeover. Bibi’s broadcasting corporation.

  6. straightline on October 12, 2015, 7:22 pm

    The BBC is a lost cause – sadly – but it is a reflection of the government I am afraid. Blair destroyed whatever independence the BBC had left, and the Tories have capitalized on it. David Cameron is an avowed Zionist, and the BBC power structure is stacked with them.

  7. Kathleen on October 12, 2015, 11:38 pm

    Important piece. Hope people will share

  8. Ossinev on October 13, 2015, 9:26 am

    Have to agree with you on the BBC and Cameron.Ref your attached link to an article on Danny Cohen – hot of the UK press today that he is leaving the BBC. As for his comments in the featured article 11 months ago:

    “Danny Cohen, who is the director of BBC Television, claimed that anti-Semitism has become so bad that he has to question the long-term future for Jews in Britain”.
    ” I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months. And it’s made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually. Because you feel it. I’ve felt it in a way I’ve never felt before actually…”

    A complete and utter load of b……s. There has been NO surge of anti semitism in the UK. There has been NO rise in anti semitism in the UK. What there has been is a surge in expressions of revulsion, particularly amongst the educated young, at the horrors being inflicted on the Palestinians by his co – Zionists in Israel .His attitude and comments are classic examples of Zionists retreating to suckle on the “Anti – Semitism” teat when unable to face up to these crimes. It is rumoured that he will be fleeing the rampant anti – semitism in the UK for a better paid job in the US where he would no doubt quickly become an AIPAC cheerleader. If he does go good riddance.

  9. hophmi on October 13, 2015, 9:47 am

    “Palestinians who live there can’t even vote for the government that controls their lives.”

    That’s their choice, not Israel’s. Palestinians in East Jerusalem are free to become Israeli citizens anytime they choose.

    • eljay on October 13, 2015, 10:04 am

      || hophmi: “Palestinians who live there can’t even vote for the government that controls their lives.”

      That’s their choice, not Israel’s. Palestinians in East Jerusalem are free to become Israeli citizens anytime they choose. ||

      Yup, it’s not the rapist’s fault that the victim chained in his basement isn’t free to make her own choices. After all, she’s free to become his wife anytime she chooses.

    • YoniFalic on October 13, 2015, 10:43 am

      Not exactly true. It is a complex and expensive process for a Jerusalem Palestinian to become an Israeli citizen. Unless the applicant hires an Israeli lawyer, his application will almost certainly be denied, and the lawyer will have to be persistent in seeking citizenship for his client.

      • Susan A on October 13, 2015, 8:18 pm

        Thank you for that piece of info Yoni. Useful to know…..

    • tree on October 13, 2015, 3:26 pm

      That’s their choice, not Israel’s. Palestinians in East Jerusalem are free to become Israeli citizens anytime they choose.

      This is false. JeffB tried to peddle the same garbage and provided a link which actually refuted his claim.

      I’ll quote again from the link, from page 22 of the International Crisis Group Report, second paragraph and footnote 205:

      “Assessing the extent to which applications for Israeli citizenship among East Jerusalemites have trended upward during the last decade is difficult because the government has released contradictory figures. About 13,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem (roughly 5 per cent of the Arab population) are reported to have citizenship,203 though it seems likely a significant proportion are members of Israel’s Palestinian minority who have moved to Jerusalem for work or family reasons.204 In terms of applications,the interior ministry said that almost 7,000 individuals applied for citizenship between 2001 and 2010 205 – a relatively small number – yet two thirds of these applications were made from 2008 2010.206 ”

      Footnote 205:“Roughly one third were approved, one third were denied and one third were deferred. Central Bureau of Statistics response to Crisis Group question.

      So even among the small number of Palestinian Jerusalemites who applied for Israeli ciizenship, two thirds were turned down by the Israeli government. Israel has total control over who becomes a citizen in East Jerusalem, not the Palestinians themselves.

      And as Yoni points out, the application process itself is time consuming and expensive, thus discouraging many from applying in the first place, not to mention the fact that any Palestinian Jerusalemite who happens to have Jordanian citizenship, or the possibility of future Palestinian citizenship must renounce that citizenship in order to apply for Israeli citizenship.

      Hophmi doesn’t deal in facts when it comes to Israel. He prefers to peddle hasbara about his fantasy Israel.

    • Mooser on October 13, 2015, 3:35 pm

      “Palestinians in East Jerusalem are free to become Israeli citizens anytime they choose.”

      And so are you, “Hophmi”, in fact you are welcome to become an Israeli citizen. Maybe they disdain the honor for the same reasons you do?

    • Xpat on October 13, 2015, 3:48 pm

      The U.S. was founded on the principle that it is permissible and even commendable to use violence to achieve liberty. Per the American ethos, why shouldn’t the Palestinians do the same?

  10. echinococcus on October 13, 2015, 10:13 am

    Hey hophmi,

    How can the Zionist entity bestow citizenship in areas that are not within its borders even by the supine standards of the UNSC and the US?
    And why should humans with more dignity than you’ll ever dream of seek a status of last-class slave “citizens” with no guarantee of property, life or limb?

  11. Ossinev on October 13, 2015, 10:41 am

    “Palestinians in East Jerusalem are free to become Israeli citizens anytime they choose”. Really grateful for this info – you have introduced a ray of light into the darkness . Obviously the same will apply to all those other Palestinians in the rest of the occupied and blockaded Palestinian Territories once the two state solution charade completely implodes.

  12. Kris on October 13, 2015, 10:54 am

    @hphm: “That’s their choice, not Israel’s.” That’s right. Just as the home invader can give his victim the choice of either remaining locked in the basement or agreeing to give up all rights to his house.

    The 300,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem don’t have equal rights. Though they live in what NPR calls “Israel proper,” they can’t vote in Israeli elections unless they take Israeli citizenship, thereby legitimizing the occupation, which they don’t wish to do. Their neighborhoods are being further undermined by colonizers. Their property is routinely stolen, their views ignored by those who govern them. – See more at:

  13. brent on October 13, 2015, 11:16 am

    Israel-centric reporting is the reality at NPR since its inception and has been key to the lack of understanding by so many Americans.

    In the 80’s I stood outside NPR with a placard saying its coverage was unfair and promoted the “Israel as a victim” narrative. A woman came over to me and said, “My husband works in there and he says the same thing. A lot of them think that but there is nothing they can do about it.”

    Contributors should insist on having a Palestinian reporter in the NPR Jerusalem bureau. Balance there would make it more likely relevant facts would reach Americans so they could understand the situation better.

  14. CigarGod on October 13, 2015, 11:23 am

    Thank you, Phil and James.
    It takes just a little practice to tune up our B.S. detectors to spot NPR bs.

    The hard part is helping NPR listeners deal with their seperation anxiety…and embrace their newly liberated brains.

  15. Atlantaiconoclast on October 13, 2015, 12:09 pm

    BLM is a fringe movement that has only alienated most Whites. You aren’t going to get American leaders to change their policy positions on Palestine by getting BLM more fully on board. In fact, it may have the opposite effect. Want a change? Tell the truth about Israel’s many unfriendly actions toward the US. Let Americans know. Then they will care.

    • Mooser on October 13, 2015, 3:51 pm

      ” You aren’t going to get American leaders to change their policy positions on Palestine by getting BLM more fully on board.”

      I see, so as American BLM less, Americans will value Palestinian lives more. Okay.

      And gee, why would a stance that Black Lives Matter have “alienated most Whites” ? Can you explain that? It’s a little beyond me.

    • annie on October 13, 2015, 4:24 pm

      BLM … has only alienated most Whites

      what a crazy statement. maybe they have possibly further isolated white racists.

      according to you we should “Let Americans know” but not get them on board? how does that work? or do you mean ‘Tell the truth about Israel’s many unfriendly actions toward the US to white americans.” and ‘get white americans more fully on board’? “Then they [american leaders] will care.”

    • echinococcus on October 13, 2015, 7:48 pm

      Attaboy, Atlanta. Now that you made clear that Black Americans are not Americans, what would be your next step?

  16. MHughes976 on October 13, 2015, 12:36 pm

    Surely Americans have enough humanity and enough conscience to care somewhat if able to face the reality.

  17. James Canning on October 13, 2015, 1:29 pm

    NPR helps Aipac et al. dupe the American people, regarding the great damage done to the interests of the US, by the OCCUPATION. What explains this?

    • MHughes976 on October 13, 2015, 5:09 pm

      I think because of the fundamental mindset of the West, which has many aspects – one is the view of the Eastern world as lacking the solid nationalities of Europe and as marked by grand but transient empires and by the right of those who had strength and determination to carve out such possessions as they could. Among the first things I heard about the ME when I was about 10 was a radio talk about 1948 in which the crucial point was that ‘the Jews fought magnificently’: that fact was drilled into my impressionable mind as the basic determinant of right and wrong.
      At about the same time my mother came home from a church meeting at which someone had been celebrating 1948 as a triumph for the Bible. That time I thought it odd that this Jewish triumph should somehow belong to us Christians. But the idea of the East as a dangerous and exotic world where might is closer to right than it could ever be in places nearer home stayed with me for a long time. I think that I was somehow tuning in to what the West thinks. And if 1949 was a triumph of that rather thrilling, rather exotic right over wrong then a few inconveniences to us are worth accepting.

      • James Canning on October 13, 2015, 5:21 pm

        One can accept the existence of Israel within its “pre-1967” borders, and still see that the OCCUPATION of the West Bank is doing a great amount of damage to America’s interests in the Middle East. Why would NPR try to conceal this from view?

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