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In story faulting Saudi lobby, ‘NPR’ knocks U.S. Israel lobby ‘pressure’ a year after the fact

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National Public Radio did a very good story the other day about Saudi Arabia using financial pressure on the United Nations to get delisted from an annex of countries that violate children’s rights, even though a U.N. report concluded that Saudi Arabia along with its Gulf allies attacking Yemen was responsible for 1200 children’s deaths.

Ban Ki-moon said he had made the decision because he “had to consider the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would de-fund many U.N. programs.”

Then the NPR report by Michele Keleman said that other countries had also used pressure:

This isn’t the first time the U.N. has caved to pressure on its annual report on children in armed conflict.

Last year, according to human rights activists, the U.S. lobbied to make sure Israel wasn’t put on the list for its 2014 battle with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

That was an unfortunate precedent, said Eva Smets, director of the advocacy group Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict.

“It is very important that there’s no double standards being applied in composing this list,” she said. “That you get on this list, no exception, if you violate children rights.”

She also quoted a real leader, Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch, saying that it’s outrageous that the U.N. secretary-general can be “bullied.”

“There’s a reason why the secretary-general called this a list of shame,” Whitson said. “It’s meant to shame countries that are abusive and have been the worst abusers of children. The notion that you can get off it if you scream loud enough and are rich enough is scandalous.”

In Yemen, hundreds of children have died in what she describes as a devastating and reckless aerial campaign by the Saudis and their coalition partners, which include several other Arab states in the Gulf.

This is good reporting, and I’m really glad Keleman got to the Israel example in here; but there’s a Now you tell us aspect to that news. The U.S.-Israel lobby news is a year old. Over 500 children were killed in that slaughter– and over 300 in the one before that in 2009.

The story raises the question of how often NPR has described the work of the Israel lobby or the U.S. acting as Israel’s proxy in international fora in a bullying manner, even though the US-Israel nexus is (in contrast to the Saudi outrage) home cooking. Hillary Clinton likes to brag about deep-sixing the Goldstone Report that covered the previous Israeli slaughter. Maybe she would stop doing that — dismissing human rights reports documenting massacres and then bragging about it — if the media spoke openly about Israel’s influence in U.S. diplomacy and described that diplomacy as Sarah Leah Whitson describes the Saudi behavior, as bullying.

Brooke Gladstone of On the Media had me on in 2014 to talk about children’s deaths in the Gaza slaughter, but I’ve never heard that show cover the problematic degree of support for Israel in American media and politics or inside the Jewish community, a subject that Gladstone and co-host Bob Garfield know well because they come out of that community. Ditto hosts Robert Siegel and Terry Gross. They’d all prefer to talk about the Koch brothers and the Christian right. When as Michael Lerner demonstrated yesterday in Louisville, Americans love Jews as moral preceptors; but it sure helps if you begin by acknowledging the human rights abuses carried out in our name.

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6 Responses

  1. Walker
    June 11, 2016, 3:44 pm

    Americans love Jews as moral preceptors

    Phil, I think that most Americans, like most human beings, look up to anyone who genuinely acts as a true moral preceptor.

    One current example of this is the admiration flowing towards the cowboy who roped a bike thief in Oregon yesterday. The cowboy, Robert Borba, said “Poor gal’s bike. Could have been her only means of transportation, I dunno. Stealing it ain’t right”.

    That’s a pretty good moral precept from someone who demonstrated he has the status to make one.

    On the other hand, I highly doubt that most Americans really see Jews as such as moral preceptors. I certainly don’t.

    Apart from that, excellent article.

    • Citizen
      June 12, 2016, 10:06 pm

      @ Walker

      Why does Phil Weiss make such a blanket statement about who Americans love as moral preceptors? What he says has certainly not been my experience and I’m older than Phil.

      • Mooser
        June 13, 2016, 3:43 pm

        “Why does Phil Weiss make such a blanket statement about who Americans love as moral preceptors?”

        Perhaps Phil is thinking that they might not like us so well in certain other roles.

  2. JWalters
    June 11, 2016, 8:11 pm

    Hopefully this is a sign it is starting to be less dangerous for mainstream reporters to report the truth about Israel.

  3. plimespo
    June 13, 2016, 2:13 pm

    Phil poses an interesting and timely question: “The story raises the question of how often NPR has described the work of the Israel lobby or the U.S. acting as Israel’s proxy in international fora in a bullying manner, even though the US-Israel nexus is (in contrast to the Saudi outrage) home cooking.”

    NPR and the Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBS), though separate organizations, are both part of the U. S. public broadcasting system.

    In a letter dated January 20, 2016 to Paula Kerger, President & CEO of PBS, I posed a similar question with respect to the policies of FRONTLINE, a PBS show; namely, “[w]hether FRONTLINE’s [documented] extensive coverage of the point of view of Israel and its leaders is objective and whether it encompasses a breach of [PBS’s standards of journalistic fairness, balance, integrity, and independence], including specifically avoidance of favoritism, political advocacy and conflict of interest?” I also copied my Congressional delegation on the letter and asked them to look into the matter.

    Almost six months later, I have not received any acknowledgement of, or reply to, my letter from PBS or those members of Congress.

  4. klm90046
    June 13, 2016, 3:24 pm

    I wonder if donations are at stake here too, as in pols having to pander to the Lobby to fund their runs, or university administrations suppressing criticism of Israel to keep money flowing?

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