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NPR Whitewashes Palestinian Terrorists in Coverage of Israel-Hamas War

A Palestinian boy wearing the headband of Hamas’ armed wing The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza City on May 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

If National Public Radio (NPR) were the sole source of news on the Israel-Hamas war, listeners would unlikely be able to accurately describe the Jewish state’s enemy in Gaza or the West Bank. Instead, they would be under the impression that Israeli troops are fighting against innocent Palestinian civilians, not barbaric terrorists.

NPR has managed to create such a skewed picture of reality by using three tactics: omission, distortion, and equivalence.

The omission was blatant, for example, in NPR’s recent coverage of an Israeli army raid that killed three terrorists in a West Bank hospital.

Despite the fact that all three had been claimed as members of terrorist organizations (Hamas and Islamic Jihad), NPR’s headline simply referred to them as “Palestinians:”

Hey, @NPR, you missed a vital word from your headline.

The three Palestinians were terrorists planning an attack while hiding in the hospital.

We’ve fixed it for you.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) January 30, 2024

The story was later updated, but the headline remained the same.

And the distortion is clear from the first paragraph, which still reads as if the terrorists’ affiliation was merely an Israeli accusation (emphasis added):

Israeli military and security forces disguised as civilians and hospital staff raided a hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin early Tuesday morning, killing three Palestinians who they say were militants.

NPR also embedded a video from the outlet’s Instagram account showing CCTV footage of the raid. Sadly, it carries a caption that’s as bad as the headline:

The piece also omits what the IDF Chief of Staff had to say about not letting terrorists hide inside hospitals. His comments were quoted by the wire services, but NPR preferred giving a platform only to Palestinian hospital officials.

Another example of omitting terrorism from the narrative is NPR’s weekly collection of “Photos of life in war.”

True to its headline — “Palestinians flee south in Gaza, Israel mourns dead soldiers” — the gallery only displays pictures of Israeli soldiers and displaced Palestinians.

The soldiers’ photos show troops in combat or at funerals. The Palestinians’ photos display them in damaged houses, refugee tents, or body bags.

Where are the Hamas terrorists? Like a tragic version of “Where’s Waldo?”, they are nowhere to be found. And that’s exactly the lie that Hamas wants media to spread — that Israeli soldiers are waging a war against unarmed Gazan civilians.

At the very least, media outlets should add a disclaimer to such pieces, saying that Hamas terrorists wear civilian clothes and attack Israeli troops from within civilian neighborhoods — as is apparent from a glance at the videos posted on the terror group’s Telegram channel.

NPR has also used the tactic of equivalence to whitewash Israel’s foes, by creating symmetry and erasing differences between the two sides.

A recent piece titled “Israeli and Palestinian radio stations broadcast messages for locked up loved ones,” put Palestinians held on suspicion of terrorism on the same moral level as innocent Israeli civilians:

One of the biggest sources of anguish for Israeli and Palestinian families in nearly four months of the Gaza war is the large number of hostages and prisoners taken by each side.

According to @NPR, “One of the biggest sources of anguish for Israeli & Palestinian families… is the large number of hostages & prisoners taken by each side.”

No, NPR, there is no moral equivalence between Israelis kidnapped by Hamas & Palestinians detained by Israel on…

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) January 30, 2024

In the same piece, NPR also subtly compared the Jewish state to Hamas:

For Palestinian and Israeli families, the concern is not knowing about their loved ones in extreme and difficult conditions. Some Israeli hostages and Palestinian detainees have died while being held. There are growing allegations of physical abuse against Palestinians in Israeli jails and even sexual abuse against Israelis in Hamas captivity.

When Israeli hostages in Gaza are equated to prisoners charged by a democratic country, it downplays the unparalleled atrocities that have been inflicted on them by Hamas since their abduction on October 7, when the group’s terrorists butchered 1,200 people in southern Israel.

And when the Jewish state is compared to a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction, the boundaries between good and evil are shattered. Why does NPR try so hard to do that? Why does it find such elaborate ways to erase the taint of Palestinian terrorism?

Is it so unimaginable that Israelis have a right to defend themselves against such evil?

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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Sustaining a Jewish Revival Rests on Visiting Israel

Debra Messing speaking at the “March for Israel” rally in Washington, DC on Nov. 14, 2023. Photo: Screenshot

In the months following the October 7 terrorist massacre in Israel, the polarizing void once felt across ideological Jewish lines has slowly dissolved, as Americans hailing from various religious and political streams unite in support of Israel.

Last year, as the Jewish State was consumed with a societal schism revolving around protests against the government’s proposed judicial reforms, the American media tried to showcase the divisions in US Jewish attitudes towards Israel. For instance, a 2021 poll of Jewish voters conducted by The Jewish Electoral Institute found that 38 percent of younger respondents under 40 agreed with the falsehood that Israel is an apartheid state. Sadly, the study confirmed the trend of an emergent generation of Jews harboring disturbing positions on Israel.

While the tragic events unfolding last fall may do little to sway this cadre of anti-Zionist Jews, the October 7 massacre did ignite an untapped appreciation felt for Israel by Jewish Americans, many of whom seemed to have little interest in it before. Those whose Jewish identity was reawakened on that horrific October day can harness that spirit and emphasize this moment by visiting Israel. Indeed, engaging with the land of Israel and its citizens will preserve a fresh reverence for peoplehood, while also helping strengthen the morale and economies of Israel and its citizens.

In November, approximately 300,000 people converged in Washington, D.C., in what was described as “both the largest ever pro-Israel gathering and the largest Jewish gathering in US history.” Apart from setting an attendance record, the March for Israel broke down religious barriers, with multiple encounters depicting observant Jews putting tefillin on young secular attendees, and with different groups coalescing around an inspiring moment and shared mission.

A Chabad survey  of rabbis in America taken in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks reveals a significant increase in Jewish pride across communities, with 88.2 percent of respondents reporting that community members are feeling “a stronger connection to Israel and her people.” As Israelis grapple with security threats and the war’s looming impact on the country’s economy, Jewish Americans must seize on this devotional revival, whose sustenance relies on prioritizing travel to Israel.

According to The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), foreign tourism in Israel peaked in 2019, with direct tourism employment accounting for roughly 149,000 jobs, representing almost four percent of total employment in Israel. Prior to the outbreak of the Hamas war, Israel welcomed nearly three million tourists in 2023, with tourism revenue pouring a hefty $4.85 billion into the country’s economy. Interestingly, while tourism from the US was on track to surpass 2019 numbers, only a quarter of foreigners visiting Israel were Jewish, mirroring numbers recorded in previous years. Last year, Christian travelers comprised around half of all tourists and represented the largest denomination visiting the Jewish country.

While Israel’s reliance on its tech sector has shielded its financial industry from the catastrophic consequences that plague other economies during wartime, obligations surrounding reserve duty have contributed to a labor shortage, with some businesses forced to shut down temporarily when faced with an absence of workers. Israel’s Finance Ministry has stated that its budget deficit will likely reach six percent of its GDP, and that the war effort will cost at least another 50 billion NIS ($13.5 billion) in 2024.

Aside from the economic ramifications, October’s terror exposed a vulnerability that was exacerbated by the realities underscoring Israel’s enemies’ indiscriminate targeting of Jewish civilians. Among those murdered, tortured, raped, and taken hostage that day were activists committed to coexistence, with some survivors recounting stories of betrayal by Palestinians whom they once considered partners for peace. This depth of hatred demands a Jewish approach that upholds backing Israel regardless of which government holds power. Since October, several celebrities, including actors Jerry Seinfeld, Debra Messing, and Michael Rapaport, have displayed their solidarity by traveling to Israel, and visiting the sites impacted by the war.

But many of these celebrities also engaged in ordinary pursuits, highlighting Israel’s resilience. Soon after arriving in Israel, Jerry Seinfeld was pictured in Tel Aviv eating falafel, while Jewish influencer Montana Tucker led a flash mob on a picturesque beach boardwalk. The famous Israeli comedy show Eretz Nehederet also featured Rapaport, who participated in a parody about campus antisemitism. Their presence illustrates the value of sharing in food, dance, and laughter, even amidst the grief and trauma.

Over time, the enormity of the October 7 terrorist slaughter will dissipate, with some US Jews reverting to past tendencies and disassociating from the Jewish particularism that was rekindled this past fall. The statistics showing that only a quarter of all tourists in Israel are Jewish is a troubling indication that a lack of exposure to the land of Israel may be one justification behind a decade of Jewish disinterest in advocating on its behalf. Visiting Israel and engaging with its citizens is integral to nurturing the affection and enhancing relations between the two cultures.

While tourists inevitably assist in Israel’s economic recovery, absorbing the principles and learning the history tied to Jewish peoplehood is a far more valuable metric to measure one’s travel plans, with its benefits outlasting the short-term pleasures garnered by other foreign experiences.

Irit Tratt is an independent writer residing in New York. Follow her on X @Irit_Tratt

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Grandson of Israeli Athlete Murdered at Munich Olympics is Badly Beaten in Berlin Assault

Pro-Hamas demonstrators gather in Berlin, Nov. 4, 2023. Photo: Reuters/Michael Kuenne

The grandson of a member of the Israeli Olympic squad who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics has been badly beaten up in an antisemitic assault outside a Berlin bar on Friday night.

Lahav Shapira, 30, was attacked by his assailant as he left a bar where he had been drinking with his girlfriend He was rushed to hospital where he underwent surgery for non-life threatening injuries. Images of Shapira posted on social media after the attack by his brother, Shahak — a popular comedian based in Germany — showed him with his face and lips badly swollen.

Shapira — whose grandfather Amitzur, the head coach of the 1972 Israeli Olympic track and field team, was among the 11 squad members murdered after being taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists inside the Olympic village — is a student at the Free University in Berlin, where he has emerged as a vocal advocate for Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas pogrom in which over 1,200 were killed and more than 200 seized as hostages.

The official account of the assault published by the Berlin police differed dramatically from Shapira’s own recollections of what occurred, which were broadcast through an interview with the Israeli channel Mako as well as his brother’s social media feeds.

According to the police, Shapira became embroiled in an argument with a 23-year-old with a “pro-Palestinian attitude … In the course of the dispute, the younger man is said to have suddenly slapped the older man in the face several times, causing him to fall,” the statement claimed. It said that Shapira was taken to hospital suffering from facial fractures while the assailant was later found at his home in the Schöneberg district of the capital, where police searched his home and confiscated his cellphone. The statement made no mention of whether the accused assailant had been taken into custody.

In a social media post, however, Shahak Shapira disputed this version of events, insisting that there had been no verbal conflict before the attack.

“He was recognized by the attacker in the bar, who followed him and his companion, spoke to them aggressively and then punched him in the face unannounced,” Shahak posted on X/Twitter. In his interview with Mako, Lahav said that an Arab student had been observing him and his girlfriend in the bar and followed them outside when they left. He punched Shapira in the face and kicked him as he lay on the ground, fleeing the scene as his victim struggled to his feet.

A statement from the Free University issued on Sunday night declared: “We are deeply horrified by the brutal, allegedly antisemitic motivated attack on a Jewish student at our university and strongly condemn the crime.”

However, Shapira’s relatives accused the university of ignoring antisemitic agitation on campus. The university authorities had “supported these pro-Palestinians by simply closing their eyes,” Tzipi Lev, Shapira’s mother, told Israeli news outlets.

That point was echoed in a letter sent by Germany’s Jewish student union, the JSUD, to Free University President Günter Ziegler. The letter warned that “antisemites are spreading hatred on your campus” and urged Ziegler to “stop putting things ‘into perspective’ or denying them.”

Berlin’s Mayor, Kai Wegner, separately condemned what he described as a “vile attack.”

“Jewish people have to feel safe everywhere in Berlin – also at our universities!” Wegner posted on X/Twitter.


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BDS Activists Push False ‘Genocide’ Charge to Attack Israel

A pro-BDS demonstration. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Activists of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement spent much of January engaging in disruptive protests aimed at institutions accused of supporting Israel. Accusations that Israel is undertaking “genocide” against the Palestinians have become standard, and were boosted by the spurious case brought against Israel brought by South Africa in the International Court of Justice.

Protestors have blocked bridges, highways, tunnels, train stations, airport access roads, and other transportation infrastructure in major cities around the country. Disrupting travelers in major cities such as Chicago, Seattle, and New York has been a goal, along with tourist attractions such as Disneyland. Egregiously, the entrance to the Los Angeles National Cemetery was vandalized with the words “Free Gaza.” The most dangerous incident involved releasing balloons at Kennedy Airport with the intent of disrupting flight operations.

Few arrests were made and no prosecutions appear forthcoming. Police and prosecutors are unwilling or unable to exert control over the pro-Hamas mobs. This was viscerally demonstrated as protestors attempted to swarm the White House, throwing bottles at police, yelling “fuck Joe Biden,” and destroying an outer fence. Biden was also heckled during an appearance at a Charleston church while in Dallas protestors tried to storm the tarmac and surround Air Force One.

A new lawsuit alleges that the Biden administration has instructed Federal law enforcement to refrain from investigating pro-Hamas protests in order to not offend the American Muslim community.

The “Flood Manhattan for Gaza MLK Day March for Healthcare” — simultaneously usurping the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and mimicking the name of Hamas’ October 7 invasion of Israel, “Al-Aqsa Flood” — was a notable example of the protests. Later in January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day was similarly hijacked with protests and marches, but New York police shut down an attempt to blockade Kennedy Airport.

The larger focus of unified anti-Israel/anti-capitalism protests was made clear by a speaker at “The People’s Forum” in New York City who stated: “When we finally deal that final blow to destroy Israel, when the state of Israel is finally destroyed and erased from history, that will be the single most important blow we can give to destroying capitalism.”

The unification of BDS, Islamist, and communist/antifa groups (called in Europe the “red-green alliance”), including groups which share toolkits, talking points, and organizing advice on anti-Israel and anti-capitalist issues, raises the question of which faction is charge.

On college campuses, faculty members remain at the forefront of supporting BDS and Hamas:

At Columbia University, a new branch of Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine was formed under the aegis of the BDS movement. Another branch formed at Harvard University pledged “to support, defend, and protect our students, faculty, staff, and all Harvard affiliates organizing for Palestinian human rights, justice, and peace in Palestine/Israel.”
A University of Pennsylvania “Penn Faculty for Justice in Palestine” group condemned the university’s “one sided rhetoric” on the Gaza war, alleged outside interference, and said that the “the movement for justice in Palestine has become crucial to the defense of academic freedom.” The group also held a “die-in” on the steps of a university building.
Individual faculty members at Cornell University, the University of California at Irvine, and other institutions canceled classes in solidarity with the “Global Strike for Palestine.”
The union representing York University’s teaching assistants distributed a toolkit instructing them to “collectively divert this week’s tutorials to teaching on Palestinian liberation,” which denounces “Zionist cultural institutions, and accuses the university of complicity in “genocide.”
The University of Michigan faculty senate passed a resolution calling on the institution from to divest from corporations “with financial ties to Israel’s military,” but did not call for ties to be cut with Israeli universities.

The massive upswing in expressions of antisemitism from medical professionals, including in journals and on social media, intensified in January. The leading example was Rupa Marya, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who stated that, “The presence of Zionism in US medicine should be examined as a structural impediment to health equity.” She was quickly condemned by her university.

On campus, Students for Justice in Palestine’ (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace chapters also continue to be a focal point for BDS related antisemitism:

The Rutgers University SJP chapter had its suspension lifted and immediately held a press conference in which three masked members demanded the university cut ties with Israel, acknowledge the “Palestinian genocide,” and establish a variety of Palestinian educational and cultural programs.
The Columbia University SJP and JVP chapters remain suspended but are operating on campus unhindered. Columbia protestors also claim to have been sprayed with noxious chemicals during an unauthorized campus rally.
The University of Wisconsin’s Students United for Palestinian Equality and Return (SUPER) held a campus prayer vigil, “Honoring Our Martyrs.” A petition also demanded the university rename the main Golda Meir Library, described by a pro-BDS protestor as “a Zionist known for her crimes against Palestine.”
Protestors at Stanford University disrupted a session on antisemitism led by the university president and provost, which featured Israeli envoy Michal Cotler-Wunsh. Students who attended reported threats and insults including, “We’re going to find out where you live,” “Go back to Brooklyn,” and “Our next generation will ensure Israel falls, and America too, the other terrorists” from pro-Hamas protestors.

Pro-Hamas campus vandalism was reported at Princeton University and Boston University, while reports of campus antisemitism and harassment increased, including at the New School and the University of Michigan where Jewish students were called “kikes” and “dirty Jews” by pro-Hamas activists. Pro-Hamas students at New York University distributed an email designed to appear like an official university communication. At the University of Central Florida, a Palestinian-American student was arrested for threatening to shoot three Jewish students.

The spread of BDS, pro-Hamas and anti-capitalist ideology in K-12 education was further documented in January. The problem was illustrated in New York City where controversy emerged regarding a map of the Middle East displayed in an elementary school classroom that labeled the region the “Arab World” and displayed Israel as “Palestine.” The map was part of an “Arab Culture Arts” program funded by the Qatar Foundation International and taught by a Palestinian-American teacher.

It was also revealed that two New York city elementary school teachers used the song “Wheels on the Bus” to indoctrinate students: “The bombs in the air go whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, all through the skies. From every river to every sea the people cry, cry, cry. Free Palestine till the wheels on the tanks fall off.” The song comes from a “Woke Kindergarten” curriculum which describes Israel as a “made up place” with “settlers called Zionists who are harming and killing the Palestinian people.”

Evidence continues to emerge detailing how “ethnic studies” programs claiming that Israel is the epitome of “racism and colonialism” are already being taught in California schools. A new report indicates that high school teachers are describing Palestine as “Arab lands currently occupied by Israel,” Hamas as “a political party which is continuing to fight against Israel,” Gaza as “an open air prison,” and Jesus as having lived in “Palestine.”

The role of teachers in disseminating anti-Israel ideologies had been highlighted when the Oakland Educators Association issued a statement in October condemning the “75 year long illegal military occupation of Palestine” and calling Israel “apartheid state” employing “genocidal rhetoric and policies.” Since then, reports have emerged that dozens of Jewish families have withdrawn children from the public schools, citing safety fears and evidence of anti-Israel bias, including “Free Palestine” posters in elementary school classrooms.

Other reports have documented the involvement of well-known BDS activists in Bay Area schools including teach-ins and teacher trainings sponsored by the Middle East Children’s Alliance and CAIR. In response to complaints, the US Department of Education has launched investigations of the San Francisco and Oakland school districts.

The continuing impact of the Gaza War was also seen in city council resolutions calling for a ceasefire, such as in San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Minneapolis, after raucous debates which featured overt antisemitism and support for Hamas. The Burlington (VT) city council, however, voted against a resolution that would have put a referendum condemning “Israel’s apartheid regime, settler colonialism, and military occupation” on the November ballot.

Reports indicate that these resolutions are often brought about with the help of pro-Palestinian activists and by Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) representatives who use anti-Israel politics as an entryist tactic to gain local legitimacy and votes. More pernicious resolutions were introduced in local school boards, including Ann Arbor, and were supported by demands especially from Arab and Muslim Americans that local schools teach about the conflict.

At the international level, reports indicate that Israel is facing a silent boycott by shipping companies due to Houthi attacks from Yemen on commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea.

Calls for Israel to be banned from international sports and cultural life have also dramatically increased:

Icelandic and Nordic artists have demanded that Israel be banned from the Eurovision song contest.
The International Ice Hockey Federation banned Israeli participation on the basis of “safety,” but then reversed its stance after threats of lawsuits and pressure from the National Hockey League.
An Israeli playing for a Turkish soccer team was arrested, fired, and then fled after displaying a message in support of Israelis held hostage by Hamas.
Fearing backlash, a South African cricket squad removed a Jewish player from the captaincy after he expressed support for Israel. A South African sportswear manufacturer then stated it would not sponsor any games in which the player participated.
Reports indicate that international and US television development projects involving Israelis have slowed or been halted.

While polls continue to show strong support for Israel in the US, with some 80% of Americans backing Israel in its war against Hamas, this figure drops to only 43% of 18-24 year olds. In Britain, one third of the public believes Israel treats Palestinians worse than the Nazis treated Jews, a belief shared by half of 18-24 year olds, while 20% of the public believes that Jews control the media. These and other classically antisemitic concepts form part of the background to reports on soaring rates of antisemitic incidents including bomb threats and violence.

The author is a contributor to SPME, where a version of this article first appeared.

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