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Memo to NPR:  Stop Calling Flotilla “Pro-Palestinian”

by Rob Eshman

June 1, 2010 | 5:54 pm

The demigod journos at National Public Radio can do almost no wrong in my book, but they have to stop referring to the flotilla that Israel raided yesterday to tragic results as full of “pro-Palestinian” protesters.

On every newscast, every promo, there was NPR, describing the protestors as “pro-Palestinian.”  I think I even heard Warren Olney and Larry Mantle at their respective NP affiliates pick up and spread the same lingo.

And it’s just wrong.

By what standard are these people pro-Palestinian?  They want a two state solution for the Palestinians and the Israelis?  By that standard Ehud Barak and the majority of Israelis are “pro-Palestinian.”  As President Bill Clinton and any number of Arab commentators have said, Barak’s generous offer at Camp David, was rejected outright by Yasser Arafat.  Cearly, Ehud Barak is more pro-Palestinian than Arafat.

Are the protesters pro-Palestinian by virtue of the fact that the Israelis have killed Palestinians, and these people want to protect them?  Well, Hamas, which took over Gaza in a series of violent struggles from the Palestinian Authority, has killed many Palestinians, in some cases throwing them alive from rooftops.  Hamas continues to kill Palestinian dissenters and Fatah loyalists. I don’t believe in killing Palestinians whose political affiliations I oppose. By that standard, I am clearly more pro-Palestinian than Hamas.

Are the flotilla protesters pro-Palestinian because they want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza?  Israel delivers tons of that each day—not enough—but more than, say, Turkey.  By that standard Israel is more pro-Palestinian than the protesters.

Are they pro-Palestinian because they want Gaza to be self-ruled?  The vast majority of Israelis supported a unilateral pullout from Gaza, which Israel undertook under Ariel Sharon.  The vast majority of Israelis would have been happy to let Gaza alone after that, but for incessant rocket attacks Hamas militants directed from within Gaza into Israel.  More than anything else, those attacks brought on the blockade.  If Hamas wanted Israel to truly leave Gaza alone, it would have left Israel alone.  By this standard, too, Israel is more pro-Palestinian than Hamas. By this standard, Ariel Sharon is clearly pro-Palestinian.

I’m someone who thinks Israel’s blockade of Gaza is short-sighted and counterproductive.  But I have no illusions that the IHH, which organized the protest, is pro-Palestinian—it is pro-Hamas.  Hussein Ibish of the Ameican Task Force on Palestine called it “a group of fanatics” on Larry Mantle’s KPCC show today. So why is NPR giving IHH supporters credibility that even Palestinians don’t give them?

The only fair terminology NPR and other news organizations should use when describing the protesters is this: “pro-Hamas.”  Otherwise, to be fair, they would have to describe Barak, Sharon, most Israelis and most American Jews—using the same standards—as “pro-Palestinian.” 

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