Feb 1 2005

No Children in Palestine

On January 4, NPR’s Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep noted that Palestinian presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas had described Israel as the “Zionist enemy.” But the NPR anchor didn’t tell listeners the context of Abbas’ remark: Seven Palestinian children working in their families’ strawberry fields had just been killed by Israeli forces.

Abbas referred to the children as “martyrs who were killed today by the shells of the Zionist enemy in Beit Lahiya.” NPR reported Abbas’ comment, but did not report on the killings themselves.

Media critic Ali Abunimah of the website Electronic Intifada wrote to NPR about the piece, and two days later (1/6/05) Morning Edition aired a correction of sorts: “We could have given more context for his statement. We said it was in response to violence, but did not specify that the violence was an Israeli tank shell that killed seven Palestinians.” What the correction still left out was that the Palestinians were all children, ranging in age from 10 to 17.

It’s not that NPR doesn’t sometimes consider the ages of victims to be worth mentioning: A report on All Things Considered that aired the same day as the correction pointed out that Israel said the attack on the strawberry field came in response to rocket firings, “one of which injured an Israeli child.” The dead Palestinians, mentioned again in that All Things Consideredsegment, continued to be of no particular ages.