Aug 14 2001

NPR Reporter Urges Israeli Retaliation

In a report about the August 9 terrorist bombing in west Jerusalem, National Public Radio correspondent Linda Gradstein openly advised the Israeli government to retaliate against the Palestinians (NPR Morning Edition,8/9/01):

NPR HOST RENEE MONTAIGNE: “Is Israel likely to retaliate?”

LINDA GRADSTEIN: “I think Israel has to retaliate. Israel has been saying from now on it will retaliate for every attack. This is the second largest attack in the last ten months of violence–18 dead, including six children. I think Israel has no choice but to respond.”

Gradstein’s comment was startling. Coverage of acts of violence in the Middle East is often accompanied by media speculation about whether the other side will retaliate, but Gradstein’s matter-of-fact announcement that retaliation is the Israeli government’s only option was beyond the bounds of responsible reporting.

Military retaliation is not Israel’s only choice. It has any number of options, from appealing for international help to withdrawing from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It is hard to imagine Gradstein–or any other U.S. reporter–reporting that the Palestinians have “no choice” but to retaliate against an Israeli attack, although 464 Palestinians have been killed in the “last 10 months of violence,” along with 129 Israelis. Nor would such a stance be appropriate or helpful to public understanding.

Gradstein’s comment seems to be another indication of U.S. reporters’ difficulty in seeing the Middle East conflict through the eyes of both Israelis and Palestinians.

ACTION: Please contact NPR and respond to correspondent Linda Gradstein advising Israel to retaliate against the Palestinians.

CONTACT: NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin