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Monday, September 15, 2003

NPR's DoubleSpeak

Linda Gradstein reports: "Armed Gangs Battle for Control of Nablus"
On the way back from driving my daughter to school this morning, I popped on the radio with some trepidation. It's only a mile and a half -- how much could NPR upset me in only three or four minutes?

I was surprised to hear Linda Gradstein allowing a Palestinian woman to say on the air that "we felt so happy" . . . she said that twice: "so happy". . . that Israeli troops had re-entered Nablus, "because it's calmed down."

The audio is available online . Here is my own (admittedly unskilled) transcription:
The West Bank city of Nablus has been hard hit in the last three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Israeli officials call it a center of terrorism and Israeli troops have staged frequent raids into the city. Last year Nablus residents spent five months under an Israeli-imposed curfew. Yet when Israeli troops went back into the city last month, some residents welcomed them, saying their presence brought an end to a reign of terror by local Palestinian gangs.

NPR’s Linda Gradstein visited Nablus and filed this report.

LG: On a recent afternoon Samia Tufaha was finally able to get her hair done. The well dressed young mother of three said the presence of Israeli soldiers in Nablus made her feel safe enough to leave her home on the outskirts of the city. For months before the latest Israli incursion, she says, masked gunmen roamed the streets, fighting each other and terrorizing local residents:

Tufaha: “Yeah, my husband tell me because I mustn’t go out, you must stay at home, because you can’t go to the center of the city.”

LG: “Last month, after a suicide bombing in Jerusalem killed 22 people, Israeli troops re-entered Nablus to search for Palestinian militants. Tufaha’s reaction is surprising:

Tufaha: “We felt so happy. Really. (laughs) When Israelis come here, we felt so happy. Because it’s calmed down.”

LG: “While most in Nablus groaned at yet another Israeli incursion, Tufaha says the soldiers are looking for gunmen, and do not bother ordinary citizens. Palestinians in Nablus say the city was on the verge of anarchy. More than a dozen residents were killed or wounded by members of the armed gangs. The thugs visited local businesses demanding protection money. Officials who have spoken out against the gangs have seen their cars torched. The brother of the governor of Nablus was kidnapped and held by gang members for several hours. Near the Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of the city, armed Palestinians set up roadblocks and checked ID cards of local residents. Some people were detained and beaten by gang members in makeshift cells.

Abdul ---- is a professor of political science at al-Najaf University and a sharp critic of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority.

Abdul: “There has been some internal rivalry, inside Nablus , particularly between prominent Authority people, like for instance the governor and the mayor. And each of them has his own supporters. And once in a while this kind of friction or rivalry just breaks out, into fighting Most of those who suffer are the innocent people, who are in the streets.”

LG: It’s not clear how many gang members there are. [The professor] estimates there are only a few dozen. He charges that the security services of the Palestinian Authority in Nablus have done little to stop the gangs.

Abdul: “So many of those people who are shooting belong to the security service, either to the Preventive Security or to the intelligence or to other departments, so the people have been crippled, actually."

LG: The governor of Nablus, Brigadier General Mahmoud Al-Alul, disagrees. He says he would like to crack down on what he calls these gangs of thugs and criminals, but he says Israel has made that impossible, by destroying Palestinian police stations and arresting members of the security forces.

Mahmoud: “There is problem of confronting the security situation in the region. The basic reason behind that is the Israeli condition that make it the low and handicapped and absent and the destruction of the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority.”

LG: Many of the gang members say they belong to the AlAqsa Martyr Brigades, a militant offshoot of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, that has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks against Israel over the past three years.

Amin Mahbul, the newly-elected Secretary-General of Fatah in the West Bank, says the movement will eventually deal with the gangs:

Amin: “I believe we Fatah can make control, but when they can? Now, no. . . no one can make control now because the Israeli [?] every day kill, every day arrested, so you cannot tell him stop."

The streets of Nablus these days are crowded. With Israeli troops in control of the city, the gang members have gone underground, at least for now. But many here worry that if the Israeli soldiers pull out, the gangs could come back.

Linda Gradstein, NPR news.

1. According to the reporter and those interviewed, supporters of various members of the Palestinian Authority terrorize, attack and even kill their own innocent civilians, even though NPR steers clear of reaching any such conclusion.

2. Residents of Nablus are grateful for the presence of the Israeli Defense Force because they do not "bother ordinary citizens," but do impose order on the terror and lawlessness which reign in their absence, even if this does surprise Linda Gradstein.

3. The governor of Nablus and the secretary-general of Fatah both blame Israel for their inability to maintain civil order.

4. NPR will do anything to avoid calling these creatures 'terrorists.' Because in this instance there is no pseudo-noble ostensibly-political goal that could be twisted to justify said violence, NPR creates a new category: not terrorists, not mere militants or gunmen, and not even activists, but GANG MEMBERS, like in urban America. Yeah, right; NPR must think we're stooopid.

5. Finally, NPR LIES. Gradstein says that an interviewee "charges that the security services of the Palestinian Authority in Nablus have done little to stop the gangs," when in fact what he says is, “So many of those people who are shooting belong to the security service."