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June 24, 2010

NPR's 'Fresh Air' not always Wright

An interview with Lawrence Wright, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of The Looming Tower: al-Qaida and the Road to 9/11, on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air?, conducted by Terry Gross (June 22) highlighted tunnel activity between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. While much of the interview is accurate and balanced, it misled listeners on several key points.

Wright claimed that rocket attacks into Israel by Palestinian Terrorists had “essentially stopped? during the de facto truce in 2008, before Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. Actually, during the six-month “truce,? 223 rockets and 139 mortars had been fired at Israel from Gaza. Even before Hamas declared it would not renew the “ceasefire,? more strikes had been launched. In all of 2008, Israel was hit with nearly 3,000 rockets and mortars before it responded with Operation Cast Lead.

Wright refers to smuggling tunnels from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula as the “the major part of the functioning economy? in Gaza and claims that, “the legitimate economy has been pretty much wiped out.? Describing the situation thus could leave listeners with the mis-impression that, as anti-Israel sources have claimed, there is a “humanitarian crisis? in the Strip.

Rather, the amount of aid transferred by Israel into Gaza, plus consumer commodities smuggled in, has been quite large. In the first quarter of 2010 alone, Israel allowed 94,500 tons of supplies in 3,676 trucks into the Gaza Strip through Israeli crossings. Included in this were 48,000 tons of food items and 1,068 tons of medical supplies

Write accurately describes the situation in the Gaza Strip in the 1990s, when the “poverty rate was almost equivalent to that of the United States? and “100,000 Gazans were going to work in Israel every day.? However, neither he nor Gross reminds listeners that the end of this prosperity was primarily due to eruption of the 2000-2004 Palestinian terror war against Israel known as the second Intifada.

These omissions marred an otherwise considered presentation by Wright that included pertinent Israeli perspectives. -- Traci Siegel, Washington research intern

Posted by ER at June 24, 2010 05:13 PM


I was much more disappointed with the interview than CAMERA apparently was. I wrote to Fresh Air about it and posted the letter on my blog.

Posted by: Jonathan Kamens at August 1, 2010 07:41 PM

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