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June 27, 2011

Washington Post's Yelena Bonner Obit. Erases Israel

The Washington Post’s extensive obituary about prominent Soviet-era human rights activist Yelena Bonner expunged her pro-Israel stances and denunciations of antisemitism. It focused on the struggle by Bonner and her late husband Andrei Sakharov (both father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb and later Noble Peace Prize winner) against Soviet repression. But by omitting mention of their support for Israel and the Jewish people, the obituary resembled a print version of one of those Stalinist-era group photos of Kremlin leaders from which purged commissars were excised ex post facto.

The article was headlined (“Yelena Bonner dies; Russian rights activist and widow of Andrei Sakharov was 88, June 20?).
Bonner's obituary was written by Kevin Klose, dean of the University of Maryland’s college of journalism, previously president of National Public Radio (CAMERA has documented extensively the network’s anti-Israel bias) and a former Post foreign correspondent, and Emma Brown, a Post reporter.

As retired Washington McClatchy Newspapers Bureau Chief and CAMERA supporter Leo Rennert pointed out, the Klose/Brown treatment suppressed pertinent information, including Bonner’s address to Oslo Freedom Forum two years ago in which she promoted human rights in general by defending Israel specifically:

She sounded a ringing alarm about "anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment growing throughout Europe and even further afield." She lashed out at fellow human-rights activists, demanding to know "Why doesn't the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit trouble you in the same way as the fate of the Guantanamo prisoners? During the years Shalit has been held by terrorists, the world human rights community has done nothing for his release …. [T]he real step toward peace must become the release of Shalit. Release -- not exchange for 1,000 or 1,500 prisoners who are in Israeli prisons serving court sentences for real crimes."

Likewise, The Post avoided mention of Sakharov’s opposition to pressures by the West for Israeli concessions. “All wars that Israel has waged have been just, forced upon it by the irresponsibility of the Arab leaders,? Sakharov had argued.

The Forward (June 22) published Natan Sharansky’s memories of his friend and ally Bonner. A former “prisoner of Zion,? later Israeli Knesset (parliament) member and now head of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Sharansky described his last visit in 2010 to Bonner’s home in Boston. The paper said

Sharansky was surprised that she didn’t want to discuss Russia, but Bonner said her deeper concern was for the Jewish state. "Russian people have to decide in what kind of society they want to live," Sharansky remembers Bonner telling him. "Israelis have already decided. And they are fighting, they are fighting for all of us. And the free world doesn’t support them. I don’t understand.’?

By excising Israel and the Jews, The Post’s account diminishes Bonner’s life and dilutes the scope of her moral authority. — by Sophie Linshitz, CAMERA Washington research intern.

Posted by ER at June 27, 2011 12:13 PM


[By excising Israel and the Jews, The Post’s account diminishes Bonner’s life and dilutes the scope of her moral authority.] Not quite. By excising Israel and the Jews, the Post diminishes further its already diminished (nearly non-existent) moral authority.

Posted by: Ruvy Kossover at June 27, 2011 02:28 PM

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