By Joel Mowbray, August 28, 2003.
Intentionally killing civilians from America, Europe, or Asia (or almost anywhere
else) makes you a terrorist – but intentionally killing innocent Jews in Israel
merely makes you a “militant”. At least in the eyes of the ‘mainstream’ media.
The vocabulary makeover is part of the moral equivalency that is rampant in
media coverage of Israeli-Palestinian issues.
The USA Today’s editorial page recently informed readers that “both Israeli and
Palestinian leaders are captives of fanatical extremists,” as if a
democratically-elected government seeking to protect its citizens from mass
murderers is on a par with a self-appointed dictatorship aiding and abetting
those same mass murderers in the intentional slaughter of innocent civilians.
But at least that’s the editorial page.
Far more sinister is the subliminal marketing campaign waged on news pages to
varnish the image of Palestinian terrorists. In the same issue of the USA Today,
the front page contained a story with the following lead sentence: “The
Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad called off an 8-week truce
with Israel Thursday and vowed to stage more suicide bombings.”
Notice that in the same sentence containing two groups’ joint promise to
kill more innocent civilians is the label of the organizations as merely “militant” –
in an ostensibly objective news story.
The dictionary definition – and the usual connotation – for “militant” is: “Having
a combative character; aggressive, especially in the service of a cause: a
militant political activist.” Groups that exist for the primary purpose of killing
innocent civilians are not “combative” or “aggressive.” Murderous, perhaps.
If anything, though, the definition for “terrorist” – “those who employ
the systematic use of violence as a means to intimidate or coerce societies or
governments” – does not fully capture the depths of the depravity. The goal of
groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad is not just to “intimidate” or “coerce”; it is
actually to kill Jews. And that’s in their own words.
Earlier this summer, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi declared, “By God, we will
not leave one Jew in Palestine (meaning Israel as well as the territories),”
justifying his pledge by claiming, “This is our land, not the Jews..”
Last year, the leader of Hizbollah, Hassan Nassrallah, mused, “If they
(Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”
And Hizbollah’s protector, the Syrian government, is no less open about
its desire to kill all Jews. Syria’s Minister of Defense, Mustapha Tlass, opined in
a television interview two years ago that if “every Arab killed a Jew, no Jews
would remain,” and added that he personally wanted “to kill any Jew he faced.”
Given that the terrorists openly – and proudly – call for the murder of innocent
civilians, why does the media insist on calling them “militants”?
Even the Associated Press has hopped on the bandwagon. The day after the
recent bus bombing that killed 23 – including six children – a search of the AP
photo archive with the word “terrorist” yielded results from Asia and elsewhere
in the Middle East, but none for the attack in Jerusalem. To find those photos,
the search required the word “militant.”
One must wonder what exactly about the intentional murder of 23 innocents on
a bus packed with small children is “combative” or “aggressive.”
When Israel responded by killing the Hamas terrorists responsible for planning
and ordering the attack, the Middle East’s sole democracy was portrayed as the
aggressor. Typical is the following New York Times headline: “With Cease-Fire
Crumbling, Israel Refuses to Suspend Raids.”
But the worst offender – and the originator of the “militant” fad – is Reuters, the
international news wire service. Whereas some news outlets merely imply moral
equivalency between Israel and the terrorists, Reuters is overt. Reuters
described Israel’s move against Hamas as a “relapse into the tit-for-tat
bloodshed that doomed previous peacemaking.”
“Tit-for-tat” is explicit equivalency; Reuters is informing the entire world that
from an objective news perspective, there is absolutely no difference between
the targeting of terrorist masterminds and the mass murder of innocent civilians.
Although there is some temptation to pin the blame on latent – or maybe even
cognizant – anti-Semitism, a more likely culprit is the innate belief most have
that there exists similar legitimacy on opposite sides of almost any dispute.
But using terms such as “militant” and “spiral of violence” only serves to
extend the “spiral of equivalency,” masking the true evil of the “militants.”