The Associated Press (AP) has adopted the word “militia” to refer to Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Not only are Hamas and Islamic Jihad on both the U.S. and E.U. lists of international terrorist organizations, but all three share a platform of targeting and killing civilians. Even the U.N., not particularly know for friendship towards Israel, has acknowledged this regarding Hamas. To cite one example, a Country Rapporteur for an official U.N. body (the International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, known as CERD), referred in a U.N. report to
...racially motivated terrorist acts for which the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) had claimed responsibility, and the content of the Hamas Charter, which perpetuated racist stereotypes against Jews, promoted racial hatred and incited to violence ...
“Racially motivated terrorist acts” are hardly the function of a “militia,” which the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines as:
an army composed of ordinary citizens ... subject to call for service in an emergency
Hamas does not detonate bombs on crowded buses as “service in an emergency” but in the service of terrorizing a civilian population.
The AP has generally misapplied “militia” in recent months to refer to the three Palestinian terrorist groups that have signed a cease-fire, and to a step in the first phase of the road map calling for the dismantling of Palestinian terrorist groups, calling the groups “militias.” (There is ample discussion of “violence and terrorism” in the road map, but no mention of “militias.”)
Most seriously, the AP has paraphrased Israeli and U.S. officials using the term though the actual quotations by these officials contain the words “terror” and “terrorists,” and not “militias.”
Examples of “militia” to refer to terrorist groups:
An agreement by Palestinian militias to suspend their armed uprising could be a major breakthrough for a U.S.-backed peace plan that envisions Palestinian statehood by 2005. (AP, June 24)
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and a militia linked to Fatah have carried out scores of bombing and shooting attacks against Israelis, killing hundreds of people on buses and public places. (AP, June 27)
In an early morning raid, Israeli troops killed a local leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militia linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. (AP, July 4)
Examples of “militia” to refer to the road map's requirement that Palestinian terrorist groups be dismantled:
The ‘road map’ also requires Palestinian security forces to dismantle militias, but Palestinian leaders have said they will not crack down on the groups. (AP, June 27)
In the first stage of the road map, Israel must gradually withdraw to positions held before the outbreak of fighting, while Palestinians are required to dismantle the militias that have killed hundreds of Israelis in shootings and bombings. (AP, June 16)
AP paraphrases of Israeli and U.S. officials that use “militia,” and the quotes to which they refer containing the words “terror” and “terrorists”:
... the chief of Israel's Shin Bet security service said Tuesday that Israel would withdraw from additional West Bank towns only if Palestinian police begin disarming Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militias in the Gaza Strip. “The real test (in Gaza) will be in two or three weeks, when they have to deal with disarming the terrorist organizations,” the Shin Bet chief, Avi Dichter, told a symposium at Tel Aviv University. “We will not move on to transfer responsibility for the West Bank before it becomes totally clear that in Gaza the process of disarming terror groups has begun.” (AP,July 1)
Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in the Gaza Strip have insisted the deal is not final, while Israel and the United States are skeptical about its value, saying Palestinian security forces must quickly disarm the militias ... 'The [U.S.] president is interested in real progress on the ground, in the dismantlement of terrorism, and in an end to the killing," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said ... 'If they will stop their terror attacks, we can stop the activities against them ...,' he [Israeli Justice Minister Yosef Lapid] told AP. (AP, June 26)
The June 20th report did a better job of paraphrasing, actually using the word “terror,” but it is still marred by its inappropriate use of “militia”:
Powell spoke Friday at a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who said no progress can be made on a U.S.-backed peace plan until Palestinian security forces fight the militias. “The enemy of peace has been Hamas,” Powell said, adding that as long as the group remains committed to terror and violence, 'this is a problem we have to deal with in its entirety.' Sharon said the Palestinians must realize that without a decisive war on terror, there will be no progress in peace talks.“ A true war on terrorism, on its infrastructure, on the entities that finance it, on those who initiate it and on the dispatchers, is the way to make way and move ahead in a sincere and genuine process,” Sharon said. (AP, June 20)
It is disingenuous for the Associated Press to claim “militia” is a mere paraphrase. Rather than conveying the essence of terrorist groups -- that they target and kill civilians and underscore a gross breach of human rights — the term “militia” leads us to believe the Palestinian groups are legal, legitimate and even moral — a civilian standing army that can be called upon “for service in an emergency.”
The adoption of the term “militias” to refer to internationally recognized Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades should be protested.