Three Palestinians, including an infant, were murdered in a
roadside shooting near Hebron on July 19, apparently by a Jewish extremist
group calling itself the Committee for Road Safety. Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres vowed that Israel will apprehend those who perpetrated the
abominable murder ... and will punish them to the fullest extent of the
law. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, deplored that attack,
condemning all forms of violence and terrorism no matter who carries them
Reporting the attack, the New York Times erroneously
termed the perpetrators vigilantes rather than terrorists or
extremists. In response, CAMERA sent the following letter to the New York
Times Foreign Desk:
July 23, 2001
Dear Mr. Schmemann,
In his July 21 and July 23
articles, Clyde Haberman used the term "vigilante" to describe the
persons who killed 3 Palestinians in a drive-by shooting. This word implies
that the victims were criminals who deserved the death penalty.
According to the American Heritage dictionary,
a "vigilante" is "one who takes, or advocates the taking of, law
enforcement into one's own hands."
The Palestinians in the car were not known
criminals, which means that the shooters were not "vigilantes," but
terrorists. People who shoot at innocent civilians (uninvolved in violence) for
political reasons are terrorists.
The Israeli government is calling the snipers a
"terror cell" and Prime Minister Sharon has condemned the shooting as
an act of "terror." The AP describes the killers as "a Jewish
extremist group." All of these labels are more appropriate than
I hope that in future Mr. Haberman will label
all such drive-by shooters, whether they are Palestinians or Israelis, as
A similar letter was sent to the Los Angeles Times, which also
mislabeled the attackers as vigilantes.