In covering the recent charges against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, several media outlets downplayed the relationship between Hamas and terrorism, saying only that it is “blamed for” or “accused of” attacks against Israel. This language is misleading in light of the fact that Hamas itself regularly takes credit for attacks.
During an NPR News broadcast on the afternoon of July 27, reporter Paul Brown said that “Hamas has been blamed for suicide bomb attacks in Israel.”
In his July 27 story “Muslim charity Holy Land Foundation indicted, accused of dealing with terrorists,” Associated Press reporter Curt Anderson wrote that Hamas is “a Palestinian terrorist group blamed for dozens of suicide bomber attacks in Israel.” David Koenig, also of the AP, used the same phrase, “blamed for,” in his July 28 article “Muslim charity indicted, accused of dealing with terrorists.” While we commend AP for using the phrase “Palestinian terrorist group,” why not clearly state that Hamas is “responsible” for dozens of suicide bomber attacks, rather than just “blamed for”?
In the article, “Charity indicted as backer of Hamas; Muslim group denies funds aided militants,” also from July 28, Rebecca Carr of Cox News Service reported that Hamas is “blamed for scores of attacks in Israel.”
Los Angeles Times staff writer Stephen Braun used similar language in his July 28 article “Texas charity, leaders are charged with aiding Hamas.” He reported that "Hamas is accused of scores of suicide bombings in Israel.”
COVERAGE BY OTHER NEWS OUTLETS
Other news outlets gave more accurate descriptions of Hamas in their coverage of the Holy Land Foundation indictment. For example, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald used an article by Maria Recio which stated that “Hamas, whose members have conducted dozens of suicide bombings in Israel, is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.” (emphasis added)
On July 27, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft held a news conference announcing the indictment against the Holy Land Foundation and seven of its senior leaders. The defendants are charged with providing significant financial and material support to Hamas, which is described by the Attorney General as “a notorious terrorist organization that engages in violent attacks to intimidate and coerce the government of Israel and its civilian population.” During the press conference, Ashcroft correctly noted that Hamas itself openly claims responsibility for its actions:
Hamas has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks of terror that have taken the lives of hundreds of individuals, including several American citizens. Suicide bombings perpetrated against innocent civilians are the group's trademark.
PRIOR COVERAGE OF HAMAS
At other times, NPR, AP, Cox, and the L.A. Times have all reported Hamas’ claims of responsibility for suicide attacks.
NPR's Alex Chadwick explained during a March 22, 2004 broadcast that “Hamas is a group that has claimed responsibility for repeated suicide bombings in Israel.”
On Dec. 10, 2003, Mohammed Daraghmeh of the AP reported that “Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the [suicide bombing] attacks” which have killed hundreds of Israelis.
On July 12, 2003, Cox's Michelle Orris wrote that “Hamas claimed responsibility for a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem on Wednesday and has vowed more attacks . . ..”
On Jan. 31, 2004, L.A. Times reporter Ken Ellingwood wrote that “Hamas claimed to be behind a fatal bombing at a Gaza Strip border crossing two weeks ago.”
One need look no farther than Hamas’ own English language Web site (www.hamasonline.com), http://www.hamasonline.com