Associated Press Downplays Terror

The Associated Press once again downplays Palestinian terror. A March 18, 2004 article by Mohammed Daraghmeh not only equates Israeli demonstrators with Palestinian terrorists, but minimizes the activities of those terrorists.

In the article, entitled “Palestinian and Israeli extremists pose threat to truce,” Daraghmeh states:

Extremists on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides pose a significant threat to a truce that 13 Palestinian factions agreed to extend this week.

Rogue Palestinian groups, some of which are believed to be funded by the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, remain outside the truce, which is underpinning the new momentum toward peacemaking that has brought a recent drop in violence.

And Jewish extremists could upset the deal if they make good on threats to stage provocative demonstrations aimed at derailing Israel’s planned pullout from the Gaza Strip.

AP uses the identical word—extremist—to characterize both sets of people. Who, then, are these Palestinian and Israeli “extremists”? How do their activities differ?

According to the article, the Israeli “extremists” are threatening to stage “provocative demonstrations.” Daraghmeh reports that they have discussed sending thousands of Jews onto the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site (and home of what is widely considered the third holiest Islamic shrine), in order to distract the Israeli army and police from evicting Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip.

So here, “extremist” refers to Israelis who are contemplating demonstrating against their government’s policy.

On the Palestinian side, the extremists mentioned by the AP are members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC). The article indicates that the group “said it would not abide by the cease-fire declared in Cairo …” Its members “use tactics similar to Hezbollah guerrillas. It is responsible for blowing up three Israeli tanks and killing seven soldiers in three attacks in 2002 and 2003.”

In this case, “extremist” refers to a group with a history of deadly anti-Israeli attacks who vow to continue this violence.

By setting up a false moral equivalence between Israeli protesters and Palestinian killers, Daraghmeh simultaneously minimizes the threat of  the Palestinian attackers and grossly exaggerates the danger posed by the protesters.

Daraghmeh goes even further to whitewash the PRC. While the reporter notes that the terrorist group was responsible for killing seven Israeli soldiers in 2002 and 2003, he omits crucial information about the group’s civilian targets.  The PRC has also claimed responsibility for other deadly attacks including a January 2005 attack on a Gaza Strip crossing point used to transport Palestinian produce; the launching of rockets into the Israeli town of Sderot; and the point-blank shooting and killing of a pregnant mother and her four daughters (aged 2, 7, 9, and 11) in 2004. In addition, the group is suspected of  having bombed a U.S. diplomatic convoy which killed three Americans.

Considering the group’s targeting of civilians, a more accurate way to describe the PRC would be “a terrorist group.” This would not only eliminate the false moral equivalence between protesters and killers, but would also signal readers that the PRC is a group that does not differentiate between military and civilian targets.

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