In coverage of the current violence between Palestinians and Israel, many news correspondents are using lop-sided language in reporting on Jewish attacks against Arabs versus Arab attacks against Jews. Arab mobs, whose actions range from stoning Jews praying at the Western Wall to firing guns at Israeli soldiers to destroying Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, are typically characterized as “protestors” or “demonstrators.” In contrast, Jewish mobs, who since Monday night have attacked Arabs and their places of employment, homes, and worship, are described as “rampaging.”
For example, on Oct. 10, 2000, New York Times’ Deborah Sontag writes that:
Thousands attended funerals there [in Nazareth] on Monday for two Israeli Arabs killed on Sunday night, by Israeli riot police, after Jews rampaged through the heart of town.
The accompanying photo is similarly captioned:
Funerals were held in Nazareth yesterday for two Israeli Arabs killed in confrontations after Jews rampaged through Arab areas. Masked Arab youths roamed the town, where many criticized Israeli police.
In contrast, when it comes to Palestinian rampaging, Sontag uses the softer term “protest,” which gives a false impression of non-violence. In the same article, she writes that:
. . . the Israeli cabinet decided early this morning to avoid exploding a tense situation and gave Yasir Arafat more time to quiet protests.
Further on she writes:
Palestinians began gathering in the city center for a protest against Mr. Barak’s ultimatum. Then, the demonstration-in-the-making collided with a funeral procession for a rioter who had just died of wounds sustained last week. Already combative, the protesters and mourners became enraged . . .
Similarly, towards the end of the article, she writes:
The demonstrators threw rocks and firebombs at the soldiers, and taunted them over loudspeakers.
The New York Times also published an article by Chris Hedges titled “Crowds of Jews Rampage in Nazareth,” which begins:
Several hundred Jews, apparently tired of feeling trapped for 12 days in this predominantly Arab city, rampaged on Sunday night. . .
The caption on the accompanying graph also reads “Jews rampaged through Nazareth. Two Arabs were killed.” Yet, in all the coverage of the Palestinian attacks against Jews and Jewish places, not once are these actions described as “rampaging” with such prominence and repetition.
Gillian Findlay of ABC News reports October 11 on World News Tonight about the attack against mourners at the funeral of Rabbi Hillel Lieberman, who was found murdered. She states:
The settlers say the Palestinians threw the first stones, but soon the settlers were on a rampage.
Like many of her colleagues, Findlay does not use the word “rampage” in reference to Palestinian attacks against Jews.
The Los Angeles Times,like the New York Times, uses this uneven terminology. In an article entitled “Militant Jews Take Anger to the Streets. Israel: Hatreds Erupt as Scores of Youths Rampage Through an Arab Neighborhood in Retaliation,” readers are told that on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur:
…scores of Jewish youths went on a rampage in an Arab neighborhood .(Marjorie Miller, Oct. 10)
A separate article, on October 11, differentiates between Jewish and Arab rioters as such:
In the West Bank, several hundred Palestinian demonstrators battled with Israeli troops on the northern outskirts of the city of Ramallah.
Jewish actions are not labeled as demonstrations; they are rampages:
Inside Israel proper, meanwhile, police fended off criticism Tuesday that they had failed to stop rampages by Jewish mobs who attacked Arab mosques, stores and homes Sunday and Monday nights.
Likewise, Susan Taylor Martin reports in the St. Petersburg Times that
…hundreds of Jews went on a rampage Monday night, breaking windows, smashing furniture, setting fires.
Yet, referring to the Arab gun, stone, and molotov cocktail attacks against Israeli soldiers, she writes: “Many of the Arab casualties have occurred during protests against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”