Several years ago, during the height of the second Palestinian intifada, CAMERA campaigned against Reuters’ protective stance on Palestinian terrorists (See “The Power of Words–Reuters’ and CAMERA’s“) and managed to elicit the use of more accurate and fair terminology on the subject. Reuters in a post-9/11 world was infamous for defiantly contending:
“We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word ‘terrorist.”
CAMERA had pointed out that beyond their defense of terrorists in general, Reuters essentially justified brutal Palestinian terrorism by redefining and distorting it into an “uprising for independence.” At the time, CAMERA staff and letter-writers convinced Reuters to use more accurate and honest language, and for awhile they did.
Now, with Palestinian terrorism against Israel on the rise, Reuters is reverting to its old ways. An article about the latest attack against civilians at a busy bus stop in the center of Jerusalem – one that was celebrated by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – included the following description:
Police said it was a “terrorist attack” — Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike.
But this is not, as Reuters suggests, a matter of Israel imputing evil motives to Palestinians by labelling a legitimate military action as a “terrorist attack.” The dictionary and popular use of the word “terrorism” connotes “the use of violence and threats (against civilians) to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” The bombing of such a civilian target far from any military area, which resulted in the death of a British woman and in the wounding of 39 civilians, cannot be considered anything other than a “terrorist attack” by any objective observer.
Given the death of a British national, it is puzzling that British media outlets sanitize the attack by covering up its terrorist nature. Sky News, for example, similarly wrote:
Police said the incident was a terrorist attack.
Readers should not allow Reuters and others to sanitize terrorism with language that attributes it as a claim by the victim. In a world where terrorism has become disturbingly prevalent, there is no room for mitigation of terrorists’ actions. News consumers should insist upon the proper labelling of terrorism as such.