A NY Times writer defies the paper's taboo on 'terrorism' in Israel

It was most heartening to read an article by New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman about teenagers from five countries brought to New York to share their personal stories and their personal pain as psychological and physical victims of terrorism.("Wounded by Terrorism, Teenagers From 5 Nations Share Stories"  New York section, April 1).

The column brought home a poignant truth that is too often overlooked in news articles that deal with terror attacks -- namely, that terrorism leaves permanent mental scars and that such attacks shouldn't be dismissed or overlooked just because there may be no immediate fatalities.

Haberman's piece was also refreshing in that it did not shy away from using the "T-for-terrorism" word in recounting some of the terrible terrorist attacks that scarred these youngsters. That's an amazing rarity in the pages of the New York Times and I can only assume he got away with it because, as a columnist, he's  granted greater semantic latitude.

Whatever the reason, I applaud his avoidance of Orwellian euphemistic nonsense along with his straightforward description of how some of these youngsters were injured by terrorists while others lost dear ones.  As he points out, "They had come to New York from five countries, but had one thing in common.  Whether from Israel, Northern Ireland, France, Spain, or Liberia, each had been scarred by terrorism."

Also, that they had been brought to New York by a non-profit group that seeks to help "victims of terrorism who have lasting physical and psychological scars." and that one of their sponsors lost a father "killed in a 2002 terrorist attack in Rishon LeZiyyon, Israel."

What makes his account so remarkable -- and such a rarity at the NY Times -- is that such an event, if reported as a news story, would have been described as involving victims of ''attacks by militants" or wounded by "activists" -- any stale euphemism to avoid the "T" word -- especially if it involved a terror attack in Israel. In other countries, the "T" word osccasionally is allowed to slip in. 

But when terrorism is perpetrated by Palestinians, news reporters at the Times definitely know not to use the "T" word.

So, kudos to Haberman for injecting semantic sanity into the pages of the Times -- if only for one brief moment.
And on April Fool's Day no less.