NYT Semantically Purifies Palestinian terrorism

The announcement by Fatah and Hamas of a unity deal has prompted mainstream media to engage in a predictable semantic game – using all kinds of verbal distortions to keep from calling Hamas what it really is – a certified terrorist organization.

Witness, for example, the New York Times version in its April 24 edition, which runs an extensive article that carries the following headline:  “Palestinian Rivals Announce Unity Pact, Drawing U.S. and Israeli Rebuke.”(Page A14).

This puts the identity of Fatah and Hamas on a fairly equal scale, scrubbing in the process any hint of terrorism in defining Hamas.

Ditto the lead paragraph of the dispatch by Times’ correspondents Jodi Rudoren and Michael Gordon, which tells readers about a “new deal announced by feuding Palestinian factions, including the militant group Hamas.”

“Militant,” of course, is the media’s favorite semantic disguise of terrorism.  Excapt it doesn’t come close to conveying the accurate identity of a terrorist group like Hamas.

To get down to basics about real-world words, terrorism is the deliberate use of violence against civilians in pursuit of a poltical or ideological agenda.  This fit Hamas to a “T.”  From its very inception, Hamas in its basic charter and official pronouncements has called for the killing of Jews and the destruction of Israel.  How many more suicide bombings and rocket barrages must Israel absorb for Hamas to qualify as a terrorist organization in the New York Times? To be sure, the Rudoren-Gordon article does contain here and there the “T” word – but only  when it’s attributed to someone else – not to the New York Times

For example, it’s OK for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell Times readers that Hamas is a “murderous terrorist organization.” Or for the United States and Israel to deem Hamas a terrorist group.  The Times, however, won’t join in such a description.  Instead, it purifies Hamas with namby-pamby euphemisms like “militant.”

Thus, the main impression left by both the headline and the lead paragraph is that, when it comes to Fatah and Hamas, these are just a couple of “rivals” – a duo of “feuding” Palestinian factions. 

The Palestinian equivalent of Shakespeare’s Capulets and Montagus..  Or closer to home – the Hatfields and McCoys.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

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