Today, when reporting on the bombing at a Jersualem bus stop, Reuters reported that:
Police said it was a "terrorist attack" -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike.An Israeli media source asked for clarification as to why Reuters implied that there was any doubt that this was a terror attack, and received a response from Reueters:
It is not up to Reuters to say who carried out an attack. We always need to quote the authorities, such as the police. On Wednesday, Israeli police used the Hebrew word "peegooa", without specifically mentioning the Palestinians - but in the local context it is clear that this is who they were referring to. We spelt that out to an international audience to clarify precisely who was being blamed.This biased attitude is similar to that of CNN, who reported the butchery in Itamar (when Arabs entered a home and brutally stabbed to death a sleeping husband, wife and small children and a baby) as "Israeli Family of 5 Killed in 'Terror Attack'". This is a gross, sick understatement, in the guise of objective journalistic impartiality.
We were certainly not trying to give a judgment value. We were simply seeking to present the facts, with all the correct attribution.
We have used the same approach for years. This is not a policy we apply only to the Middle East conflict. It is a policy which we use across the globe in all situations.
Firstly, the term "murder" is the correct one when discussing the illegal taking of lives. To use the term "kill" is to report less than actually took place.
Similarly, the common usage for "terror" is when violence is committed against civilians in order to strike fear in the hearts of the rest of the population. Therefore, placing this term in quotes implies that there is a chance that the event in question was not against civilians, or that it was not an attempt to cause fear in the civilian population. However, any witness would be clear that this attack was indeed against civilians and that it was just the latest in a tradition of bombings, a policy of terror, well reported by the Arabs themselves, attempting to cause Israelis to doubt their safety. Therefore, the use of quotations (or of euphamisms such as "strike") does not only fail to preserve journalistic integrity, it does the opposite: it creates a serious journalistic bias against the truth.
Sometimes, a journalist, or any observer, by simply reporting the honest facts, will have to make a value judgement. Any report from a witness of Jeffrey Dahmer in action would be negligently incomplete without the words "murder", "cannibal" and "repulsive". In this type of extreme circumstance, when purposely using terms that minimize the event observed in order to shy away from passing moral judgement, a reporter ends up making the opposite moral judement. One who claims that Jeffrey Dahmer "killed" instead of "murdered" and "recycled" instead of "cannibalized" would be, in effect, condoning his actions, and making them palatable and justifiable to the audience.
The same applies when reporting on terror and murder. To call the acts of the Itamar terrorists anything less than "brutal murder" simply falls short of the journalistic requirement to report what one sees. To call an Arab bombing in Israel a "Palestinian strike" is an attempt to neutralize the evil being done by the terrorists, and in effect justify it to the readers. It also serves as an attempt to make Israeli "strikes" morally equivalent to Arab terror, ignoring the obvious and clear intent of the Israeli Army to avoid civilian casualties, and the obvious and clear intent of the Arab terrorists to specifically target civilians.
The question to Reuters is: You say that "Police said it was a 'terrorist attack' -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike." What do you call it when a suitcase filled with explosives is detonated at a civilian bus stop? A "strike". When you are so careful to remove any perceived moral judgement by avoiding the standard terms society uses, you end up siding morally with terror.
Yes, this is exactly what Reuters and CNN have done. The news agencies use euphemisms that they believe will remove any moral judgement, presenting only the dry facts. However, instead of sounding neutral, they end up biased, questioning the basic facts that any witness would acknowledge. They end up at the very least, excusing, and, most likely, rationalizing and validating the murder of innocents. This is bad reporting and an unconsciable display of immorality.
This is not to say that these types of "morally neutral" euphemisms are new to Jews. We Jews have heard these types of phrases before. "Resettlement" (death camps), "lovely new homes for Jews" (Thereisenstadt), "work camp" (Auschwitz), "special treatment" (gas chamber and crematoria), and "final solution" (genocide). The fact is that the media outlets have a huge impact on how the world sees conflicts, and their reporting definitely has taken a side with the "militants" (terrorists) against the "Zionist regime" (democratic, civil Israel).
Not too long ago, another media outlet also tried to supress the reporting of evil perpetrated upon the Jews:
On November 14, 2001, in the 150th anniversary issue, The New York Times ran an article by former editor Max Frankel reporting that before and during World War II, the Times had maintained a strict policy in their news reporting and editorials to minimize reports on the Holocaust. The Times accepted the detailed analysis and findings of journalism professor Laurel Leff, who had published an article the year before in the Harvard International Journal of the Press and Politics, that the New York Times had deliberately suppressed news of the Third Reich’s persecution and murder of Jews.Leff concluded that New York Times reporting and editorial polices made it virtually impossible for American Jews to impress Congress, church or government leaders with the importance of helping Europe’s Jews. (source)
CNN and Reuters editors and journalists should be cognizant of the implications of what they write, apologize to the Jews of Israel, and learn a lesson for the future.