Intentionally killing civilians from America, Europe, or Asia (or almost anywhere else) makes you a terrorist—but intentionally killing innocent Jews in Israel merely makes you a “militant.” At least in the eyes of the “mainstream” media.
The vocabulary makeover is part of the moral equivalency that is rampant in media coverage of Israeli-Palestinian issues.
The USA Today’s editorial page recently informed readers that “both Israeli and Palestinian leaders are captives of fanatical extremists,” as if a democratically-elected government seeking to protect its citizens from mass murderers is on a par with a self-appointed dictatorship aiding and abetting those same mass murderers in the intentional slaughter of innocent civilians. But at least that’s the editorial page.
Far more sinister is the subliminal marketing campaign waged on news pages to varnish the image of Palestinian terrorists. In the same issue of the USA Today, the front page contained a story with the following lead sentence: “The Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad called off an 8-week truce with Israel Thursday and vowed to stage more suicide bombings.” Notice that in the same sentence containing two groups’ joint promise to kill more innocent civilians is the label of the organizations as merely “militant”—in an ostensibly objective news story.
The dictionary definition—and the usual connotation—for “militant” is: “Having a combative character; aggressive, especially in the service of a cause: a militant political activist.” Groups that exist for the primary purpose of killing innocent civilians are not “combative” or “aggressive.” Murderous, perhaps. Terrorizing, certainly.
If anything, though, the definition for “terrorist”—those who employ “the systematic use of violence as a means to intimidate or coerce societies or governments”—does not fully capture the depths of the depravity. The goal of groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad is not just to “intimidate” or “coerce”; it is actually to kill Jews. And that’s in their own words.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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