Monday, December 27, 2010

Those Contradictory Militants

Eric Rozenman
CAMERA Media Analysis
21 December '10

I Say Terrorist, You Say Militant ... Let’s Call Reporting Off.

A caution signal about news media reliability regarding Arab-Israeli coverage has long been the use of "militant" as a sanitizing substitute for "terrorist" in describing attackers of Israeli non-combatants.

Terrorism, defined by the U.S. Law Code, Title 22, Chapter 38, Paragraph 2656 f(d) and used in the State Department’s annual reports to Congress is "... premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents ...." The Department of Defense definition recognizes that terrorism is a crime: "The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological." No cause, leaders as different as Pope John Paul II and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan have asserted, justifies terrorism.

Regardless, journalists reporting on news that meets the definition — civilian bus bombing or school shooting, for example — but committed by members of a group about which they are poorly informed or sympathetic too, have been prone to see not crime but protest. Hence the formulation, subscribed to by former National Public Radio Jerusalem correspondent Linda Gradstein, among others, that "one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter." Thus, over decades of Arab-Israeli coverage, terrorists often became militants.

(Read full "Those Contradictory Militants")

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