Tit-For-Tat

June 19, 2003 12:00 by

 

Despite the peace efforts, deadly terror continues: On Wednesday, Palestinians gunned down 7-year old Noam Leibowitz on an Israeli highway, and Thursday morning in Sde Terumot, a Palestinian homicide bomber killed Avner Mordechai in his small grocery store. Police believe that Mordechai confronted the terrorist to prevent him from alighting upon an approaching public bus.

How have the media covered the attacks? Typical was Reuters, which headlined its Wednesday report, “Israeli Girl Killed, Fueling Cycle of Violence,” then situated this shooting among “tit-for-tat Israel-Palestinian attacks” that have marked the past two weeks.

The media’s terms “cycle of violence” and “tit-for-tat” killing have been repeated ad nauseam to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past three years. HonestReporting readers will recall our addressing these terms on numerous occasions, but as their use continues to expand, the need for grassroots response grows. The problem is as follows:

1) “Cycle of violence” describes a circular relationship between two combatants, neither of whom constitutes its causal source.

Historical Arab rejection of Israel belies this, but a more intuitive test does just as well: If Palestinian terror were to cease entirely, the IDF would certainly stop military action against Palestinians. The result: Total calm. If, on the other hand, the IDF were to disappear, Hamas and company would continue to pursue their official charter, which calls for a jihad to “obliterate Israel” and “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” This is no circular “cycle,” but rather a linear assault upon Israel, which acts in pointed self-defense.

2) “Tit-for-tat” suggests equivalent intent and methods.

To put it bluntly, an Israeli “tit-for-tat” response to the past two days would include IDF sharpshooters targeting a Palestinian child as she traveled with her family, and the IDF placing a bomb in a Palestinian grocery store. This, of course, has never and would never occur. What the IDF does do — target terrorists — is designed to reduce the violence and give the road map a chance. Hamas and company, after all, continue to state emphatically that they want absolutely no part in the peace talks.

Why would Reuters use such false neutral terms? Reuters would claim this preserves “media balance,” not favoring one side’s position over another. This same attitude led Steven Jukes, Reuters’ global head of news, to institute a policy not to refer to the September 11 attacks as “terror.” But in doing so, Reuters creates a dangerous equivalence between terror and anti-terror efforts, conferring upon terrorists some moral legitimacy.

Comments to Reuters: editor@reuters.com

The use of the terms “cycle of violence” and “tit-for-tat killing” has spread beyond Reuters to many local, mainstream papers such as:

The Baltimore Sun
Comments to: letters@baltsun.com

Abilene (TX) Reporter
Comments to: editor@reporternews.com

San-Jose Mercury News
Comments to: opinions@mercurynews.com

Detroit Free Press
Comments to: letters@freepress.com

HonestReporting encourages subscribers to monitor their local media for use of the terms “cycle of violence” and “tit-for-tat killing.” Why is protesting this terminology so important? As Diana Buttu, legal advisor to the PLO, recently noted, the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “a battle over language sometimes more than over anything else.”

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

— MEDIA WATCHDOGS MULTIPLYING —

HonestReporting subscribers will note favorably the following report from the Boston Globe: In the wake of the New York Times’ Jayson Blair scandal, readers across North America are becoming much more demanding regarding newspaper accuracy. “Passivity is giving way to more aggressive public scrutiny,” the Globe found. “With newspapers openly soliciting greater public vigilance and the Times’s problems turning journalistic accuracy into a water-cooler topic, more readers are turning into whistle-blowers.”

 

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