Two Bombs, Two Standards

This week’s twin Mideast suicide attacks exposed double standards in media coverage. At a checkpoint outside Najaf, an Iraqi army officer killed five American soldiers by blowing himself up in a taxi; in Netanya, a Palestinian ignited his explosive belt at the entrance to a cafe, injuring 50 Israelis.

It is important to note that while the Iraqi attacker targeted soldiers, the Palestinian bomber targeted civilians. The U.S. government makes this key distinction, officially defining terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets.”
http://history.navy.mil/library/guides/terrorism.htm#definition

The disguising of a car bomb as a taxi in order to kill uniformed soldiers would therefore not constitute terrorism, according to the U.S. government. A heinous war tactic, yes; terrorism, no.

Nonetheless, the same media that has consistently refused to call Palestinian bombings “terror” is now freely quoting American spokesmen as calling the Iraqi checkpoint bombing “terror.” For example:

THE NEW YORK TIMES: “I don’t know what motivated this guy to kill himself,” said Capt. Andrew J. Valles, the First Brigade’s civil and military affairs officer. “To me, this is not an act of war. It is terrorism: a man in a civilian vehicle killing himself at a checkpoint.”
http://nytimes.com/2003/03/30/international/worldspecial/30BOMB.html

AFP: “We are very concerned about it. It looks and feels like terrorism,” said Major General Stanley McChrystal, vice director of operations for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20030329/pl_afp/iraq_war_suicide_us_030329232114

* * *

The double standard is fully evident in coverage from the Associated Press. Consider:

- The Associated Press listed the Iraqi attack among other historical “terror attacks against the U.S. military”:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030329/ap_on_re_mi_ea/war_suicide_attacks_glance_1

- Yet the Associated Press coverage of the Netanya blast calls the bomber a “militant” (using “terror” only in direct quotations):
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030330/ap_wo_en_ge/me_gen_israel_explosion_12

To question the double standard, send comments to:
feedback@ap.org

By the way, no word yet from Reuters, whose global news editor Stephen Jukes refuses to apply the word “terror” to Sept. 11, saying: “We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist.” Source: Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A14272-2001Sep23&notFound=true

HonestReporting encourages members to monitor local and national media for double standards in reporting on terrorist actions.

 

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