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June 28, 2005

Are Protestors "Militants"?


Both protesters and terrorists are "militants" to the Chicago Tribune

CAMERA has repeatedly criticized the media for calling terrorists who murder Israeli civilians "militants." Now, some in the media are using identical wording — militants — to describe both Israeli protestors demonstrating against their government's policy and Palestinians who murder women and children. Joel Greenberg in the June 28 Chicago Tribune writes that:

Militant opponents of the pullout have threatened to block roads this week and to bring Israel to a standstill when the army closes off the Gaza settlements in preparation for the evacuation.

The week before, Greenberg used the term militant to describe a Palestinian who ambushed and killed an Israeli motorist.

The two-hour meeting was overshadowed by a recent surge in attacks by Palestinian militants ...

Sharon said the Palestinian Authority has failed to crack down on militants. A day before the summit, gunmen in the West Bank killed a Jewish settler.

The word becomes devoid of any meaning when protestors and murderers are both labeled "militants."

Furthermore, Greenberg employs a double standard within this June 28 story by describing only anti-disengagement protestors as "militants" — three separate times. Yet he apparently feels the word is not appropriate to describe the radical International Solidarity Movement, which he simply describes as a "pro-Palestinian" group.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the media has morally equated peaceful demonstrators with violent terrorists.

Posted by CameraBlog at June 28, 2005 11:15 PM


The silliness that prevails over supposedly value-free terminology raises a deeper concern.

A small minority of reporters, editors and hangers-on in the media harbor an actual agenda of prejudice, hatred and antisemitism. Ignoring this relatively minor segment, we're left with the great mass of communications professionals who, though tremendously influential in molding the ideas, knowledge and values of the great unwashed, are themselves often barely literate in the issues on which they report. Having myself met hundreds of them who pass through Israel, and been interviewed by many of them, I have a long list of sad and disturbing stories to support this claim. It's clear to me that in the vast majority of cases, they possess the barest of grips on the subject matter.

And like most of us, when faced with complexity and with the need to make an objective and defensible assessment of events and contradictory narratives, they fail the test, preferring to adopt and project what they see as the conventional wisdom. Hence the recycled inaccuracies, the repeated distortions, that make it so hard for people to understand what is being done to Israel and Israelis.

Our response, as people concerned with Israel's well-being, has to be to find constructive and intelligent ways to provide information. This means reaching not only the media people, but beyond them to the people at large - and not only in the United States.

No one is doing this very well - least of all the responsible authorities in the government of Israel. As an Israeli tax-payer, it's appalling to me to see (from closer up than most people) how meager - even declining - are the resources devoted to telling Israel's side of the story. From bitter experience, I know that too many people at all levels of society fail to get the catastrophic implications of being passive in the face of the sort of media nonsense you have showcased. More power to you.

Posted by: Arnold Roth at June 30, 2005 01:54 AM

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