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August 21, 2005

What About the "Martyrs"?

RH pointed out in her recent Snapshots entry that Palestinian terrorist groups, imams, and even PA leader Mahmoud Abbas have celebrated "martyrs" — a term used to describe suicide bombers and other terrorists killed in action — for causing Israel's pullout from Gaza. But some news reports have covered up Abbas' lauding of martyrdom, preferring, it seems, to show a dichotomy between terrorist groups who speak of suicide bombers and "armed struggle," and Abbas, who is quoted only as talking about "responsibility" and "patience."

Today's Boston Globe states:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad celebrated the pullout as what they consider the first of many victories to come against the Jewish state, won by armed resistance, suicide bombers, and rockets fired into the Gaza settlements.

But Abbas has been careful to speak of the Palestinian opportunity and responsibility to capitalize on the new status of Gaza, and he has avoided casting the pullout as a military win for Palestinians.

"This pullout is a result of our sacrifice, of our patience, the sacrifice of our people, the steadfastness, and the wise people of our nation," Abbas told a rally after Friday prayers in Rafah.

A Saturday Associated Press dispatch made a similar distinction:

On Friday Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was quitting Gaza because of Palestinian "sacrifices" and "patience," and he promised the withdrawal would lead to further pullouts from the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Hamas, which has carried out dozens of attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli targets during the more than four years of violence, said it would continue the armed struggle until these goals are achieved.

While there are, it is hoped, many differences between Abbas and Hamas, willingness to credit "martyrs" with causing Israel's pullout is not one of those differences.

The Washington Post yesterday relayed a more complete version of Abbas' speech:

"This exit of the settlers is one of the fruits of your sacrifices," Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said Friday at a raucous twilight rally in the Gaza Strip city of Rafah. "This step is only the first step that will be completed in the West Bank and in Jerusalem. But the step has come as a result of patience and sacrifices of our people, of martyrs, of wounded, of houses destroyed. All of those have brought us the fruit we are celebrating today."

CNN showed video of the Friday rally, and also noted that Abbas credited "martyrs" for the pullout:

MAHMOUD ABBAS, PRES., PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (through translator): But these steps have come as a result of patience and sacrifices of our people, the martyrs, wounded, houses that were destroyed bulldozed have together brought us the fruit that we are celebrating today.

A news report cannot provide the full text of Abbas' speech. Yet selectively editing Abbas' speech can mislead the public.

As Dr. Roy Peter Clark, vice president of the Poynter Institue, once wrote: "If you gather 10 facts but wind up using nine, subjectivity sets in. This process of subtraction can lead to distortion."

In the case of the Globe and AP's subtraction of Abbas' reference to "martyrs," it did.

Posted by GI at August 21, 2005 04:39 PM


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