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December 21, 2005

Why the New York Times Refrains From Calling Hamas and Hizballah "Terrorist" Groups

As we've noted, Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Erlanger repeatedly refuses to call Hamas a "terrorist" group. He refers to their violent campaign of suicide bombings as "military resistance to Israel". The closest he comes to alluding to their terrorist activities is saying that they are "considered to be a terrorist group" by Israel, the U.S. and the E.U.

It is hard to understand how the newspaper of record can display such moral obtuseness in whitewashing terrorist organizations. But Mediacrity has an explanation.

The reason is that they do "other things." Really. I'm serious.

Seems this reader asked the Times foreign desk about a story by Steve Erlanger that referred to Hamas as a "miltary" organization. There were a couple of responses, both making basically the same point. Here's one:

Military doesn't just refer to armed services, according to my dictionary, but also "armed or fit for war." We refer to Hamas as "considered a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union" since they also have many other roles among the Palestinians. The careful language is a signal of just how complicated the situation is, and just how carefully readers of all opinions read our coverage.

I'm saving the worst for last -- this reply from deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner:

we don't generally designate groups as terrorist. we use the word sparingly because it is loaded and because hamas, like hezbollah, does many things, including run clinics and schools (and now towns like qalqilya) as well as carry out terrorist attacks. if hamas were devoted to nothing other than terror, that might be a different thing.

So instead of calling Hamas and Hezbollah what they plainly are -- terrorists -- the Times waters that down by making that oft-proven fact an "opinion" of third parties. Note also this bogus claim of "complexity" being used as a fig leaf to whitewash Hamas' true nature. What's so "complicated" about groups that murder civilians?...

...By the same token, Al Qaeda would fall out of the Times terrorist rankings if it set up a nice hot-lunch program for the kids in Baluchistan...

CAMERA confirmed with editors that the above quotes do indeed reflect the New York Times approach to terrorist organizations. The public should be aware.

Posted by RH at December 21, 2005 07:01 PM


Whenever someone makes light of HAMAS's terrorist nature because HAMAS also performs social services, that person ought to be reminded that the Nazis also had an excellent social program which included summer camps, youth groups, hospitals, clinics, major construction, job creation, etc.

Posted by: Carl Goldberg at January 17, 2006 12:25 AM

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