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Terrorist or Militant? By: HonestReporting.com
HonestReporting.com | Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Much of the media have been reporting fairly and accurately the reality of the Hamas terrorist organization, which is now forming the next Palestinian Authority government. However, we are starting to see a disturbing trend by those who shy away from using the word "terrorist" in favor of the more neutral "militant" or "activist."

AP's Dubious Distinction

The Associated Press actually used the words "terror network." What is surprising is that they use the phrase to label Al-Qaida, while referring to Hamas as a more neutral "militant group."

Hamas officials shrugged off the support offered by Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, saying Sunday the Palestinian militant group has a different ideology than the terror network and won election through a moderate approach to Islam.

In a video aired Saturday by Al-Jazeera, Ayman al-Zawahri (pictured) called for jihad, or holy war, to reclaim Palestinian lands and implied Al-Qaida's support for Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel despite international pressure since the militant Islamic group swept parliamentary elections in January.

AP does not use a direct quotation from Hamas officials. This is not surprising because it would seem inconsistent for Hamas to brand another organization in these terms. The words are AP's. It leaves open the question on what basis AP has decided to reserve the words "terror network" for Al-Qaida. For the record, Hamas has not declared any break in their ideology or a desire to change their charter.

AFP quotes Khalad Meshaal, Damascus- based Hamas leader:

"The demand that Hamas and the resistance movements lay down their weapons and become political parties is unrealistic and has nothing to do with the Palestinian reality on the ground," said Meshaal in an interview broadcast on Dubai-based Arab news channel Al-Arabiya after the end of his landmark visit to Moscow Sunday.

The New York Times Gets It Right

On the other hand, it is The New York Times, who Honest Reporting has frequently criticized for failure to use the word "terrorism", that sets the right tone. In an editorial this week, the Times says:

America cannot bankroll a Hamas government that preaches and practices terrorism, denies that Israel has any right to exist, and refuses to abide by peace agreements signed by previous Palestinian governments...

...the American people are not prepared to support governments, elected or unelected, that proclaim the annihilation of other nations as their goal and embrace terrorism as an acceptable tactic for achieving it.

We commend the New York Times for correctly labeling Hamas for what it is and expect that they will continue to paint this clear picture in their future reporting.

Ask the Associated Press why they make this distinction: Feedback@ap.org

Commend the New York Times and ask that they be consistent in their reporting: letters@newyorktimes.com

If you see your local media using the words "militant" or "activist" to describe Hamas, let them know that "terrorist" is the more accurate term.

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

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