Calling Terror by its Rightful Name

In our latest Huffington Post Canada op-ed published on May 28, we asked whether Globe and Mail MIdeast bureau chief Patrick Martin had implied that Israelis in the west bank were legitimate targets for terror.

Read our full op-ed entitled: “Calling Terror by its Rightful Name” as appended below:

Canadian and international media often shy away from using the word “terrorism” and its variants when discussing violence directed against Israelis, despite using this term to describe similar acts of violence in other countries directed at innocents for political purposes.

In an analysis piece for the Globe and Mail recently, Mideast bureau chief Patrick Martin wrote that the word terrorism is itself a “loaded” term. Martin observed: “A roadside bomb used against a truck full of Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank would not be an act of terror, but a bomb used against a busload of people in Tel Aviv certainly is.”

What Martin failed to acknowledge is what area of the west bank he was referring to. Was he talking about areas where Israel claims legal sovereignty over and which it contends the status of these areas are in dispute? Were the Israeli soldiers on or off duty? Were they armed? Was the truck a military or civilian vehicle? Who were the perpetrators and what were their motives? If there is a potential for a blurring of the lines, the devil is certainly in these details. Without such nuance, was this reporter implying that Israelis in the west bank were legitimate targets?

In the face of constant security threats — many of which are existential in nature — Israel is required to have a conscripted army. A majority of its citizens, both men and women, are required to do military service for an allotted time period, many of whom do reserve duty for a good portion of their lives to defend Israel’s borders in varying capacities. If a Palestinian terrorist stabbed an 18-year-old Israeli soldier to death while she was eating some falafel, on or off duty, in an area the world refuses to acknowledge Israel has a legitimate claim to, by deductive reasoning are we to conclude by this reporter’s logic that this “would not be an act of terror”?

Some history is in order. To make the assumption that the west bank is “occupied” Palestinian land, first you have to start by erasing from the historical record a continuous 3,700 year Jewish presence in what was called until a few decades ago “Judea and Samaria.”

Having expunged the legal, religious, and historical connection of Jews to Judea, one would then purge the legally binding League of Nations Mandate, unanimously approved by 51 countries, which called for the recognition and reconstitution of the Jewish National home. Having accomplished that, one would then erase Article 80 of the UN Charter which implicitly recognizes the “Mandate for Palestine” of the League of Nations. Finally, one would have to conveniently forget that the so-called “occupation” of the west bank was only brought after combined Arab armies in 1967 sought to effectively wipe Israel from the map.

Israel took over the west bank during the Six Day War which was aggressively launched against the Jewish state by Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The true “occupiers” of the west bank were the Jordanians who controlled the land until 1967 following their previous attempt to destroy the nascent state of Israel in 1948. Jordan had no legal claim to the land, nor did a state of “Palestine” ever exist. The Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate were the past administrators of the land making the area fundamentally “disputed” and not “occupied.”

Only by discarding history, binding legal documents, the UN Charter and the provisions of the international laws of war which makes the aggressor accountable for his aggression, can one conclude that the west bank is “occupied” Palestinian land.

While the Globe’s reporter commendably called terror by its rightful name when stating that bombs used against Israeli civilians on a bus in Tel Aviv constitutes terrorism, regrettably, this reporter’s past coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been inconsistent and has betrayed a bias as his reportage has at times sanitized terror by utilizing the myopic “militant” and when his news reports failed to label terror when it occurred.

On November 21, 2012, Martin reported on a “bomb (that) exploded on a crowded Tel Aviv bus.” Nowhere was the word “terror” to be found despite an admission by the terrorist himself claiming he did so at the “behest of Hamas“.

In other recent reports, Martin described Hamas, a bona fide terror organization, as “the militant Islamic group that rules Gaza, and whom many regard as a moderate.” Other articles have contended that “militant resistance movements” fire rockets at Israel. In describing organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc., organizations deemed terrorist entities in Canada, the U.S. and the E.U. as “resistance” groups, only clouds reader’s understanding of who these individuals are and what their intentions may be.

The off-handed nature of this language certainly implies that “resistance” is legitimate. At the very least, it fails to communicate that for these groups, “resistance” is a Palestinian euphemism for attacking Israelis, often civilians, in events such as suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and restaurant explosions. In employing the Palestinian lexicon in this manner, the implication is that these individuals are freedom fighters, not terrorists. This is inappropriate language to use when referring to individuals whose day jobs are to murder civilians.

If a “bomb used against a busload of people in Tel Aviv certainly is” terrorism, why is it that when thousands of rockets are fired from Gaza and Lebanon at Israel – some recently reaching Tel Aviv and which have maimed and murdered civilians – why are these attacks not described as terrorism carried out by terrorists? As U.S. President Barack Obama said after the Boston marathon bombings “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” After all, rockets are nothing more than deadly mobile bombs and whether they are fired at civilians in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat or yes, areas of Judea and Samaria (west bank), they still constitute terrorism and should be referred to as such by our media.

Terror doesn’t discriminate against borders, it intentionally targets innocents whether in Israel, Boston, or as we saw in recent days, in the streets of London.


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