update deskIsrael at War

Congressmen ‘deeply disturbed’ AP won’t call Hamas a terror group

"Your own description of the attacks, states that Hamas 'killed hundreds of civilians' yet you incorrectly label these assailants as militants, seemingly in opposition of your own definition," the legislators wrote.

Hamas terrorists celebrate the eighth anniversary of kidnapping the corpse of Israeli soldier Shaul Aron, July 20, 2022. Photo by Anas-Mohammed/Shutterstock.
Hamas terrorists celebrate the eighth anniversary of kidnapping the corpse of Israeli soldier Shaul Aron, July 20, 2022. Photo by Anas-Mohammed/Shutterstock.

On Oct. 8, 1997, the U.S. State Department designated Hamas as a foreign terror organization. On nearly the 26th anniversary of that designation, Hamas terrorists killed some 1,200 people, wounded thousands more and kidnapped at least 240 Israelis and foreign nationals and took them to the Gaza Strip.

In 1990, William Sessions, the FBI director, delivered a talk in Chicago, in which he said that the bureau “firmly rejects the notion that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Terrorists claim to have political goals, but they target innocent civilians who are unconnected to their alleged political goals.” 

The Associated Press, which publishes a style guide known as the “journalist’s bible,” begs to differ.

The AP “Israel-Hamas topical guide” refers not to Hamas terrorists but “militants.” Specifically: “Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns on Oct. 7, which coincided with a major Jewish holiday. The attack, which killed hundreds of civilians, stunned Israel and caught its vaunted military and intelligence apparatus completely off guard.”

“The terms terrorism and terrorist have become politicized, and often are applied inconsistently. Because they can be used to label such a wide range of actions and events, and because the debate around them is so intense, detailing what happened is more precise and better serves audiences,” the AP states.

“Therefore, the AP is not using the terms for specific actions or groups, other than in direct quotations or when attributed to authorities or others,” it adds. “Instead, we describe specific atrocities, massacres, bombings, assassinations and other such actions.”

The AP defends using the term “militant” in referring to Hamas “in keeping with the Webster’s New World College Dictionary definition: ready and willing to fight; especially, vigorous or aggressive in supporting or promoting a cause; and Merriam-Webster: aggressively active (as in a cause).”

In response, 16 members of Congress—led by Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.)—penned a letter on Thursday to Daisy Veerasingham, CEO of the AP, which Jewish Insider obtained.

“The decision by the AP to avoid using terms such as ‘terrorism’ and ‘terrorist’ due to their perceived politicization is deeply unsettling,” the lawmakers wrote. “By not accurately labeling Hamas and its continued terroristic actions, we believe the AP inadvertently provides cover for these heinous acts to be accepted.”

Reps Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), Tom Kean (R-N.J.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), Susan Wild (D-Pa.) and Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) also signed the letter.

In its guidance, the Associated Press adds that reporters should “not refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or refer to the Israeli government as ‘Jerusalem.’”

“Israel considers the entire city to be its capital. The Palestinians view annexed east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state,” it states. “Most of the international community does not recognize Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem and believes its fate should be determined in peace talks.”

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