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The deliberate killing of unarmed civilians is terrorism
I just sent a response to J.W. from NPR who was kind enough to reply to a message I sent them on 4/27.
Danielle Sheffi, 5, killed by Palestinian terrorists on 4/27/02
NPR described her murder as "the killing of
an Israeli settler by a Palestinian militant"
J.W. pointed me to an article written by NPR's Ombudsman, Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, in which he rationalizes the use of the word "militant" instead of "terrorist" to describe the vicious killings of Israeli civilians.
By choosing not to use the word “terrorist”, NPR is doing exactly what he wishes to avoid. NPR is choosing sides: it is giving a clear advantage to Palestinians that choose violence instead of peace, such as the Islamic Jihad, the Hamas, and other terrorist groups. By using the word “militant”, NPR is describing their deliberate acts of killing innocent civilians as legal actions of rebellion.
I copy my full response, and the whole thread below.
From: David Melle
Hello J. W.,
Thank you for your response to my message about the inaccurate way NPR reports Palestinian terrorist attacks. I searched for the article you mentioned, and found one where Mr. Dvorkin discusses issues of language and terminology, and in particular the word “terrorist”. I found it at:
Are They 'Terrorists,' 'Gunmen,' or 'Guerrillas'?
Let’s first define terrorism. The FBI web site gives the following definition:
"Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives"
Let’s now look at the main point that Mr. Dvorkin is trying to make:
“Sadly, nouns and adjectives are also weapons in this war. While the term "terrorist" may be accurate in many cases, it also has an extra-journalistic role in delegitimating one side and affirming the other. It is not NPR's role to do this. NPR has an obligation to provide responsible and reliable reporting by describing with accuracy and fairness events that listeners may choose to endorse or deplore as they see fit”
Mr. Dvorkin has a point, but by choosing not to use the word “terrorist”, NPR is doing exactly what he wishes to avoid. NPR is choosing sides: it is giving a clear advantage to Palestinians that choose violence instead of peace, such as the Islamic Jihad, the Hamas, and other terrorist groups. By using the word “militant”, NPR is describing their deliberate acts of killing innocent civilians as legal actions of rebellion. I completely disagree with Mr. Dvorkin and his conclusions.
>I will share your criticisms with KQED's editorial staff. I hope you will continue to listen.
Thanks again for following up on this issue. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my original message, the murder of Danielle Shefi, a 5 year old Israeli girl was described on NPR as “the killing of an Israeli settler by a Palestinian militant”. To learn more about Danielle Shefi, please check:
I don’t think Danielle even knew what a settler was.
To tell you the truth, I love many of the programs on NPR, including “This American Life”, “All Things Considered”, and KQED’s local programs such as “Forum” with Michael Krasny. For this reason I have always supported NPR and KQED, and have participated in the pledge drives, twice, sometimes three times a year. Unfortunately, I can no longer support a radio station or a news network that has a policy of finding reasons not to describe the above murder as terrorism.
Have a good day,
Dear Mr. Melle:
My name is David Melle and I live in San Francisco, CA. I have been a strong supporter of NPR and the local public station, KQED. I always make my contributions, 2-3 times a year.
I am very disappointed in the way NPR has been covering the events in Israel and the Middle East. Particularly disturbing is your latest trend of calling murderous Palestinian terrorists by the mild term militants .
For example, today, Palestinian terrorists infiltrated an Israeli town and killed 4 civilians, including a 5-year-old girl while she was sleeping. I just heard KQED/NPR report it as follows:
"Two Palestinian militants entered an Israeli Settlement. They went from house to house and killed four Israelis."
The following troubles me:
For the real story, see:
Terrorists murder four in Adora
I have decided to stop supporting NPR: please do not ask for donations and do not send me any NPR material anymore.
Furthermore I will send a copy of this letter to my representatives and do what I can to stop the transfer of public funds to NPR and KQED.
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sophisication and evil
thanks david for saying what i have been thinking. i too greatly enjoy the npr programs that you mention and i have trouble reconciling the intelligence that pervades npr and their idiocy--nay, immorality--when it comes to israel.
what is your theory on this paradox?
Posted by: Yossi Marcus at May 13, 2002 05:50 PM
United Press International (www.upi.com) has published a three part analysis on the media's reporting of the Jenin massacre myth. I have posted it here.
One of the reasons for NPR's bias could be explained by the following:
"Alon Ben-David, veteran military correspondent of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and currently a media fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard told United Press International: "A large part of the European media regards itself as not just reporters but as ideological crusaders. They are in the business of journalism not just for the business. They want to do good in the world. They have agendas."
It was also a blow to those who would like to expand National Public Radio's small-scale radio news operation in the United States into a radio-TV news empire on the lines of the BBC or other European outlets. The reporters and editors of NPR appeared far more prone to swallow the wild allegations about Jenin than most of their U.S. media colleagues did"
Similarly to their European colleagues, NPR does not really care for the truth, but wishes to push its own agenda for what it believes is good.
I am working on a full article that describes the major anti-Israeli groups and their motives - I'll post it soon.
Posted by: David Melle at May 24, 2002 09:01 AM
Thanks David for writing to NPR about their irresponsbile reporting.
One would think that according to their standard concerning the use of the term "terrorist" they would also not use the term "settler" since it is also a word charged with pejorative meaning, and especially not use the phrase "occupied territories" since this phrase chooses to endorse a conclusion that has been in dispute ever since the passage of UN 242.
It is obvious that despite statements to the contrary from NPR, they do in fact endorse the views of the Palestinian side, and are not being objective - as they seem to indicate is their aim.
Posted by: Adam Yehudi at September 2, 2002 07:48 PM
The killing of the family is, of course, a reprehensible act. Yet using your definition - "deliberate killing of unarmed civilians" - the IDF could also be classified as terrorists. Unless you count carrying stones as being armed. I just wanted to shed some light on the other side.
NPR should have been more sympathetic but their reporting is the kind of dry tones western media always describes the 'other side'.
Posted by: Jim Stam at July 25, 2003 03:48 AM
Getting hit with a rock can kill you. By the way, should the soldiers just stand there?
Posted by: goisraelgo at November 1, 2003 06:25 PM
I am not saying that I agree with NPR's choice of terms, but the term "terrorist" only applies if you accept that the attack was unlawful. The FBI definition of the term "terrorism" rests on the act of violence or force in question being unlawful, otherwise the only term that could be applied to it is to call it "an act of warfare".
If we use the fact that a child was killed as the sole basis of a judgment that the action was not lawful, than many of the actions of the Israelis and the United states are unlawful as well. Therby acts of terrorism by the definition quoted on in this discussion.
By chosing not to use the word "terrorist" NPR was making a conscious decision to avoid the value judgment inherent in branding the act as unlawful.
Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean they disagree with you, but evidently it is any easy mistake to make.
Posted by: Joel at January 17, 2004 09:10 PM
Getting hit with a rock can kill you. By the way, should the soldiers just stand there?
Posted by: Genie at December 18, 2005 09:50 PM
I agree. Killing unarmed civilians is terrorism. This little innocent child's death was murder (killing her) and terrorism too, (killing her in public, randomly) as it increased everybody's sense of fear.
I must say here that this is true! It's true whether it's done by a Palestinian or an Israeli soldier.
Bassam Aramin's 10 year old daughter was killed during recess. If you want to count all civilians killed in this public way, I'll say you're fair. If you say that violence by soldiers isn't terrorism, I can't agree. That's EXACTLY what it is, it's meant to induce terror. That's the reason it is public and random!
There is no peace that isn't created. Revenge has to stop somewhere. Nobody is saying it's easy.
Posted by: A Jew at January 22, 2008 08:42 AM
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