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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Absolutely wrong

In yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, a group called “Minnesotans Against Terrorism” took out a full-page advertisement that “call[ed] on the Star Tribune to refer to those who intentionally kill Israeli civilians as terrorists.”

The ad was in response to the Star Tribune’s policy of “tak[ing] extra care to avoid the term ‘terrorist’ in articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of the emotional and heated nature of that dispute.”

Reuters has a similar “long-standing policy against the use of emotive terms, including the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘freedom fighter.’ [Reuters does] not characterize the subjects of news stories but instead reports their actions, identity and background.”

This despite the fact innocent civilians are being targeted for political gain on an almost daily basis in the Middle East.

But really, why should these examples come as a surprise? For the last several months the media has fixated on the idea of a “cycle of violence” when it comes to describing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, a closer examination of the facts demonstrates this term is just as dishonest as refusing to call suicide bombers who target innocent civilians terrorists.

Consider the current Israeli incursion into Palestinian-controlled territory. The primary focus of Israeli Defense Forces has been Yasser Arafat’s security compound in Ramallah. The operation has resulted in the seizure of hundreds of illegal arms and the arrest of many known terrorists.

Contrast this with the myriad number of Palestinian incursions into Israel over the last few weeks. In those cases the primary focus was supermarkets, hotels and restaurants, resulting in the intended death of scores of innocent Israeli citizens.

This is not a cycle of violence. It is terrorism on one side, and preemptive action to protect the lives of citizens on the other. Giving these actions the same moral equivalence is no different than comparing the events of Sept. 11 to the U.S. actions in Afghanistan.

This is by no means the only example of the difference between Israeli and Palestinian actions. Look at the case of dissidents: While their number is dwindling, there are many Israelis opposed to Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, during the first non-violent Palestinian Intifada, there were Jews — including a friend of mine — who traveled in the disputed territories documenting Israeli human rights violations. In the court of world opinion, these reports were a tremendous boost to the Palestinians, yet, needless to say, my friend is still alive.
You cannot say the same for 11 Palestinians that may or may not have been aiding Israel. In two separate incidents this past weekend, they were murdered for the mere suspicion of collaborating with Israel.

Or look at the events that precipitated this so-called “cycle of violence.” It was Israel that gave unprecedented concessions at Camp David — the Palestinians walked away and launched this new Intifada. These terrorist bombings are not the result of people longing for a state — they are the result of a refusal to compromise for anything less than a complete surrender by Israel.

Yet the media still calls it a “cycle of violence,” and says both sides are to blame. How is this possible?

The problem is that like many “sophisticated” people, much of the media refuses to accept the idea of right and wrong. No actions are better or worse than others — they are just “different.”

It is how Reuters can say with a straight face that one man’s “terrorist” is another man’s “freedom fighter.” It is how protesters on Library Mall can compare U.S. actions abroad to Sept. 11. And it is how Israeli self-defense can be put on the same moral plane as Palestinian terror.

The danger of this new moral relativism cannot be overstated. This is more than a pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian rant. This reaches into the very foundation of our civilization. Thomas Hobbes, the first great liberal thinker, posited that all humans have a right to life, a theme picked up by John Locke and echoed in our own Declaration of Independence.

Terrorism by its very definition violates this right, a fact that is clear to at least one Palestinian terrorist. After last week’s deadly attack on a Passover feast in an Israeli hotel, the Washington Post reported this shocking statement:

“Anyone reading an Israeli newspaper can see their suffering,” said Ismail Haniya, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip. Jews, he said, “love life more than any other people, and they prefer not to die.”

This is not a cycle of violence, and it is not justified. This is an assault on the right to life essential to liberalism and its definition of freedom. The refusal to condemn it as such is a sign of the moral relativism all too present in modern thought and a clear indicator of the danger this new way of thinking presents to our essential freedoms.

Benjamin Thompson ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in political science.

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