Defining terrorism down

Is planting a bomb on a civilian bus in Jerusalem a terrorist attack, a “terrorist attack,” or a “Palestinian strike”? According to this March 23 report on a bus bombing that killed a woman and wounded more that 30 civilians, Reuters seems to think the skeptical quotes around the words terrorist attack are warranted, and that the intentional targeting of civilians was more accurately termed a “Palestinian strike.”

Police said it was a “terrorist attack” — Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike.

Oddly enough, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority had a different assessment:

Palestinian Authority leaders in the West Bank, who are opposed to Hamas, also denounced the attack.

“I condemn this terrorist operation in the strongest possible terms, regardless of who was behind it,” Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in a statement.

We can hope that Reuters will come around to Fayyad’s view.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Charu says:

    Bill, I think that Reuters will come around to the truth…. eventually. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Pakistan’s many terrorist attacks on India, which included plane hijackings and mass bombings of cities and the intentional targeting of thousands of civilians, were routinely dismissed in the Western press, with the concomitant liberal use of skeptical quotes, as unsubstantiated Indian claims of state-sponsored terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

  • Monkey says:

    @Charu — that is an apt example indeed. For over a decade, Pakistani terrorism directed at Indians was practically dismissed by the American Press. Even when the Pak Army invaded India in 1998 (Kargil), the rhetoric in American newspapers was mild, and tried to obfuscate what was obvious to nearly a billion Indians. It wasn’t until your interests aligned with ours that it was acknowledged.
    I’m over it now. Just help us rid ourselves of the ISI and Pakistan’s state-sponsored terrorism as a strategy. We can end this, but you probably have to cut your funding of these outfits one way or another.

  • MAJ DB says:

    Bill – I agree with you that Reuters should label the event correctly as a terrorist attack. The deliberate targeting of civilians by non-uniformed combatants would seem to fall clearly into the definition of a terrorist attack and while the article does not address the purpose of the attack it seems obvious that the attack was designed to terrorize the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem. If the attack was intended to create fear then it falls into the category of a terrorist attack. Furthermore by calling the attack a Palestinian attack and then mentioning Israeli strikes in Gaza later in the article Reuters seems to putting both actions into the same category. This almost makes it appear if Reuters is legitimizing the bus bomb attack.
    MAJ David Black
    CGSC, Fort Leavenworth
    The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Army, Department of Defense or the U.S. Government


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