Guardian, like the New York Times, fails to use word ‘terror’ in Tel Aviv attack reports

On June 9th, CAMERA’s Alex Safian commented on the New York Times’ failure to use the word “terror” to refer to the deadly Palestinian attack on civilians in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, despite the fact that the Times used the root word “terror” fourteen times in a different June 8th story about a hypothetical attack in France in preparation for the Euro 2016 football tournament.

Similarly, our review of four separate reports by the Guardian showed that the media group also failed to use the term “terror” in describing the Tel Aviv attack – except when quoting Israeli officials.


Guardian, June 8th

(In contrast, The Times, Telegraph and Independent all used the term “terror” or “terrorist” at least once – without quotes – in their reports on the killings.)

Instead of “terror” attack, the Guardian opted instead for “shooting” or just “attack”.  And, instead of “terrorist” to describe the perpetrator, they used the more neutral words “shooter” or “attacker”.  

However, as with the NYT, when describing a hypothetical attack in France, the Guardian used the term “terror” without quotes five times in a June 7th story (Foreign Office Warns UK Football Fans of Euro 2016 Terror Threat).

Additionally, the Guardian’s page devoted to coverage of the brutal attack on a LGBT club in Orlando on Sunday, which left fifty dead, is titled “Orlando terror Attack”. 

Interestingly, the Guardian Style Guide (the guide to writing, editing and English usage followed by journalists at the Guardian, Observer and defines “terrorism” in a way which clearly allows journalists to use the word “terror” in reference the Tel Aviv attack. 

A terrorist act is directed against victims chosen either randomly or as symbols of what is being opposed (eg workers in the World Trade Centre, tourists in Bali, Spanish commuters). It is designed to create a state of terror in the minds of a particular group of people or the public as a whole for political or social ends. Although most terrorist acts are violent, you can be a terrorist without being overtly violent (eg poisoning a water supply or gassing people on the underground).

Does having a good cause make a difference? The UN says no: “Criminal acts calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public are in any circumstances unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”

Whatever one’s political sympathies, suicide bombers, the 9/11 attackers and most paramilitary groups can all reasonably be regarded as terrorists (or at least groups some of whose members perpetrate terrorist acts).

Nonetheless we need to be very careful about using the term: it is still a subjective judgment – one person’s terrorist may be another person’s freedom fighter, and there are former “terrorists” holding elected office in many parts of the world. Some critics suggest that, for the Guardian, all terrorists are militants – unless their victims are British. Others may point to what they regard as “state terrorism”. Often, alternatives such as militants, radicals, separatists, etc, may be more appropriate and less controversial, but this is a difficult area: references to the “resistance”, for example, imply more sympathy to a cause than calling such fighters “insurgents”. The most important thing is that, in news reporting, we are not seen – because of the language we use – to be taking sides.

No, the Guardian would NEVER want to be seen as taking sides.

21 replies »

  1. And Obama plus Hillary Clinton didn’t utter the word “Islamic”. Why should they?

    • And Hillary ONLY used the phrase herself because Drumpf forced her to, amiright? Because true politics are found in tweets.

      For a bunch of people who complain about the PC nature of Liberals (or whatever) forcing folks to say certain things as if that will get you someplace is really sad. There’s a double standard in using Terror for attacks in Paris, Mumbai, and Orlando, but not using Terror to describe the attack in Tel Aviv. Not using the term Radical Islam has nothing to do with anything, quite frankly.

  2. “… create a state of terror in the minds of a particular group of people ”

    But does the Guardian think that Israelis (especially Jewish Israelis) are ‘people’?

  3. Yeah, noticed it but also know this is not a new thing, unfortunately. The impression that it leaves it that killing civilians anywhere else on Earth is unjustifiable murder (meaning it’s TERRORISM) and killing Israeli civilians is not really unjustifiable or murder (meaning it’s ATTACKS or some other Pablum-watery term). One possibility is that the NY Times group feels that since most Israeli Jews serve in the military at some point in their lives, therefore they’re soldiers and not civilians even if they’ve not served in years or decades (how they tie this into non-military servers, people below military age, and Israeli non-Jews isn’t clear; is it possible that a hypothetic murder of Israeli Arabs WOULD be referred to as terrorism?). Another, more likely, is that this group doesn’t want to anger its Left/Arab readers by calling terrorism, terrorism. It’s a much uglier version of President Obama’s not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”, which I would mind if he wasn’t approaching the problem as exactly that without sayng the exact words. The bottom line is that CiF and the NY Times are ultimately OK with Jews being murdered.

    • “Another, more likely, is that this group doesn’t want to anger its Left/Arab readers by calling terrorism, terrorism.”

      First of all, Left and Arab aren’t the same. So if you’re grouping 2 groups together as a powerful newspaper buying lobby enough to infiltrate the meaning of words at the NY TImes, then I will suggest that the Left doesn’t have money for that, and I lay that at the feet of the OPEC producers.

      Basic anti-Semitism employing double standards with triple backflips has nothing to do with the Left, per se, but rather with people who just want to hate incessantly. I believe there are many, many, many, MANY right wing nationalist examples of Jew hatred following the lead of 3000 year old mantras.

      Now I await this board to remind me that Hitler was, indeed, a vegetarian. Because that is all the proof one needs to blame everything on the other side of the aisle.

      • Why not just cool off a little?
        I don’t think anyone here needs a lesson in the history of right-wing nationalist antisemitism.
        I can’t speak for peterthehungarian, but I at least think he would see himself as liberal. Can he be liberal and criticize Obama? Is that possible? I know he is against right-wing nationalist antisemitism, because I’ve been reading his comments for many years.

        I think Ben was speaking of Arabs AND certain leftists.

        And what’s with the “Drumpf”? I mean really, what’s that all about?

        • Hi, Ben here. Jeff is pretty much on target: I was not conflating Arabs and Leftists (doing so would frankly be insane because true liberalism and the policies and actions of the Arab world have fuck all in common), but the two sides tend to carry each others’ water, and they certainly share inaccurate and bigoted views of Jews and Israel. And I stand by the view that news sources like CiF and NY Times do try to kiss both groups’ asses at every available opportunity, because doing so will keep them as trusted sources even as the readership levels of each source plummets.

      • More unhinged screeching from the usual source. The left – or at least, that section of the political spectrum that calls itself ‘left’ – is awash and dripping with Jew-hatred. Obviously, a thick pillock like you refuses to see it.

  4. Once again we see that if there is a stabbing attack somewhere other than Israel, the Guardian accepts it is a terrorist attack:

    Paris policeman and wife killed in possible Isis-linked terror attack

    A man who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group stabbed a French policeman to death on Monday night before being killed when police moved in, sources close to the investigation said.

    The man’s wife was also found dead when police stormed the house. A three-year-old boy was rescued alive. French prosecutors have launched an anti-terror probe into the attack in the Paris suburb of Magnanville that was apparently carried out by a neighbour of the family.

  5. The way this Racist Rag the Guardian is heading it won’t be too long before it finally disappears up it’s own hairy Derriere…..