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Sunday, 11 January 2009

Media Dictionary: Arab-Israeli Conflict

Written by Mazin Qumsiyeh

A handy dictionary/rules book for anyone writing on the Middle East issues in the mainstream media. To get published as a news journalist,it seems you have to follow these rules.


Caught in the Crossfire: When Palestinian civilians are killed.
Retaliation: When Israeli army or settlers kill Palestinians.
Escalation: (synonym/can be used interchangeably with Provocation): Any act of violence or resistance by the Palestinians.
Murdered: When Israeli Civilians are killed.
Brutal/cowardly/ghastly: adjectives describing attacks on Israelis.
Self defense: Any act of violence by Israelis .
Terrorism: Any act of violence by the Palestinians.
Civilians: Armed settlers are civilians when killed. Try to avoid using this term for Palestinians.
Neighborhoods: Areas inhabited by Israeli settlers especially if targeted by shooting (light guns)
Positions: Any Palestinian towns and villages especially when bombed by helicopter gunships or raked with large caliber machine guns .
Tragedy: Any Israeli death .
Deserved: Any Palestinian death.
Squatters: Palestinian natives .
Democratic ally: Synonym for Israel.
Disputed Areas: Any Palestinian or Arab land occupied by Israel in defiance of International law.
Anti-Semite: Person condemns Israeli violations of Palestinian civil and human rights.
Victims: Any Jewish Israeli .
Attacker: Any Palestinian engaging in any form of resistance (violent or not). Also see terrorist.
Targets: Palestinian buildings, homes, offices - What the Israeli military designates as military targets.
Attack/bombing/murder: Acts the Palestinians commit when directed at Israelis .
Clashes: This is a difficult term to understand but is generally used when Palestinians die .
Measures (e.g. Economic measures, security measures) : Any acts the Israelis commit (blockades, collective punishment, shelling neighborhoods, starving a population etc) .
Security: Anything the Israeli government chooses to do. This can include land confiscation, extra-judicial killings, home demolitions, destruction of groves, uprooting trees, blockades etc. The term security is reserved for use only with the word Israel or Israeli and must never
be applied to Palestinians. Lashing out: A term reserved for Palestinians and acts they commit against Israelis
Under siege: Again a term for use by the Israelis as in Palestinians have put Israelis under siege. Exact meaning depends on the circumstances. Never use for Palestinian towns or villages.


When to use Passive voice: If the violent action is committed by Israelis (e.g. 2 Palestinians were killed, one of them a 9 year old).
When to use active voice: If the action is committed by Palestinians (e.g. Palestinians killed a Jewish child, Palestinians kills teenager).
While reporting about Israelis: "2 Israelis were injured", while reporting about Palestinian use the verbs claimed, say etc.
"Palestinians say woman dies of teargas inhalation in West Bank" (e.g. Ha'aretz)
Names: Must be included for any Jewish victims, always avoid names for Muslim or Christian victims but use numbers in stead (remember in the passive voice, e.g. 2 Palestinians died in clashes).
When an Israeli is killed: It is important to note his or her profession, where he/she is from and was going, whether or not he/she is religious, and whether or not he/she is an immigrant from the U.S. or Russia. If the dead person is survived by a spouse and children, this should be noted. If the victim is a youngster, the school they attended should be mentioned, and their friends' feelings should be noted. in general, people who knew the dead person should testify to their humanity.
When a Palestinian is killed, they should not be personalized in any way.
When an Israeli is killed, it is useful to include graphic descriptions of the death scene - the covered body, the fragments of flesh, the path of flowing blood, etc.

Please ensure that your local media editor/journalist receives this list.
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Media bias about the Israeli - Palestine conflict EXPOSED!