'Ludicrous': Reuters calls terrorist attack 'Palestinian strike'

By Jennifer Lipman, March 27, 2011

Jewish groups have complained of “ludicrous” and “dangerous” reporting for the way news agency Reuters covered the bomb in central Jerusalem.

The attack, which Israeli police said was the work of terrorists, was described by the Reuters in copy sent out around the world as “a Palestinian strike”.

The article, later changed, initially said: “Police described the explosion as a “terrorist attack” – Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike”.

Critics said the use of quotation marks suggested that placing an explosive beside a busy bus stop and detonating in the middle of the day, an attack which injured 30 and killed one tourist, did not amount to an act of terror.

Alan Aziz, director of the Zionist Federation, said: “It’s very dangerous the way that the media uses terminology or certain words that change the meaning of the story. This has an incredible influence over the way the general public sees the situation.

“Reuters are generally reliable but it’s very worrying.

“The way in which they cover conflicts has an enormous impact. Even though it’s only seems like a few words in writing, it does change the perception.

He added: “It’s a very worrying trend and it seems to be getting worse.”

The US hate monitor the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) wrote to Reuters in response to what it said was an “awkward and ill-conceived characterization”.

Abraham Foxman, the organisation’s national director, wrote: “The term “terrorist attack” means the same thing to the citizens of Israel as it does to citizens of any democratic nation whose civilians come under attack from a terrorist organization.

“It is not a term that Israel owns, nor is it one that the Israeli government seeks to use lightly, or employs as a euphemism, as the report seems to imply.”

He said the wording was “repugnant” because there could be no mistaking a terrorist attack.

“If Al Qaeda were to attack the United States, as they did on 9/11, it would be ludicrous for Reuters to describe it as a terrorist attack in quotation marks, followed by an explanation that this was a term used by the U.S. to describe a Qaeda strike.

“Your journalists have filed many other reports from around the world where terrorist threats and attacks have been referred to without any such qualifier. A different standard should not apply to Israel.”

Last June it emerged that Reuters cropped out a dagger pointed at an Israeli and a pool of blood from photographs of Israeli soldiers injured on the Gaza flotilla. A spokesman later claimed the decision had been “inadvertent”.

Last updated: 3:17pm, March 27 2011