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There is no question that the struggle in Gaza is as much about words as it is about hostages, guns, and rockets. In my last column, I decried the constant efforts by Western journalists to downgrade the culpability of Hamas terrorists by calling them “fighters” and “militants.” Belatedly, one such offender, the BBC, issued a wishy-washy explanation for its past practice of calling these terrorists “militants” and “gunmen.” But its explanations and its backtracking on one inflammatory story, paralleling a similar weak response in the New York Times, did not undo the untold harm from its sloppy reporting, which sparked additional protests in Arab lands by first saying that an Israeli missile, and not an errant Hamas rocket bound for Israel, damaged a Gaza hospital.
Its act of “speculation,” as the BBC characterized it, was relatively small change compared to the nonstop campaign by Hamas and its supporters to brand Israel an outcast “colonial” nation whose “occupation” and “apartheid” actions justified Hamas “resistance,” even in the form of mass slaughter of innocent Israelis whose only crime is to live in a land that Hamas claims as part of a greater Palestine that runs from “the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea,” an area, which now becomes increasingly clearer, that should in their view be “Judenrein,” that is, free of all Jewish people.
It is wholly illegitimate to treat these political claims, even if true, as any justification for the mass slaughter that took place, which has spurred Israel’s determination to rid Gaza of all elements of Hamas, after which it might be possible to have some responsible discussion of future relationship between the two warring peoples. But that discussion can begin only if the supposed justifications for the “resistance” are decisively laid aside.