Opinion: Words matter in the war against terror

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Opinion: Words matter in the war against terror

"The failure to use the term 'terrorist', is itself a failure of accuracy and impartiality, " writes the UK's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on X, formerly known as Twitter

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis speaking during a vigil outside Downing Street, central London, for victims and hostages of Hamas attacks
Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis speaking during a vigil outside Downing Street, central London, for victims and hostages of Hamas attacks

Words matter.  A number of media organisations have editorial guidelines directing them not to use the term ‘terrorist’ in their reporting of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.   

These guidelines may be borne out of well-intentioned aspirations to appear accurate and impartial. But there is a point at which the failure to use the term ‘terrorist’, is itself a failure of accuracy and impartiality.    The depth of the terror that Hamas has inflicted upon innocent people across Israel in recent days is not in doubt.

The murder of babies where they sleep is not the act of a ‘freedom fighter’. The performative desecration of dead bodies for the benefit of social media, the rape of women and the beheading of civilians in their homes, are not the acts of ‘militants’.

The true motives of Hamas could not be clearer. It seeks the murder of Jews and the annihilation of the Jewish state. Their charter says as much. Hamas is no different to ISIS. Did decent, moral people seek to justify the actions of 9/11, 7/7 or the Manchester Arena bombing?   It should be painfully obvious that there is no moral equivalence between those whose motive is to deliberately target innocent civilians in cold blood, and those whose motive is to remove the threat of such murderers.

The fact that this discussion is necessary at all is a clear sign that we are losing our moral compass and of the warped nature of the depths to which discourse on Israel has sunk.    And so I call upon broadcasters to urgently change the way they describe Hamas.

Further, I call upon all decent people to have the courage to call out this terror for what it is. We must all be unequivocal that the loss of any innocent life is a tragedy, and that the barbaric, murderous terrrorism of Hamas cannot be denied or obfuscated.

It is a matter of deepest regret that some feel otherwise.

This is not ‘resistance’ or ‘struggle’.

It is terrorism.

To purposefully avoid that word is to wilfully mislead.

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