This letter to the editor was printed in
The New York Times and elsewhere in early March 1996.
To the editor:
"Analysis: Israel vs. Terrorists..." read a February 29 headline in the Times. The terrible attacks which killed 25 Israeli citizens and soldiers and visitors must be condemned as a crime. There are few who would argue with this. However, the consistent equation of Palestinian attacks as "terrorism" and Israeli attacks as "retaliation, military incursions, etc." does a disservice to your readers and all who seek a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Why is the assassination of Yahya Ayyash not called terrorism? This is only the most recent in a long legacy of assassinations, invasions and attacks launched by the Israeli military and security forces. Does the fact that they are carried out by a government put them in a different category?
As Serge Schmemann's article points out, Israel recognized the likelihood that there would be retaliation for his murder. Why was there no condemnation of Israel for beginning a new round of attacks and counterattacks after a six month break in terrorist activity?
Another interesting feature of the reporting on the aftermath of these attacks has been the incongruity of attacking Arafat for not doing enough to stop Muslim extremists when reports indicate that the suicide bombers in these two attacks both came from Hebron, one of the few areas on the West Bank still under Israeli control. Isn't there a contradiction here?
Lasting peace will come to Israel and Palestine only after the establishment of a Palestinian state. The sooner this occurs the better the chances of a successful and relatively peaceful transition. The media's uneven treatment of the issue is truly a shame during this time of great potential for change.