[Freemanlist2] Dr. Aaron Lerner Commentary: Ma'an News Agency terminology - wake up call
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Weekly Commentary: Ma'an News Agency terminology - wake up call
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 1 March, 2007
"each language has its own terminology and special meanings, and that Ma'an
will not stop using terms such as "martyr", "resistance" and equivalent
terms, in Arabic."
Response by Ma'an News Agency to an article by Itamar Marcus and Barbara
Crook of Palestinian Media Watch.
Ma'an News Agency is as mainstream Palestinian as they come.
The independent news agency, bankrolled by the governments of Netherlands
and Denmark, has taken on an important role as a provider of information
about developments on the Palestinian side.
And while its English language website certainly makes no bones about its
orientation, it tends to avoid the kind of terminology that makes some of
the official PA website sound downright silly. Ma'an calls the Israeli Army
by its official English name - "IDF", for example, while the official PA
websites, in contrast, use the Palestinian invention "IOF" (Israeli
So it came as a surprise to those only following the English Ma'an website
when Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of Palestinian Media Watch prepared a
comparison of the English and Arabic Ma'an Websites.
They found that besides terming the murder of Israeli civilians by a suicide
bomber an act of "martyrdom" and "resistance", the Arabic language website
identified Eilat as being "located in the south of occupied Palestine" and
termed Jaffa an "occupied city" - meaning that literally everywhere in
Israel is "occupied".
Ma'an's reaction to the criticism is instructive.
They didn't back down.
Instead they essentially argued that, when writing in Arabic, it was proper
to use terminology that rejects the validity of Israel's existence in any
border and praises the murder of Israeli civilians as part of the ongoing
Arab war against the Jewish State.
As Ma'an English news editor, Rashid Shahin, put it, dropping this
terminology in their Arabic website would mean reflecting "the Israeli point
The people at Ma'an News Agency aren't radicals. They are the kind of
"moderates" that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has in mind when
she talks about a Palestinian state. They are the peace loving Palestinians
she compares to Reverend Martin Luther King engaged in a peaceful struggle
for equality as if Gaza and Nablus are no different than Selma Alabama.
But when Martin Luther King addressed his fellow Blacks, he didn't switch to
terminology that embraced and glorified murder while rejecting the rights of
those who are not Black.
[Rice's continuous fixation on this false equivalence dangerously distorts
the reality of the situation - the Blacks of America did not try to destroy
the U.S. in 1776, nor were Blacks part of a great pan-Black nation
stretching from Canada down to Argentina that considered the U.S. to be a
temporary foreign entity to be ultimately ejected from the America's
There is an important message for policy makers from Ma'an's response.
"Peace" and "reconciliation" aren't a photo op signing ceremony on the White
It is going to require considerably more patience than that.
The challenge today for Israel today is not to come up with right wording
for an ersatz peace treaty but instead insure that the Jewish State
continues to thrive despite the reality of the neighborhood.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra at netvision.net.il
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