War, terror and selective outrage

Image: Gaza Strip / Reproduction Telegram


If the newspaper Folha de São Paulo follow your own Manual, would classify Israel as a terrorist, but it only does so to name Hamas in that way

Imagine. Imagine that 2,5 million Jews have lived in an open-air prison for 17 years and that their jailer decides what goes in and what goes out, energy, food, medicine... Imagine that Jewish families are daily expelled from their homes, their homes and of their ancestors, of their land for generations, to provide housing for non-Jews from all over the world. Imagine that Jews live surrounded by walls and fences and cannot walk on the same streets that are free only for non-Jews.

Imagine that the Jews have their national identity, their very existence as a people, denied. Imagine that someone, a minister, for example, says that Jews are animals to be eliminated. Imagine that the jailer announces, and then follows through, that he will cut off the Jews' access to water, electricity and food. And imagine that those 2,5 million Jews, in their prison, are targeted, for days in a row, by the most intelligent and deadly weapons in the world, and by white phosphorus bombs and that, for example, only on the first night of bombings, 140 children die….

Now, imagine that Jews are Palestinians. Have you finally woken up now? If you haven't woken up, I'll give you a tip: you need to imagine that the Palestinian is a human being like the Jew; and you have to imagine that, like Jews and all other human beings, Palestinians can be civilians. Children tend to be civil.

O jornal Folha de S. Paul began calling Hamas a terrorist group because “According to Writing Manual, the word terrorist must be used to describe anyone who “practices indiscriminate violence against non-combatants in order to spread panic and intimidate opponents””.

I haven't read recent versions of Folha's Editorial Manual, but I fondly remember a historical advertisement that the newspaper ran and which ended with a beautiful phrase: “it is possible to tell a lot of lies by only telling the truth!”.

A Sheet He doesn't seem to want to even bother telling the truth. It reports what Hamas used as justification for the attack, but does not tell us that what the group said is true. The truth may not justify the actions, but it is still true. Report what Benjamin Netanyahu said, but only the part that interests Benjamin Netanyahu.

A Sheet can call Hamas a terrorist group to stay true to its Manual, but to remain faithful to the same Manual, would need to refer to Israel as a terrorist state and its rulers as terrorists, according to its own definition.

I will not discuss the technical concept of terrorism, which does not exist, but I will say something about the rhetorical use of the word.

First, however, I say that there are international treaties that establish international humanitarian law – what can and cannot be done in war –, which define the crime of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, among these the crime of apartheid.

If anyone takes the trouble to read, they will see that, technically, Israel violates every possible norm of humanitarian law and will see that the Israeli rulers and military are war criminals and guilty of crimes against humanity, including that of apartheid. I still do not say that they are guilty of the crime of genocide because I am not sure that the ethnic cleansing of a people, especially through expulsion from the territory, is exactly equivalent to the attempt to carry out the “destruction, total or partial, of a national group, ethnic, racial or religious”.

So, if the Sheet makes a point of covering, in the way it refers to Hamas, what it perceives as violations of humanitarian law or as war crimes or, even, crimes against humanity, I would use another terminology than that of terrorist.

But, to do good journalism, it would need to refer at least in the same way to Israel, its authorities and its military.

Good journalism? I don't want to teach the vicar Mass, but the Sheet You must know, you cannot not know, that when you refer to Hamas as a terrorist group, nothing more than you say or report matters or will make any difference! As soon as she says “terrorist group” she takes away any reason from the Palestinians and allows everything to Israel. All crimes are allowed against the terrorist! This is the rhetorical power of the word.

If this is not in your Writing Manual, I strongly recommend recycling it.

* Salem Nasser is a professor at the Faculty of Law of FGV-SP.

Originally published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul.

the earth is round exists thanks to our readers and supporters.
Help us keep this idea going.

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Impasses and solutions for the political momentjose dirceu 12/06/2024 By JOSÉ DIRCEU: The development program must be the basis of a political commitment from the democratic front
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank