Though the United States labels Hamas a terrorist organization, media coverage of the group largely replaces the “terrorist” label with that of “militant.” Reuters, for example, will use the “terrorist” and “terrorism” labels only for quoted material. According to the Reuters handbook: “Terrorism and terrorist should not be used as single words in inverted commas (e.g. terrorist) or preceded by so-called (e.g. a so-called terrorist attack) since that can be taken to imply that Reuters is making a value judgment…. Terror as in terror attack or terror cell should be avoided on stylistic grounds.”Sean Maguire, “When Does Reuters Use the Word Terrorist or Terrorism?” Reuters Editors, June 13, 2007, http://blogs.reuters.com/reuters-editors/2007/06/13/when-does-reuters-use-the-word-terrorist-or-terrorism/.
Outside of the United States, some Western media outlets take a softer stance on Hamas. In a June 2014 photo essay on Hamas summer camps that train teenagers for subversive activities, the Daily Mail referred to Hamas solely as “a political organization,” despite the photographic evidence it provided to the contrary.“Summer Camp Hamas Style: Palestinian Boys Take Part in Training Camps,” Daily Mail, June 10, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2653860/Summer-camp-Hamas-style-young-boys-endure.html. In another example from British media, The Guardian profiled Hamas’s new government spokeswoman, Isra al-Modallal, in November 2013. The Guardian wrote that al-Modallal was educated in England, is the first woman to hold such a position, and wants to promote human rights.Harriet Sherwood, “Yorkshire-Educated Woman Becomes First Female Hamas Spokesperson,” Guardian [U.K.], November 7, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/07/yorkshire-educated-woman-female-hamas-spokesperson. The author makes no mention of Hamas’s violent activities, nor the contradictions between the group’s ideology and al-Modallal’s dedication to human rights. The author does quote al-Modallal saying she would have no contact with Israeli media.Harriet Sherwood, “Yorkshire-Educated Woman Becomes First Female Hamas Spokesperson,” Guardian [U.K.], November 7, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/07/yorkshire-educated-woman-female-hamas-spokesperson.
Despite failing to label Hamas a terrorist organization, Western media largely recognize the organization as a violent militant group, and regularly note that Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. In recent coverage of the group, the BBC noted Hamas’s “long record of attacks and its refusal to renounce violence.”“Profile: Hamas Palestinian movement,” BBC News, July 14, 2014, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13331522. Western columnists typically deride Hamas, while still imploring Israel to ease restrictions on the Palestinian civilian population. While U.S. media outlets such as the Associated Press and Reuters will mention Hamas’s ideology, the previously mentioned Daily Mail and Guardian articles lack a broader context for the issues on which they report. The Guardian demonstrates this further in a January 2014 piece on Hamas-Iran reconciliation talks, failing to provide any context—beyond a throw-away reference to the Muslim Brotherhood as Hamas’s “ideological parent”—of Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism or of Hamas’s pro-terror ideology.Harriet Sherwood, “Hamas and Iran Rebuild Ties Three Years after Falling out over Syria,” Guardian [U.K.], January 9, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/09/hamas-iran-rebuild-ties-falling-out-syria.