By: Mira Costello
Discerning facts about global issues with complex histories is no easy task. Especially with near-infinite streams of information, which can report similar information while also telling completely different stories, it’s difficult to make sense of what is true and important. Part of the path to information literacy is understanding language.
As a journalistic publication, The Preface follows style rules set by the Associated Press (AP). While many of these deal with small details, such as how we write dates or where we put commas, the AP style rules also give us guidelines for covering current issues; for example, they recently ruled that publications are advised to use LGBTQ+ instead of LGBTQ.
With abundant news coverage of what is commonly called the “Israel-Palestine conflict,” the AP has also issued a topical guide for covering this issue. Below is a list of terms adapted from the AP that you will see in coverage by The Preface, with brief explanations of each. These guidelines are intended to make news easy to understand for all readers, be as accurate as possible and avoid language that is polarizing or biased.
It is important to note that in a direct quotation from a source or someone featured in a story, we will quote the exact words they used, even if they do not align with this guide. For example, The Preface will not describe someone as pro-Palestine, but we might include a quote from someone self-identifying by saying “I am pro-Palestine.”
|This ✅||Not this❌||Why?|
|Israel-Hamas war||Israel-Palestine war, Gaza war, Israel-Palestine conflict||The AP distinguishes between Hamas, Palestine, and Palestinian people. “War” is lowercase because it is not an official war, but has earned the title in reporting due to high casualties and military operations. The Preface may also use the phrase “News from Israel and Palestine” to make our coverage more understandable to our readers.|
|Describe specific actions of violence||Terrorism||Terrorism is a polarizing word that can be used in a biased way. Describing specific actions is more accurate.|
|Hamas militants or Hamas fighters||Hamas soldiers or Hamas resistance||Hamas is not an official government, so it does not have a military or army and therefore does not have soldiers. The word “resistance” may also be biased.|
|Israeli army, Israeli military, or Israeli soldiers||Israel Defense Forces or IDF||Readers are more likely to understand the term “Israeli army” than “IDF”. “Army” and “soldiers” are often more accurate than “IDF,” since they refer to specific people and their actions.|
|Gaza Strip, Gaza, West Bank or Palestinian Territories||Palestine* or the state of Palestine||The AP does not use the word “Palestine” to describe a geographic country because it is “not a fully independent, unified state.” Using the names of specific areas is almost always more accurate. The AP still uses “Palestine” to describe the Palestinian government and their international relations.|
*The Preface will continue to use “Palestine” to refer to the Gaza Strip and territories in the historic region of Palestine that have been occupied by Israel, since this is likely the term most clear to our readers.
|East Jerusalem, annexed east Jerusalem and west Jerusalem||Jerusalem as the capital of Israel||West Jerusalem is primarily occupied by Israeli people and has been Israeli territory since 1948. East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1967, and most of its occupants are Palestinian people. Israel considers the entirety of Jerusalem to be its capital, but this is not recognized widely by other nations, nor by Palestinians, who view east Jerusalem as their future capital city.|
|Describe specific beliefs||Pro-Israel, anti-Israel, pro-Palestine, anti-Palestine and variations of these||Using terms like “pro-Palestine” and “pro-Israel” perpetuates the idea that there are only two sides of the issue, and that one is right, while the other is wrong. Describing peoples’ beliefs and actions is more specific and accurate, and readers can draw their own conclusions about that person’s stance; as journalists, it is not our job to tell people how to think.|
|Antisemitism or antisemitic||Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic or any other version||International Jewish organizations have expressed support for removing the hyphen from this word. They argue that by separating the two parts of the word, the concept of “Semitism” is implied, which does not exist. While there is a branch of languages called Semitic languages, including Hebrew and Arabic, we cannot describe people as “Semitic”. To illustrate this concept, we can use the word “anti-Black” (with a hyphen) to describe discrimination, because we can use the word “Black” to describe people.|
We will not describe a person as an “antisemite” and will instead describe their statements and actions.