By Adam Levick
Associated Press, one of the largest news agencies in the world, will no longer use the term “illegal immigrant” to describe those who migrate to a country in violation of their immigration laws, their Executive Vice President announced on Tuesday.
Their style guide will no longer permit the term ‘illegal immigrant’ or the use of ‘illegal’ to describe a person. It will now only use of the word “illegal” to describe an action, such as “living in or migrating to a country illegally”.
It is believed that most of the 1400 U.S. newspapers which use AP will likely follow their decision on the use of such a loaded term and will, for instance, stop referring to the millions of unauthorized Latino migrants to the US as “illegal”.
ABC reported the following:
…most of America’s top college newspapersand major TV networks, including ABC, NBC and CNN, have vowed to stop using the term. Nearly half of Latino voters polled last year in a Fox News Latino survey said that they find the term “illegal immigrant” offensive. A coalition of linguists also came together last year to pressure media companies to drop “illegal immigrant,” calling it “neither neutral nor accurate.”
Whilst many Americans are applauding the decision by AP as a victory for accuracy and diversity, we can only wonder whether serious news organizations – and the Guardian – will similarly drop the loaded and value-laden term “illegal settler” to characterize Jews who, consistent with the parameters of the Mandate for Palestine, live beyond the 1949 armistice lines (in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem).
A quick search of the Guardian’s site shows a few references to such ‘illegal’ Israelis.
Guardian film critic Philip French wrote the following in his Oct. 21, 2012 review of the documentary ‘5 Broken Cameras’:
Behind this pair, but no less endangered, is Emad, recording some of the fiercest footage of assaults and atrocities on the West Bank that I’ve ever seen, as well as the arson wreaked on Palestinian olive groves by illegal Jewish settlers.
A July 24, 2012 story by Phoebe Greenwood on Palestinians facing eviction from ‘unauthorized’ homes in the southern Hebron hills included this variation of the charge:
Hila Gurani, the state’s attorney, wrote that the second intifada and the second Lebanon war exposed gaps in IDF preparation that requires more extensive training in firing zones, which the illegal Hebron residents are preventing
And, a report by Nicholas Watt about the call by some within the UK Labour Party to label products which are produced in the West Bank included this passage:
Labour is opposed to boycotting Israeli goods but [Yvette] Cooper believes consumers should be informed whether products are produced by illegal settlers.
Moreover, a Google search using the words “illegal Israeli settlers” turns up 727,000 hits, and included references to the proscribed Jew in many “mainstream” publications. (Obviously, another variation of these specific words, in a different order, would likely produce further examples.)
The implications are fascinating.
If, for instance, we use AP’s logic as a guide, and only use the term “illegal” to describe an action, shouldn’t the Guardian and other sites stop referring to Jewish communities and homes in places like Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim and eastern Jerusalem as “illegal”? If so, we might one day look back at the ubiquitous use of such subjective terminology (there were more than 5,000 references to “illegal settlements” at the Guardian’s site) as an embarrassing chapter in their paper’s history.
Whatever the Guardian editorial position on the desirability of a future Palestinian state which may include most of Judea and Samaria (and some of the eastern section of the Jewish capital), we can at least hope that they’ll catch up with the times, heed their liberal calling and stop labeling – in one manner or another – hundreds of thousands of Jews residing within the boundaries of their historic homeland as “illegal”.
Adam Levick is the managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)