If Hamas can’t be labelled as “terrorists”, shouldn’t media also refrain from referring Israel as “Tel Aviv regime”, “Zionist”?

ONE man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. That is the message that Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim seemed to be conveying when urging local media to stop labelling Hamas as “militant” or “terrorist organisation”.

During the PM’s question time in Dewan Rakyat yesterday (Nov 8), Anwar said such awareness among media publications must be established to adhere to the concerns and sensitivities of the people as well as recognise the rights of Palestinians.

PMX even drew comparisons with the African National Congress (ANC) and its leader Nelson Mandela which was also once labelled as terrorists during its fight to free South Africa of oppressive Apartheid laws.

Anwar said this in response to Bersatu Machang MP Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal on the government’s stance towards reports published by media which still refers to Hamas as a militant group.

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (of Turkiye) announced that Hamas is not a militant group, but rather a liberation group,” justified Wan Fayhsal.

“However, if we take a look at it, many of our local media still refer to Hamas as militant or terrorist whether in Mandarin or English. Hence, I hope that you (Anwar) can advise and take editorial action against these misleading reports as this is not only the government’s stance but your stance.

Two-way traffic

For sure, such calls for objectivity is to be lauded. Local media should not parrot western media stance in the on-going Israel-Hamas conflict.

However, such calls reflect severe bias. For starters, should local media stop referring to the Israel as the “Tel Aviv regime” or indeed tarring the entire Jewish people as “Zionists”.

Secondly, many local reports seem to conveniently forget that the current round of hostilities was started by Hamas who launched rockets at Jewish settlements. Many local media reports also do not highlight the number of Israeli casualties from the initial incursions nor the hostage situation.

Such calls again fail to recognise the extreme prejudices inherent among many local media outlets in the current conflict.

This is what makes the narrative deeply uncomfortable for some as the Machang MP has earmarked English and Mandarin media outlets as being biased without recognising the inherent bias in Malay media as well.

Media objectivity is definitely encouraged but it has got to go both ways. This is a humanitarian crisis. It affects Muslims, Christians and, whisper it, Jews. – Nov 9, 2023

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