A War of Words

Abstract: The aim of this study is to come to an understanding of the meanings of words pertaining to acts of political violence in modern Arabic and Hebrew. The semantics of these terms will be established by comparison between the meaning in dictionaries of modern and classical Arabic and Hebrew, the meaning in the Koran and the Bible as well as the meaning we extract from the context in the newspapers where the terminology is found. Furthermore, the aim is to find indirect Arab and Israeli definitions of terrorism through the study of journalistic discourse describing different kinds of violence. As such it focuses on legal in contrast to illegal violence and on how Israelis and Arabs use this terminology in their propaganda against ‘the enemy’.A method is tested, where we measure the frequency of terms that we find in the press and that we placed under the four titles of ‘the perpetrator’, ‘the victim’, ‘the act’ and ‘the name of the enemy’. Our later conclusions are based on this frequency and the established meaning. This method may be one way to reduce the risks of bias in research of media.Finally, the study examines Arab and Israeli press reactions to the events of 11/9 2001 and the, still continuing, ‘War on Terrorism’.

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