New York Times tells staff to avoid using the terms "Palestine,""refugee camps" and "occupied territory"

The New York Times has told its staff to avoid using the term "Palestine" to refer to it, and to avoid using terms such as "refugee camps" and "occupied territory." It may be no surprise to learn that the terms "genocide" and "ethnic cleaning" are also right out. The Times' new list of forbidden words was leaked to The Intercept.

The areas are recognized by the United Nations as refugee camps and house hundreds of thousands of registered refugees. … While the document is presented as an outline for maintaining objective journalistic principles in reporting on the Gaza war, several Times staffers told The Intercept that some of its contents show evidence of the paper's deference to Israeli narratives. "I think it's the kind of thing that looks professional and logical if you have no knowledge of the historical context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," said a Times newsroom source, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, of the Gaza memo. "But if you do know, it will be clear how apologetic it is to Israel."

In all reasonableness, it's fine if a paper avoids emotive, editorializing terms such as "genocide" in unattributed newswriting. But the restrictions on terms such as "occupation" and "refugee camps" just degrades those subjected to it. To call it censorship is almost to miss the point, which is more precisely that the Times is expected to encode a non-journalistic worldview in its writing and the only way it resists that demand is to rationalize that worldview as objectivity.

The reporting's still solid, though! I'm looking forward to its next missive from the Unoccupied Territory Formerly Known As The British Mandate of Pale– ah, darn it!

Context: The Times was recently embarassed by an internal leak exposing the questionable sources of an article about sexual assaults committed by Hamas, compounded by the article's own author reportedly describing it as hasbara—Israeli explanatory propaganda. A futile internal investigation into the leak by Times management ended inconclusively yesterday; union leaders said it amounted to interrogating Arab employees.

Previously: The New York Times Torture Euphemism Generator