James Bennet, now the editor of The Atlantic, was The Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief from 2001 through 2004. After his return, he wrote a two-page memo to Chira on the use of “terrorism” and “terrorist” that is still cited by editors, though the paper has no formal policy on the terms. His memo said it was easy to call certain egregious acts terrorism “and have the whole world agree with you.” The problem, he said, was where to stop before every stone-throwing Palestinian was called a terrorist and the paper was making a political statement.Now, why would victims of terror in the disputed territories be considered any less human than those within the Green Line?
Bennet wrote that he initially avoided the word terrorism altogether and thought it more useful to describe an attack in as vivid detail as possible so readers could decide their own labels. But he came to believe that never using the word “felt so morally neutral as to be a little sickening. The calculated bombing of students in a university cafeteria, or of families gathered in an ice-cream parlor, cries out to be called what it is,” he wrote.The memo said he settled on a rough rule: He would use the words, when they fit, to describe attacks within Israel’s 1948 borders but not in the occupied West Bank or Gaza, which Israel and the Palestinians have been contending over since Israel took them in 1967. When a gunman infiltrated a settlement and killed a 5-year-old girl in her bed, Bennet did not call it terrorism. “All I could do was default to my first approach and describe the attack and the victims as vividly as I could.”
Certainly the terrorists don't make such distinctions between Jews on either side of the line. Certainly the victims are just as "civilian" on both sides of the line. And certainly mainstream Arab thought considers Israel to be occupying Arab land equally on both sides of the line, although they might be more willing to temporarily accept an Israel that gets diminishingly smaller with each passing year and decade.
If you define terror by its perpetrators, there is no difference. If you define it by the victims, there is no difference.
The only possible reason is that the New York Times feels that Jewish women and children who live on the eastern side of an arbitrary armistice line, to a small extent, deserve to be attacked. It appears that the NYT holds that terrorists have more justification when they attack Jews who live in un-politically correct portions of the Land of Israel.
So while the august Newspaper of Record wrings its hands over the use of the word "terror" in a way that makes a political judgment, they have just justified doing exactly that.