BBC tweaks Hizballah statement, promotes its conspiracy theories

The website of Hizballah’s Al Manar TV station carries details of a statement put out on July 22nd by the terrorist organisation in response to the EU’s blacklisting of its ‘military wing’. The website cites “Hezbollah media relations” as its source for the statement, so we can probably assume that it is accurate.

Al Manar Hizb statement


“Hezbollah expressed in a statement issued Monday evening firm rejection of the European Union’s decision to put its military wing on the list of terrorism, and considered it as “aggressive, unjust decision written with Zionist ink.”

Hezbollah saw in the EU bowing to pressures of the US administration and the Zionist entity as a serious turnover in its compliance to the White House dictates. “It looks as if the decision was written by American hands with Zionist ink and the EU had only to put its seal for approval,” Hezbollah’s statement said.

Hezbollah considered that this unjust decision does not reflect the interests of the peoples of the European Union “and comes in contrast with its values and aspirations that support the principles of freedom and independence, which it had always advocated.”

“If the EU countries think they are booking its locations in our Arab and Islamic countries by submitting to the logic of U.S. blackmailing, we assure them that Washington had made similar decision and gained only further failures and disappointments,” the statement ended up saying.” [emphasis added]

So how did the BBC report that statement? In the latest version of a July 22nd article entitled “EU ministers agree to blacklist Hezbollah’s armed wing” which appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website, the BBC appears to have found fit to tweak that quote.

“In a statement, Hezbollah said the EU decision “was written by American hands with Israeli ink“.

The group said the move “has no justification and is not based on any proof”. ” [emphasis added]

EU desigantion Hizb article

As Middle East observers will be aware, it is very rare for Hizballah officials and spokesmen to call Israel by name, preferring to use atavistic terms such as “the Zionist entity”.  So why does the BBC think it needs to tone down – and misquote – the terrorist organization’s statement for Western consumption?

The same article includes a filmed report by the BBC’s Beirut correspondent Jim Muir which also appeared separately on the Middle East page of the BBC News website and was broadcast on BBC television. 

Muir filmed report

In that report Muir promotes the Hizballah line, using the terrorist organisation’s terminology.

Muir: “Hizballah is deeply rooted in Lebanese society, especially in Shiite areas like this part of Beirut, also in the southern suburbs of the capital and in the south of the country and the eastern Bekaa Valley where Hizballah really holds sway. Militarily, it’s stronger than the Lebanese army itself. Politically it’s also very strong. In communities like this there is no way that Hizballah is regarded as terrorist. People here have quite a different view from the European Union.”

Man in the street: “They can say what they like but to us Hizballah is not a terrorist organization. It has a popular base which extends all over the country.”

Woman in the street: “Hizballah is everything to us. We rely on it in a number of ways. It is our strength. If it wasn’t for Hizballah, the Americans and Israelis would have taken over a long time ago. We support Hizballah – it is not a terrorist organization.”

Despite the BBC’s commitment to accuracy and impartiality, Muir makes no attempt to bring Lebanese voices expressing alternative opinions (of which there are many) to his audiences. Neither does he make any effort to provide facts to put into proportion the bizarre “taken over” statement made by his female interviewee.  Muir continues by making a couple of valid and accurate points:

“Diplomats here are going to find it very hard to follow through on that distinction between the military wing and political wing of Hizballah that they have tried to make because Hizballah does not make that distinction itself. It’s one organization – it has many MPs in parliament, it has cabinet ministers in the outgoing government, so it’s going to be hard for diplomats to decide exactly who they’re talking to.

Hizballah’s involvement in Syria has been very divisive here. Hizballah fighters are openly combating the rebels alongside government forces. That’s been very divisive, so in Sunni parts of Lebanon you’ll find people certainly who will applaud the European Union for listing Hizballah as a terrorist organization.”

Muir does not however attempt to clarify for his audiences the proportions of Sunni and Shiia within the context of Lebanese demographics, or to explain to audiences that many additional ethnic and religious groups – not necessarily supportive of Hizballah – also exist.

Demographics Lebanon

Muir ends his report with a burst of pure Hizballah propaganda.

“It’s ironic that Hizballah’s involvement in Syria may have been something that stiffened European opinion against it because one of the main arguments it has for taking part in that struggle is to combat the Al Qaeda-type terrorists – as they see it – who are fighting alongside the rebels and they’re indeed taking the initiative in many areas. So for Hizballah the whole terrorist issue is highly politicized – that’s why it is undoubtedly going to dismiss this European move as highly politically motivated: part of an Israeli-backed plan to undermine resistance both by Hizballah, by Syria and by their strategic ally, Iran.”  

It is perfectly legitimate to attempt to explain to BBC audiences the outlook of a terrorist organization in order to enhance their understanding of a complicated issue, providing that the journalist balances that information with facts so as to avoid turning his report into propaganda. It is quite another thing to adopt a terrorist organisation’s language – as seen in Muir’s use of the term “resistance” – and to promote its conspiracy theories.

Muir’s failure to present any balance to the Hizballah party line, his promotion of the conspiracy theory-based notion of the EU designation as being a “politically motivated” cave-in to a mysterious Israeli master plan and his resulting relativist whitewashing of Hizballah’s very long history of terror and crime is not only inaccurate and partial, but deliberate misinformation.  

Regrettably, this is far from the first time that we have seen Jim Muir promoting the concept of “resistance”, whitewashing Hizballah’s violence, trivialising Hizballah’s role in the destabilisation of the region as a whole  and gratuitously advancing the anti-Israel conspiracy theories of Hizballah and its supporters.

Jim Muir’s reporting from the Middle East is not helping BBC audiences to “build a global understanding of international issues” – and neither does BBC editors’ ‘tweaking’ of quotes from a terrorist organization in order to make it appear less unhinged.

Related posts:

New resource on Hizballah gives information not supplied by BBC

BBC trumpets Hizballah narrative of ‘resistance’

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ promotes more Syrian regime propaganda

BBC’s Bowen plays dumb to weave tangled web

The curious CV of a former BBC Arabic journalist

7 comments on “BBC tweaks Hizballah statement, promotes its conspiracy theories

  1. ” It is quite another thing to adopt a terrorist organisation’s language – as seen in Muir’s use of the term “resistance” – and to promote its conspiracy theories.”

    It is generally accepted in the Arab world (and widely so elsewhere) that Hizballah was founded and continues primarily as a force of resistance against Israeli aggression. Its military activities have overwhelmingly been aimed at IDF targets – which is why Israeli propaganda has unremittingly tried to brand it as ‘terrorist’ and to blame it for attacks on civilians. Generally Hizballah denies responsibility for civilian atrocities, including the Bulgarian bus bombing. Contrary to what you may have read on BBCWatch the Europol investigation did not establish conclusive evidence of Hizballah involvement in this action, although links with Lebanon were found.

    I do not pretend to know that Hizballah is innocent of all civilian atrocity charges, and their support for Assad is difficult to defend.. Two things are clear however:

    – Israel has a major political interest in branding them as terrorists and would press this message forcefully with Europe regardless of its truth;
    – In its various Lebanon military adventures Israel has been responsible for more civilian deaths (by a factor of thousands) than all of those attributed to Hizballah by its enemies.

  2. “It is generally accepted in the Arab world (and widely so elsewhere) that Hizballah was founded and continues primarily as a force of resistance against Israeli aggression.”

    Really sencar, then why is the Gulf Cooperation Council, composed of 6 different Arab countries, imposing sanctions AGAINST Hezbollah.
    From ‘The Daily Star’ that is a Lebanese paper sencar not the soft porn UK title of the same name.
    29 June 2013

    RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council will hold a meeting in Riyadh next week to agree on mechanisms for imposing sanctions on members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, its head Abdullatif al-Zayani said. The monarchies of the GCC decided on June 10 to impose sanctions on members of Hezbollah, targeting their residency permits and their financial and business activities in reprisal for the Shiite group’s intervention in Syria.

    Thursday’s meeting, in which deputy interior ministers from GCC member states will take part, would “develop the appropriate mechanisms for applying” the June 10 decision, Zayani said in comments quoted by official Saudi news agency SPA.
    The sanctions would be implemented “in coordination … with ministers of commerce and the central banks of the GCC,” he added, without giving further details about the precise nature of the mechanisms.

    The Gulf Cooperation Council is made up of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
    Qatari authorities expelled 18 Lebanese citizens from the gas-rich Gulf state on June 20, a government source in Beirut told AFP.

    An estimated several hundred thousand Lebanese nationals work in the Gulf, transferring millions of dollars in remittances annually back to their home country.

    • “why is the Gulf Cooperation Council, composed of 6 different Arab countries, imposing sanctions AGAINST Hezbollah.”

      Your quote from The Daily Star answers your question, Gerald. Arab support (both Shia and Sunni) for Hizballah resistance to Israeli aggression has prevailed since the 1980s. More recently the Sunni/Shia conflict has become more pronounced and this trend was significantly escalated by the Syrian uprising and Hizballah’s military support for Assad. Your Star story reflects the reaction of Sunni ruled states to this support and bears little relation to their views on Israel.

      Incidentally the total population of the six Gulf states is about half that of Egypt, and none of their rulers attempt to respond to the views of their peoples; hardly representative of the Arab world then.

  3. sencar now that your statement about Hezbollah’s acceptance in the Arab world has been shown to be false by the quote above from Lebanon’s ‘Daily Star’ lets look at the even sillier statement about their involvement in the terrorist attack in Bulgaria.
    This is a statement by Bulgaria’s Interior Minister;

    “Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev has expressed his satisfaction over the European Union’s decision to include Hezbollah’s military wing in its list of terrorist organizations.

    “Most importantly, we have a duty before the Bulgarian citizens and Bulgarian citizens should know the truth about what is happening. Taking that into consideration, I believe this is a correct decision,” Yovchev told reporters on Tuesday.
    The Bulgarian Interior Minister said EU’s move would not lead to an increased risk for the country.

    EU’s Foreign Affairs Council decided on Monday to put the armed wing of Hezbollah on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations.
    The decision comes one year after the July 18 tragic incident at the Sarafovo airport, which killed seven, including five Israeli tourists, the Bulgarian bus driver, and the perpetrator of the attack.

    In February 2013, Bulgaria’s then-Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, suggested that the evidence collected by the investigating authorities led to a “reasonable assumption” about the involvement of the Lebanese militant group in last year’s terror attack at the Burgas airport.

    Yovchev said recently that additional evidence had been uncovered confirming the initial hypothesis.”
    So sencar which part of the sentence “.. additional evidence had been uncovered confirming the initial hypothesis.” do you fail to understand or choose to ignore?

    Don’t forget sencar in the UK we do not state someone is guilty until after a trial for example the recent murderers of Drummer Lee Rigby are referred to as ‘alleged’ even though they were caught in the act and there is overwhelming evidence as to their guilt. Very hard to hold a trial when the perpetrator has blown themselves up
    along with the victims.

    Perhaps you can also explain the trial in Cyprus in March of the Hezbollah terrorist?

    • “So sencar which part of the sentence “.. additional evidence had been uncovered confirming the initial hypothesis.” do you fail to understand or choose to ignore?”

      I took my view from the Europol site where it is clear from a neutral police source that definite responsibility had not been established:

      “With the assistance of Europol and a number of other international partners the Bulgarian authorities have made substantial progress in the investigation, leading them to uncover the identity of the suspects and their possible link to Hezbollah. Although a final determination of responsibility has not been made Europol’s findings in the case are consistent with this view.”

      I would not give the same credibility to a politician with voters to please and allies to butter-up, particularly when his statement is as vague as the one you quote.

      I note that your second post is dated after my response to your first, yet you blithely state that my “statement about Hezbollah’s acceptance in the Arab world has been shown to be false”, with no reference to my refutation of that claim. I can only assume that my posting was delayed, in which case you might care to comment further.

      • sencar I have seen a post by you TIMED at 4:33 AM. But, not only does it not constitute a reply, it certainly does not merit the term refutation to the points I raised or questions asked.
        Again in your post TIMED at 6:58 AM there is no reply just a reiteration by you of your faith in the terrorists of Hezbollah.
        It is noticeable that you have deliberately ignored the question of the court case in Cyprus. Life must be hard for you when the facts do not fit in with your warped view of the World, and Israel in particular.

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