BBC’s educational resource website describes Yom Kippur attack by Syria and Egypt as ‘pre-emptive’

From the Oxford dictionary:

preemptive 1

From the BBC’s Ethics guide (in its ‘Religion and Ethics’ section):

preemptive 2

In other words, a military action can only be defined as pre-emptive if there is concrete evidence of the fact that the other side intends to attack.

Consider then the statement below which appears in the section titled “The Middle East from the 1880s” on the BBC’s ‘Learning Zone’ website: supposedly a resource for secondary school educators. 

“During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Egypt and Syria acted pre-emptively against Israel at the Suez Canal.” [emphasis added]

Beyond the rather obvious fact that Syrian forces were nowhere near the Suez Canal at the time, the description of ‘Operation Badr’ as a pre-emptive action is clearly inaccurate. The Israeli government had not ordered a general mobilization of reserve forces during the build-up to the Egyptian and Syrian surprise attack and the US had received confirmation from Golda Meir that no pre-emptive Israeli strike would take place. 

So why would the BBC present such an inaccurate and obviously politically motivated picture of the start of the Yom Kippur war as a resource for teachers?  The clue to that perhaps comes in the form of the personalities the BBC chooses as sources for its information.

“Expert comment on the geo-political changes and the impact this war had upon region is provided by Benny Morris, journalist Robert Fisk and Professor Noam Chomsky.” [emphasis added]

Clip 10213 YK

The BBC’s previous ‘Key Terms’ guide stated:

“MIDDLE EAST EXPERT”
“Some “experts” may have a history of sympathising with one cause or another even if they have no overt affiliation.

It is preferable, where time and space allow, to provide a lengthier indication of the contributor’s views on past issues so that the audience might calibrate his or her statements for themselves.

In all reporting we should avoid generalisations, bland descriptions and loose phrases which in fact tell us little about a contributor or event. The phrase “Middle East expert” implies the BBC thinks this person’s views have weight and independence. If we can defend that judgement – that’s fine. If not it may be better to avoid the phrase.

Overall, we should seek a precise description – for example, what job does this person hold? Who employs them? Where do they stand in the debate?”

Clearly in the cases of both Chomsky and Fisk, such background on the political motivations behind their “expert comment” (as the BBC describes it) would be essential information for any teacher searching for accurate and impartial information. 

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23 comments on “BBC’s educational resource website describes Yom Kippur attack by Syria and Egypt as ‘pre-emptive’

  1. I’ve heard lot’s of rubbish from Chomsky & Fisk over the years but calling Syria’s and Egypt’s Yom Kippur attack, “Pre-emptive” must rank this not only with nonsensical rubbish but mak’s them liars with alternative agenda’s as well. Anything that either of these two write or say has to be rejected. They are motivated by hate.
    Benny Morris is/was a respected historian. He was harshly critical of Israel in his early career but later changed his position becoming a supporter of Israel and Israel’s situation and politics. A further thought on Fisk – I’m sure he doesn’t have a reserved spot in Heaven.

  2. Nonono. I want to hear the BBC argue how nations with such large landmasses, strategic buffer zones and large standing armies, can have a tactical reason to attack “Pre-emptively”.

    Because this is basically the same as saying as Russia attacked Finland “preemptively” during the the winter war.

  3. Thanks for fisking this clap-trap, Hadar.Chomsky and Fisk, in their notoriety, surely warrant a verse from Duvidl:

    Chomsky and Fisk; Chomsky and Fisk;
    Their bigotry’s load gives us all a slipped disk.
    If they were on fire, on them we would not pishk.
    Send them to Syria; let them take the risk.

  4. What is stunning is how all these education resources, not only the BBC but also publishers of texts for schools like Longmans, make categorical statements rather than saying “this is what x wrote with link and this is what y wrote with link” to give students a chance to do their own research. Its not very difficult and at the least goes someway to meet the BBC guidelines on balance and impartiality.

    • Sharon the BBC has NEVER been impartial on Israel. With their long reach, they are the leaders in their field of spreading lies and hatred about Israel and Jews. Mores the pity that the BBC’s Board of Directors and controllers have never taken a meaningful role in keeping them honest. As much as I don’t want to say it – their editorial Board have to thrive on hatred of the Jewish State. Perhaps it’s a reason why the once Empire is no longer an Empire.

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  6. Great discovery, Hadar. The use of such biased sources as Chomsky and Fisk is blood-boilingly outrageous, and reflects the diabolically close relationship the Corporation has had for decades with Guardianistas and Guardianista-type opinion-formers.
    If and when the egregious Bowen, having written a tendentiously about its predecessor, writes his paperback account of the Yom Kippur War, will he rely on such persons, I wonder.

  7. maybe they are just more intelligent and have seen things first hand?
    how many pre-emptive strikes has Israel made do you think?
    all legitimate of course.

    • maybe they are just more intelligent and have seen things first hand?
      Yes Jennifer they are so intelligent that they have seen everything using their hands not like us ordinary humans who are restricted to see things with our eyes.
      how many pre-emptive strikes has Israel made do you think? all legitimate of course.
      You are correct all of them were legitimate.

    • Pre-emotive strikes are perfectly legal under certain circumstances and in those instances that Israel has used that prerogative in order to protect her citizens she has acted exactly according to law. This one though was not pre-emotive and any fool knows how off guard Israel was caught on Yom KIppur 40 years ago. Clearly Jennifer Bell you don’t understand the solemnity of Yom Kippur. You also don’t understand the nature of the Jewish people. I can recommend you watch Simon Sharma’s series on BBC 2 tonight episode 3. You can catch up with the two preceding episodes on iPlayer.

    • There is no point in confusing Jenny Bell with facts or truths – she is quite comfortable in the space she’s made for herself – besides we all know the earth is flat and that the Israeli’s are trying to convince the world it’s not

  8. The “experts” at the BBC following the good old progressive liberal way of their heroes at the Pravda are rewriting history. Everyone with the minimal knowledge of the period knows that who calls the coordinated Egyptian-Syrian attack preemptive simply is under the influence of something very bad stuff or a acts as a textbook example of falsifying history. Maybe instead of Fisk and Chomsky they should have study the innumerable existing eyewitness accounts by politicians, diplomats and high ranking military personnel from Israeli and Arab or any other sources – most of them easily and freely available on the net.

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  10. Well, if there can be “defensive tunnels” to kidnap soldiers (a gem by Jimmy Carter), why cant there be a “defensive surprise pre-emptive attack”?

    I know, they were trying to pre-empt the American attack against Syria! That’s it!

  11. Now seriously, isn’t it a sitting duck of a bias – how can it be exposed by a complaint? Is anyone gonna do it? Sorry, but I cant “pre-empt” myself…

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  13. The Fact is it was a pre-emptive strike (for the Egyptians in the sense that they wanted to strike before they would lose), it was also a cowardly one, knowing full well that Israel would be almost shut down for the day. The B.B.C. programme this comes from is very clear and objective about this I suggest watching it fully before . My mother rushed to Israel in 1973 from Britain as a volunteer and served on Kfar Aza I could not be prouder. Am Yisrael Chai !

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