BBC removes claim of ‘pre-emptive’ Yom Kippur strike

On September 15th we highlighted the fact that the BBC’s ‘Learning Zone’ website – a resource for teachers – claimed that Egypt and Syria “acted pre-emptively” when they launched the surprise attacks which began the Yom Kippur war forty years ago. 

Via the JTA we learn that the erroneous claim has been removed from the website after the JTA approached the BBC’s Head of Communications.

“Asked by JTA whether BBC had indications that Israel had threatened or planned to attack its Arab neighbors 40 years ago, BBC’s head of communications, Claire Rainford, wrote  in an email on Monday that the producers of Learning Zone “have reviewed the copy and decided to remove the word preemptive.” “

Here is a ‘before’ screenshot:

Clip 10213 YK

This is the page as it stands now:

clip 10213 YK corrected

Seeing as there is no publication date on that webpage, we have no way of knowing for how long that politically motivated claim was presented to educators and it is of course impossible to estimate  how many teachers have passed on that historically inaccurate information – provided by the ‘trusted’ BBC – to their pupils. 

14 comments on “BBC removes claim of ‘pre-emptive’ Yom Kippur strike

  1. it is still totally inaccurate ! How can the editor leave the “during” in the text. It makes no sense. It still doesn’t say how the war started. it just says that “during” the war Egypt and Syria acted against Israel. It fails to make clear that this was a surprise attack. It also fails to mention that this was an attack on two fronts.

    My suggested wording is to say ” The 1973 Yom Kippur war began when Arab coalition forces launched a joint surprise attack on Israel. Egyptian and Syrian forces entered the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights respectively, which had been captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. “

    • Well said Jimmy, though I would say ”The 1973 Yom Kippur war began when Arab coalition forces launched a joint surprise attack on Israel on the holiest Jewish Day of the year”. The are always bleating on about how we must “respect” their religion, well they didn’t show much respect did they!
      As ever, great work Hadar, and as I see Daphne’s name I must also pay homage to her!

    • Agreed. It would be fascinating to know what went on in the mind of the propagandist who wrote this sentence:

      During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Egypt and Syria acted pre-emptively against Israel at the Suez Canal.

      As Hadar pointed out in the first article here, Syria was not at the Suez and that fact demonstrates the writer’s extraordinary ignorance of the geography and history of the area. And of course the sentence makes no sense as it stands: one cannot attack pre-emptively during a war, which the writer would know if he/she had any understanding of the word.

      And what’s this absurd acted against? It’s almost as if lurking somewhere in the depth’s of the writer’s conscience was something that prevented him/her from compounding the lie by using the appropriate word, attack. Or, more likely, he or she was just scouting around for an additional way to downplay the Arab sneak attack.

      The website is a “resource for teachers?” How could a teacher possibly explain the word pre-emptively, which students would be unlikely to understand, using the totally inappropriate and false example of the Yom Kippur War?

      This is a clumsy, uninformed and adolescent attempt at historical revisionism and the BBC’s shameful response to the complaint has only made it slightly less blatant by removing that single word, pre-emptively.

      • Very well said, as a person who was living in Israel at the time of Yom Kippur war, remembering still so vividly how there was no radio broadcasts due to the holiest of days in the Jewish calendar, when most of the population was fasting and filling the synagogues, Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria with the intent of committing genocide against the people of Israel; I remember the anxious hours until the IDF was able to contact the reserve forces, very difficult to do since there was no radio broadcasting during the 24 hours of that precise day ( since then broadcasts were mandatory on Yom Kippur ) . Yes!! The appropriate word is ATTACK, there is no possible way to sugar coat it.

  2. Good morning dear Hadar,

    I read your excellent blog every day and admire your wit and keen eye for what is right and wrong when it comes to my beloved Israel. If I may perhaps help you date the respective undated BBC page in question, there is in fact a very useful website tool for checking to see when a webpage by a major organisation, such as the BBC, first appeared online. It is called The Way Back Machine Internet Archive and here is its web address:

    The page you and the JTA very kindly got amended, according to the Way Back Machine Internet Archive, first appeared on October 10th 2011. Since then it appears have either been re-published or at least edited in some form or another.

    Here is also the Way Back Machine Internet Archive calendar the link for the first ever entry of that particular BBC page.

    I hope this might help you in some way. In the meantime, I thank you for all your good and hard work. Please keep up the good work!

    With kind regards from a hospital bed in rainy Zurich,
    Alexander Beck

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