BBC Complaints: we strive to describe the ‘nuanced nature’ of Hamas

A reader recently shared with us a reply received from a representative at BBC Complaints which, beyond the issue of whether or not it is a satisfactory response to a complaint made by a licence-fee payer, provides some revealing insights into the prevailing accepted wisdom in the BBC Complaints department.

Below is one portion of the response: [all emphasis added]

“With regard to your additional point on describing Hamas as militants in our news coverage [….] we feel it is worth noting that Hamas has both a political wing and a military wing and while its charter calls for Israel’s ‘nullification’ it is at the same time the democratically elected government in Gaza. Hamas’s strategy is certainly to end the occupation through armed resistance while its 1988 charter also calls for Israel’s destruction. It has, however, modified its position over time. Hamas also enjoys considerable popular support among Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip where it is particularly strong.

It is worth noting this is as much to do with its humanitarian wing, which provides schooling, health clinics and financial assistance, as its military wing which carries out attacks on Israelis. Our coverage follows the BBC editorial guidelines which state: “Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements. We try to avoid the use of the term “terrorist” without attribution. When we do use the term we should strive to do so with consistency in the stories we report across all our services and in a way that does not undermine our reputation for objectivity and accuracy.”

Our coverage strives to describe the nuanced nature of the organisation in an accurate and impartial manner, allowing our audience to make up their own minds.

We don’t agree with your suggestion of bias and this goes some way in addressing your concerns.”

Let’s take that one inaccurate statement at a time.

Hamas has both a political wing and a military wing“. Notably, the former later morphs into a “humanitarian wing”: an Orwellian description which only an organization like the BBC which pedantically ignores Hamas’ persecution of religious minorities, women and homosexuals could invent. But the important point here is that the fact that Hamas runs schools and clinics in no way mitigates the fact that it has consistently terrorised, attacked and killed Israeli (and other) civilians for over a quarter of a century. For that reason Hamas is designated in its entirety by Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan, banned by Jordan and Egypt and its ‘military wing’ proscribed by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  As readers well know, all too often the BBC fails to inform audiences of that entire range of terrorist designation of Hamas.

“ is […] the democratically elected government in Gaza“. Hamas’ democratically elected mandate expired over four years ago, with elections not having been held since January 2006 when it won 44.45% of the votes in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Hamas is thus no longer the “democratically elected” anything, but an armed group which violently ousted its political rivals from the Gaza Strip where has held onto power despite its mandate having long since come to an end.

Hamas’s strategy is […] to end the occupation“. The territory controlled by Hamas – the Gaza Strip – has not been occupied for nine years due to the fact that Israel disengaged from the area in 2005 – two years before Hamas’ violent takeover.

“…while its 1988 charter also calls for Israel’s destruction. It has, however, modified its position over time“. In other words, the BBC Complaints department apparently believes that Hamas no longer “calls for Israel’s destruction”. Hamas, however, says differently.

Here is Hamas’ Khaled Masha’al making a ‘nuanced’ speech in December 2012:

Here is Hamas’ former prime minister (from the ‘political’ or ‘humanitarian wing’) speaking in March 2014:

Here is a Hamas MP (again from Hamas’ ‘political wing’) also speaking in March 2014:

Here is another Hamas MP (also from that same ‘political wing’) speaking in April 2014:

And here is a Hamas-produced video from May 2014:

Perhaps the BBC Complaints department would care to enlighten its funding public as to how it arrived at the conclusion that Hamas has “modified its position” on the destruction of Israel and why it employs that and other such obviously inaccurate claims in response to complaints made by licence fee payers?  

9 comments on “BBC Complaints: we strive to describe the ‘nuanced nature’ of Hamas

  1. Hello BBC Watch Firstly may I say what an excellent job you are doing in highlighting the BBC’s partiality when it comes to the reporting of the Middle East. I recently complained to the BBC about Orla Guerin’s statement that there was no evidence of Hamas using human shields. Their reply was to the effect that hiding among schools, hospitals mosques and UN buildings does not constitute that activity. Please advise me on the best way to take such complaints further when confronted with this bigoted nonsense?Please see the full response below: YOUR COMPLAINT:Complaint Summary: Orla Guerin report was pro HamasFull Complaint: Orla Guerin, in her last report from Gaza stated emphatically that there was no evidence that Hamas had used human shields in attacking Israel. This flies in the face of documentary and video evidence that Hamas have fired rockets from hospitals, mosques, schools and near UN premises as well as storing arms & ammunition in them. Guerin is married to a Palestinian and has a long record of pro Palestinian/anti Israeli bias in her reporting.———-Thank you again for contacting us.BBC Complaints Keep up the good work Regards Richard Hone Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:18:19 +0000 To:

  2. If Hamas were to be successful in destroying Israel (God and the IDF forbid), where would its leaders send their family members for medical treatment?

  3. Hamas “provides schooling, health clinics and financial assistance”

    So did the Nazis, Stalin and no doubt today ISIS. They all also provide(d) death in great number, which is why we’re less than ‘nuanced’ about them.

    And if Hamas provides such good health care, why does its leader send his children to be treated in Israel?

    Oh but mustn’t speak ill of Hamas. They display the great saving grace of hating Israel and the West.

  4. This is an unacceptable response for all the obvious reasons.This needs to be escalated. The BBC is a just a hotbed of Liberals and left wingers who have their own agenda and seek to impose it on others. I hope this appears in wider Jewish press so people can respond…..

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