Why is BBC Arabic feeding its audiences politicised terminology?

As we noted here recently, there was no coverage whatsoever of the two terror attacks which took place in Rishon Lezion and Netanya on November 2nd on BBC News’ English language website.  A search for reporting of those events on the BBC Arabic website showed that it did publish an article about an earlier incident at the Jalame crossing on the same day but the later stabbing attacks did not receive any coverage on that website either.

However, that November 2nd article – published under the context-free title “Palestinian death toll rises to 74” – is also notable on other counts.BBC Arabic occupation forces 1

BBC Watch asked a professional translator to take a look at the report and he confirmed that in its seventh paragraph, readers are told that the victims of the ongoing wave of terror attacks are “Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers”. Below is his translation of paragraphs six and seven: the absence of punctuation or a joining word between “occupied Palestinian lands” and “Arab areas inside Israel” appears in the original text, along with the questionable timeline of events.

“Tensions have been rising for weeks in the occupied Palestinian lands Arab areas inside Israel between the Palestinians and the Israeli security apparatuses. A number of cities and towns witnessed protests and demonstrations which the Israeli authorities confronted forcefully.

After that, the confrontations developed into individuals deeds/operations/actions in which Palestinians have stabbed Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers, and the Israeli army reacted by killing the attackers and arresting those who cooperated with them (with the attackers).” [emphasis added]

Obviously not all the victims of the recent attacks have been what the BBC would describe as “Jewish settlers” – i.e. Israeli Jews who reside in places the BBC thinks they should not live. At best then, that description is inaccurate. At worst, it may reflect promotion by the BBC of the ideology according to which all Israeli Jews are “settlers” and all Israeli communities ‘illegitimate’.

Another notable point about this article is its use of the politicised term “occupation forces” to describe the IDF in paragraph 5. That terminology is regularly used by Hamas and other terrorist organisations as well as by anti-Israel campaigners.

And it would appear that the use of that politicised term in this particular article is not a one-off mistake: an additional article which appeared on the BBC Arabic website on November 3rd employs the terms “Israeli occupation forces” and “occupation forces” no fewer than three times.BBC Arabic occupation forces 2

Five years ago, the then director general of the BBC told an audience at Chatham House that:

“The BBC’s motto is ‘Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation’ – the idea being that access to news, information and debate about different countries and cultures can ultimately help foster mutual understanding and tolerance. The motto and the services which flowed from it belong to a very different period in world history, but it would be a brave person who claimed that those aspirations are any less necessary today than they were then. They still form part of the bedrock of the BBC. And they still inform our decisions every day, whether in the safety and security of London or Washington or in the cities and lonely places of Afghanistan.”

“Mutual understanding and tolerance” are not fostered by the employment of inaccurate, inflammatory, politicised terminology such as that seen above – especially when delivered in Arabic to the BBC’s Arabic-speaking audiences.

Clearly BBC Arabic needs to take very prompt action to ensure that its staff report the news accurately, impartially and in language which is free from the kind of terminology – and ideology – used by those who seek Israel’s destruction. 

9 comments on “Why is BBC Arabic feeding its audiences politicised terminology?

  1. More anti-Israel propaganda, Hard Talk now seems to consist exclusively of Stephen Sakhour interviewing Palestinian leaders and Israelis so he can assuage the Palestinians and attack the Israelis. Last night he interviewed Saeb Arakat another Palestinian hardliner who has repeatedly expressed his hatred of Israel. This time he appeared to be advocating a two-state solution, to which Sakhour’s response was “this is the most depressed I have ever seen you” or words to that effect.

  2. Hadar Sela I always admire your brilliant, perceptive and careful analyses on a daily basis of the BBC’s reporting. It struck me from your report I just read that the BBC needs to make its reporting more like a medical or scientific report from a laboratory. Just like a doctor, scientist or laboratory technician needs to have a thorough knowledge of his/ her subject so does the BBC staff members ( journalists and researchers). They need to have a much deeper knowledge of the historical events as they occurred in the past in a non partisan way. It is imperative that they do this otherwise they will continue to misinform and help create ‘non understanding’ which is not in line with the BBC Directir General’s comments 5 years ago which you refer to where ‘Nation shall speak to Nation’. Reporters such as we see today like Bowen, Knell, Guerin and Conolly are not in the mindset which I am referring to- nor are the ‘high ups’ who edit and sanction twirl reporting techniques. Asking local people for their opinions is not what I regard as news reporting. This is something different to asking a witness what he/ she saw. I also suspect that their Arabic reporting programme has a journalist who is steeped in pro Arab anti Israel thinking. This is not in accordance with their charter; an international reporting institution such as the BBC must have ‘ international non partisan’ reporters who have A high training and degree in history in order to do service to this Israel/ Arab situation

  3. Pro Israelpr should harp on the cord and repeat systematically a phrase such as BBC AND OTHER MEDIAS NAZI TERMIOLOGY do not help comprhension betwenn people etc. NAZI TERMINOLOGY is the motto which should be repeated ad nauseam.

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