Disputed or occupied? How location dictates BBC terminology

With BBC audiences having read and heard terminology such as “occupied Palestinian territory”, “occupied Palestinian land” and “illegal Israeli settlements” scores of times over the last week or so in BBC coverage of UNSC resolution 2334 (see related articles below), it is interesting to take a look at the language used in an article published on December 25th on the BBC News website’s ‘Africa’ page.

Although its subject matter concerns a decades-old conflict involving an invasion, disputed territory, thousands of people living in refugee camps and more than twenty years of failed negotiations, nowhere in that article – titled “Western Sahara: Kitesurfing in the Dakhla danger zone” – did the BBC tell readers in its own words that the area is “occupied” or describe the presence of Moroccan citizens as “illegal” and at no point did the BBC endorse the narrative of one side of that dispute over the claims of the other side.w-sahara-art-25-12

In fact, readers were specifically told that the location of the story is in “disputed territory”.

“Throughout the year, kitesurfers in need of an adrenaline rush travel the globe to glide on the waters of the Dakhla lagoon in Western Sahara. It is a unique seaside treat which the Moroccan government has turned into a touristic mirage, writes Camille Lavoix.

Some see it as Morocco reinforcing its hold on the region claimed by the Sahrawi people, an indigenous Berber ethnic group, over the past 40 years.

For others, the kitesurfing oasis is the best example of Morocco’s efforts to develop the disputed territory.”


“Since April 2016, some 146 journalists and activists have been arrested or expelled for reporting on the conflict.

The tension between the two sides has, however, not prevented kitesurfers from seeking adventure at the disputed location, while hotels continue to earn good profits.”

This is of course far from the first time that we have documented the differences in the language used by the BBC when reporting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the conflict in Western Sahara. Currently, however, that double standard is particularly apparent.

Related Articles:

BBC WS report on UNSC resolution endorses Palestinian narrative

A review of BBC News website coverage of UNSC resolution 2334

Reviewing BBC coverage of UNSC resolution 2334 in R4 news bulletins – part one


5 comments on “Disputed or occupied? How location dictates BBC terminology

  1. Arab-Israeli conflict. No such thing as ‘Palestinian’.
    You see, you too are swallowing and recycling the big lie.

  2. I am not recommending it. But considering the side taking against Israel, how would you take it if Israel had an ethnic cleansing of all its Arab population, stole Jewish land four times the size of Israel and all heir personal and business assets?? That’s precisely what the Muslim world did to all of its Arab Jews 1942-67. Unlike the Palestinians, the 865,000 Jews are still offended if you call them refugees. They vote further to the right than Bibi.
    I mention this only to suggest that many of us haven’t the objectivity needed to consider this or other propaganda. Unfortunately, our schools teach history in which there are always the white hats and the black hats: our perspective seldom recognizes the other side’s motives and history

  3. Pingback: 01/01 Links: A Palestinian Defeat Is Good for All; Israel is Jewish – 24/6 Magazine

Comments are closed.