BBC bias on terrorism highlighted again in reports from Spain

As was the case when vehicular terror attacks took place in Stockholm, Nice, Berlin and London, despite its supposed policy of avoiding the word ‘terrorist’ without attribution in order to avoid “value judgements”, the BBC made appropriate use of that and related terminology when reporting on the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on August 17th and 18th.

As readers are no doubt aware, attacks on Israelis using the same or other methods are never described by the BBC as terror in its own words. The reason for that glaring double standard lies in the BBC’s failure to distinguish between method and aims, with the result being that when somebody deliberately drives a vehicle into a group of people, the corporation’s description of the attack as terror – or not – depends on the perceived aims and affiliations of the perpetrator.

Earlier this year the BBC came up with a new ‘explanation’ for the egregious double standard repeatedly seen in its reporting of terror in Israel and elsewhere – particularly Europe.

“Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict – as in the Middle East – to use the term “terror attack” or similar might be seen to be taking sides. There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts.

In a situation where a country that is not involved in a direct physical combat comes under attack, it may be reasonable to construe that as a terrorist incident.

The use of such terminology is never an exact science but where a continuing conflict exists, it is reasonable that the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides.”

As was noted here at the time:

“The bottom falls out of that argument when we recall that the BBC did use the term ‘Jewish terrorists’ to describe the perpetrator/s of the arson attack in Duma, despite the existence of an “ongoing geopolitical conflict”.

The corporation’s complaints department also appears to have tried to find a way of dismissing the fact that UK forces are involved in the military campaign against jihadists in Iraq and Syria by means of use of the term “direct physical combat”. Notably, the BBC is apparently not inclined to promote the notion that those actions of a state fighting terrorism might be “considered as terrorist acts”.”

Like the UK, Spain is also a member of the international coalition “united in defeating Daesh” and the word terrorist has also been seen in a BBC report concerning another country involved in “direct physical combat” with ISIS.

The fact that the BBC does manage to report terror attacks in other parts of the world using appropriate language means that its long-standing editorial policy of eschewing accurate terminology in coverage of Palestinian attacks on Israelis becomes even more glaring and the redundancy of its inconsistently applied guidelines and guidance is highlighted all the more. Absurdly, the BBC will no doubt still claim that it produces ‘impartial’ and ‘unbiased’ reporting from Israel.

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC reporting of vehicular attacks in France and Israel

BBC coverage of Berlin terror attack again highlights double standards

Absurdity of BBC’s ‘Language when Reporting Terrorism’ guidance on display again

BBC’s vehicular terrorism double standards on display again

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

 

 

 

 

 

Political NGO gets unreserved BBC amplification yet again

In October 2015 the BBC News website allocated just forty-two words to coverage of a terror attack in which four people were wounded near Kibbutz Gan Shmuel.

On August 7th 2017 the BBC News website devoted two hundred and ninety-eight words to amplification of statements made by a political NGO concerning a court ruling revoking the citizenship of the terrorist who committed that attack.

Titled “Israel decision to revoke attacker’s citizenship condemned” and illustrated with an unrelated image, the article opens with a description of the attack which predictably does not make use of the word terror because the BBC refuses to employ that term itself when reporting on attacks against Israelis.

“Human rights groups have criticised a decision by an Israeli court to remove the citizenship of an Israeli Arab who attacked people with a car and a knife.

It is thought to be the first time a judge has implemented a 2008 law under which perpetrators of “terrorist activities” can lose their citizenship.”

Later on in the report the word terrorism does appear in direct and indirect quotes.

“In his decision, Judge Avraham Elyakim of Haifa district court said victims’ right to life took precedence over “those who choose to violate the trust of the state of Israel and carry out acts of terrorism in its territory”.”

“The removal of citizenship for terrorism had been applied by Israel in rare instances prior to the 2008 law but the latest case could pave the way for similar rulings in the future, local media said.”

The report does not inform readers of an additional part of the court’s ruling:

“The court ruled that after Zayoud’s citizenship is revoked in October he will be given a temporary status, as exists in citizenship laws, and that it will be extended from time to time at the discretion of the interior minister after he has completed his sentence.”

As is made clear by its headline, the main aim of this article is amplification of statements from what the BBC coyly describes as “rights groups”.

“Israeli civil rights groups said the ruling set “a dangerous precedent”. […]

The court’s ruling was condemned by rights groups.

“The decision to revoke Mr Zayoud’s residence would render him stateless, in violation of Israel’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Sari Bashi of Human Rights watch.

“Citizenship is a precondition for a host of other rights, including the right to political participation and social and economic rights.””

Readers are not provided with any additional legal information beyond that simplistic portrayal and neither are they informed that numerous other countries have similar laws – as the BBC itself reported in relation to the UK only weeks ago:

“The 2014 Immigration Act granted the home secretary the power to strip citizenship from dual nationals or from immigrants who have become naturalised citizens and are now fighting overseas, even if that renders them stateless.”

As is usually the case, readers of this article find no mention of the obviously relevant issue of the political agenda of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the fact that it engages in lawfare and campaigning against Israel.

Human Rights Watch was the foreign NGO most quoted and promoted by the BBC throughout 2016 and its reports, PR releases, campaigns and statements enjoyed similarly prominent amplification in previous years. Nevertheless, the BBC consistently fails to meet its own editorial guidelines on impartiality which state:

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

Obviously that condition was not met in this latest article and so once again we see the BBC providing leverage for politicised messaging concerning Israel from an interested party touted as a neutral-sounding ‘human rights group’, without the required full disclosure to audiences of that political NGO’s anti-Israel activities and campaigns.

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ promotes equivalence between violent rioters and victims of terror

Listeners to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today‘ programme last week heard two reports on consecutive days relating to the Palestinian rioting ostensibly in reaction to security measures installed at Temple Mount after two Israeli policemen were murdered in a terror attack on July 14th. Both of those items were notable for their promotion of moral equivalence between the murders of victims of terrorism and the deaths of rioters killed while engaged in violence.

In the July 25th edition of ‘Today’, presenter Nick Robinson introduced the item (from 01:16:07 here) as follows: [emphasis added]

Robinson: “Will the decision by the Israeli security cabinet to remove metal detectors at one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites lessen the tension which has led to the deaths of three Israelis and four Palestinians in recent days, as well as an attack on Israel’s embassy in Jordan?”

The three Israelis mentioned by Robinson are the members of the Salomon family murdered by a terrorist who infiltrated their family home on July 21st as they finished dinner. The four Palestinians were all engaged in violent rioting (that was praised by the Palestinian president’s party Fatah) at the time of their deaths. Radio 4’s presenter however made no effort to inform listeners of the vastly different circumstances behind those deaths or to clarify that the Israelis were victims of terrorism.

Robinson likewise failed to clarify that the two Israeli policemen he went on to mention were also victims of terror, or who carried out that attack.

Robinson: “The detectors were installed at entry points to the al Asqa [sic] mosque – the third holiest site in Islam – after two Israeli policemen were shot dead in the area of the Temple Mount.”

Listeners were not informed of the all-important fact that the terrorists used weapons smuggled into the al Aqsa mosque.

Robinson: “The UN’s Middle East envoy has been warning of catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the Old City. This is the reaction of Manuel Hassassassian [sic], the head of the Palestinian mission to the UK.”

Listeners then heard completely unchallenged statements from Manuel Hassassian.

Hassassian: “I think for the moment, removing the metal detectors is a stepping stone in the right direction of calming down the situation. But Israel is insisting on putting cameras and smart technology to control and to supervise the area of the Haram Sharif that alone heavily guarded by manpower and that in itself is also instigative to the Palestinian faithful worshippers who will go and pray in the Haram Sharif. But I must say that, you know, the removal, in general, of the metal detectors will pacify the situation and we hope – we hope – that Israel won’t resort to such measures in the future because the question of religion is something very, very, very sensitive that could create tension and escalation as we have seen the last week.”

Although he opted out of asking the PA’s representative any questions at all (for example, regarding incitement to violence by the PA and its dominant party Fatah), Robinson did find it appropriate to ask the item’s second interviewee – Efraim Halevy, who is not a representative of the Israeli government – questions relating to Israeli policy.

Robinson: “…is it time that your prime minister, your government, changed its approach?”

The next day – July 26th – ‘Today’ listeners heard another item on the same topic which was introduced (from 02:49:29 here) by Nick Robinson thus:

Robinson: “The area of East Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Haram al Sharif remains very tense after days of protests by Palestinians over new security measures. Israel has now removed controversial metal detectors, saying they’ll be replaced with alternatives. But the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas says he’ll maintain a freeze on security cooperation with Israel. Our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman now reports from Jerusalem.”

Failing to clarify that the July 14th attack at Lions Gate was an act of terror, Bateman began:

Bateman: “Gunshots rang out from one of the most revered sites on earth nearly a fortnight ago. Two Israeli policemen were shot dead by three Israeli Arabs who were killed by security forces. In the volatile moments that followed police closed the compound and two messages competed for public attention.”

Listeners next heard material recycled from a report by Tom Bateman that was broadcast on the BBC World Service twelve days previously.

Erdan: “The terrorists they used firearms inside the Temple Mount violating, violating the holiness of this important place.”

Bateman: “Israel’s public security minister Gilad Erdan spoke out, as did the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem Adnan Husseini.”

Husseini: “We are living under occupation. Now the mosque should be open. If the mosque will not be open, it means that we are going to have more problems. This moment is very dangerous moment, very sensitive moment. We have to go to pray.”

Bateman: “They did pray – but on the streets outside the al Aqsa mosque; the holy Islamic shrine and also a powerful symbol of Palestinian hopes for statehood. To Jews the site is the abode of God’s presence where the biblical temples once stood.”

Bateman then gave a brief qualified explanation of the reason for the installation of the metal detectors which it is hard to believe would have been fully understood by listeners. He failed to adequately clarify which “guns had been smuggled in” to where or by whom.

Bateman: “Israel said it was installing the metal detectors because the guns had been smuggled in. Tensions grew and on Friday became a day of Palestinian protest. Fearing unrest, Israel barred entry to the site to all men aged under 50.”

As was the case in a previous report for the BBC World Service, Bateman downgraded what was in fact defined by its initiators as a ‘Day of Rage’ to a “day of Palestinian protest”.

After listeners heard a brief recording of Bateman in Jerusalem on July 21st, he continued:

Bateman: “Israeli police fired stun grenades. The protests spread. This was now about more than metal detectors. For Palestinians it evoked fears Israel wanted to change the long-standing access agreement over al Aqsa. Israel repeatedly said this was not the case. The site is in East Jerusalem which was annexed by Israel half a century ago. In the clashes over the weekend, five Palestinians were killed.”

Bateman then went to visit the family of a person killed while participating in violent rioting in a district of Jerusalem.

Bateman: “Children played outside as I visited the home of Susanne Abu Ghannam. Her son Mohammed was among those who died on Friday, shot – she said – by Israeli forces.”

Although listeners heard the mother claim that “the occupation forces were surrounding the hospital in order to take his body”, Bateman did not inform them that there is no indication that was the case.

Bateman then moved swiftly on, promoting equivalence between that death and the murders of three Israelis in the July 21st terror attack in Halamish.

Bateman: “Another woman was left grieving on Friday. An hour’s drive from Jerusalem, in the Jewish settlement of Halamish in the West Bank, a Palestinian man – claiming his actions were for al Aqsa – entered the home of an Israeli family celebrating a birth. He stabbed to death Michal Salomon’s husband, sister-in-law and father-in-law.”

After listeners had heard from Michal Salomon, Bateman closed his report.

Bateman: “For Israel the crisis was about a profound need to maintain security at what one minister called the most sensitive location on earth. It has drawn in Israel’s neighbour Jordan; the custodian of al Aqsa as part of the two countries’ peace deal. Amid international calls for calm, Palestinian leaders said last night their boycott on entering the mosque would continue. It seems Israel’s decision to remove the metal detectors has yet to see this crisis resolved.”

Although this is far from the first time that we have seen the BBC equating the deaths of Palestinians participating in violent acts with those of Israelis deliberately murdered by terrorists, the fact that the BBC refuses to use the word terror to describe attacks against Israelis makes that politicised editorial policy of moral equivalence all the more misleading to audiences – and all the more offensive.

Related Articles:

BBC refrains from using the word terror in report on murdered family

 

BBC refrains from using the word terror in report on murdered family

On the evening of July 21st three members of the Salomon family were murdered in a terror attack in Halamish.

“According to a preliminary investigation, the terrorist, a Palestinian in his late teens from a nearby village, arrived in the settlement on foot armed with a knife, climbed a fence and chose the last house on a street near it.

The perpetrator broke a window and entered the home, surprising a family of about 10 inside as they were finishing their dinner, and launched his stabbing spree.

During the attack, another daughter hid several of the grandchildren in one of the rooms, where she called police and began shouting that a terrorist was inside the home.

Paramedics said the victims, a father in his 60s, his son in his 40s, and his daughter in her 40s, died of their wounds.

The mother, in her 60s, was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem in serious condition.

Palestinian media identified the terrorist as Omar al-Abed, 19, from the village of Kaubar, near Ramallah.

An IDF soldier on leave in a nearby home responded to the screams and shot and wounded Abed through his window, according to Magen David Adom rescue service officials. An MDA paramedic at the scene told The Times of Israel the attacker was wounded by the shooting and was evacuated to hospital in moderate condition.

In initial questioning, Abed said he bought the knife two days ago, wanting to commit a terror attack because of events surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.”

Version 1

Roughly two hours after the attack took place the BBC News website published the first version of its report on the incident. Neither in the headline – “Three Israelis stabbed to death in West Bank attack” – nor in the body of the article did the BBC describe the incident as a terror attack.

As has been the case in the past, the report did however take care to inform readers of the BBC’s preferred political classification of the location of the incident.

“Three Israeli civilians have been stabbed to death in a settlement near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.” [emphasis added]

Halamish is of course located in Area C, the final status of which – according to the Oslo Accords that were signed by the Palestinians – is to be determined in negotiations.

The first two versions of the report told readers that:

“The attack came near the end of a day of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces over new security measures at a Jerusalem holy site.”

Only in version three was some partial context to those security measures revealed.

“Israel says the extra security is needed after two Israeli policemen were killed near the site a week ago.”

Readers were not informed of the crucial point that the policemen were murdered by terrorists using weapons brought into Temple Mount by a third party.

The BBC’s description of the incident itself failed to inform readers of the presence of additional members of the family – including children – in the house.

“On Friday, four Israeli civilians were stabbed in Halamish (also known as Neve Tsuf) after “an assailant infiltrated a private home”, the Israeli army said.

Israeli media reported the victims were a man in his sixties and his son and daughter, both in their forties. Another woman in her sixties is being treated in hospital for injuries sustained in the incident.”

No mention was made in the BBC’s report of praise for the attack from Hamas (of which the corporation’s staff was clearly aware), from the Palestinian Authority president’s party Fatah or from ordinary Palestinians who celebrated the murders on the streets.

Version 3

Readers of the article were informed that:

“The Israeli army said the attacker was a young Palestinian man called Omar al-Abed, who hours before the attack, posted on Facebook linking his actions to events at Jerusalem’s holy site.”

However, as usual they were not provided with any additional information which would contribute to their understanding of how incitement from official Palestinian sources, including Fatah, encourages such acts of terror.

Rather, the BBC continued its usual practice of portraying incitement as something that “Israel says” happens while amplifying messaging put out in PLO ‘media guidance’.

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

While at least one BBC journalist was aware of photographs that emerged from the scene of the attack, the BBC preferred to illustrate its early versions of the article with a pastoral image of Halamish, later adding a photo of an ambulance crew evacuating the wounded victim.

The report was further amended the next day to include allegations of ‘collective punishment’.

“Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman also said they were taking steps to prepare the Palestinian attacker’s house for demolition – a measure regularly taken by Israel, which says it is a deterrent, but condemned by rights groups as collective punishment.”

In light of the long-standing double standard in language used when reporting acts of terror against Israelis, it is sadly unsurprising to see the BBC refusing to use the word terror to describe the brutal murders of members of a family doing no more than enjoying dinner in their own home – just as it has in the past refused to use the same term to describe Israelis murdered in their own bedsIsraelis praying in their local synagogue or an Israeli painting her own front door.

As predictable as that BBC practice is, it becomes no less repugnant and offensive with time.

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

BBC Complaints clarifies discrepancies in terminology when reporting terrorism

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

A new BBC ‘explanation’ for its double standards on terror

 

 

BBC coverage of the Jerusalem terror attack – part one: BBC News website

Version 10

Some two hours after the terror attack at Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem on the morning of July 14th in which police officers Haiel Sitawe and Kamil Shnaan were murdered and two others wounded, the BBC News website published an article titled “Israelis injured in gun attack near Jerusalem holy site”. As further details of the incident emerged the article was repeatedly amended and its tenth version now appears on the BBC News website under the title “Israeli police killed in attack near Jerusalem holy site“.

Unsurprisingly – given the BBC’s record of double standards in the language used when reporting terror attacks in different locations – in none the ten versions of that article did the writer/s use the word terror to describe the incident he or she was reporting.

From the second version onward readers found a paragraph that has been frequently seen in previous BBC reporting on terror attacks against Israelis since October 2015.

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

Once again, it is worth remembering that since the surge in terror attacks began in late 2015, the BBC has consistently failed to provide its audiences with any serious reporting on the topic of incitement and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian officials. Readers are hence unable to judge for themselves whether or not what ‘Israel says’ is accurate.

Likewise, it is noteworthy that the portrayal of terrorism as being attributable to “frustration rooted in decades of occupation” conforms to a guidance document for members of the international media put out by the PLO in November 2015.

Version 1

Even after it emerged that in this case the three terrorists were Israeli citizens from Umm al Fahm, that paragraph remained in situ.

Later versions of the report stated:

“Elsewhere, a Palestinian was shot dead in clashes with Israeli forces at a refugee camp near Bethlehem on Friday, Palestinian sources said.

Barra Hamamdeh, 21, was killed during a raid by troops on the Dheisheh camp, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.”

The BBC did not clarify to readers that those “clashes” included attacks on the soldiers.

“According to the military, during an arrest raid in the Deheishe refugee camp, outside Bethlehem, Palestinians began throwing large rocks and explosive devices at the troops.”

The report tells readers that “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack in a phone call to Mr Netanyahu” and that “the militant Palestinian Hamas movement, which runs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack as a “natural response to the Zionist ongoing crimes”. It does not mention the additional praise for the attack from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or clarify that members of Abbas’ Fatah party also put out inflammatory statements.

“A member of the Fatah leadership, Abbas Zaki, said closing the Temple Mount “is a blatant violation, which we will not accept. Everyone must resist Israel’s moves. The three young men who were killed in Jerusalem were the ones who faced the real terrorism. We are now paying the price of the fake peace from the Oslo Accords. Resistance is the choice of all Palestinians and it is what will free the homeland.””

Version 2

The sequence of events is described by the BBC as follows:

“Two Israeli policemen have been killed and a third wounded in a shooting attack near a sacred site in Jerusalem.

They were shot by three Israeli Arabs close to the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary).

Police chased the attackers into the site and shot them dead.”

And:

“Police say the gunmen opened fire as they made their way from the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif towards Lions’ Gate, an opening in the Old City walls about 100ft (30 metres) away.

The attackers were then pursued back to the compound, where they were killed.”

That description does not adequately clarify that the terrorists had been on Temple Mount for an unknown period of time before the attack – and had even posted photographs of themselves there on social media – or that, as the Times of Israel reports, they deliberately returned to that site after the attack.

“According to police, the attackers came from the Temple Mount. They walked toward the Lions Gate exit, then opened fire at the officers.

After the shooting, the terrorists fled back toward the Temple Mount and other officers gave chase. Police then opened fire, shooting the terrorists dead inside the complex.”

Version 3

This report does however explain that the closure of the site after the incident was necessary to allow the police to carry out their investigation.

“In the wake of the incident, police sealed off the site to search it for weapons. It is the first time in decades that the compound, which contains the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, has been closed for Muslim Friday prayers, which normally draws thousands of worshippers.

The site is administered by an Islamic authority (Waqf), though Israel is in charge of security there. Police are investigating how the attackers managed to smuggle in a handgun, sub-machine gun and knife.”

The fact that the BBC clearly understands why the unusual step of closing Temple Mount had to be taken following the terror attack is particularly noteworthy given two radio reports on the same subject broadcast later in the day that will be discussed in part two of this post.

BBC News changes its description of 2008 Mumbai terror attack

In August 2014 the BBC News website published an article about the re-opening of the Chabad centre in Mumbai that had been closed for almost six years after it was targeted in a terror attack in 2008.

As was noted here at the time, some four hours after its original publication the article was amended and the word ‘terror’ was removed from its opening paragraph.

Version 1:

“A Jewish centre in the Indian city of Mumbai is due to reopen, nearly six years after it was attacked by gunmen in terror attacks on the city.”

Version 2:

“A Jewish centre in the Indian city of Mumbai has reopened, nearly six years after it was stormed by gunmen who attacked the city.”

An explanation for that change in wording was never forthcoming but on July 4th visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page came across that article again in the form of a link in a report concerning the visit of the prime minister of India to Israel – “Narendra Modi to become first Indian PM to visit Israel“.

In this latest article, however, the 2008 attacks in Mumbai are accurately described as terror attacks.

The BBC claims that:

“Our policy is about achieving consistency and accuracy in our journalism.”

And:

“We also need to ensure that when we report acts of terror, we do so consistently in the stories we report across our services.” 

As regular readers know, that policy is not upheld and the terminology used by the BBC to describe and categorise attacks varies according to perpetrator and geographical location. But as this small example shows, consistency can even be lacking when the same story is reported on the same BBC platform.

Reviewing BBC News website follow-up reporting on terrorism in Israel

On July 3rd the BBC News website published a report titled “Jesus ‘miracle church’: Jewish extremist found guilty of arson” about a trial concerning an incident that took place just over two years ago.

“A Jewish extremist has been convicted of setting fire to a church in Israel which Christians believe is built at the site of one of Jesus’ miracles.

Yinon Reuveni set light to the Roman Catholic church at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in 2015, the court found.”

At the time of that incident the BBC produced two reports – one written and one filmed – and an additional report appeared on the BBC News website in February 2017 when the church was reopened after restoration.

“A mass has been held to reopen a Roman Catholic church in northern Israel badly damaged in an arson attack by Jewish extremists in 2015. […]

Three Jewish extremists have been indicted but not yet sentenced.”

As we see, that brings the total number of BBC News website reports on this story to four: two at the time and two follow-up articles. If readers are perhaps asking themselves whether or not the BBC usually follows up its coverage of nationalistic security incidents in that way, including reporting on the outcome of court cases months or years after events have taken place, the answer to that question is interesting.

In the case of the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir in July 2014, the BBC News website did indeed follow the trial closely.

Three charged over Palestinian Mohammad Abu Khdair murder July 17 2014

Mohammad Abu Khdair murder: Two Israelis found guilty November 30 2015

Mohammad Abu Khdair murder: Two Israelis jailed February 4 2016

Mohammad Abu Khdair murder: Israeli ringleader found guilty April 19 2016

Mohammad Abu Khdair murder: Israeli ringleader jailed for life May 3 2016

In the case of the arson attack in Duma in July 2015, in addition to reports published at the time of and after the attack, the BBC News website also produced follow-up reporting concerning related arrests and indictments.

Israel arrests youths over fatal West Bank arson attack December 3 2015

Israelis charged over fatal West Bank family arson attack January 3 2016

Israel arrests six members of ‘Jewish terror cell’ April 20 2016

However, when the suspected perpetrators are not Israelis, the BBC is obviously a lot less interested in producing follow-up reporting on arrests and trials.

Since October 1st 2015, visitors to the BBC News website have in the overwhelming majority of cases seen no follow-up reporting on arrests, trials or convictions related to the hundreds of terror attacks that have taken place.

The one exception is the October 1st 2015 attack in which Eitam and Na’ama Henkin were murdered. The arrest of suspects was briefly mentioned in a report on another topic and nine months after the attack the BBC News website produced a report on the sentencing of the perpetrators which did not include any mention of the word terror.

However, as has been noted here in the past, BBC News website reports concerning attacks perpetrated by Israelis have repeatedly used the word terror and the BBC has ‘explained’ that double standard by claiming that  it makes use of the term “Jewish terrorists” – including not in direct quotes and in apparent contradiction to BBC editorial guidelines on ‘Language when Reporting Terrorism’ – because Israeli officials use such wording.

It is therefore unsurprising to find that in this latest report concerning the attack on the church in Tabgha, readers are told that:

“Prosecutor Avi Pasternak said the verdict made a strong statement on Jewish terrorism…” 

As we see, not only does the BBC News website employ a double standard in terminology according to the identity of perpetrators of attacks, but a quantitative difference in follow-up reporting dependent upon the same factor is also in evidence.  

BBC News changes headline, deletes Tweet after anger at portrayal of terror attack in Jerusalem

On the evening of June 16th three Palestinian terrorists from a village near Ramallah carried out a combined attack in Jerusalem. Border Police officer Hadas Malka was critically wounded while responding to the incident and doctors were unable to save her life. In addition, four more people were wounded. While ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, Hamas rejected that claim:

“Early on Saturday morning, Hamas rejected IS’s claim of responsibility, saying the three belonged to Palestinian terrorist organizations.

“The claim by the Islamic State group is an attempt to muddy the waters,” said Sami Abou Zouhri, spokesman for the terrorist group which runs the Gaza strip.

The attack was carried out by “two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a third from Hamas,” he said.”

The BBC’s report on the attack currently appears on the BBC News website under the headline “Israeli policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem“. However, the article was originally titled “Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem” and that was also how the BBC portrayed the incident on social media – much to the ire of many Twitter users.

As we see, that headline and sub-heading both fail to inform BBC audiences that the “Palestinians killed” were the terrorists who carried out the “deadly stabbing”.

As a result of public pressure, the BBC deleted that Tweet and posted a replacement some 24 hours after the attack took place. Readers may recall that this is by no means the first time that a BBC headline concerning a terror attack in Israel has prompted public outrage

As is inevitably the case in BBC coverage of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel – and in stark contrast to BBC portrayal of similar attacks in Europe – the article does not describe the incident as a terror attack.

Moreover, in the later version of the report readers found the following representation of a statement from Israeli officials saying that there was no indication that the terrorists were connected to ISIS:

“Police said there was “no indication” of a link between the suspects and a terror group.”

In fact – as the Times of Israel reported:

“All three of the assailants were members of Palestinian terrorist organizations, according to… Israel’s Shin Bet…

The attackers were identified by the Shin Bet internal security agency as Bra’a Salah and Asama Atta, both born in 1998, and Adel Ankush, born the following year. They were shot dead by security forces as they carried out their attacks.

The three were from Deir Abu-Mashal, a village near Ramallah. All had previously been arrested for or involved in terrorist activity, a Shin Bet statement said.”

Erasing the foreign nationals (including one Palestinian) murdered by Palestinian terrorists over the last 21 months, the report tells readers that:

“Forty-two Israelis have been killed in knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since October 2015.

In late 2015 and 2016, such attacks happened with near-daily frequency but the rate has declined in recent months.”

That latter inaccurate claim is recycled from a previous BBC report. In fact, while in late 2015 the frequency of attacks was far beyond “near-daily”, around a hundred attacks still take place every month meaning that they remain on average a daily occurrence on average, notwithstanding the BBC’s failure to cover the vast majority of attacks.

As readers then see, the BBC continues to employ the “Israel says” formula in its portrayal of Palestinian terrorists killed while carrying out attacks.

“More than 240 Palestinians – most of them attackers, Israel says – have also been killed in that period. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.” [emphasis added]

The article closes with a mantra that the BBC has been promoting for many months:

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

Once again, it is worth remembering that since the surge in terror attacks began in late 2015, the BBC has consistently failed to provide its audiences with any serious reporting on the topic of incitement and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian officials. Readers are hence unable to judge for themselves whether or not what ‘Israel says’ is accurate.

Likewise, it is noteworthy that the portrayal of terrorism as being attributable to “frustration rooted in decades of occupation” conforms to a guidance document for members of the international media put out by the PLO in November 2015.

Update:

According to Ynet, the BBC has released the following statement:

“We accept that our original headline did not appropriately reflect the nature of the events and subsequently changed it. Whilst there was no intention to mislead our audiences, we regret any offence caused.”

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

BBC Complaints clarifies discrepancies in terminology when reporting terrorism

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

A new BBC ‘explanation’ for its double standards on terror 

BBC’s ‘rationale’ for its double standards on terror crumbles again 

 

 

 

 

BBC’s ‘rationale’ for its double standards on terror crumbles again

As readers may recall, in April (following a complaint from a member of the public) the BBC Complaints department supplied a new ‘explanation’ for the double standards seen in its reporting of terror attacks in different locations.

The complainant pointed out that while the corporation’s reporting on the attack in London on March 22nd rightly included use of the term ‘terror’ (as have subsequent reports on the more recent attacks in Manchester and London), BBC coverage of attacks by Palestinians in Israel does not describe those incidents as terrorism and the term is only seen in quotes – usually from Israeli officials.

The BBC’s response included the following ‘rationale’:

“Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict – as in the Middle East – to use the term “terror attack” or similar might be seen to be taking sides. There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts.

In a situation where a country that is not involved in a direct physical combat comes under attack, it may be reasonable to construe that as a terrorist incident.

The use of such terminology is never an exact science but where a continuing conflict exists, it is reasonable that the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides.”

That argument is of course rendered ridiculous by the fact that the UK is part of the international coalition involved in the “continuing conflict” against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and another demonstration of the vacuous nature of that response from BBC Complaints recently came to light.

Like many other media organisations, over the last three years the BBC has on several occasions reported on Iranian involvement in “direct physical combat” with ISIS – for example:

‘Iranian attack jets deployed’ to help Iraq fight Isis

Iran jets bomb Islamic State targets in Iraq – Pentagon

What is Iran’s role in Iraqi fight against IS?

Tikrit: Iran key in fight to wrest city from IS

Iran ‘sending troops’ to fight Islamic State in Iraq

One would therefore expect that – given the BBC’s declared rule of thumb quoted above – its reporting on the attacks in Tehran on June 7th would not have included the term ‘terrorist’. Not so:

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

BBC Complaints clarifies discrepancies in terminology when reporting terrorism

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

A new BBC ‘explanation’ for its double standards on terror 

When did the BBC begin avoiding the use of the word terror in Israel reporting?

BBC Watch is often asked in what year did the BBC’s policy of avoiding the use of the word terrorism when reporting on Palestinian attacks against Israelis begin.

While we do not have a definitive answer to that question, some examples from the BBC’s archived reports indicate that the language used by the corporation when reporting Palestinian terrorism has long displayed the very “value judgements” it claims to avoid.

A BBC report from September 6th 1970 relates to the Dawson’s Field hijackings by the PFLP. Titled “Hundreds held in series of hijacks“, the report opens: [all emphasis added]

“Four New York-bound airliners have been hijacked over western Europe in an unprecedented operation carried out by a militant Palestinian group.

Three of the planes taken over by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have been flown to two different locations in the Middle East.”

Later on readers find the following:

“The PFLP have demanded the release of three Arab dissidents held in a Swiss jail in return for the 382 passengers they are holding hostage.”

Those so-called “dissidents” were in fact terrorists “serving 12 year sentences in Switzerland for attacking an Israeli airliner in Zurich in 1969”.

Later on in that article, the word “dissident” is also used to describe Leila Khaled.

“On the El Al flight a passenger pinned down an Arab female armed with a grenade who was attempting to get onto the flight deck.

Her fellow hijacker – a male armed with a hand gun – was tackled by a steward.

Several shots were fired, killing the male Arab militant and seriously wounding the crew member, but the pilot was able to make an emergency landing at Heathrow.

The captured female dissident was arrested by armed detectives at the airport and taken to a police station in west London.”

A BBC report dating from September 6th 1972 – “Olympic hostages killed in gun battle” – repeatedly describes the perpetrators of the Munich Olympics terror attack as “guerillas” despite the fact that their victims were civilians.

“All nine of the Israeli athletes kidnapped on Tuesday from the Olympic Village in Munich have been killed in a gun battle at a nearby airport.

A policeman also died in the shooting at the Furstenfeldbruck military airbase, along with four of the guerrillas from the Palestinian group Black September.

Witnesses at the airport said the shooting began when police snipers opened fire on the militants. […]

The guerrillas had previously threatened to kill all the hostages if 200 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel were not released. […]

The West German government had offered to pay any price for the release of the athletes, but was told by the guerrillas’ chief he cared for “neither money nor lives”.”

A report from September 19th 1972 – “Parcel bomb attack on Israeli embassy” – states:

“Palestinian extremist group Black September is thought to have posted the letters. Some were also sent to the Israeli embassy in Paris, sparking a worldwide security alert.”

A report on the Ma’alot massacre dated May 15th 1974  – “Teenagers die in Israeli school attack” – describes convicted terrorists, including Lod airport massacre perpetrator Kozo Okamoto, as follows:

“The Israeli government talked to the hostage-takers, via a loudhailer, and had agreed to release 26 political prisoners held in Israel.”

None of the above articles – or others dating from the 1970s – uses the words terror, terrorists or terrorism. An exception to that rule is found in an article titled “Gunmen kill 16 at two European airports” from December 27th 1985.

“At least 16 people have been killed and more than 100 injured during simultaneous twin terrorist attacks at Rome and Vienna airports.

Gunmen opened fire on passengers queuing to check-in luggage at departure desks for Israel’s national airline, El Al. […]

It comes amid reports airport authorities received warnings Arab militant groups were planning a pre-Christmas terrorist campaign at terminals across the world.”

However, as we see, the BBC’s failure to use accurate language to describe Palestinian terrorism and its perpetrators has been in evidence for nearly half a century. Is it therefore any wonder that so many contemporary British politicians who grew up watching and listening to the BBC so often get the Arab-Israeli conflict wrong?

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

BBC Complaints clarifies discrepancies in terminology when reporting terrorism

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

A new BBC ‘explanation’ for its double standards on terror