BBC’s vehicular terrorism double standards on display again

Just one day after having refrained from describing a car ramming attack against Israelis as terror, BBC News did use that word in its reporting on a vehicular attack in Stockholm on April 7th.  

The BBC News website’s main report on the incident – “Stockholm lorry rams crowds, killing ‘at least four people’” – informed readers that:

“A lorry has smashed into a store in central Stockholm, killing at least four people.

At least a dozen people were also injured in the incident on Drottninggatan (Queen Street), one of the city’s major pedestrian streets, on Friday afternoon.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said it was a terror attack.”

Readers of that report were provided with analysis by the BBC’s security correspondent:

“I was in Stockholm yesterday, ironically at a security conference. I don’t think Sweden was prepared for something like this.

The last big terror incident they had was in 2010 when a failed suicide bomber blew himself up in a car in central Stockholm.”

The article also included an insert now titled “Timeline: Vehicle ramming attacks in Europe and the US” from which the scores of vehicular attacks against Israelis were of course excluded.

As noted here at the time, BBC reporting on those attacks in Nice, Berlin and London did use the term terror.

CNN produced a similar timeline of vehicular attacks in locations around the world but – in contrast to the BBC – it did include on its list the lorry attack in Jerusalem in January in which four people were murdered and sixteen injured.

Since August 2014 forty separate attacks using trucks, tractors, vans or cars have been perpetrated against Israelis, with images encouraging such attacks commonly appearing in incitement posted on social media. The use of vehicles to carry out terror attacks however goes back still further; what Europe has been seeing in the past nine months has been an all too familiar sight to Israelis for many years.

Many of those attackseven fatal ones – have been ignored by the BBC. Those that were reported have – in contrast to similar incidents on European soil – not been described as terror attacks in the corporation’s own words.

The reason for that 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.

It is high time for the supposedly impartial BBC to explain its now well-documented double standard when reporting vehicular (and other) attacks to its funding public. 

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

No use of term ‘terror’ in BBC News report of vehicular attack on Israelis



Why does BBC News continue to qualify information on dead terrorists?

As readers may recall, on January 15th the BBC News website published an article concerning the Israeli prime minister’s reaction to remarks made by the Swedish foreign minister which failed to provide readers with the information necessary for them to arrive at an informed opinion about the story.

“Leaving aside the embarrassingly uninformed nature of Margot Wallström’s latest insinuations about Israel, the remarkable thing about this BBC report is that those reading it have no way of knowing which of the two people quoted – Netanyahu or Wallström – is talking facts.

The reason for that is because – as has been noted here previously on numerous occasions – for more than three months the BBC has consistently avoided telling its audiences in its own words that the vast majority of Palestinian casualties during that time were killed whilst carrying out terror attacks or engaged in violent rioting. Instead, BBC reports have invariably used qualifying terms such as “Israel says” or “were said by Israel to be attackers”.”

Five days later an article appeared in the ‘features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom under fire – again“. Written by Laurence Peter, the report suffers from the exact same malaise as its predecessor.Wallstrom 2

“Israel has found her recent comments about knife attacks by Palestinians to be so incendiary that it protested to the Swedish ambassador and declared Ms Wallstrom persona non grata.

Ms Wallstrom had called for an inquiry to establish whether Israel had carried out “extrajudicial executions” in response to the attacks.

Some 150 Palestinians have been fatally shot in four months of violence, at least 100 of them while they were carrying out attacks, Israel says. More than 25 Israelis have been killed.” [emphasis added]

Once again the use of the qualifying term “Israel says” prevents readers from being able to judge the Swedish FM’s remarks in their appropriate context.

The BBC has had ample opportunity to independently verify the facts behind that now standard insert to any article relating to the ongoing wave of terrorism against Israelis and – especially in light of its supposed commitment to due accuracy and impartiality – should by this stage be capable of telling its audiences in its own words that the majority of Palestinian casualties were indeed shot whilst carrying out terror attacks.

Instead, the corporation continues to employ the qualifying term “Israel says” in a manner not seen in its coverage of similar stories from other countries, meaning that the question which must inevitably be asked is whether that editorial policy has been influenced by other factors.

The circumstances of the deaths of terrorists have been serially misrepresented by the Palestinian Authority which, for example, has claimed that Alaa Abu Jamal (who carried out a terror attack in Jerusalem on October 13th 2015) “died from wounds sustained in an attack by Israeli occupying forces” and that Eyad Khalil Awawdeh (who posed as a journalist and stabbed a soldier on October 16th 2015) “was shot dead near the illegal settlement of “Kiryat Arba” in Al-Khalil” with no mention of what they – and others similarly portrayed – were doing at the time.

For the sake of its reputation as an impartial broadcaster, one can only hope that the BBC’s failure to tell its audiences the facts in its own words is not a nod to such PA propaganda. 

Related Articles:

BBC News amplification for Abbas’ lies and incitement about ‘dead’ terrorist  

BBC editorial policy hampers audiences understanding of Wallström remarks report

On January 15th the BBC News website’s Middle East page ran an article headlined “Israel’s Netanyahu: Swedish FM’s remarks ‘outrageous’“. Readers are told that:Wallstrom art

“Israel’s prime minister has denounced a call by Sweden’s foreign minister to investigate whether recent killings of Palestinians were “extrajudicial”.

Benjamin Netanyahu said Margot Wallstrom’s remarks were “outrageous… immoral and… stupid”.

Ms Wallstrom had called for “thorough and credible investigations” into the deaths.

Some 155 Palestinians – mostly attackers, Israel says – have been killed in unrest since October. […]

On Tuesday, Ms Wallstrom said it was “vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability”, according to Swedish media reports.” [emphasis added]

Leaving aside the embarrassingly uninformed nature of Margot Wallström’s latest insinuations about Israel, the remarkable thing about this BBC report is that those reading it have no way of knowing which of the two people quoted – Netanyahu or Wallström – is talking facts.

The reason for that is because – as has been noted here previously on numerous occasions – for more than three months the BBC has consistently avoided telling its audiences in its own words that the vast majority of Palestinian casualties during that time were killed whilst carrying out terror attacks or engaged in violent rioting. Instead, BBC reports have invariably used qualifying terms such as “Israel says” or “were said by Israel to be attackers”.

The question that therefore arises is does the BBC employ similar qualifying language when covering the shooting of attackers in other countries or is that editorial policy reserved for use when reporting about Israel?

In October of 2015 the BBC reported a story from Margot Wallström’s native Sweden.

“A masked man armed with a sword has killed a pupil and a teacher at a school in Sweden.

The suspect, clad in black, apparently posed for photos with students ahead of the attack, in the western town of Trollhattan.

Two further victims, a pupil and a teacher, are seriously injured. The attacker was shot by police and has died of his injuries. He was 21 and resident in Trollhattan, police said.”

No qualifying “Sweden says” there.World at One

On January 7th the BBC covered an attack on a police station in Paris. BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World at One’ carried a report by Hugh Schofield (from 21:53 here, h/t HG) which includes the following statements: [emphasis added]

“He ran at the police station shouting Allahu Akbar and was not surprisingly stopped in his tracks by the guards – who now have semi-automatic weapons. They shot him and he fell and died subsequently. […]

There was this report that he was carrying some kind of suicide belt or something that looked like a suicide belt. […] I think it’ll be interesting to see whether there was a deliberate attempt to make it look as if he had one or not. It doesn’t really alter the essence of the affair which is that a man with a meat cleaver attacked a police station and was – not surprisingly, given these times – shot dead.”

No qualifying “said by France to be an attacker” there – and in the BBC’s written report on the incident, Schofield clearly signposted the attack for BBC audiences.

Schofield insert report Paris 7 1

So apparently – in contrast to Israel, where the BBC selectively avoids the use of the word ‘terror’, there are no issues surrounding the use of the word when reporting from France. Apparently too, the BBC does not feel the need to portray information supplied by the Swedish and French authorities in qualifying terms which signal to audiences that there is room for doubt as to whether the person shot was actually carrying out an attack.

And whilst the BBC obviously finds it appropriate to amplify Margot Wallström’s insinuation that the shooting of terrorists in the act in Israel might be considered “extrajudicial”, in Paris terrorists are “not surprisingly” shot whilst carrying out attacks.

Related Articles:

Are BBC News reports on Palestinian deaths accurate and impartial?

Superficial BBC report on Swedish decision to recognise Palestinian state

On October 3rd the BBC News website published an article titled “Sweden to recognise Palestinian state“. The report, which appeared on both the website’s Europe and Middle East pages, can be divided into two parts with the first relating to the announcement itself made by the new Prime Minister Stefan Löfven during his inaugural address in the Swedish parliament.Sweden art

“Sweden is to “recognise the state of Palestine”, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has said, the first long-term EU member country to do so.

“The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution,” he said during his inaugural address in parliament.

It should be “negotiated in accordance with international law”, he said. […]

“A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine,” Mr Lofven said on Friday, without giving a timeline for the recognition.”

The second part of the article supposedly provides background information on the topic to BBC audiences but fails to point out the inbuilt contradictions in Mr Löfven’s statement.

“In 1988, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat unilaterally declared a Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 lines.

This won recognition from about 100 countries, mainly Arab, Communist and non-aligned states – several of them in Latin America.

The 1993 Oslo Accord between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel led to mutual recognition. However, two decades of on-off peace talks have since failed to produce a permanent settlement.”

The Algiers Declaration of 1988 actually refrained from defining the unilaterally declared state’s borders and made no mention of “pre-June 1967 lines” as claimed by the BBC.

“The Palestine National Council, in the name of God, and in the name of the Palestinian Arab people, hereby proclaims the establishment of the State of Palestine on our Palestinian territory with its capital Jerusalem (Al-Quds Ash-Sharif).”

Notably, the BBC (like the new Swedish prime minister, apparently) side-steps the very relevant issue of Hamas’ being a party to the current Palestinian Unity Government despite its refusal to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel and the fact that it is not a member of the body which signed the Oslo Accords – the PLO.

Additionally, this BBC report notably fails to remind audiences that during the last round of negotiations the PLO continued to refuse to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. That omission will not come as a surprise to regular BBC watchers: throughout the entire nine-month period of negotiations in 2013/14, the corporation refrained from providing its audiences with the comprehensive background information necessary for them to understand the significance of that Palestinian refusal. Notably too, one of the articles offered to readers in the “related stories” section at the side and bottom of this report is Yolande Knell’s inaccurate article from February 2014 titled “Row over demand for Palestinians to recognise Israel as ‘Jewish state'” in which the issue was misrepresented (in line with PA campaigning at the time) as a new demand on the part of Israel designed to scupper the talks.

If BBC audiences are to reach informed opinions regarding the statement made by the new Swedish prime minister, they are obviously in need of vital context which the BBC has to date failed to provide.