In his latest report on “The week ahead in Parliament” the BBC’s parliamentary correspondent Mark D’Arcy notes that on January 25th the House of Commons will hold:
“…a general debate on proscription of Hezbollah, led by Labour MP Joan Ryan. She will argue that Hezbollah is a terrorist organisation, driven by an anti-Semitic ideology, and has had a role in destabilising Lebanon, and fighting in Syria. She wants the Government to end its policy of only proscribing Hezbollah’s so-called political wing.”
Two days ahead of that debate MPs were provided with a research briefing on the topic which explains the UK’s current position.
“The UK proscribes the military wing of Hizbollah as a terrorist group, but not the political side of the organisation. The UK Government has long held the view that Hizbollah’s military wing has been involved in conducting and supporting terrorism, and in March 2001, the Hizbollah External Security Organisation (ESO), part of the broader military wing of Hizbollah, was added to the list of proscribed organisations under the Terrorism Act 2000.
On 2 July 2008, Parliament passed The Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2008, extending the prohibition to the whole of the military wing of Hizbollah.
At the time, the Government emphasised that this would not affect Hizbollah’s political, social and humanitarian activities. The current Government has also confirmed that proscription is limited to Hizbollah’s military wing, and does not apply to the organisation’s political activities.”
The previous day another research briefing titled “Lebanon 2018” was also published by the House of Commons library. Both the reports provided in those briefings amplify a myth concerning Hizballah’s origin that is commonly promoted in BBC content.
“Hizbollah – or the Party of God – is a powerful political and military organisation of Shia Muslims in Lebanon. The group was formed, with backing from Iran, in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The group calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, regarding the whole of Palestine as occupied Muslim land.” [emphasis added]
Both those reports claim that:
“During the 2006 war, Hizbollah fired rockets deep into northern Israel. Since then their rocket arsenal has grown to maybe as many as 150,000 rockets with ranges up to 200km. Hizbollah also has armoured vehicles and some warplanes, adding up to a military strength that is certainly greater than the Lebanese Army’s and is comparable to many neighbouring Arab states’.” [emphasis added]
The earlier report twice promotes Hizballah’s baseless claim of Israeli involvement in the murder of Rafik Hariri – a claim that has also been amplified by the BBC.
“In 2007, a UN Special Tribunal was set up to investigate the 2005 assassination of Rafiq Hariri, a former Prime Minister of Lebanon and the present Prime Minister’s father. In 2011 the Tribunal served indictments against four supporters of Hizbollah, whose trial in absentia is continuing. Other reports have blamed the assassination on the Syrian Government, while Hizbollah has said that the Israelis or the Saudis are responsible.” [emphasis added]
The earlier report also promotes an assessment of the number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon that was recently contradicted by a census that got no BBC coverage.
“There are about 1 million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon and many more unregistered (as well as some 450,000 Palestinian refugees).” [emphasis added]
The report’s author allows himself to promote his own conjecture concerning Israel’s security assessments but fails to provide British MPs with information concerning the Hizballah leader’s regular threats against Israel or the terror group’s efforts (together with Iran) to secure a presence on the border between Israel and Syria.
“Israel probably calculates that there is enough instability in the region without an Israeli strike on Hizbollah.”
Remarkably, neither of these reports makes any mention of Hizballah’s criminal activities abroad that fund its terrorism. The only oblique reference to Hizballah’s violations of UNSC resolutions – a topic serially avoided by the BBC – comes in the vague statement “UN Security Council resolutions call for armed militia groups like Hizbollah to disarm”.
Hizballah’s manipulation of internal Lebanese politics (a subject similarly under-reported by the BBC) is also sidelined in the report, as are the effects of its terror activities on the Lebanese banking system. Like the BBC, this report also ignores the issue of Hizballah’s attempts to set up terror cells inside Israel.
Given that these two research briefings are lacking much of the information relevant to an informed discussion of Hizballah, it would be natural for members of the British public and MPs alike to turn to their publicly funded national broadcaster in order to look for more in-depth information.
Unfortunately, however, the BBC has itself spent years cultivating the myth of separate ‘wings’ of Hizballah and whitewashing the fact that it is a terrorist organisation through use of euphemisms such as “Lebanese Shia group” as well as misrepresenting its terror designation by numerous countries and misleading audiences with regard to its activities.
Why BBC accuracy matters for its funding British public