When BBC ‘impartiality’ becomes absurd

Ahead of its February 7th broadcast of an edition of ‘Hardtalk with Khaled Masha’al, the BBC was promoting the programme on the Home and Middle East pages of its BBC News website with a written article and a filmed report

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 The synopsis of the ‘Hardtalk’ programme states:

“HARDtalk travels to Doha to meet Khaled Meshaal, the leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas. His base used to be Damascus but he broke ranks with the Assad regime after the repression of the Syrian uprising. Now he spends much of his time in the diplomatically ambitious Gulf state of Qatar – another sign that the realities of the Middle East are changing. But not, it seems, in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. On that front does Hamas have anything new to offer?”

As we are only too aware, during Masha’al’s visit to Gaza last year the BBC largely ignored the content of his speeches there, extensively promoting a sanitized version of the Hamas ‘birthday’ extravaganza. 


(A longer video of Masha’al’s speech can be seen here.) 

In both of the February 7th reports promoting the ‘Hardtalk’ programme, and as has often been the case in the past, the BBC seems very keen to put the accent upon the subject of Hamas-Fatah unity, but without providing any insight for its audiences as to what the wider consequences of such unity – or Masha’al’s reported bid to head the PLO – might be. 

In the written article, Hamas is referred to as “the militant group”, with the final two paragraphs stating: 

“Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US and EU due to its long record of attacks and its refusal to renounce violence.

But its supporters say it is a legitimate resistance movement and a democratically elected government.”

This rather laconic statement is taken from the BBC’s own profile of Hamas, but with one important omission. The original states – with the link included – that:

“Hamas is designated a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US and EU, due to its long record of attacks and its refusal to renounce violence. Under the group’s charter, Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel.

But to its supporters it is seen as a legitimate resistance movement and a democratically elected government.”

As well as those mentioned, there are in fact other countries which define Hamas as a terror organization as well as additional countries which designate Hamas’ Izz ad Din al Qassam arm. Obviously too, the criteria for designation of terror organisations are considerably less simplistic than the BBC suggests.

But what is really odd about the above statement is the promotion of the views of supporters of a terrorist organization which murders civilians on the basis of their ethnicity – apparently in order to lend an air of ‘balance’ and ‘impartiality’ to a BBC article. That must be one of the more absurd examples of moral relativism around.


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