More revealing BBC replies to audience complaints

As noted here previously, it took the BBC some 48 hours to amend the May 5th headline which read “Israeli strikes on Syria ‘co-ordinated with terrorists'” to “Syria says Israeli strikes ‘co-ordinated with terrorists'”. 

A BBC Watch reader has informed us of the reply he received to his complaint about the wording of the original headline, from which we learn that baseless Syrian regime propaganda is apparently “newsworthy”. That might indeed be considered to be the case if the BBC had provided its audiences with some insight as to why the Assad regime considers making such bizarre claims useful to its cause, but it did not do that. Instead, it merely garnished that regime propaganda with the BBC stamp of ‘reliability’. 

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your comments regarding

The original headline was incomplete and insufficient. It has been changed, which we acknowledge at the foot of the report, to make it absolutely clear that the claim that Israel had co-ordinated its strikes with Syrian rebels was made by Syria. This was of course made absolutely clear within the report. We would argue that it is newsworthy that the Syrian regime has claimed that Israeli strikes were coordinated with Syrian rebels. The Israeli point of view on the strikes and the threat that Syria constitutes is amply explained in the analysis box on the report by our Jerusalem correspondent and in these sidebars:

It is clear from our report that the word ‘terrorists’ to refer to Syrian rebels is used by officials of the Syrian regime.

Best regards,

Middle East desk

BBC News website

However, the first link presented as supposedly “amply” explaining the Israeli point of view by whoever wrote this reply leads to the political polemic addressed here, which does nothing whatsoever to balance the BBC’s promotion of Syrian regime propaganda: quite the opposite, in fact. 

The BBC’s response to a separate complaint concerning the use of the word ‘settler’ to describe Evyatar Borovsky in a headline relating to his murder in a terror attack on April 30th is brought to us by Honest Reporting. From that reply we learn that the BBC considers the single most important defining factor about any Israeli to be his or her place of residence and that people – or more specifically, Jews – living over the ‘green line’ cannot be categorized as Israelis. 

“We used the word “settler” because it is, in the first instance, the word that most accurately and completely describes the victim of Tuesday’s attack. Obviously, lower down in the report, we give more detail on the victim.

“Israeli” is wrong here because it does not indicate that Eviatar Borovzky lived in the West Bank. Under international law, the West Bank is occupied territories and Israelis who live there are therefore settlers. This in no way mitigates or justifies an act of murder. We are, for a general international news audience, trying to be as clear as possible about who killed whom and where. All three leading international news agencies – Reuters, the Associated Press and AFP – used exactly the same phrasing us we did.”

Evyatar Borovsky was murdered for no other reason than the fact that he was an Israeli citizen. The terrorist did not request information regarding his postcode before deciding whether or not to stab him to death at a bus stop. It is high time the BBC brought itself up to speed with that unpleasant reality and ceased its offensive, dehumanising and misleading habit of dividing Israelis into ‘good’ ones who live where it thinks they should be allowed to live and ‘settlers’ who do not – according to the BBC’s own partisan and politically motivated interpretations of “international law”. It is also high time that the BBC recognised that whilst some legal opinions regarding the status of communities in Judea and Samaria might question the legitimacy of the towns and villages themselves, the issue of legality does not extend to the people living in them, who all hold Israeli citizenship. 

Of course that is probably too much to expect from an organisation which clearly believes that it is acceptable for it to make  paternalistic decisions about when and where ” ‘Israeli’  is wrong”. Those arbitrary and ill-informed decisions anachronistically trample the rights of a people to self-determination and self-identification in a manner which it is difficult to imagine the BBC considering doing with regard to other nations.  

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