Terrorism, double standards and the BBC

In the BBC’s reporting on the three rounds of prisoner releases to date, audiences have been told relatively little about the acts of terrorism committed by those prisoners and even less about the way in which Israeli society in general views the release of convicted terrorists or the effects of those releases on the families of the victims.

When attempts have been made to touch on such issues, the result has often been the herding of audiences towards a viewpoint based on a supposed moral equivalence between terrorist and victim which is framed in terms of competing political narratives made all the more opaque by the fact that the BBC of course refuses to use the word ‘terrorist’ to describe people who have been convicted in a court of law of the politically motivated murder of Israeli citizens.

Earlier in the week we noted the fact that BBC Arabic producer Michael Shuval had sent a Tweet which included a photograph of the mother of an Arab-Israeli prisoner convicted of the murder of nineteen year-old off-duty soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984.

Tweet Shuval Walid Daka


Two days later, on March 25th, Shuval also sent the Tweet below, which includes a photograph of Moshe Tamam’s mother, Galia.

Michael Shuval Tweet Galia Tamam

So, one might say, both sides of a story have now been presented in an equal and balanced manner. But before we reach that conclusion there is one point for consideration which cannot be overlooked.

Twenty-nine years after Moshe Tamam’s murder, another young off-duty soldier was brutally murdered by terrorists. It can however be reasonably assumed that editorial judgement at least would preclude BBC journalists’ promotion of empathic photographs of the weeping mothers of the imprisoned murderers of Drummer Lee Rigby on social media. That story has not and would not be presented by the BBC to its audiences as one of morally equivalent narratives, the essence of which can be captured in two similar images of the mothers of murderer and victim.

And that of course leads to the question of why the same considerations and standards do not apply outside the BBC’s domestic patch.



More from Hadar Sela
Comparing BBC R4 ‘Today’ interviews with two Israeli MKs – part one
Earlier this week the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today‘ programme conducted interviews with...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *