As we noted here recently, there was no coverage whatsoever of the two terror attacks which took place in Rishon Lezion and Netanya on November 2nd on BBC News’ English language website. A search for reporting of those events on the BBC Arabic website showed that it did publish an article about an earlier incident at the Jalame crossing on the same day but the later stabbing attacks did not receive any coverage on that website either.
However, that November 2nd article – published under the context-free title “Palestinian death toll rises to 74” – is also notable on other counts.
BBC Watch asked a professional translator to take a look at the report and he confirmed that in its seventh paragraph, readers are told that the victims of the ongoing wave of terror attacks are “Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers”. Below is his translation of paragraphs six and seven: the absence of punctuation or a joining word between “occupied Palestinian lands” and “Arab areas inside Israel” appears in the original text, along with the questionable timeline of events.
“Tensions have been rising for weeks in the occupied Palestinian lands Arab areas inside Israel between the Palestinians and the Israeli security apparatuses. A number of cities and towns witnessed protests and demonstrations which the Israeli authorities confronted forcefully.
After that, the confrontations developed into individuals deeds/operations/actions in which Palestinians have stabbed Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers, and the Israeli army reacted by killing the attackers and arresting those who cooperated with them (with the attackers).” [emphasis added]
Obviously not all the victims of the recent attacks have been what the BBC would describe as “Jewish settlers” – i.e. Israeli Jews who reside in places the BBC thinks they should not live. At best then, that description is inaccurate. At worst, it may reflect promotion by the BBC of the ideology according to which all Israeli Jews are “settlers” and all Israeli communities ‘illegitimate’.
Another notable point about this article is its use of the politicised term “occupation forces” to describe the IDF in paragraph 5. That terminology is regularly used by Hamas and other terrorist organisations as well as by anti-Israel campaigners.
And it would appear that the use of that politicised term in this particular article is not a one-off mistake: an additional article which appeared on the BBC Arabic website on November 3rd employs the terms “Israeli occupation forces” and “occupation forces” no fewer than three times.
Five years ago, the then director general of the BBC told an audience at Chatham House that:
“The BBC’s motto is ‘Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation’ – the idea being that access to news, information and debate about different countries and cultures can ultimately help foster mutual understanding and tolerance. The motto and the services which flowed from it belong to a very different period in world history, but it would be a brave person who claimed that those aspirations are any less necessary today than they were then. They still form part of the bedrock of the BBC. And they still inform our decisions every day, whether in the safety and security of London or Washington or in the cities and lonely places of Afghanistan.”
“Mutual understanding and tolerance” are not fostered by the employment of inaccurate, inflammatory, politicised terminology such as that seen above – especially when delivered in Arabic to the BBC’s Arabic-speaking audiences.
Clearly BBC Arabic needs to take very prompt action to ensure that its staff report the news accurately, impartially and in language which is free from the kind of terminology – and ideology – used by those who seek Israel’s destruction.