Comparing BBC personalisation of victims of terror in Paris, Brussels and Israel

Following the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, various BBC platforms – including the BBC News website – produced content paying tribute to the victims of those attacks which included photographs and some biographical details.Paris victims

A similar feature appeared on the BBC News website after last month’s terror attacks in Brussels under the title “Victims of the Brussels attacks” and it not only included photographs and personal information about the majority of the people murdered in the attacks but also about several of the wounded.

As has been noted here previously, such information of course enables BBC audiences to get beyond mere casualty figures and goes some way towards helping them appreciate the individual personal tragedies of victims and their families.

Throughout the last six months – October 2015 to March 2016 – the BBC has also been reporting on terror attacks in Israel (although it of course refrains from naming them as such) but in that reporting, personalisation of the victims is very much the exception rather than the rule.Brussels victims

During that six-month period articles appearing on the BBC News website have included photographs of only four victims of two separate terror attacks.

On October 2nd 2015 a follow-up report concerning the terror attack in which Eitam and Na’ama Henkin were murdered included their photographs. On October 3rd and 5th the BBC produced reports about the terror attack in which Aharon Banita-Bennett and Nehemia Lavi were murdered – here and here – which included their photographs.

Since October 5th, however, not one of the BBC’s reports about the many terror attacks in which Israelis and/or foreign nationals have been killed has included photographs of the victims and the deaths of three people have not been reported at all.

October 13th: the murder of Yeshayahu Krishevsky in a vehicular/stabbing attack in Jerusalem was reported in an article which also noted the murders of Chaim Haviv and Alon Govberg during a combined shooting/stabbing attack on passengers on a city bus in Jerusalem earlier on the same day but did not name any of the victims of either attack. The death of a third victim of the same bus attack – Richard Lakin – two weeks later did not receive any BBC coverage.

October 18th: the terror attack at Be’er Sheva bus station in which Sgt Omri Levy and Eritrean national Habtom Zerhom were killed was covered in this BBC report and a follow-up article.  

October 20th: the murder of Avraham Hasno at al Fawar junction was briefly mentioned in this article but the victim was not identified.

November 4th: a vehicular attack took place at Halhul junction and those wounded in that attack included St. Sgt. Binyamin Yakobovitch who succumbed to his injuries four days later. There was no BBC News coverage of either the initial attack or St.Sgt Yakobovitch’s death.

November 13th: the murders of Rabbi Ya’akov Litman and his son Netanel near Otniel were reported in an article titled “Israelis killed in West Bank as Palestinians shot dead“.

November 19th: the murders of Rabbi Aharon Yesayev and Reuven Aviram in Tel Aviv and the murders of Ezra Schwartz, Yaakov Don, and Shadi Arafa at Alon Shvut junction on the same day were reported in an article titled “Palestinian attacks in Israel and West Bank kill five” although none of the victims were named.Israel victims 1

November 22nd: the stabbing attack at Gush Etzion junction in which Hadar Buchris was murdered was reported in this article.

November 23rd: the murder of Cpl. Ziv Mizrahi at a petrol station on Route 443 was reported in this article.

December 7th:  Gennady Kaufman was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack in Hebron. Neither the original attack nor Mr Kaufman’s later death on December 30th received any BBC News coverage.

December 23rd: the BBC News website covered an attack in Jerusalem in which two people were killed and one wounded. The victims – Rabbi Reuven Birmajer and Ofer Ben Ari – were not named in the report.

January 1st 2016: two of the victims of the terror attack in Tel Aviv – Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi – were first named in a follow-up report which appeared the next day. The third victim –Amin Shaaban – was only named a week later in a subsequent report.

January 17th: the murder of Dafna Meir in Otniel was reported in this article.Dafna Meir murder BBC headline

January 25th: the stabbing attack in Beit Horon in which Shlomit Krigman was murdered was only covered on the BBC News website the following day and the victim was not named.

February 3rd: the attack at Damascus Gate in which Cpl Hadar Cohen was shot and killed was covered in this report.

February 18th: the attack at Sha’ar Binyamin in which off-duty soldier Tuvia Yanai Weissman was murdered was reported here.

February 24th: the attack at Gush Etzion Junction in which Eliav Gelman was killed was covered in this article

March 8th: the terror attack in Jaffa in which US citizen Taylor Force was murdered was covered here.

As we see the BBC clearly employs a markedly different approach to the victims of terror attacks in Europe and in Israel. Dedicated coverage of the victims of the attacks in Paris and Brussels has ensured appropriate personalisation and humanisation of those murdered in attacks the BBC is (for the most part) comfortable describing as terrorism.

However, for BBC audiences the vast majority of victims in Israel remain faceless and, in very many cases, even nameless victims of violence which the corporation refuses to describe as terrorism.






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