BBC article on Entebbe anniversary marred by euphemism

June 27th saw the appearance of two reports on the BBC News website’s Middle East page (one written and one filmed) concerning the 1976 hostage rescue operation at Entebbe.

The filmed report is titled “Items from Israel Entebbe hostage rescue” and its synopsis reads:

“Forty years ago, an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris with more than 250 passengers and crew was hijacked before landing in Entebbe, Uganda.

Following a week-long hostage situation, during which some passengers were released, an operation by Israeli forces saw all the remaining people on board freed.

Now original items have been gathered to preserve the memory of the event.

An ex-Mossad agent describes the role the unique objects played.”

The written article – by Raffi Berg – is titled “Entebbe: A mother’s week of ‘indescribable fear’” and like the filmed report it gives a good and accurate portrayal of the events – with one unfortunate exception.Entebbe art

Readers are told that:

“The hijackers announced their demands – the release of 53 militants jailed in Israel, France, Germany, Switzerland and Kenya, and a $5m ransom.”

Among those “militants” were of course convicted terrorists and criminals.

“Those whose release was demanded included 40 prisoners said to be held by Israel, among them Archbishop Hilarion Capuecci, serving a prison sentence imposed in December 1974 for arms smuggling [to Fatah], Mr Kozo Okamoto, the Japanese sentenced to life imprisonment after the 1972 Lod airport massacre, and Mrs Fatima Barnawi, serving a life sentence for placing a bomb [in a cinema] in 1967…”

What a pity it is that an otherwise interesting and informative article is marred by the euphemistic jargon employed in order to allow the BBC to avoid having to make a “value judgement” about someone who gunned down passengers in an airport baggage hall. 

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