BBC News website coverage of the March 23rd terror attack in south-west France included two reports – “France hostage crisis: ‘Two dead’ in Trèbes supermarket” and “France shooting: Police kill supermarket gunman” – featuring an insert titled “Major terror attacks in France”.
Obviously the BBC’s description of those attacks as acts of terror is appropriate – notwithstanding the corporation’s supposed editorial policy of avoiding the word ‘terrorist’ without attribution in order to avoid “value judgements”.
However, as regular readers will be aware, while its reports on attacks in certain locations (especially Europe and North America) do use such terminology, the BBC consistently refuses to use the word terror in its reporting on comparable attacks against Israelis and audiences have never been provided with an insert titled “Major terror attacks in Israel”.
While previous responses to complaints on the issue of inconsistent terminology have included the claim that terror attacks in Israel are “very different” to those in other locations, almost a year ago the BBC complaints department provided a new ‘explanation’ for that double standard. [emphasis added]
“Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict – as in the Middle East – to use the term “terror attack” or similar might be seen to be taking sides. There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts.
In a situation where a country that is not involved in a direct physical combat comes under attack, it may be reasonable to construe that as a terrorist incident.
The use of such terminology is never an exact science but where a continuing conflict exists, it is reasonable that the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides.”
France is of course part of the coalition involved in military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria but once again the BBC apparently does not consider that to be “direct physical combat” and is not inclined to promote the notion that France’s actions against jihadist terrorism might be “considered as terrorist acts”.
Sadly, that contorted excuse for the double standards seen in the language used in BBC coverage of terrorism in different locations was given the OFCOM rubber stamp later last year.
As has been noted here on numerous occasions the double standard evident in the BBC’s use of terminology is rooted in the fact that it chooses to conflate means with ends, claiming that if a person commits an act of violence against civilians with the purpose of furthering a political or religious agenda in a country in which there is “an ongoing geopolitical conflict”, that is not terrorism but if he does the exact same in a country where there is no such ongoing conflict, it does fit that description.
And so, while the BBC regularly uses appropriate language in its coverage of terror attacks in France (and elsewhere), its reporting on attacks against Israelis does not employ the same terminology.
BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”
BBC Complaints clarifies discrepancies in terminology when reporting terrorism
Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel
BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe
BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe
BBC’s double standards on terror get OFCOM rubber stamp