BBC double standards on terrorism evident in Hamra attack reports

As regular readers know, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on ‘War, Terror and Emergencies’ include a section titled ‘Use of Language’ which instructs BBC journalists reporting on acts of terror to avoid the use of the term terrorist, except in quotes:

“11.3.5 Our reporting of possible acts of terror should be timely and responsible, bearing in mind our requirement for due accuracy and impartiality. Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements. We should not use the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution.

11.3.6 The word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened. We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as ‘bomber’, ‘attacker’, ‘gunman’, ‘kidnapper’, ‘insurgent’ and ‘militant’. We should not adopt other people’s language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.”

However, as we have repeatedly documented on these pages, the BBC is happy to ignore those guidelines when terror attacks take place in the UK or some other European countries.

A terror attack which took place near Hamra in the Jordan Rift Valley on April 7th received an unusually large amount of BBC News website coverage, presumably due to the fact that the three victims – a mother and her two daughters – held dual British and Israeli citizenship.

Between April 7th and April 11th, six reports relating to that terror attack appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page. In all those reports the BBC’s journalists avoided stating in their own words that the incident in which three female civilians were fatally wounded in a deliberate shooting attack was an act of terrorism.

In all six reports, the sole mentions of the words terrorists, terrorist, terrorism and terror come in the form of quotes from Israeli officials:

Two British-Israeli women killed in West Bank shooting by David Gritten, 7/4/23

“The Israeli military said its forces were blocking roads in the area and had “started a pursuit of the terrorists”.”

“The head of the Israeli military’s Central Command, which oversees the West Bank, called it an “extremely severe terrorist attack” and promised that its troops knew how to find those responsible.”

“Israel Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai meanwhile called on all Israelis with firearms licences to start carrying their weapons.

“This is a murderous attack that reminds us how relevant the threat of terrorism in its various forms is,” he said.”

Maia and Rina Dee named as British-Israeli sisters killed in West Bank shooting by Lucy Williamson & Ben Morris, 9/4/23

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described the incident as a terror attack, sent his condolences to the family in a tweet naming the sisters.”

Maia and Rina Dee: Father mourns at funeral of sisters killed in West Bank by Lucy Williamson & Marita Moloney, 9/4/23

“Israeli military personnel blocked roads in the area and said they had “started a pursuit of the terrorists” responsible.”

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described the incident as a terror attack, sent his condolences to the family in a tweet naming the sisters on Saturday.”

Songs of grief at funeral for sisters killed in occupied West Bank 9/4/23

UK-Israeli mother dies after West Bank shooting Raffi Berg 10/4/23

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that he sent his “heartfelt condolences to the Dee family, on the death of the mother of the family, Leah (Lucy), who was murdered in the severe terror attack in the [Jordan] valley”.”

British-Israeli shooting victim Lucy Dee’s organs save five Raffi Berg 11/4/23

“On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “get all the evil terrorists who killed our citizens and they will be held accountable with no exception”.”

On April 13th the British foreign minister sent a letter to the husband and father of the victims which shows that the British government recognises that the incident was an act of terrorism:

Britain’s national broadcaster, however, continues to apply double standards in its use of language when reporting terrorism which, in addition to being offensive, do not contribute to audience understanding of the issue of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis. Those double standards are the result of the fact that the BBC adopts differing approaches to acts of terrorism depending on their location because its handling of the topic does not distinguish between method and aims, means and ends. The result is that the BBC’s use – or not – of the word terrorism hinges on its political judgement of the aims of the perpetrators and the description of the means is adjusted accordingly.

That editorial policy clearly continues to seriously undermine the corporation’s claim that it avoids “value judgements” and that it aspires to “remain objective”.

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3 Comments

  1. says: Grimey

    The BBC’s use of the word “militants” to describe terrorists in Israel is deliberately designed to glorify the cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians. Thus it has blood on its hands and should be taken to task for its crimes.

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