An article in The Times about BBC’s international editor Jeremy Bowen, written by Jack Malvern, (“Jeremy Bowen’s advice to reporters: Keep your emotions out of it”, May 30), included the following: [emphasis added]
[Bowen] said they should “explain the human challenges, what it’s like to be there, what it’s like to be the person who’s village has blown up. And at the same time I think you have to put in some context about why it’s happening.”
Bowen, 63, said that he had often felt distressed by events he reported on, including when he witnessed the death of Abed Takkoush, his driver, who was killed in south Lebanon [in 2000] when the Israeli army fired a tank shell into his car. The tank crew also tried to kill Bowen and his cameraman.
However, in this case, it is the Times reporter who failed to provide “context” about the events in Lebanon to which he alluded. Malvern, echoing the version that Bowen himself has consistently promoted, egregiously misleads readers.
As we’ve documented here in the past, early on the morning of Tuesday May 23rd 2000 – the day before the completion of the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon – an IDF tank crew stationed on the border fence near Kibbutz Menara received an intelligence alert concerning the likelihood of terrorists firing anti-tank missiles at IDF tanks and armoured vehicles. Later in the day, the crew spotted a Lebanese vehicle transporting men in civilian clothing and suspected that these were Hezbollah terrorists carrying equipment for firing an anti-tank missile. The tank crew was given permission to fire at the suspected terrorists.
Later it emerged that the men were actually a BBC film crew headed by Bowen and that driver Abed Takkoush had been killed. The IDF investigated the incident and issued an apology.
Though Bowen does not accept that it was possible to mistake three men travelling in a war zone in a car with Lebanese plates, and carrying camera equipment, for Hezbollah terrorists dressed – as was very often the case – in civilian clothing, it’s egregiously misleading for the Times reporter to omit that version of events.
We’ve complained to Times editors, asking that they acknowledge Israel’s version of events.