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January 7, 2016 7:27 am

The BBC Says Only Jews Can Be Terrorists, Not Palestinians

avatar by Hadar Sela

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A victim of the Jerusalem synagogue massacre. Photo: IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner.

A victim of a terror attack at a Jerusalem synagogue last year. Photo: IDF Spokesperson Peter Lerner.

BBC coverage of the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism against Israelis has been hallmarked by blanket avoidance of the use of the word terror to describe the attacks, or of the term terrorist to describe the perpetrators.

Experienced observers of BBC content will not be surprised by that: the relevant BBC editorial guidelines state:

There is no agreed consensus on what constitutes a terrorist or terrorist act. The use of the word will frequently involve a value judgement.

As such, we should not change the word “terrorist” when quoting someone else, but we should avoid using it ourselves. [emphasis added]

While those guidelines are controversial and considered by many to be unfit for reporting, they are ostensibly the basis for all BBC reports on the subject of terror attacks.

Nevertheless, we have often documented the BBC’s inconsistency in adhering to those guidelines on these pages, pointing out that they are applied in some geographical locations but not in others. We have also criticized the corporation’s use of coy euphemisms such as ‘militants’ or ‘radicals’ to describe members of recognized terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and its serial avoidance of using the word terror in reports on violent attacks against Israelis.

In our view, the BBC’s inconsistent application of those editorial guidelines and the resulting two-tier system of reporting is evidence of precisely the type of “value judgement” it supposedly seeks to avoid, and indicates that the choice of language when reporting acts of terror is subject to political considerations that undermine the BBC’s claim of impartiality.

If further evidence of those double standards were needed, it can be found in an article published on the BBC News website on January 3, under the title “Israelis charged over fatal West Bank family arson attack“.

There, not for the first time, readers found the words “Jewish terrorists” used not in a quote, but by the BBC itself.

It also prompted the Israeli government to approve the use of administrative detention – a procedure under which a military court can order suspects to be detained indefinitely without charge or trial – for suspected Jewish terrorists.

The BBC’s description of detainees in cases such as the murders of three sleeping members of the Dawabshe family in the arson attack in Duma on July 31, 2015, as “suspected terrorists” is of course accurate. Despite the fact that this article confines itself to noting “international condemnation” of the Duma attack and even amplifies baseless accusations concerning the investigation into the attack from a family member of the victims, such wording appropriately reflects the Israeli government’s classification of the attack from the very beginning.

However, the people who murdered five members of the Fogel family as they too slept in 2011, and the people who murdered the parents of the Henkin family in October 2015 and the people who murdered early morning worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue in 2014, and the people who murdered Malachi Rosenfeld in June 2015 (in an attack now mentioned in this report but not reported in English by the BBC at the time) are also terrorists.

The trouble is that the BBC does not use the term terrorists to describe these Palestinian terrorists or the perpetrators of countless other attacks against Israelis. It is high time that it explained to its funding public why that is the case.

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  • Simon L.

    I’m glad to wish you GOOD luck with your “new” guests , human loving ,tolerant peaceful religious burka wearing people .
    In a very short time the honorable British people will face the “reality” , it will be too late ……
    See/hear you in 5 years from now….
    Don’t forget to behave v e r y passionate and don’t react in any unproportioned way !!!

  • suzy

    we should all refuse to pay tv license as we are paying the BBC until they change their stance!

  • deborah B

    I just think some things that people say, they are not aware of its gravity. This statement by BBC just cannot be real and if it is, then I need to choose another international outlet (and they are probably the same as others) to obtain newsworthy information where it is regarding Israel.

  • EB

    BBC writers have trouble writing, but I bet they can eat.

  • whatever
    but what about those fireworks of joy carried out on shooting jewish couple before their children which included an infant baby

  • fred

    The BBC has joined the UN & EU cesspool in its bias & prejudice. In the second Wold War it was a beacon of light in a sea of darkness, now funded by Arab money it has sold it soul. It is a beacon that promotes hate & lies wholesale
    for its Arab paymasters. One should look at the managers list. Perversity works in lofty areas.

    • Robert F

      I could not agreed more.
      But do not forget whole Europe is full of antisemitism in grand scale. It is not exclusive to England.

  • Jim

    The BBC are cowards they are afraid that they would be targeted if they called any Islamic group terrorists, they’re just a bunch of lily livered lefties.


    they let the arabs storm Israel while the jews were getting ready to come back and join the Jews in Israel that have never left .
    As they had the mandate of 1922 signed by the whole world israel borders from mediteranean sea to Jordan river with it’s capital jerusalem this legal document is still on the table to be taken to court and get out land back we need funds for shurat had in to take this on
    while hitler was killing the jews the arab mufty convinced hitler to burn us hitler did not want to kill us he wanted us out not kill us
    the British worked with the mufti and turned the blind eye when arabs were killing jews who were already living for centuries in Hevron and Jeruslame and safed. THE BRITTS did not even walk in to see the murders seens the way they were killed women
    s breast was all over the floor the ribbis beheaded the kids limps every where this is how THE BRITTS hate THE JEWISH PEOPLE we have to sue the BRITTS first then kick the arabs after

  • Ava Alexander

    It is the case because Islamists in the BBC have convinced management and fellow journalists that they have a right to the land of Israel and therefore a right to murder Israelis, and these biases are driving the agenda. Of course they will never admit this. They pretend they are being fair. They pretend they just want the poor “Palestinians” to have their own state. Even though every time they have been handed this privilege by the UN, by Israel, they have turned it down. It’s not surprising. Having a state of their own, giving up their “refugee” checks, having to build their own hospitals and such, would not allow them the free time to indulge in their real love — killing Jews.

    • Andrea Carter

      You have taken the words from my mouth. You are correct and not alone in your thinking in this respect. Over the years, I’ve written to the BBC numerous times regarding their unjust, unfair & unqualified presentation of events in the ME (never ever received so much as the courtesy of a reply from them, mind you).

      You are so correct in your analysis of BBC reporting of events in the ME between Israelis and Palestinians. From BBC’s blatant misleading one-sided reporting regarding these matters, it surely begs the question if the BBC is accepting financial backing from Hamas/Hezbollah/such-like! What? Anti-Semitic sympathisers’ money backing the BBC? This most certainly is the case with some well-respected Universities both in the UK and USA!

      • Andrea Carter

        The BBC, as does most of the Media, leads us readers/viewers by the nose. Basically, they misrepresent facts or happening of events. They grab your attention in this way. In no way does this detract from the fact that they come across as anti-Semitic/Israeli/Jewish at all times.

  • Myron Slater

    The BBC is antisemitic and there is no longer any doubt! They will never own up to this fact! Their own actions and words tell the world who and what they are.

    • Andrea Carter

      Indeed! How right you are

  • Anna

    Unfortunatly if you avoid to name properly obvious facts and you deny that those who kill jews in sinagogues and shooting jews in the streets or stabing and you refuse to name it as a terror attack and the attackers as terrorists, you will get the same things in London ,Paris and elsewere. The most sad thing is that Europe is subsidizing palestinian authorities that are encouraging terror.In Keln the police did not want to name rapists of women as immigrants from the Middle East and Afganistan and called them the newcomers.

  • Dante

    The pronouncement above sounds like “Only Protestants can be terrorists, not Irish people”.

  • Michael Garfinkel

    ” It is high time that it (the BBC) explained to its funding public why that is the case.”

    Note to Algemeiner: The BBC dislikes Jews, intensely.

    • Andrea Carter

      It has long appeared to be the case

    • Reform School

      With its charter up for renewal (or NOT) why does the Algemeiner print these stories ad nauseum, rather than op-eds lobbying Her Majesty and Her Government to cancel Bigot Broadcast Communist Network, or clean up its act!

  • Dorothy Seidel Wigod

    With sorrow, I must applaud this article.
    How long will the BBC continue this skewed reasoning>

  • Dorothy Seidel Wigod

    With sorrow, I must applaud this article.
    How long will the BBC continue this skewed reasoning.

  • Der Sturmer has evolved into the BBC. All BBC employees believe that the Holocaust gave antisemitism a bad name. The next time a BBC employee is not a stone cold antisemite will be the first time.

  • RC

    Cultural Marxism rears its ugly head again. This is the same sort of nonsense which claims that Negroes can’t be racists–that only white people are racist. All Godless lies!

  • Julian Clovelley

    I worry sometimes about the writer’s understanding of journalism and accurate reporting. Labelling and categorisation are particular areas of concern in writing because of the difference in application of some terms according to the user’s personal ideological context

    The problem is generally dealt with by accurately reporting the incident concerned without applying a label. This ensures that instead of a shorthand propagandist term the reader is confronted with far more extensive details.

    The article in question did not claim that the suspects in this case were ‘terrorists’ – nor did it in fact directly mention that they were Jewish. The article described them as “Israelis”

    the writer of the Algemeiner article has taken the BBC statement entirely out of the context of theoretical comprehension of the use of administrative detention in the State of Israel in cases such as this.

    The BBC advises that to be held under that provision it would be first necessary to ESTABLISH that the persons to be detained actually WERE “suspected terrorists”

    The BBC here attempts no such categorisation. In fact it clearly reports that the matter is in dispute, with lawyers claiming that their clients were tortured to extract confessions. Once agin the BBC itself makes no such claim but responsibly and neutrally reports the claims existence.

    • Ava Alexander

      The BBC strenuously avoids using the word “terrorist” in relation to any Muslim attack on Israelis, whether it be on the Temple Mount, a bus, a disco, a bat mitzvah, whether innocent civilians are stoned, stabbed, shot, or blown up. Somehow, the BBC assiduously avoids using the word “terrorist” in all this, for over 16 years. BUT let there be ONE Jewish Israeli attack on Muslims and somehow the word immediately finds its way into BBC reportage. Somehow. It’s disingenuous.

    • Ava Alexander

      Yes, they carefully avoided connecting the dots, like a cat stepping its way through a garbage pile. Sneaky. As antisemites often are.

    • twicemodern

      Julian you sound like a whining closet anti-semite, are you one?

      • Julian Clovelley

        I only just spotted your post

        My answer to you is that the actions and pronouncements of the Zionist Right are horrifying to many who have long supported Israel’s Right to exist and defended Jewish friends from antisemitic attack

        I am very disappointed that the Jewish community itself has done so little to sideline the communities’ own extremists who – in my opinion- are leading Israel in the direction of an almost inevitable destruction

        My hope is that Israel will listen to its own moderates and change course. If not it may find itself backed into a corner from which there is no safe escape for its innocent millions. Israel needs to return to its original borders and defend them. There is no future for the Settlements and Occupation – it is merely a question of just how many innocents on both sides will suffer until they are closed permanently and handed over the the people on whose land they stand.

        In the meantime it is very difficult to see Netanyahu’s Israel becoming anything other than an apartheid state that occupies both its own land and the territory of others that it considers inferior

        Very sad for those of us who have long had Jewish friends

    • Rhonda

      You are a bit confused. The writer is not talking about the calling of Jews as terrorists, but rather the lack of terminology stating that Arab terrorists have murdered the Fogel family as they slept (including a 4 month old who cried — so they slit her throat), Malachi Rosenfeld and thousands of others. Sure there are a few (less than 10) individuals that can be called ‘Jewish terrorists’ but BBC never calls the Arab terrorists – TERRORISTS, as it is not proper in their lexicon.
      Please don’t misconstrue the essence of this article.

  • Donna

    The BBC guidelines on use of terminology of terrorism is disgusting, misguided, and highly inaccurate. I highly condemn them for this!

    • julian clovelley

      and your evidence for this is…?

      • twicemodern

        Julian ,here is some nice advice baby, read your own bull first, what kind of Jew are you? Who are you to ask for evidence? A”learned” anti semite perhaps?
        Or a failed university student? Proof,evidence, clarification form part of that personal thing called an expressed opinion in the Western world, which you also have been entitled to.
        In your Sharia dreams the only proof you would need apparently is the Koran and the BBC policy as printed.

        • Julian Clovelley

          I am offered puzzled at the failure of Algemeiner to moderate comments from the patently mad

  • Ariana

    Ye, and if is raining or not are Jewsh guys fault too.

  • yvonne green

    BBC’s news mandate should be revoked. Its other programming is the only fitting use of Licence Payers’ funds.

  • stevenl
  • Moshe

    Its legal according to the BBC viewpoint to for arabs to hunt jews in the holyland

    • julian clovelley

      I find your displayed prejudice every bit as obnoxious as antisemitism

  • Jonas

    How do you call British terrorists working for the BBC????
    Perhaps Anglo-Catholic terrorists??????
    But what we know, they are anti-Semites (Jew/Israeli-haters)