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April 6, 2016 6:47 am

Comparing the BBC’s Personalization of Paris, Brussels and Israel Terror Victims

avatar by Hadar Sela

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Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin. Photo: Israel Foreign Ministry.

Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin. Photo: Israel Foreign Ministry.

Following the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, various BBC platforms — including the BBC News website — produced content paying tribute to the victims of those attacks, which included photographs and some biographical details.

A similar feature appeared on the BBC News website after last month’s terror attacks in Brussels, under the title “Victims of the Brussels attacks.” This tribute not only included photographs and personal information about the majority of the people murdered in the attacks, but also about several of the wounded.

As has been noted here previously, such information, of course, enables BBC audiences to get beyond mere casualty figures, and goes some way towards helping them appreciate the individual personal tragedies of victims and their families.

Throughout the last six months — October 2015 to March 2016 — the BBC has also been reporting on terror attacks in Israel (although it refrains from naming them as such). Yet in that reporting, the personalization of the victims is very much the exception rather than the rule.

During that six-month period, articles appearing on the BBC News website have included photographs of only four victims of two separate terror attacks.

On October 2, 2015, a follow-up report concerning the terror attack in which Eitam and Na’ama Henkin were murdered included their photographs. On October 3 and 5, the BBC produced reports about the terror attack in which Aharon Banita-Bennett and Nehemia Lavi were murdered — here and here — which included their photographs.

Since October 5, however, not one of the BBC’s reports about the many terror attacks in which Israelis and/or foreign nationals have been killed has included photographs of the victims, and the deaths of three people were not reported at all.

October 13: the murder of Yeshayahu Krishevsky in a vehicular/stabbing attack in Jerusalem was reported in an article that also noted the murders of Chaim Haviv and Alon Govberg during a combined shooting/stabbing attack on passengers on a city bus in Jerusalem earlier on the same day; the article did not name any of the victims of either attack. The death of a third victim of the same bus attack — Richard Lakin — two weeks later did not receive any BBC coverage.

October 18: the terror attack at Be’er Sheva bus station, in which Sgt Omri Levy and Eritrean national Habtom Zerhom were killed, was covered in this BBC report, and a follow-up article.

October 20: the murder of Avraham Hasno at al Fawar junction was briefly mentioned in this article, but the victim was not identified.

November 4: a vehicular attack took place at Halhul junction and those wounded in that attack included St. Sgt. Binyamin Yakobovitch, who succumbed to his injuries four days later. There was no BBC News coverage of either the initial attack or St.Sgt Yakobovitch’s death.

November 13: the murders of Rabbi Ya’akov Litman and his son Netanel near Otniel were reported in an article titled “Israelis killed in West Bank as Palestinians shot dead.

November 19: the murders of Rabbi Aharon Yesayev and Reuven Aviram in Tel Aviv and the murders of Ezra Schwartz, Yaakov Don, and Shadi Arafa at Alon Shvut junction on the same day were reported in an article titled “Palestinian attacks in Israel and West Bank kill five,” although none of the victims were named.

November 22: the stabbing attack at Gush Etzion junction in which Hadar Buchris was murdered was reported in this article.

November 23: the murder of Cpl. Ziv Mizrahi at a petrol station on Route 443 was reported in this article.

December 7:  Gennady Kaufman was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack in Hebron. Neither the original attack nor Mr. Kaufman’s later death on December 30 received any BBC News coverage.

December 23: the BBC News website covered an attack in Jerusalem in which two people were killed and one wounded. The victims — Rabbi Reuven Birmajer and Ofer Ben Ari — were not named in the report.

January 1: two of the victims of the terror attack in Tel Aviv — Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi — were first named in a follow-up report which appeared the next day. The third victim –Amin Shaaban — was only named a week later in a subsequent report.

January 17: the murder of Dafna Meir in Otniel was reported in this article.

January 25: the stabbing attack in Beit Horon in which Shlomit Krigman was murdered was only covered on the BBC News website the following day, and the victim was not named.

February 3: the attack at Damascus Gate in which Cpl Hadar Cohen was shot and killed was covered in this report.

February 18: the attack at Sha’ar Binyamin in which off-duty soldier Tuvia Yanai Weissman was murdered was reported here.

February 24: the attack at Gush Etzion Junction in which Eliav Gelman was killed was covered in this article.

March 8: the terror attack in Jaffa in which US citizen Taylor Force was murdered was covered here.

As we see, the BBC clearly employs a markedly different approach to the victims of terror attacks in Europe and in Israel. Dedicated coverage of the victims of the attacks in Paris and Brussels has ensured appropriate personalization and humanization of those murdered in attacks that the BBC is (for the most part) comfortable describing as terrorism.

However, for BBC audiences, the vast majority of victims in Israel remain faceless and, in very many cases, even nameless victims of violence that the corporation refuses to describe as terrorism.

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  • Dani Renan

    Julian, you are correct. I would not like to see all the terms that you mentioned. For a simple reason, they are factually incorrect, or extremely biased.

    In the first paragraph, “occupied territory”, “blockaded territory”, “illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land”, are all falsehoods.

    Even the BBC, when talking about Palestinian land, usually put in the qualifier, “that they want for their future state.” It is not Palestinian land, it is land that they want. But then all of Israel is land that they want. The only Palestinian land that exists, as under Palestinian rule, is Areas A in the West Bank (the cities), and the Gaza strip. No settlements exist in those areas. Furthermore, all the settlements beyond the 1949 Armistice Line (Green Line)are legal. The argument that per the Geneva convention…. is only evident that the claimant never read the Conventions. (and yes I have read them all as well as the Hague Convention (1907)).

    If “Palestinian land” refers to private land owned by Arabs, then it lacks any political argument, except to show that there is no barrier (except money) for Arabs and other minorities to own land. (sort of defeats the Apartheid argument).

    In the second paragraph, the terms “Zionist fanatics” and ”Ultra Religious Jewish extremists” are biased especially since there are no, even hinted at, definitions. I don’t know what a Zionist fanatic is anymore than I know what a English fanatic is.

    Finally the “the development in the joint territories of Israel and occupied Palestine of a “Apartheid” State” is a sting of words joined together that is meaningless in any sense, except that it gives the impression of a smear.

    I would suggest going back and reading Eric Blair (George Orwell)explanation how to manipulate meaningless language for political, social, and psychological effects.

  • Simone Miller

    Since when do you expect England to be fair to Jews. Only if they can gain something. I always take an article from the BBC with enough salt to raise my blood pressure.

  • Jonas

    Get the BBC and Britain unplugged and they sink down!!!!
    magia le hem.

  • Reform School

    Re-inventing history for political ends is BBC’s endgame.

    It not called the BBC Whirled Service for no reason!

  • Michael Garfinkel

    “However, for BBC audiences, the vast majority of victims in Israel remain faceless and, in very many cases, even nameless victims of violence that the corporation refuses to describe as terrorism.”

    That’s because the BBC thinks they had it coming to them.

  • and what else from what used to be under Saddam Hussein the Baghdad Broadcasting Company, and now along with whatever remnants of integrity it may be imagined to still possess, something like Bombed-out Benevolent Corpse….

  • Carl

    How many BBC stories named the Palestinian terrorist and included sympathetic interviews with their families? Quite the double standard when Jews are the victims.

  • stevenl

    BBC legendary antisemitism is probably taking orders from the Foreign Office!
    They will never forget that they were kicked out of Israel by this small but very successful people!

  • fred

    The BBC has proven itself beyond a shadow of doubt to be extremly biased & prejudiced against the Jews & Israel. Britain has never shown any sympathy towards the Jews & Israel. One must not forget ,that Britain in line with other European shut its doors to Jewish refugees. The BBC has become an Arab mouthpiece supported by the Petrodollar.Honesty & truth buried in the bowel of lies.

  • tiki

    BBC and the NY Times are what we call ‘zug yonim’, birds of a feather.

  • Mike E

    I am not surprised.
    The BBC has dropped all pretense at being neutral and is openly anti-Israel (anti-Semitism in disguise) and Islamophile.
    The media in Britain, especially on the left, like The BBC, The Guardian and The Independent are known to have an anti-Semitic, Jew-hating slant. Hitler and Goebbels would have been proud of them.

    My impression is that Britain, and especially England, now has become totally Islamized due to its large population of Muslims and the strong anti-Semitism amongst the powerful left wing. The hatred of Jews and Israel is now displayed daily in the media and elsewhere. Celebrities like Emma Thompson is openly trying to stop Jewish artists from performing in British theatres.

  • Julian Clovelley

    But then I doubt if you would like to see free use of the terms “occupied territory”, “blockaded territory”, “illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land”.

    I doubt also you would want much reference to “Zionist fanatics” and”Ultra Religious Jewish extremists” or to the development in the joint territories of Israel and occupied Palestine of a “Apartheid” State

    By using terms that are as neutral as possible in relation to the Right Wing of Israel’s dreadful worldview the BBC is being polite and non-inflammatory about a State that has no apparent current sympathy for its multicultural realities