BBC Softpedals Terrorism

In its Web site coverage and World Service radio broadcasts, BBC continues to purvey a highly distorted picture of events in the Middle East. A Web site headline for a story about a terrorist who shot dead three Israelis and injured 16 others obscured completely the fact that the killer was a Palestinian. The headline read: “Israel bus station gunman kills three” (Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 22:11 GMT).

When Hamas terrorists infiltrated the community of Elei Sinai, murdering two Israeli youths and wounding 15 others before being shot themselves by Israeli security officers, the BBC Web site headline included  selective quotation marks, suggesting doubt about whether an assault had, in fact, occurred: “Palestinians ‘attack Jewish settlement’ ” (Tuesday, 2 October, 2001 19:26 GMT).

The Elei Sinai attack itself was given little attention and its nature directly questioned in a strikingly biased report by BBC broadcaster Alex Brodie and correspondent Kylie Morris on October 3, 2001. The broadcast underscores a pattern in BBC coverage — whitewashing Palestinian terrorism and terrorists; focusing almost exclusively on Israeli military responses to terrorist acts; displaying double standards in interviewing Israelis and Palestinians; labeling Israeli settlements “illegal,”  and even justifying terrorist acts against Israelis.

Interviewing Mahmoud Zahar, a Gazan leader of Hamas, Brodie asked only gentle questions, even volunteering the idea that killing Israeli civilians in a Jewish community in Gaza is not a terrorist act, and allowed Zahar to make outrageous statements without challenge:


Brodie: Are you a terrorist organization?

Zahar: Hundred percent no. If you are going to read all the definition of terrorist, you will see no single data indicated that Hamas is terrorist.

Brodie: One could argue that an attack on an illegal Jewish settlement is not terrorism. However, what about suicide bomb attacks on buses inside Israel? Is that not terrorism?

Zahar: Of course, no because all the Israelis are militant. Nobody, male or female reaching age 18 will be away from carrying gun and killing our people everywhere. In your country, that is yes, true. There are millions of civilians. But in Israel, 100% all of them are militant, one-third of their army is under the services, two-thirds are called reserve. They are militant.

Brodie: So you are saying, in effect, there is no such thing as a civilian Israeli.

Zahar: No civilian Israeli. Give me just one, one name.

Brodie: And that was Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, a leader and spokesman in the Gaza Strip of Hamas.


Brodie also twice presented as fact  his personal opinion that Elie Sinai is an “illegal settlement.”

In her segment, correspondent Kylie Morris identified by name the Palestinian suicide bomber and even provided touching details about him, while the Israeli victims remained anonymous.


Morris: This man, Ibrahim Rayan, looking younger than his 18 years and dressed in fatigues, was to break through the defenses of the Alei Sinai settlement on the northern edge of the Gaza strip and murder two Israelis, an 18-year-old woman and her 20-year- old boyfriend…


Morris immediately turned her attentions to detailing the Israeli army response, spending far more time on it than she did on the initial Palestinian attack (one sentence for the Palestinian terrorist attack versus 10 sentences for the Israeli response). There were no interviews with or eyewitness accounts from any of the scores of Israelis who were touched by the terrorist attack, nor by any of their friends or family members, nor by any of the treating physicians. Yet Kylie did interview a Palestinian doctor from a Gaza City hospital to voice his opinion about the Israeli response.

In contrast, Brodie’s interview with Israeli cabinet minister Tzippy Livni consisted of leading questions in an attempt to steer her to his own preferred conclusion – that Arafat was not responsible for terror and for breaking the cease-fire. To that end, Brodie repeatedly asked Livni the same thing, at times injecting notes of sarcasm into the questioning when she did not respond according to his wishes.


          Question 1: Do you believe Arafat controls Hamas?

          Question 2: You saw recently in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza what amounted to a revolt against Arafat. His police tried to arrest people. The people themselves then attacked the police. Isn’t this an indication that things are not under Mr. Arafat’s control?

          Question 3: Do you not see any difference between Yasser Arafat and Hamas?


This report is typical of BBC’s skewed coverage. Please write to BBC World Service and protest the rationalizing of Palestinian terror. Insist that the BBC provide genuine balance and objectivity.


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