Monday, 24 April 2017

Defining Terror

Using apprentices or work-experience personnel to fob off complaints from less than tenacious complainants might seem like prudent use of licence payers' money. It might even be a cost-effective method of deterring all but the most indefatigable complainant, for instance those of us whose real life eats into our complaining time.

Why waste valuable brainpower on the initial stage of a complaint when there are far more pressing matters to occupy the abundant creative talent within the publicly funded BBC?

After all, with luck, at the first stage of the procedure the complainant might be so daunted by the prospect of rewriting the complaint more forcefully than before, carefully saving their 'crime number' for posterity and asking politely for the complaint to be 'elevated', that they give up altogether. Much easier to go away and eat worms.

I certainly hope that's the explanation for the letter BBCWatch reproduces here.

"Thank you for getting in touch about our report on the attack carried out on Westminster Bridge in London and please accept our apologies for the delay in our response. 
The BBC sets out clear parameters on how terms such as "terrorist" might be used: 

Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict - as in the Middle East - to use the term "terror attack" or similar might be seem to be taking sides. There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts. 
In a situation where a country that is not involved in a direct physical combat comes under attack, it may be reasonable to construe that as a terrorist incident. 
The use of such terminology is never an exact science but where a continuing conflict exists, it is reasonable that the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides. 

Thank you again for raising this matter. 
This letter doesn't seem to have been signed by a named individual so I can't make fun of anyone in particular; just the generic BBC complaints division.

Although this letter doesn't follow the BBC's normal practice of re-framing the complaint in its own words, presumably to show that the complaint has been 'listened to' (though sometimes it shows the opposite) the nature of the original complaint is  self-evident. It's about the double standards the BBC applies to violent attacks against civilians going about their daily business in Israel and identical religiously motivated attacks that occur almost anywhere else on the planet.

The complaint refers to the recent attack in London. The one that killed five innocent people and injured fifty others, which was carried out by ISIS fan Khalid Masood. You know, the Lorry attack. Or terror attack. Which is it?

Well,  the dictionary definition of 'terrorism' goes like this:

"the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

The ideologically anti-Israel UN rejects that definition and the BBC must have followed suit. 

The sentence in the letter that BBCWatch has emboldened is both illiterate and incomprehensible.
Who, exactly, are:
"those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts"?

And what does that garbled sentence even mean? Those who might wish the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts, perhaps?
I think, if one were to stay with the  dictionary definition, the preceding sentence has just as much significance:
“Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict – as in the Middle East – to use the term “terror attack” or similar might be seen to be taking sides.”
Or - when the term is used in circumstances when you have decided to take sides - for example, say, in London or Paris, not using it when such an attack occurs in Israel can equally 'be considered' to be taking sides.

There are 'some who consider' all Israeli civilians as combatants, therefore legitimate targets for their heroic car-rammings, stabbings and suicide bombings.

There are even 'some who consider' civilians here in the UK and throughout Europe to be legitimate targets as their countries are participating in 'direct physical combat' in the 'ongoing geopolitical conflict' against radical Islam. 

So how does the BBC's argument against the original complaint about double standards hold up? Not very well, I'd say.

Of course, when it comes to not using the term 'terror' for what is obviously 'terror,' (but has taken place in Israel) "there are those who might consider" the actions of the BBC "to be considered as taking sides." 

For example, people who see Israel as a diverse and democratic country rather than a terrorist state, or people who view Hamas as a terrorist organisation, even if some of them qualify that view by only counting the 'military wing' of Hamas "The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades" as terrorists - as if Hamas has a benign political wing (If Hamas does, then so must ISIS). Those people will definitely see the BBC's selective use of the term as "taking sides", and in the case of terrorism, so they bloody well should. How could the impartial BBC judge terrorism as anything other than 'bad'?

The BBC should urgently untangle their hypocritical Editorial Guidelines and call a spade a spade. Their muddled thinking, or maybe their hapless work-experience letter-writer's, is of course due to the BBC's ongoing partial, selective and 'half-a-story' reporting, which, in turn, causes the muddled thinking that leads to the painfully obvious double standards we can clearly see here.

The origin of this unfortunate situation is that the supposedly impartial BBC aligns itself with with the factually questionable "Palestinian narrative" and is ideologically opposed to Israel. The BBC's Editoral Guidelines virtually admit this within their peculiar, inconclusive and muddled exploration of the use of the term 'terror' and the vexed question of 'value judgements' , when they state:
"For example, the bombing of a bus in London was carried out by 'terrorists', but the bombing of a bus in Israel was perpetrated by a "suicide bomber".

Trying to make this anomaly appear "not taking sides"  is more of a task than a work-experience student or apprentice is up to. Such an exercise demands the full brainpower of the BBC most creative talent.


  1. The BBC seems to have forgotten we are involved in a geo-political conflict in the Middle East - our armed forces are engaged against IS.

    Terror is a technique. Its main aim is not to engage military or police forces but to spread terror and fear among a population so that they then do what you want them to do.

  2. Reading this blog is not always conducive to maintaining a healthy blood pressure. I enjoyed your description of the hapless intern fielding complaints. I too wish this was the explanation. But as all the evidence suggest this is not the case. In true BBC fashion they are hiding behind an imaginary “those” to put across a completely dishonest narrative.

  3. Be interesting to see how the newly engaged OFCOM decides to blow this one o... see no merit in this on behalf of their old chums if pursued.

  4. You may want to take a look at where it seems that they describe a Hezbollah base as a "military site"!