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A blog on terrorism, democracy and international politics

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

BBC: London Bombings Aren't Terror 

When is a terrorist not a terrorist?

Most of us would agree that a person who deliberately attacks civilians in order to terrify the population for political ends is a terrorist. But this has long been a vexed question for many in the media.

The reason is that many journalists or editors support the Palestinian side in the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Operating from a 'post-colonial' viewpoint, these people incorrectly cast the Israelis as imperial colonisers and the Arabs as the oppressed, indigenous inhabitants. Attacks against Israelis, therefore, must be placed under the category of glorious 'resistance'. Consequently, many media outlets avoid calling attacks against civilians 'terrorism' if the attacks are carried out by Palestinians against Israelis.

Those who support Israel's right to exist and/or oppose terrorism in all its forms have long criticised the hypocrisy of those media who inconsistently refer to some attacks as 'terrorism' while referring to identical attacks against Israelis as 'militant activity' or 'resistance'.

This appears to be the cause of a quiet change made by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Several BBC news stories on the web called the London attacks and their perpetrators by the correct name, 'terrorist', but soon afterwards, the wording was changed. The Google search engine entries still quoted the original words for some time, but when the link was followed, the word terrorist had been changed or removed.

For example, the story "Bus man may have seen terrorist" became "Passenger believes he saw bomber", and the words "A bus passenger says he may have seen one of those responsible for the terrorist bomb attacks in London" became "A bus passenger says he may have seen one of those responsible for the bomb attacks in London".

In another story, the words, "on the morning after the worst terrorist atrocity Britain..." became "on the morning after the worst peacetime bomb attacks Britain has seen".

Apparently, someone at the BBC doesn't consider bomb attacks to be terrorism.

Screenshots of these changes can be see at Hurry Up Harry Blogspot.

Clearly, when we minimise terrorist attacks against one section of humanity, consistency demands that we minimise terrorism against our own. The BBC's decision to erase the word 'terrorism' from its web page, except in mocking quotation marks when used by a public figure, demonstrates that the disregard for the lives of Israeli civilians has now translated into disregard for the loss of British and other civilians.

Wouldn't it have been better if the BBC had simply begun referring to all terrorism by its correct name?
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