BBC Gets Backlash for Not Calling Hamas ‘Terrorists’ in Israel Attacks

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UPDATE: The BBC has received backlash in the U.K. for not referring to Hamas as “terrorists” in its coverage of the attacks on Israel, with BBC Derby sports reporter Noah Abrahams resigning over the matter.

“The BBC’s refusal to use the correct terminology is unjustified,” the 22-year-old Abrahams said in an interview with TalkTV on Thursday night, adding: “Terminology, words, when neglected have the power to fuel hate, they have the power to put fuel on the fire.”

Various governmental officials have spoken out as well. At a Jewish community vigil held on Downing St. in London on Monday night, immigration minister Robert Jenrick called out the news organization — which is a public service and therefore independent of the U.K. government — over the issue.

“Let us be clear what the world has witnessed. These weren’t, as some in the media say, militants or fighters. They were terrorists. They were murderers,” Jenrick said, as reported by the Telegraph. “They were barbarians and the BBC or whoever else we see on the television should say it as it is.”

And, during a Tuesday morning appearance on “BBC Breakfast,” foreign secretary James Cleverly confronted presenter Sally Nugent on-air, saying: “Hamas, which is a terrorist organization – I just want to make sure you recognize that in your reporting, these are not militants, they are terrorists.”

Cleverly continued, according to the Telegraph, “The murders that they have perpetrated in Israel, the kidnaps they have perpetrated and the threats of summary executions that will be televised and broadcast — these are all terrorist attacks and I would urge you to reflect that in your reporting.”

The BBC has a section of its style guide devoted to Israel and the Palestinians, which states that “terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements. We should not use the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution.”

Instead, the guide recommends that reporters “should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as ‘bomber’, ‘attacker’, ‘gunman’, ‘kidnapper’, ‘insurgent’, and ‘militant’. We should not adopt other people’s language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.” However, the British government itself has declared Hamas a terrorist organization.

Lucy Frazer, secretary of state for culture, media and sport also revealed in a letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews that she had a meeting with BBC head Tim Davie about the matter. “I asked the Director General whether the BBC was considering, in the light of this and recent events, if it was now appropriate to review their guidelines, and if not, whether they were confident that they were in fact abiding by their own BBC News Style Guide which specifically refers to the fact that ‘an action or event can be described as a terror attack or an act of terror,’” Frazer wrote. “I strongly believe that the language used to describe these horrific attacks matters and I highlighted this to the Director General.”

The BBC did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment, though a spokesperson gave the following statement to the Telegraph: “We reported the Hamas attacks and the response by Israel in line with the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines. We have included contributors who have condemned the attackers as terrorists and we have reported that Hamas is designated as a terrorist group by many Western governments, including the U.K.”



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