BBC: Not fair to call anyone a ‘terrorist’

The BBC statement came in response to an MK’s letter demanding that it stop “fanning terrorism.”  

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The BBC has responded to an MK’s demand to call out terrorism by saying that it would be unfair to “label people.”

MK Ohad Tal had written to the British broadcaster to protest the depiction of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria as “illegal” and a “crime,” noting that respected international law experts have determined otherwise. Tal said that their repetitive assertion is “fanning terrorism” because Palestinians justify the murder of civilians by saying that it’s a “natural reaction” to Israeli “crimes.”

At the very least, the lawmaker wrote, “If ‘settlements’ are consistently presented as illegal, then a fortiori, terrorism should certainly be presented as illegal.”

BBC Deputy CEO Jonathan Munro disagrees.

“We would argue that this is false equivalence and they are two entirely separate issues,” he responded. “The BBC doesn’t change the word ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorism’ when quoting other people. But at the core of the policy is the decision – taken many years ago – not to label people, groups or acts as ‘terrorist.’ This is because the word ‘terrorism’ means different things to different people and a universal definition is always out of reach.”

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He also defended the BBC position by pointing out that the UN member states have “no agreed definition” for terrorism.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a running list of victims of Palestinian violence and terrorism since September 2000. There are more than 1,400 names on the list, the vast majority of them civilians who were murdered via suicide bombings, knife attacks, car rammings, shootings and rock throwing, among other means.

More than 100 of these victims are minors, including some dozen infants and toddlers. Ten-month- old Shalhevet Pass, for example, was killed while sitting in her baby carriage by sniper fire in Hebron in 2001, and Hadas Fogel, three months old, was stabbed and killed along with her parents and two young siblings in their Itamar home while asleep in 2011.

Munro also dismissed Tal’s assertion that the settlements are legal, saying that “their establishment is predicated on the supposed rights of Jewish people to settle the land,” whereas UN resolutions, which have called them illegal, “are an additional source of international law.”

“The position held by the majority international community outweighs the views of any individual lawyer,” he added.

Tal reacted Monday by saying that the Jewish rights to settle the land of Israel were not “supposed” rights. He also regretted that the BBC director did not know that the rights of the Jewish people to settle the land were recognized irrevocably by the international community “including in Article 80 of the UN’s own charter.”

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