Georgia L Gilholy is a journalist.
On 7 October, terrorists dragged Israeli women to be raped beside the corpses of their friends before killing them. They murdered, tortured and even burned entire families alive. Some corpses are so badly mutilated that the process of varying their identity through DNA samples remains ongoing. Hostages, including women and children, have been taken into Gaza. Their status remains unknown.
It is one thing to see these horrors unfold and take to the streets to celebrate, which is what thousands of British citizens have done in the days following these attacks, not to mention gleefully tearing down the posters of the aforementioned hostages.
It is another thing for a respected news organisation to parrot the talking points of these barbaric aggressors, and yet still refuse to refer to them as what they are: terrorists.
On Tuesday evening one such organisation, the only one which British taxpayers are forced to fund should they wish to watch any live television, did just this.
The BBC sent a push notification to millions of app users and posted to their millions of Twitter followers the headline “Hundreds feared dead or injured in Israeli air strike on hospital in Gaza, Palestinian officials say”. The BBC site which publishes the full article is one of the most visited news sources in the world.
The “Palestinian officials” who were the only source for this major story were the Gaza Health Ministry which, like any public institution in Gaza, is run by Hamas. The BBC appeared happy to rebrand them with a more trustworthy-sounding term.
Anyone with basic knowledge of Gaza knows that Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) or Hamas could be the culprits. They routinely misfire 30-40 per cent of their rockets and are of course known to store munitions and launch weapons from civilian areas. This is not some fringe conspiracy or secret, it is a basic fact that journalists covering this region ought to know. So either we are dealing with incredibly ignorant reporters, or worse, people willing to believe anything that frames Israel as the villain.
(Based on zero evidence, the BBC previously told untruths for weeks about Jewish teenagers shouting “dirty Muslims” before they were attacked while lighting a menorah. They did not. So please forgive some of us for suspecting at least some BBC staff of ulterior motives.)
The story was about as watertight as medieval blood libel claims. Multiple sources, including open-source intelligence, have now debunked the claim.
In the hours after this spate of irresponsible reporting, a Berlin Synagogue was firebombed, angry mobs descended on a Spanish Synagogue, the Al-Hammah Tomb and Synagogue, one of Tunisia’s most important Jewish sites were smashed and burned, and crowds of Furious protesters marched on the Israeli consulate in Amman, while multiple Western embassies were targeted across Tunisia, Turkey and Lebanon.An anti-israel demonstration also took place in London on Wednesday seemingly on the premise that the IDF had been responsible for the episode. Numerous high-profile politicians, including Jeremy Corbyn, jumped on the bandwagon, instantly blaming Israel.
Of course, the BBC is not the only outlet that many of us have lost any lingering respect for in recent days. The difference is that it is our national broadcaster, funded by our taxpayers. This national broadcaster continues to doggedly refuse to refer to the legally proscribed terror group as terrorists are “taking a side”. It is a choice to side with our enemies.
According to John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, referring to Hamas, which is proscribed as a terror group by British law, and whose founding charter calls for the genocide of every living Jew, “means you’re taking sides and ceasing to treat the situation with due impartiality. The BBC’s job is to place the facts before its audience and let them decide what they think, honestly and without ranting.”
It is also telling that Simpson is patently desperate to imply his detractors are generally abusive and ranting, as if anyone who dares disagree with his pseudo-enlightened both sides-ism has lost the plot.
However, John Ware, himself a former BBC reporter. quickly picked holes in Simpson’s argument, providing an extensive summary of the BBC’s description of various groups as terrorists, in a piece for The Article:
9/11, New York (2001): “al-Qaeda terrorists …..the deadliest terror attacks on US soil…..the al-Qaeda terror group….” 7/7, London (2005): “…it was the worst single terrorist atrocity on British soil…” Charlie Hebdo, Paris (Jan 2015): “Three days of terror….” Bataclan, Paris (Nov 2015) “…… France’s worst ever night of terrorism.. .”; Manchester Arena bombing (2017): “…Manchester terrorist attack…..”; IRAN-IS attack (2017): “… the most serious terrorist violence in Tehran since the turbulent early years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution”; Boko Haram, Africa (2019): “A decade of terror explained… “; Afghanistan (2023): “ Can the Taliban tackle Afghanistan’s terror problem….” And so on.
Why is less clear-cut terminology required when the targets of terror are mostly Jewish?
I think Tanya Gold summarised many reasonable people’s responses to these incidents well: “The BBC and political leaders including Jeremy Corbyn put British Jews in material danger last night by spreading unverified rumours of war crimes as fact.”
Her assertion: “I don’t think we can come back from any of this,” could, sadly, be the case.