Palestinian terrorist leader in Jenin appears in Reuters staff party video

July 19, 2005

CONTENTS

1. “Terrorist at journalists’ party” (Ynetnews, July 15, 2005)
2. “The curse of the language corrupters” (By Michelle Malkin, July 16, 2005)
3. “BBC language that Labour loves to hear” (Daily Telegraph, July 13, 2005)

 


[Note by Tom Gross]

TERRORIST IN REUTERS PARTY VIDEO

It has been revealed that Zakaria Zubeidi, the head of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, made a guest appearance in a video prepared by the staff of Reuters in Israel and the Palestinian Authority for a colleague who was leaving. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has claimed responsibility for over 300 terror attacks since it was set up by Yasser Arafat (in part using European Union aid money) in 2000. Those attacks have resulted in hundreds of Israeli men, women and children being killed or maimed. Zubeidi has small black marks on his face after a bomb he was preparing blew up in his face three years ago. He is wanted by Israel on multiple murder charges.

Also present at the party, which took place in March, were journalists from the BBC, ITN, the Independent newspaper of London, and some French journalists.

Reuters spokeswoman Susan Allsopp said in a statement issued to Ynet, the internet site of Israel’s most popular newspaper Yediot Ahronoth, that the film “was shown at a private farewell party.”

(For more on the way Reuters reporters work in the Middle East, see
www.nationalreview.com/issue/gross200407120846.asp )

WHY NOT CALL “RAPISTS” “UNPLANNED LOVERS”?

Following my article “The BBC discovers ‘terrorism,’ briefly”, and often citing the examples in it, many journalists have now written about the BBC and the language they used in describing the London attacks.

For example, in the article attached below, Michelle Malkin, a nationally syndicated columnist in the US, looks at the use of language by the BBC and also by American politicians and media. What next, she asks? Why not call “burglars” “takers,” and “rapists” “unplanned lovers”?

INTERNAL MEMO AT BBC: “STOP CALLING THEM TERRORISTS”

The third article below, from the Daily Telegraph, says that a memo was sent to senior editors at the BBC only hours after the London bombs ordering them to stop using the word “terrorist” as the BBC was worried about offending its World Service audience. An argument broke out between some senior journalists and news executives which suggest that the London attacks brought home to the BBC what terrorism really means. I also know from sources at the BBC that my article has been discussed in private by senior BBC news execs.

I attach three articles, with summaries first.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

TERRORIST AT JOURNALISTS’ PARTY

“Terrorist at journalists’ party” (By Yaakov Lappin, Ynetnews, Yediot Ahronoth, July 15, 2005)

... Top terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi made a “guest appearance” in a video prepared by the staff of Reuters news agency in Israel and the Palestinian Authority as a “going away” gift for a colleague, Ynetnews has learned.

Zubeidi, who heads Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, has been named by security officials as a key figure in organizing terror attacks on Israeli civilians.

Zubeidi’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have claimed responsibility for more than 300 terror acts in the last five years...

The party included guests from the BBC, ITN, the Independent newspaper, and French journalists...

 

THE CURSE OF THE LANGUAGE CORRUPTERS

“The curse of the language corrupters” (By Michelle Malkin, July 16, 2005)

Across the pond, the British Broadcasting Corp. is taking well-deserved lumps for whitewashing the July 7 terrorist attacks in London. Editors have reportedly expunged the word “terrorist” from the BBC Web site and substituted the sanitized “bomber” to describe the killers.

Next: “Burglars” will be “takers.” “Child molesters” will be “ticklers,” “Rapists” will be “unplanned lovers.”

High-minded BBC guidelines admonish employees against using words like “terrorist” that “carry emotional or value judgments.” Yet, employing a reporter, Barbara Plett, who told viewers she bawled her eyes out when an ailing Yasser Arafat was whisked off to France last November, is model objectivity.

But bashing the terror-coddling BBC is too easy. Let us turn to our own language corrupters.

Nearly four years after the September 11 attacks, the White House and the press still use the empty phrase “War on Terror” to describe the global battle against radical Islamist throat-slitters, suicide bombers and hijackers who incinerate children on their way to Disneyland. And in the wake of the London terrorist attacks, we Americans continue to bow to an unwritten editorial policy of invoking sanitized phrases and bloodless bluster as a substitute for concrete action.

... It’s precisely these kinds of national security profiling and targeted immigration enforcement measures that obstructionists characterize as an “anti-Muslim backlash,” which is why no one will talk about them despite all the “heightened alert” posturing.

In London, “terrorists” are “bombers.” In the U.S., citizen watchdogs are “vigilantes.”

The Ministry of Truth would be pleased.

 

BBC LANGUAGE THAT LABOUR LOVES TO HEAR

“BBC language that Labour loves to hear” (By Tom Leonard, London Daily Telegraph, July 13, 2005)

When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When he is on the BBC, of course. Where -according to the corporation’s editorial guidelines - “the word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than aid to understanding” ...

Within hours of the explosions, a memo was sent to senior editors on the main BBC news programmes from Helen Boaden, head of news. While she was aware “we are dancing on the head of a pin”, the BBC was very worried about offending its World Service audience, she said.

BBC output was not to describe the killers of more than 50 in London as “terrorists” although - nonsensically - they could refer to the bombings as “terror attacks”.

And while the guidelines generously concede that non-BBC should be allowed to use the “t” word, BBC online was not even content with that and excised it from its report of Tony Blair’s statement to the Commons.

A row has now broken out with a handful of the corporation’s most senior journalists and news executives, fighting what one described yesterday as a “disgusting and appalling” edict.

He was particularly angry, he added, because most World Service listeners don’t even pay a penny for the BBC...

Few people at the top of the BBC think that not calling terrorists “terrorists” is remotely absurd. And that, say their critics, is the nub of the problem: corporation bosses are so sure they are “doing good” and that their assumptions are shared by all that they believe they are apolitical...

 



FULL ARTICLES

TERRORIST AT JOURNALISTS’ PARTY

Terrorist at journalists’ party
Top terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi made “guest appearance” in video prepared by Reuters staff as “going away” gift for colleague, Ynetnews has learned
By Yaakov Lappin
Ynetnews
July 15, 2005

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3113222,00.html

Close buddies? Top terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi made a “guest appearance” in a video prepared by the staff of Reuters news agency in Israel and the Palestinian Authority as a “going away” gift for a colleague, Ynetnews has learned.

Zubeidi, who heads Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, has been named by security officials as a key figure in organizing terror attacks on Israeli civilians.

Zubeidi’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have claimed responsibility for more than 300 terror acts in the last five years.

A Reuters spokeswoman confirmed the video’s existence, but said the London-based news organization is “not associated with any group or faction in any conflict.”

The screening, which occurred in a Jerusalem restaurant last March, involved the showing of a video during a private party.

“The video’s theme was what Israel would be like in 10 years,” said an Israeli government official who attended the party and viewed the video.

“All of a sudden, at the end, there is Zakaria Zubeidi, playing the head of Reuters. Zubeidi was sitting in Reuters’ Jenin office, saying he was Reuters’ chief,” the official said.

‘They thought video was hilarious’

The party included guests from the BBC, ITN, the Independent newspaper, and French journalists.

“They all thought the video was hilarious,” the official said. He added that only a few individuals did not seem amused during the screening.

“They were laughing; they thought it was very funny, he said.”

Reuters spokeswoman Susan Allsopp said in a statement to Ynetnews that the film “was a spoof video put together for a departing member of staff by a few of his colleagues in Israel and the Palestinian territories. It was shown at a private farewell party and was meant to be humorous.

“As soon as editorial management in Jerusalem became aware of the video they told the staff involved that Reuters found it to be inappropriate and in poor taste,” the statement said. “The member of staff for whom the party had been held has never met Mr. Zubeidi. Reuters would like to make it clear that it is not associated with any group or faction in any conflict.”

 

THE CURSE OF THE LANGUAGE CORRUPTERS

The curse of the language corrupters
By Michelle Malkin
July 16, 2005

Across the pond, the British Broadcasting Corp. is taking well-deserved lumps for whitewashing the July 7 terrorist attacks in London. Editors have reportedly expunged the word “terrorist” from the BBC Web site and substituted the sanitized “bomber” to describe the killers.

Next: “Burglars” will be “takers.” “Child molesters” will be “ticklers.” “Rapists” will be “unplanned lovers.”

High-minded BBC guidelines admonish employees against using words like “terrorist” that “carry emotional or value judgments.” Yet, employing a reporter, Barbara Plett, who told viewers she bawled her eyes out when an ailing Yasser Arafat was whisked off to France last November, is model objectivity.

But bashing the terror-coddling BBC is too easy. Let us turn to our own language corrupters.

Nearly four years after the September 11 attacks, the White House and the press still use the empty phrase “War on Terror” to describe the global battle against radical Islamist throat-slitters, suicide bombers and hijackers who incinerate children on their way to Disneyland. And in the wake of the London terrorist attacks, we Americans continue to bow to an unwritten editorial policy of invoking sanitized phrases and bloodless bluster as a substitute for concrete action.

How many times have you heard some cable TV talking head or political hack urging us to be on “heightened alert” - without having the courage to spell out exactly what that means?

How many times has this been followed by a furrowed-brow precaution from some civil rights lawyer or human rights activist urging us to avoid an “anti-Muslim backlash”?

I’d have an easier time cheering the “We will not yield” and “We are not afraid” sloganeering if just one of our tough talkers in Washington would get brutally specific about how they will show vigilance, courage, alertness and refusal to yield to radical Islamic terror. Allow me:

* A true state of “heightened alert” would mean barring any new religious visas for Muslim clerics and ending all visa-free travel, which means scrapping the anachronistic and insecure Transit Without a Visa program and the dangerously lax Visa Waiver Program.

* A true state of “heightened alert” would mean a targeted visa moratorium for terror-sponsoring and terror-friendly nations. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 placed such a ban on temporary visitor visas for individuals from the seven official state sponsors of terrorism. The list should be expanded and revisited if and when intelligence points to new al Qaeda breeding grounds. And yes, that means tourists from Egypt, Yemen, Syria and the Philippines might be denied a Grand Canyon vacation the next five years. Tough noogies.

At this point, despite all the grand rhetoric from both political parties about increased information-sharing and cooperation, I have limited confidence that our consular offices abroad are capable of stopping the next Mohamed Atta or Hani Hanjour from getting a temporary visa. The fewer applications from danger spots they have to deal with, the better.

* A true state of “heightened alert” would mean killing off the idiotic Diversity Visa Lottery Program once and for all and scouring the H1-B visa program for Islamist exploitation.

* A true state of “heightened alert” would mean unapologetic government monitoring of Arab and Muslim foreign students on temporary visas, Muslim chaplains and soldiers serving in the military and in prisons, and Arab and Muslim pilots and flight students.

* A true state of “heightened alert” would mean immediate deportation of illegal aliens from terror-sponsoring and terror-supporting nations, increased National Guard dispatches on both the northern and southern borders, aggressive police-federal cooperation to catch illegal border crossers and overstayers in the interior, and vigorous encouragement of volunteer border security efforts like the Minuteman Project.

It’s precisely these kinds of national security profiling and targeted immigration enforcement measures that obstructionists characterize as an “anti-Muslim backlash,” which is why no one will talk about them despite all the “heightened alert” posturing.

In London, “terrorists” are “bombers.” In the U.S., citizen watchdogs are “vigilantes.”

The Ministry of Truth would be pleased.

 

BBC LANGUAGE THAT LABOUR LOVES TO HEAR

BBC language that Labour loves to hear
By Tom Leonard
The (London) Daily Telegraph
July 13, 2005

www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/07/13/do1302.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/07/13/ixop.html

When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When he is on the BBC, of course. Where - according to the corporation’s editorial guidelines - “the word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than aid to understanding”.

Bomber, attacker, insurgent, militant - all are fine by the Beeb because they carry no “emotional or value judgments”.

And heaven forbid anyone get emotional about the deaths of at least 52 people in the London bombings last week.

Within hours of the explosions, a memo was sent to senior editors on the main BBC news programmes from Helen Boaden, head of news. While she was aware “we are dancing on the head of a pin”, the BBC was very worried about offending its World Service audience, she said.

BBC output was not to describe the killers of more than 50 in London as “terrorists” although - nonsensically - they could refer to the bombings as “terror attacks”.

And while the guidelines generously concede that non-BBC should be allowed to use the “t” word, BBC online was not even content with that and excised it from its report of Tony Blair’s statement to the Commons.

A row has now broken out with a handful of the corporation’s most senior journalists and news executives, fighting what one described yesterday as a “disgusting and appalling” edict.

He was particularly angry, he added, because most World Service listeners don’t even pay a penny for the BBC.

The BBC militants/insurgents may be furious but they can hardly be surprised. The corporation that only last year was winning plaudits for standing up to Downing Street bullying over Iraqi WMDs is now cosier with Labour than it has been at any time in its history.

Far from the Hutton Inquiry teaching the BBC that it should be less politically engaged, its bosses appear to have realised that it is actually fine to play politics - just so long as they are the politics of Labour.

The same senior BBC journalist who expressed contempt for the “terrorist” ban was withering about the corporation’s current Africa season. The BBC’s interminable series of programmes highlighting poverty in Africa has been a “disgrace”, he said.

“We’ve simply been advancing Gordon Brown’s agenda and in an entirely unsophisticated way.”

It didn’t get less sophisticated than the anti-poverty drama, The Girl In The Cafe, in which the writer Richard Curtis provided an Honest Joe chancellor character who seemed clearly intended to be mistaken for his friend, Mr Brown.

Later that week, viewers watching Live8 could have been forgiven for thinking it had been organised by the BBC, not Bob Geldof. Just days after it largely turned a blind eye to the Battle of Trafalgar commemorations, the corporation set aside hour after hour of airtime to events in Hyde Park.

In the festival of hyperbole and back-slapping that followed, nobody interviewed by the BBC cheerleaders was allowed to be anything other than deliriously positive about the campaign to “make poverty history”. And when BBC1 covered the campaign on the evening news, it interviewed only two people - both Government ministers.

As Adam Boulton, Sky News political editor, told a Lords select committee two weeks ago, it has reached the stage where a public service institution “rather than serving the public, gets close to serving the Government”.

Boulton also picked out the BBC’s NHS Day programmes, which stressed the merits of the health service more than any drawbacks. If Sky aired a Private Health Day, people would say it was “absurd”, he said.

Few people at the top of the BBC think that not calling terrorists “terrorists” is remotely absurd. And that, say their critics, is the nub of the problem: corporation bosses are so sure they are “doing good” and that their assumptions are shared by all that they believe they are apolitical.

A glimpse into the future was provided a year ago this month when - at a time when many thought the BBC still had a lot of sucking up to do to the Government over its charter renewal - its director general set out the way forward. Mark Thompson used the sort of language he knew Downing Street would like because it was precisely the language that the Labour-dominated regulator Ofcom has used about the BBC.

No longer just a broadcaster, the corporation was to be a social force in the land, he said. The corporation was an “important builder of social capital, seeking to increase social cohesion and tolerance”, which in future would try to “foster audience understanding of differences of ethnicity, faith, gender, sexuality, age and ability or disability”.

A few months earlier, in its annual statement of programme policy, the BBC for the first time included a section entitled “the purpose of the BBC”. Its five aims include ones to “support the UK’s role in the world” and “help make the UK a more inclusive society”.

What has any of this got to do with broadcasting? And where was the public debate before the state-owned broadcaster was allowed to take on itself such overtly political roles? The answers, predictably, are nothing and nowhere.

The BBC - which, true to form, was sounding off in its annual report yesterday about BBC1 focusing too much on white, middle-class suburbia - argues privately that it is trying to seek out a new role as its audiences slip in the digital age.

Critics counter that it is misusing the licence fee and imposing the views of the metropolitan elite upon the rest of the population. Mr Thompson, we learnt at the weekend, is a close confidante of Sir Ian Blair, the “pc PC” Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and the pair exchange notes on how to “transform” their organisations. Who would have thought it?


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.