British opposition leader: BBC “gives legitimacy to Arab terrorists”

December 11, 2001

"LET US CALL THINGS WHAT THEY ARE"

Finally, a leading British politician has openly accused the state-owned BBC and others in the British media of having an anti-Israel bias. For those of you who don't know, Iain Duncan Smith is the new leader of the British Conservative party, the party previously led by Margaret Thatcher and John Major. The party forms the chief opposition to Prime Minister Tony Blair's ruling Labour Party.

A previous dispatch on this email list was titled BBC: September 11 attacks "not terrorism" (Nov. 29, 2001).

I attach articles below from the (London) Daily Telegraph and BBC Online.

-- Tom Gross


BBC "GIVES LEGITIMACY TO ARAB TERRORISTS"

BBC 'gives legitimacy to Arab terrorists'
By Sarah Womack, Political Correspondent
The Daily Telegraph (London)
December 11, 2001

Iain Duncan Smith accused British broadcasters yesterday of conferring legitimacy on anti-Israeli terrorist organisations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The Conservative leader said the BBC and others were "fudging" the real nature of such groups by failing to identify them as terrorists.

In a speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel in London, he said terrorists must not be appeased, arguing that Hamas and others were bent on destroying Israel.

"Surely it is time that our national broadcasters, not just but including the BBC, stopped describing Hamas and Jihad with such euphemisms as radical and militant?" he said.

"Let us call things what they are: they are terrorist organisations. Such fudging of what Hamas or Islamic Jihad are confers some sort of legitimacy on people who are terrorists.

"Such misappropriation is absurd when even Palestinian moderates in Jerusalem describe the suicide bombers as terrorists."

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have carried out suicide bombings in the past 10 days which have killed 29 people in Israel, not including the bombers, prompting a tough Israeli military response against targets in Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation [the BBC] generally referred to Hamas and Jihad as "armed militant groups".

He said: "We have an obligation to be impartial, accurate and independent and use neutral language to describe news events and conflict situations.

"We are very explicit visually and verbally in reporting attacks by suicide bombers. It is up to viewers to make up their own minds what these groups represent."

 

DUNCAN SMITH ATTACKS MID-EAST COVERAGE

Duncan Smith attacks Mid-East coverage
BBC Online
December 10, 2001

The Tory leader had strong words on Hamas

UK broadcasters including the BBC have been accused by Iain Duncan Smith of conferring a degree of "legitimacy" on groups such as Hamas by not branding them "terrorists".

The Tory leader told the Conservative Friends of Israel that Hamas and other groups such as Islamic Jihad were intent on destroying Israel.

There was, therefore, no mileage in trying to appease such groups and to not identify them as terrorists was "fudging" the issue.

Mr Duncan Smith told his audience, at the Savoy Hotel in London that he backed the view of US President George W Bush that it was time for people who wanted peace to "rise up and fight terror".

He also welcomed recent moves to freeze the assets of terrorist groups.

Mr Duncan Smith added: "Against this background, surely it is time that our national broadcasters, not just, but including the BBC, stopped describing Hamas and Jihad with such euphemisms as radical and militant?

"Let us call things what they are: they are terrorist organisations."

'Absurd'

"Such fudging of what Hamas or Islamic Jihad are confers some sort of legitimacy on people who are terrorists.

"Such misappropriation is absurd when even Palestinian moderates in Jerusalem describe the suicide bombers as terrorists."

A recent spate of attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers have resulted in the deaths of dozens of Israeli civilians in recent weeks.

Israel's armed response has been forceful with a series of attacks by their military against targets in Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority which have killed Palestinian civilians, including two children on Monday.

Mr Arafat himself has come under sustained pressure amid claims that he is not doing enough to stem the activities of extremists.

Mr Duncan Smith said that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were "not interested in peace".

Zero tolerance

"They demand nothing less than the destruction of Israel and all that it stands for," he said.

He said that Israel had the right to defend itself and that the Palestinian Authority had to show that it would "no longer tolerate terrorism".

"More than that, it must never again allow terrorists to justify their monstrous acts in the name of the Palestinian cause," he said.

Mr Duncan Smith also turned his attention to the wider battle against terrorism in the wake of the 11 September attacks in the US.

"Our fight against terror must not stop in Afghanistan. The days of safe havens for terrorists are over. No longer can we appease or turn a blind eye to regimes that support terrorism."

Discipline required

He went on to describe Israel as a "lighthouse of democracy in a troubled region".

Turning to the domestic agenda Mr Duncan Smith emphasised the need for his party to have discipline if it was to have a chance at gaining power.

"Our party must once again be disciplined and determined to return to government.

"We must inspire people to believe that we are on their side our policy must be about helping people to achieve."


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