Something different from the BBC (& Black freedom movements meet in Israel)

September 14, 2006


1. Black freedom movements meet in Israel
2. Finally, the BBC covers Israeli dead
3. No more “freedom fighters” on ABC
4. “Cancel Israel” stickers on London buses
5. Comedian apologizes for comments

[Note by Tom Gross]


In today’s Hebrew edition of Yediot Ahronot (on page 14), there is an amazing picture: a grandson of Nelson Mandela and a grandson of Martin Luther King meet for the first time and shake hands. They met in the northern Israeli town of Tiberias at the hotel of the Scottish Church. The former is on an official visit. Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee, was recently hit by Hizbullah rockets.


Here is some news with a difference. Amnesty International has accused Hizbullah of war crimes for targeting Israeli civilians.

And the BBC ran this development this morning as their main item on the front of their world service home page, and on air on the world service. It links to this page:

By the time you read this, the home page may have changed. But it was top of the world service home page ( at 02:15 GMT, 03:15 UK, on Thursday, September 14, 2006, although NOT on the top of the BBC Arabic home page at that time or since (

Furthermore, in the Arabic version, the BBC added changes that make the article more sympathetic to Hizbullah, adding some untrue anti-Israel propaganda comments from Hizbullah MP Hassan Fadlallah (

In their English language (but not in their Arabic language) article, the statistics for Lebanese civilian and military dead have been reduced by the BBC to 1000. BBC correspondents and news announcers have previously (and wrongly) said 1400 Lebanese died.

Of course, we shouldn’t confuse today’s story with the still very poor coverage the BBC and Amnesty gives Israel elsewhere. By lunchtime today, BBC news was back to its old tricks, claiming that 140 Israelis were killed by Hizbullah rather than the 161 documented Israeli dead. The BBC wouldn’t reduce the numbers of British murdered in the July 7, 2005 London bomb attacks. (Or perhaps they would?)

For my previous criticism of BBC coverage, see The media war against Israel.

(The Guardian and other papers continue to make figures up concerning Lebanese dead. Last weekend The Guardian again ran a large photo of Qana The Guardian has nothing else to write about and said “more than 50 people died” there at Israeli hands. This is even though it is several weeks since the Lebanese Red Cross, the Lebanese government, Hizbullah and other western newspapers acknowledged that no more than 28 people died there.)


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has decided to drop the term “freedom fighters” from its style guide when referring to Hamas and Hizbullah terrorists.

John Cameron, the ABC’s head of news, announced the changes to the style guide last week. Cameron reportedly described the old reference as “a note of caution and education rather than instruction.”

The change follows Cameron’s admission during a Senate Estimates Committee hearing in May that in certain circumstances, Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad could justifiably be classed as “terrorists”.

Michael Ronaldson, a liberal Australian Senator commented that he was “pleased that the appalling failure of ABC journalists to label terrorists as terrorists appears to be coming to an end... We must not be afraid to label such acts as terrorism. We must not be afraid to describe such acts in moral terms as evil.”

In the past I have criticized ABC’s anti-Israel coverage so this change is welcome. Some Australian Jews have argued that the marked increase in anti-Semitic attacks in Australia recently has in part been the result of slanted coverage of the Middle East by ABC and other media.

Groups representing the Australian victims of terrorist attacks said the change in the style book was “a step in the right direction but not much more than that. The change to the editorial guidelines does not represent a full admission that people who target civilians for political motives are terrorists.”


Stickers have been found on traditional red double-decker buses in London calling on readers to “cancel Israel” to achieve “peace in the Middle East”.

According to the sticker the “current crisis” was “started with the kidnap of some democratically elected Hamas (members) and the killing of 8 Palestinians picnicking on the beach.”

The stickers also accuse the media of “giving a false impression” of the Middle East conflict. The words “cancel Israel” are written on the middle of the sticker in a large font.

The sticker can be seen here.

The accusation that Israel killed 8 Palestinians on a Gaza beach earlier this year has been discredited, after shrapnel taken from an injured child was found by forensic experts not to have come from an Israeli shell. There is also no record of the IDF firing at the beach at the time the explosion took place. The media have failed to report this properly. (See Human Rights Watch admits Israel likely not responsible for Gaza beach deaths.)

The phrase “cancel Israel” differs from the usual terminology of Israel’s detractors, who tend to recommend that Israel be either “destroyed” or “wiped off the map.”

There has been a marked increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the UK recently. (See Pinocchio, Tom Sawyer and Heidi convert to Islam in Turkey.)


As a follow up to the dispatch Hollywood stars blast Nasrallah, but Spielberg, Streisand and others remain silent (Aug. 20, 2006), Australian comedian Steve Hughes has apologized for controversial remarks he made at the recent Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

During his routine Hughes joked, “I want to kill that f****** Jew Richard Perle.” Hughes has now admitted that his choice of words “could cause offense to Jews.”

Several comics made anti-Semitic remarks at this year’s Edinburgh Festival. Hughes has been the only one to issue an apology, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which ended on Aug. 28, sells more than 1.5 million tickets annually.

-- Tom Gross

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