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The BBC’s John Simpson

My previous blog post issued two questions to the CNN and BBC about their language choice which refuses to call out terrorism for what it is.

John Simpson, the veteran BBC reporter, whose journalism I otherwise greatly respect, wrote later the same day an article on exactly this point. It is available on the BBC website.

As the UK Jewish Community has been leading the outcry against the BBC’s language choice, his article is implicitly written to them as the audience, in whole or in part.

In that light, there are two points that seem somewhat incredible about Mr Simpson’s unfortunate article:

  1. Mr Simpson seems to take apparent pride in saying that for the Nazis, the BBC refrained from calling them ‘evil’ or ‘wicked’, even as he lectures the victims’ descendants. To call this ‘cold comfort’ would seem to be somewhat of an understatement.
  2. Mr Simpson goes on to make the kind of false equivalence that makes Jewish people’s stomach turn as it is what drives so much of the antisemitism that flares at times like these – conflating deliberate premeditated attacks on Israeli civilians with Israel’s response in self-defence against organisations that commit those attacks while deliberately hiding behind civilian populations.

Few other points;

3. Mr Simpson argues that the BBC does not want to use the language of terrorism because it ‘does not want to take sides’. In that context, it is hard to understand how Mr Simpson himself can then state that, though the Nazis could not be labelled by the BBC as evil or wicked, they could be labelled ‘the enemy’. Surely what could be more taking sides than that?

4. Mr Simpson argues that the BBC wants ‘the audience to make up their own minds after being presented with the facts’. A cursory website search on the BBC’s coverage of the Bataclan, Manchester Arena and ISIS shows repeated instances of the BBC’s references to ‘terror attacks’, ‘terror victims’ and ‘terror trials’. It seems the BBC’s own mind has been made up with these cases, does it not, Mr Simpson?

About the Author
Adam Gross is a strategist that specialises in solving complex problems in the international arena. Adam made aliyah with his family in 2019 to live in northern Israel.
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