Conservative lawmakers in the UK are calling out the country’s own state broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), for sticking to its legacy guidelines to not call attacks on Israel “terrorism,” despite recent developments.
The BBC has resisted calls to identify Hamas as a terrorist organization in the wake of Saturday’s assault that killed over 1,000 Israelis and injured thousands more, sticking to legacy terms like “militants”, “fighters” despite the major step-change in levels of Hamas violence. Individual BBC reports have featured the word “terrorist,” but only where directly quoting the remarks of others.
A BBC article published on Tuesday titled “What is Hamas,” for instance, calls them a “Palestinian militant group.”
Since the latest attacks, several figures from the UK’s governing Conservative Party have come forward to criticize the broadcaster for skirting reality.
The Prime Minister said, “This is not a time for equivocation, we should call it out for what it is,” and Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick addressed a demonstration by members of the Jewish community outside Downing Street on Monday, chastising the BBC for failing to “say it as it is.” The Daily Telegraph reports Jenrick told those gathering that: “Let us be clear what the world has witnessed. These weren’t as some in the media say militants or fighters. They were terrorists. They were murderers.”
He also called for those who “valorized” Hamas, which is a banned political organization in the United Kingdom, to be prosecuted.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly confronted a BBC broadcaster live on air: “Hamas, which is a terrorist organization – I just want to make sure you recognize that in your reporting, these are not militants, they are terrorists.” Tory Member of Parliament Alicia Kearns hit similar notes on Monday when she said: “The BBC must stop describing Hamas as a “militant group” or “gunmen” or acting surprised when we call them terrorists.”
Even a left-wing Labour Member of Parliament spoke out, remarking in the Daily Mail that “There’s a responsibility on all the media. These people are terrorists. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Language matters.”