'Today' programme bulletin - need to mention full facts
Mr Kevin Marsh
Editor, Today Programme
BBC Radio 4
6 Jan 03
Dear Mr Marsh,
We have received a number of complaints from British Muslims who were listening to this morning's Today programme on Radio 4. They said that at around 7.09am there was an item about yesterday's twin bombings in Tel Aviv which have killed at least 22 innocent people (Israelis and non-Israeli immigrants) and wounded over a hundred others.
Our correspondents say that no mention was made of the fact that at least 69 Palestinians (including women and children) have been killed by the Israeli army since 1st December 2002. As these killings have been on a daily basis they do not usually appear as a leading item in your news reports. Indeed, since the second Intifada began in September 2000 over 1800 Palestinians have been killed and over 40,000 wounded, while the number of Israeli dead is around 700. We believe it is important that these facts should be pointed out in your reports because they show that the killings are not just perpetrated by one side. Eleven Palestinian children were killed by Israeli soldiers in December alone, as well as a 95-year-old woman - the oldest victim to date.
The Today reporter then went on apparently to discuss what sort of 'response' could now be expected from the Israelis to this latest tragedy. We are concerned about the use of this word 'response' as it implies that the Palestinians are 'initiating' the attacks while the Israelis are merely 'responding' to them. This is a travesty of the actual situation which is that the Israelis have been illegally occupying Palestinian land for over 35 years now, while several generations of Palestinian children have known nothing other than occupation, humiliation, rotting refugee camps and poverty. It is this illegal occupation of Palestinian land by the Israelis which lies at the heart of this conflict. Palestinian attacks on Israelis are hardly ever described in your reports as 'responses' to Israeli killings and assassinations. We believe this same concern about the use of terminology by the BBC and other news organisations was also highlighted by the Glasgow University Media Group's report last year about the media's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Of course, it is possible that these listeners were mistaken about what they had heard, in which case, I would like to apologise in advance.
Mr Inayat Bunglawala
The Muslim Council of Britain