Is ‘Palestinian’ a sufficient descriptor for Hamas? Friday, we looked at media coverage of a new translation of a video from 2010 that was released by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaking against Jews as “the descendants of apes and pigs.” One of the outlets to cover the story, albeit a few weeks after the release of the video, was the BBC.

One section of the BBC report, which has since been corrected, read:

The controversy erupted after the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) translated and released Arabic footage of interviews Mr Morsi gave in 2010, as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the clip from Palestinian broadcaster Al-Quds TV, Mr Morsi referred to Jewish settlers as “occupiers of Palestine” and “warmongers”.

He called for a “military resistance in Palestine against these Zionist criminals assaulting the land of Palestine and Palestinian”.

Of course, Morsi was not referring simply to settlers as occupiers. It has since been corrected to read:

In the clip from Palestinian broadcaster Al-Quds TV, Mr Morsi referred to Zionists, the term most commonly used by the Muslim Brotherhood to refer to Israelis or Jews, as “occupiers of Palestine” and “warmongers”.

It’s good to run this correction but it’s odd that the BBC changed what Morsi said to begin with. There is no need (nor any other journalistic reason) to downplay the comments to make them more palatable — or otherwise not be precise about the rhetoric Morsi used. It’s patronizing and bizarre. Far better, it seems, to follow the New York Times model of accurately quoting Morsi (although there’s no reason to wait a few weeks until public pressure to report the news grows so much) and explaining the context.

But I have another question.

Is it best to refer to Al-Quds TV simply as a Palestinian broadcaster? Why not mention that it is owned and operated by Hamas, the Islamist movement that governs Gaza with sharia? A shoot-off of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, the group is designated by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Is this not noteworthy?

And yes, I still hope that some media outlet will actually put Morsi’s comments in their religious context and not just their political context.

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  • Dave

    Western journalism often notes when a TV broadcaster is “state-run” and will occasionally mention when that state TV is a monopoly. So there is precedent for a more precise description of Al-Quds TV.

  • Ira Rifkin

    Al-Quds TV is an official mouthpiece and every official mouthpiece should be labeled as such and whose words it is mouthing. Plus, in this case Hamas needs to be identified to distinguish it from the PA or the reader may be left with the impression that Al-Quds reflects Palstinian-wide thinking rather than just one faction.

    • sari

      Yes, Al-Quds should be identified for what it is. Which begs the unasked question: will there be one Palestinian state or two should the Palestinian dream of statehood come to fruition? Nothing indicates that inhabitants of Gaza will acquiesce to the P.A. or those in the West Bank to Hamas (though many see the latter scenario as more likely).

  • Mike

    Good points, author!