"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Friday, September 08, 2006

Kidnap/Capture Again

The BBC Director of News responds and I do the same.

[Read from the bottom up]

Ms. Boaden,

Incidentally, the BBC's use of the term 'kidnapping' in relation to the capture of Israeli soldiers was not the main point of my complaint.

I was simply asking why you had not implemented the editorial policy you refer to in your email. Under what authority to Israeli soldiers 'arrest' Palestinian officials?


Ms Boaden,

Thank you for responding. Here are two examples I have just found of the BBC using the word 'kidnap' to describe the capture of Israeli soldiers:


BBC News Online

There are presumably more. Also, a cursory glance at the BBC website reveals that the BBC has published numerous quotes by various people which again refer to the capture as a kidnapping.

I had seen the entry on the blog, however if the editorial policy is not strictly applied, what use is it?


Thank you for your email, but it is not right to say that the BBC has continually used the word "kidnapping" in relation to the Israeli soldiers. You may be interested in this entry on the Editors' Blog setting out our position that we prefer the word "capture":

Editor's Blog

Yours sincerely
pp Helen Boaden
Director, BBC News

Dear Ms Boaden,

A BBC TV news segment earlier today reported that Israeli forces had arrested the Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister, Nasser al-Shaer. The BBC website now states that he is presently being detained by Israeli forces.

Under what authority do Israeli forces act within Palestinian territories? The term 'arrest' implies that this action is in some way legal. Nasser as-Shaer is not simply being 'detained' he is being illegally detained.

I live in Ireland and noticed a similar pacification of language with regard to the capture of Israeli soldiers by Palestinian and Lebanese militants. I wrote to the RTE News Editor with respect to this issue: "Israeli detention assures prisoners no more rights than Palestinian captivity. Why does Israel 'detain' and Palestine 'kidnap '?"

He responded:

"Fair point. We have put a message in our general mail to this effect."

The BBC has continually referred to the capture of Israeli soldiers by Palestinian and Lebanese militants as 'kidnappings', yet Israel's captures are referred to as 'seizures' and 'arrests'. Could you please explain this disparity?

Yours sincerely,