BBC Stands Accused

Dear Honest Reporting Member, has never issued a communique prior to a story’s publication. Until now — thanks to some alert HonestReporting members who heard about this story.

On Sunday, June 17, BBC’s “Panorama” will broadcast a show entitled, “The Accused.” The show will focus on the massacres in the Beirut refugee camps Sabra and Shatilla in 1982. Panorama touts itself BBC’s “flagship television current affairs programme.”

From the following BBC promo, it is not hard to figure out who is “accused” and sitting in the dock: Ariel Sharon.

BBC: “Nearly 20 years ago the man who is now Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, sent Lebanese militiamen into the Palestine refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla. When they left 36 hours later at least 800 people lay dead after a rampage of murder, torture and rape. The massacre provoked international outrage. [Sharon] has maintained that he could not have foreseen the danger of a massacre in the camps. Fergal Keane investigates this claim, and talks to key witnesses and survivors of the massacre. In the light of developments in international war crimes prosecutions the programme asks whether the evidence should lead to indictments for what happened in the camps.”

The promo can be found at the following website, and you can watch a live stream of the show online on June 17: encourages members to watch the show. If you find the promo and/or the show biased, send letters to:

The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, cut-and-paste the critique below.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

========== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ============

To the Editors of Panorama:

I wish to protest BBC’s campaign to accuse Israel’s Prime Minister Sharon for responsibility for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres.

– An exhaustive Israeli commission found that Sharon bore no direct responsibility for the actions of Christian militiamen.

– At the time, Israeli political and military leaders, including Sharon, reiterated on numerous occasions to the leaders of the Christian forces the necessity to avoid civilian casualties.

– The commander of Christian forces who carried out the Sabra and Shatilla massacre was a Lebanese named Elie Hobeika. According to the book, “From Israel to Damascus,” written by Hobeika’s bodyguard Robert Maroun Hatem, Hobeika was a Syrian double agent, and the massacre was aimed at discrediting Israel and Ariel Sharon. Hobeika and other Lebanese perpetrators were never brought to trial. [Details of the book can be found at:]

I respectfully suggest that instead, Panorama should focus its cameras on the contemporary criminal Yasir Arafat.

– Arafat is an unrepentant terrorist, who has directed some of the worst and bloodiest acts of terror over the last 30 years, up to today.

– Arafat’s corruption is legendary. His private holdings are reported to run into billions of pounds/dollars. After wreaking havoc on Jordan and Lebanon, Arafat and his Tunis cronies are undermining local Palestinian societies and democratic development in Gaza and the West Bank.

– Arafat was responsible for the turmoil in Lebanon in 1982 that led to Israel’s attack at terrorist bases.

– Today, Arafat is responsible for the bloodshed and violence that he unleashed after rejecting Israel’s far-reaching offers for peace.

Finally, I question BBC’s choice of veteran correspondent Fergal Keane to present the show. Keane has little Middle East experience. His award-winning reports have come from Asia and South Africa where he reported on atrocities such as the genocidal massacres in Rwanda. Assigning “The Accused” to Keane indicates where BBC wanted to go with the story.