Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Nice but dim

The BBC has presented Middle Eastern issues from a predominantly Arabist perspective for several decades, but when people observe the religiously fuelled turmoil that's erupting throughout the Arab world, the idea that the troubles behind the “Israel Palestine conflict” may somehow be related must surely occur to them sooner or later.  

The appointment of Raffi Berg as Tarik Kafala’s replacement as head of the BBC News website’s Middle East desk set off a reflexive response from the usual pro-Palestinian organisations. Events have shown that ‘pro Palestinian’ advocacy is actually ‘anti-Israel’ advocacy. The plight of the Palestinians is all but forgotten in the rush to hurt Israel with boycotts and bannings.

I imagine someone Googled “Raffi Berg” to see what dirt the wonderful worldwide web could unearth the moment the appointment was announced  

Lo and behold; up came a passing reference on this humble blog to two comments that had been posted on the Biased-BBC blog, apparently by Raffi himself, but with the handle ‘Soothsayer’. They concerned the phrasing and wording the BBC was using at the time of Operation Pillar of Cloud and dated November 22nd 2012

Why, one might have asked, use a moniker while at the same time signing off with full contact details? But such is the interweb. People do strange things there.

The comments in question appeared to be strangely and uncharacteristically sympathetic to the detractors of the BBC that inhabit the Biased-BBC blog. Mr. Berg actually appeared to be seeking the views of ‘Biased-BBC’s’ commentariat . Whatever next!
 “Can we please use the following form of words.....?” Mr B appears to ask. 

As the BBC reputedly regards  Biased-BBC as a hate site, and accordingly dismisses the commentariat as mouth frothing bigots and racists, this turn of events seemed most peculiar. One was bound to wonder about the credibility of those comments, but the fact that BBC employees had indeed engaged with the site in the distant past combined with my own stupidity and my natural generosity of spirit made me give them the benefit of the doubt. 
 However, if the whole thing was in fact a kind of whistle-blowing act on the part of some sneaky third party who had decided to post a couple of the BBC’s internal e-mails on a forum belonging to the opposition, (using the handle ‘soothsayer’) the whole thing would actually make sense. 

“Ah, I see” said the blind man, having missed the blindingly obvious. ” Now it all falls into place.” 

Some unidentified BBC persona, perhaps resentful at being advised to report Operation Pillar of Cloud in a fair and impartial manner rather than with the usual partisan anti-Israel  twist, “leaked” the e-mails by posting them verbatim on Biased-BBC, confusingly and mischievously omitting to clarify that they were in fact BBC internal memos.

So it’s likely that the posting wasn’t after all, Raffi Berg reaching out to the mouth-frothers, or in fact anything much to do with Raffi Berg - more’s the pity; instead it was either......: 

a) an anonymous attempt to reassure we Zionists that our concerns were being taken seriously, or 

b)  an anonymous attempt to insinuate that Zionist tentacles had reached the innards of the BBC, and reveal to the world at large what the wicked Zionist lobby had been up to.

If a) surely Soothsayer would have included a brief explanatory introduction such as: “See? we really do care what you think, here’s an internal memo to prove it.....”
So the more likely speculation is b) the tentacles.

Whatever it was, my somewhat obscure reference must have popped up on Google, and thus a molehill become a small mountain. One thing their hysterical reaction to Raffi Berg’s appointment shows clearly and unequivocally; some people get carried away with their own zeal. 

Tarik Rafala did make some attempt to appear impartial, and I daresay Raffi Berg will do likewise. We’ll just have to wait and see whether there’s any discernible  difference in tone on the BBC’s website 'going forward.'
 I can now sit back and marvel at my own stupidity for believing the unbelievable.

P.S. The author of the piece about Raffi Berg’s alleged pro-Israel bias that has been so widely disseminated on the internet is Amena Saleem.  The antisemitic comments it has attracted are staggeringly vicious and racist.
Amena is described as ‘a journalist and activist’ working closely with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in the UK.

Amena Saleem; sour and sad

In the picture she looks sour,  yet rather sad.  What a shame that people like this devote themselves to such a soul-destroying cause as the destruction of the Jewish state.
She sees Israel as an abomination, and Jews as inherently evil, instead of accepting that the Palestinians are the architects of their own misfortune and that Israeli Jews could easily be their salvation.

If people like Amena started appreciating Israel for the opportunities and prosperity its creativity and dynamism could bring to all the inhabitants of the region there would be no need for that sour face or all that bitter resentment. 

At the very least, by simply recognising  Israel’s right to exist and renouncing all violence against it, she and her co-PSCers could pack up their troubles in their old kit bags and smile smile smile.


  1. Lord knows why Soothsayer leaked those e-mails to B-BBC. It's all very mysterious.

    Presumably he/she worked with Raffi Berg at the BBC website at the time. (Perhaps still does). How did Soothsayer come by those e-mails?

    Was it done to embarrass Raffi Berg? Giving his name and contact details doesn't suggest a friendly motive.

    But why not post them somewhere like the Electronic Intifada? That would have guaranteed the leaker/hacker an immediate storm of protest. Pro-Israel Biased BBC is an odd place to have posted them, if that was Soothsayer's intention.

    I very much approve of your sentiments at the end of this post, Sue. If only!

  2. Christopher Scopes4 September 2013 at 14:47

    A very interesting article but I disagree with your comments that Amena Salem lokks sours and sad., I think she is quite beautiful, it is just her disposition that is sour and sad. Maybe she just needs a good chap.