Same Mistake

Several websites, including B-BBC (open thread H/T Piggy Kosher) have mentioned the case of “The popular Tunisian singer Saleem Bakkoush” who has been forced to cancel what seems to have been a cherished long-awaited performance at a prestigious festival, all because his fellow Tunisians discovered he had once performed at a synagogue. Which is enough to render him persona non grata in Tunisia.
He’s not alone. Pity the poor Tunisian singer who chanted “Long Live Netanyahu!”

That would be because of the antisemitism by the way, in case you didn’t quite grasp that from the article by BBC World Service Middle East editor Magdi Abdelhadi.

This BBC person has previous. In response to a complaint in 2009 the BBC had to remind the middle east team of the need to explain this ‘situation’ clearly, should it arise again. Well, it has ariss.
This ‘situation’ as blogged by Notasheep, and here.
From a comment by ‘anonymous’ from the Point of No Return Blog:

“I emailed MAH last night to ask why his article was framed purely in terms of the anti-Israel, rather than also the anti-semitic, nature of the incident (..I also asked ) why he mentioned at the end that most Jews “left” the Arab world decades ago, since we both knew that most of them were forced out or fled for their lives.

Disappointingly, he responded to say that in the Arab world the two issues are conflated (which didn’t explain why he did the same); that you can’t talk in terms of European antisemitism in the Arab (…) and that while some Jews fled, others left and anyway, that wasn’t relevant to the article […]I found his response – particularly around the extent and nature of Arab antisemitism – deeply disappointing, given his role at the BBC and the previous censure from the BBC’s ECU following his report on the Refugee conference last year which ploughed basically the same furrow – life not so bad for Jews in the Arab world, no serious mention of antisemitism, all about Israel not Jews. “

“bataween” replies:

“It was indeed Magdi Abdelhadi who was censured by the BBC’s ECU for saying that Jews were ‘well integrated’ into Arab lands when historically they were constrained as dhimmis
Life Not Hunky Dory For Jews in Arab Countries It is clear as day that this instance of the singer being banned is driven by pure (Arab) antisemitism, as you rightly argue, Anon, but MAH continues to fudge and dodge the question.
Following the London Jewish Refugees conference in 2008, the BBC promised to do more on the subject, but we are still waiting. Meanwhile the articles on the Palestinian Nakba continue to pour forth from the BBC, without the slightest attempt at balance.”

An important article the BBC should read. The Nakba Obsession by Sol Stern

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13 Responses to Same Mistake

  1. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Time for another official complaint, directly to the Trust and OfCom.


  2. Pounce says:

    Well that explains a lot of bias against Israel that the bBC tries to pass off as news. I mean I’ve just read this article from the Gulf times about Lebanon , if you should read it then compare it with the bBC  infantile attempt. The worrying thing is the Gulf times is from an actual Islamic perspective from an agency in the region.  Combine that with how the new website spends more time than the Daily Mail reporting Celeb news just shows how the once great bBC has fallen.


  3. Tee Printer says:

    An Israeli forum has also picked up on this and complained;

    see above link, complete with reply from BBC.


    • Grant says:


      Thanks for that link. I love the last bit of Magdi’s reply , in effect, that Arab anti-semitism is different from European anti-semitism. So, that’s OK then.
      Where do the BBC find these buffoons ?


    • sue says:

      Yes, I suppose one has to be grateful for small crumbs – they got a reply from the BBC.

      But the reply was far from satisfactory.

      “While it’s true that the Tunisian singer was performing at synagogue, I believe that what we are seeing here is a result of the close identification between what’s Israeli and what’s Jewish in Tunisian and Arab public opinion. “
      This reveals what everyone strains to deny, namely  that antiZionism is nearly always a cloak for antisemitism. Here they’re pretending  it’s only the case amongst primitive folk; nice try, but not good enough.
      He develops this argument further:

      Given the widely held perception that Israel is oppressing the Palestinians, most Arabs don’t make a distinction – wrongly in my opinion – between the state of Israel and Jews.”

      So Israel IS oppressing the Palestinians, but we, unlike the primitives, don’t hold it against the Jews?

      “On the issue of anti-Semitism. I think it is inaccurate to describe the complex relationship between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East (at times good at others very bad) in terms borrowed from European history. Hostility/rivalry between the two groups in the Middle East has its own roots and manifestation and should not be equated simply with European anti-Semitism, which is a different phenomenon.”

      Why not? But more worryingly, the reply completely fails to address the BBC’s habitual glossing over of the ruthless expulsion of Jews from Arab countries like Tunisia. Yet they continually promote a histrionic representation of the nakba as per the so-called Palestinian narrative. Not to mention that BBC neglects to compare the very different fortunes of the two refugee groups. Namely that the Jewish refugees were welcomed and absorbed into Israel while the Arab refugees remained stateless to be used as a festering grievance against Israel.
      This is how the BBC article ends:
      “Despite the strong support for Palestinians in Tunisia, a sizeable Jewish community has stayed in the country, while the bulk of Jews of Arab origin left the region some 50 years ago.”


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      The BBC still misses the point, obviously.  They condone the idea that all Jews everywhere must suffer discrimination or worse unless they denounce Israel.  No other ethnic or religious group is required to suffer for the deeds (real or imagined) of their brethren elsewhere.  In fact, the BBC has made an effort to explain how certain other ethnic or religious groups must not be discriminated against for those exact reasons.  But never mind, Jews are different.


  4. Ojala says:

    “Sizeable’ is hardly the word to describe 2,000 Jews still living in Tunisia (mainly on the island of Djerba where the old synagogue is the Number One tourist attraction) when the community was once 100,000- strong.  Abdelhadi is living in denial if he believes that antisemitism in Arab lands is European, but this is the BBC line – Arab and Jews lived in nirvana before Israel was born. 
    Thanks to Sue for a great post.


  5. Umbongo says:

    The pathetic element in the BBC’s assertion that in some way Arab anti-semitism is not as bad as – or is “different” from – European antisemitism is that it seeks to deny the patently obvious.  You only have to consider the question “would you rather be a Jew in any Arab/Moslem country or an Arab/Moslem in Israel?”  No-one – Tim Franks excepted (although, strangely, he is based in Jerusalem, not Ramallah or Amman or Gaza) – would wish to live as a practising (or even non-practising) Jew in Tunisia unless they had very deep roots in that country – and even then . . .

    It might have been that pre-WW1 Jews were accepted as a part of the melange which was then the Turkish Empire.  However, according to the implied BBC narrative, the Jews morphed into Jew-Zionists and by using their traditional voodoo powers on Arthur Balfour created the political conditions to “occupy” Palestine (a paradise of tolerance and productive husbandry according to the narrative – or a poverty-stricken primitive shithole according to the British soldiers condemned to live there for the 30 years of the protectorate) and, horror of horrors, paid out good money to willing sellers for land to settle on.  So the Jews of Tunisia – and the rest of Arabia – have only really got themselves to blame and the BBC is not prepared to waste any sympathy on them.  Worse, and this is really unforgiveable, Israel is an economic and military success.

    OTOH – unless you count winning the lottery (or finding oil as it is known in the Middle East) – those lands ruled by Moslems are conspicuous by their economic failure and – oil or not -endemic corruption.  Will the BBC tell you this?  You might as well ask when Humphrys or Naughtie or anyone on the Today roster will vote Conservative?


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      The Narrative is that the Jews most certainly used their voodoo powers to influence Balfour – in the form of Rothschild’s money.  Ask any BBC employee working in the Middle East, and they’ll tell you.


  6. piggy kosher says:

    Thanks for picking up on this Sue, and creating a thread.


  7. ROSE says:

    Oh! I seem to have managed to crawl though the ‘wormhole’ and into this forum.  On the subject, a friend of mine, (a lecturer in a college of further education) relayed this story.
    As an exercise she and her colleagues devised a study and comment programme on histrorical diary keeping and thought that an excellent example would be that of Anne Frank.  After the exercise, the Muslem students were puzzled.  When asked why, they said ” But she was a Jew of course she should have been killed!”  
    You can imagine how that stunned the pc college lecturers!  London in 2007 – wonderful eh!   I’m not ROSE by the way.   


  8. piggy kosher says:

    Thats the appalling reality. 1.7 million immigrant racists with anti semitism hard wired via their evil pseudo- religion.