What’s in a Name

When Melanie Phillips details a specific instance of biased BBC reporting, there’s nothing more to add than to direct B-BBC readers straight there, and to the follow-up piece.

Denis MacEoin is well-known for writing letters defending Israel against defamation, and his letter to the BBC and the reply he received from Tarik Kafala the BBC’s online editor are just worth an extra mention here.
Dr. MacEoin wrote to the BBC to express his alarm and disgust that a ‘Viewpoint’ contribution on the BBC Website gives a platform to someone who regards returning Palestinian ex- prisoners as heroes. Heroes solely because they murdered Israeli civilians. He feels, as many of us do, that this implies tacit approval on the part of the BBC.

Mr Kafala, who “was appointed as Middle East editor of BBC News Online in order to add extra authority to our website” (extra authority to……. Jeremy Bowen?) has form when it comes to answering complaints about the BBC’s coverage of matters M.E, notably relating to Israel. From here, circa 2005

“I emailed the BBC to complain about this outrageous misrepresentation of Judaism. I eventually got an extraordinary reply back, from which this is the key extract, from a Mr Tarik Kafala, the editor of the BBC News website on which I had originally picked up Tim’s report.”

This time Mr. Kafala justifies his editorial decision to publish these quotations because he believes another ‘Viewpoint’ article provides that vital balance. But the article is by someone who disapproves of the prisoner exchange altogether. So on the one hand we have an anti Israel ‘viewpoint’, and on the other hand, or should that be on the same hand, another anti Israel ‘viewpoint’.

I can only assume Mr Kafala thinks balance was achieved because one ‘viewpointee’ was a Palestinian, and the other was an Israeli.

“These two articles were intended to allow and[sic] Israeli and a Palestinian to explain in detail their views and feelings about the prisoner releases. Each article is highly opinionated, personal and partisan. They are both clearly labelled as ‘viewpoints’ ”

But what about the context? Presumably the website is intended to educate and inform people. Who, apart from Israel-bashers, would want to read “how many Palestinians feel about the issue of prisoners in Israeli jails and about the acts of violence carried out by them against Israelis in Israel and the occupied territories.” even though “Such views are widely held by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza,” without reading, in the same article, or by a link, why they were imprisoned or how they were treated in prison, or to consider these things in comparison to Shalit’s ordeal?
Does the absence of context imply tacit approval? And why is it “important to represent them as a means of explaining the importance of the events we are reporting on the news.” without representing the views of someone who understands the situation from all perspectives, or who is sympathetic towards the dilemma Israel faces when dealing with fanatical Islamists such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad?
As for finding out about “the acts of violence carried out by them against Israelis in Israel and the occupied territories.” I see little or no evidence of that in this web article. The opposite is more the case.
An article by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes represents the Israeli perspective in the BBC’s inimicable fashion. He says:

“However, in the case of Gilad Shalit, it has always been clear that he was alive. His Hamas captors had taken him for the very reason of doing a prisoner swap.
Hamas also knew very well just how much Israel would eventually be willing to pay to get him back.
And that is why, despite the price Israel has now paid, 80% of Israelis are solidly behind this deal.”

Firstly, no, it has not always been clear that he was alive. Hamas’s reasons for kidnapping him were no assurances of that whatsoever. The last prisoner swap hostages were returned in coffins.

Shalit was kept in isolation, with no humanitarian aid at all. And if, as Wingfield-Hayes says, 80% of Israelis really were behind this deal, why didn’t we get a page of their “viewpoints” as well? As “a means of explaining the importance of events we are reporting on the news”, as Tarik Kafala is so keen to justify publishing his ‘heroes’ article.

I don’t want to leap to the conclusion that someone with a name like Tarik Kafala would automatically be prejudiced against Israel. That would make me the same as Richard “I have developed a habit, when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it” Ingrams. We mustn’t be hasty. But in my cursory research (Google of course) I couldn’t find anything to justify the BBC’s statement that appointing him as their Middle east editor of BBC news online would bring extra authority to their website. What was his expertise?
It appears that by labelling something ‘viewpoint’ one can get away with publicising any views whatsoever. Any views other than criticising Islam I daresay.

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35 Responses to What’s in a Name

  1. Abandon Ship! says:

    Unfortunately, in today’s climate, referring people to an article by Melanie Phillips just provokes a knowing smirk from Beeboids and their comrades. Oh! an article by Melanie Phillips? Say no more. Smirk. Guffaw. Smirk.


    • hippiepooter says:

      Who gives a flying tinker’s how Planet Gramsci reacts to Mel P.  Those who are not, literally, hell bent on subversion of our nation’s democracy consider her a pricelss gem.


  2. Jeremy Clarke says:

    I did notice the two Viewpoints on the BBC website. The Israeli version was penned by the father of a girl killed by a suicide bomber so it was no real surprise that he was bitterly opposed to the prisoner release. But, as Sue points out, nearly 80 per cent – according to polls – of Israelis supported the Gilad Shalit deal, so Ron Kehrmann’s view was a minority one, albeit one informed by terrible tragedy.

    Now, I don’t if the BBC chose Kehrmann to add poignancy to the news story or deliberately to try and depict Israelis as truculent and dogmatic. However, if the Beeb wished to sound out the opinions of an ‘average Frenchman’ it would probably not seek out a Front National voter*.

    Just saying.

    * And no, I am not comparing the views of Ron Kehrmann to those of the FN.


  3. john in cheshire says:

    I assume that, by his name, Mr Kafala is a muslim. If so, then that’s all the explanation I need.


    • John Anderson says:

      Tarik is a common Arab first name.   100 to one he is Arab and Muslim.


      • John Anderson says:

        Sorry.  1000 or more to one


        • Grant says:

          Yes, it is a muslim name meaning  ” the road, pathway” . There is also a religious order  ” tarikli “, in Turkish.  You will find Tariqs all the way to Tashkent and beyond !  


  4. Demon1001 says:

    If they are so keen on publishing opinion pieces on the important issues of the day with no accompanying criticism, as long as there is a balancing article, when will they publish an article by Nick Griffin on immigration countered by one from Paddy “Everybody’s Welcome” Ashdown?  If they did that does anyone think, for one second, that they wouldn’t immediately qualify and attack Griffin’s piece!  That is such a feeble excuse it could be classified as an outright lie.


  5. Alfie Pacino says:

    All you need to know about their policy for reporting in the Middle East is contained here:

    Click to access bbcnews_middleeast_strategy.pdf

    Quote: Tarik Kafala has been appointed as Middle East editor of BBC News Online in order to add extra authority to our website.

    That’s okay then, is it?


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      I don’t recall the BBC stating that either Tim Franks or Katya Adler “added authority”.  Curious.  Of course two useful Jews have since left the region.


      • John Anderson says:

        Tim Franks continues to make reports from there.  There is one coming up this week.


    • DP111 says:

      I have as much faith in Tarik Afala’s credibilty on ME affairs, as I have on BBC’s current religious program director to be impartial on religious themes.


  6. cjhartnett says:

    Denis McEoin is a fine man.
    I`m proud to say that I knew him way back before he became known for his reasoned, academic and well argued defence of Israel.
    The liberal elite in academia and amongst the chattering classes of the Broadsheets-Beeb complex will therefore HATE him.
    Truth is that these days, I just won`t listen to the BBC on the Middle east…just you,other contributors we all know and love here at this blog…and the likes of Phillips, Shepherd etc.
    The BBC are truly despicable.


  7. ltwf1964 says:

    a wee bit off topic,but a goodie nonetheless


    It’s an armored booth you step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on your person. Israel sees this as a win-win situation for everyone, with none of this crap about racial profiling. It will also eliminate the costs of long and expensive trials. You’re in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion.
    Shortly thereafter, an announcement: “Attention to all standby passengers, we now have a seat available on flight 670 to London . Shalom!”


    wonder of al beeb will be featuring this on “Bang goes the theory”-the “science” show for total morons?

    they could do a special called “Bang goes the suicide bomber”


  8. Will says:

    The United States is cancelling funding for the UN cultural body Unesco after it voted to grant full membership to the Palestinians.
    It will likely cut all US funding for Unesco – $70m a year, or 22% of its annual budget.
    But Unesco members seemed to put politics before money, clearly voting in favour of the Palestinian bid. This was a failure of US power, one Palestinian official told me.


    Are they so relaxed about the slahing of their budget because they have been reassured that the bankrupt Brits & EU will make up the shortfall?


    • Alfie Pacino says:

      It is a failure of US power, the French voted yes and the UK vetoed. I don’tthink enough arms were twisted before this disastrous vote.
      The UN is becoming an irrelevance.


      • Derek Buxton says:

        Wasn’t it always?


      • David Preiser (USA) says:

        Alfie, you’re right about this being a failure of US power, I’m afraid.  Yet another Obamessiah fail on the international stage. The Olympics, Russian missiles, China, Libya, Iran, the list goes on.  The only thing He seems to have actually accomplished in foreign policy is the killing in cold blood of a bunch of Mohammedans – including a US citizen or two – via remote-controlled drone hits without due process of law.

        How’s that Hopey-Changey stuff working’ out for ya, BBC?


  9. pounce_uk says:

    Anybody else find it interesting how the bBC while ignoring the 7+ rockets launched into Israel today from Gaza. Still has this as the only story from the region:
    New Israeli air strike into Gaza after ‘ceasefire’

    Gee and we all wonder why Students and the like think that Israel can only be evil when terrorist apologists like the the bBC only promote the stories that their Terrorist masters tell them to air.

    The bBC, the propaganda arm of Islamic terrorism.


  10. deegee says:

    Remarkable. No biography for Tarik Kafala. He has been writing for the BBV for more than a decade yet there is nothing on him in Google, Facebook, LinkedIn nor on the BBC site. What is he  – a cover for James Bond? Given the state of the British economy Universal Export was no long convincing?


  11. George R says:

    Isn’t this INBBC’s Middle East Editor, TARIK KAFALA in a nutshell?

    1.) he’s a Muslim as part of a heavily Islamic staff of INBBC Middle East  contingent;

    2.) he supports the Muslim Brotherhood;

    3.) he opposes Israel.

    INBBC licencepayers are expected to accept, and pay for this INBBC propaganda.


    • John Anderson says:

      George R.

      It is worse than “he supports the Muslim Brotherhood”.

      We are FORCED to pay him to write articles whitewashing the MB.

      If he was employed at Al Jazeera,  you’d probably accept the whitewashing,  the careful editing of every single line so that the word “terrorist” is never ever used,  even in the most heinous cases.  By accept – I mean – you would not be paying for it.

      But at the BBC,  when the Middle East is a bloody tinderbox,  the whole of Britain is compelled to pay for biased reporting – backed by biased editing at the Bowen/Kafala level.

      And it is not limited to just Israel and the “Palestinans”.

      Kafala is top editor for anything on the BBC website dealing with Iraq,  where British troops were being murdered by sects inspired byt eh Muslim Brotherhood.   And on Iran – the clearest danger to the entire region,  fomenting strife and murder in Iraq,  in Israel and Lebanon via Hizbollah and Hamas,  and in the Gulf oil states.

      Kafala is in the position to spike any story he does not like – or to edit/sanitise the stories that have to be covered because they are big.   HE can check the headlines and warps them any way he chooses.  HE can check the text to ensure imbalance against Israel, the US,  the West. 

      We must be mad.    It is like putting a German in as editor prewar of the BBC’s coverage of bellicose Europe.


  12. Teddy Bear says:

    Where’s the BBC article telling the world about how the Palestinians are breaking the ceasefire brokered by the caring and concerned Egyptians?

    Rockets from Gaza hit Beersheba, Sderot, Sha’ar Hanegev

    The only article on the BBC Mid-East webpage is this one from a few days ago. 
    Israel strikes Gaza after ‘truce’

    Must be due to the cuts that the BBC can’t keep up with stuff.


  13. Biodegradable says:

    Rabbis meet to discuss Dutch bill on ritual slaughter

    What the heck is that photo about?

    I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure that it has nothing to do with ritual slaughter.


    • deegee says:

      I suspect the chickens are dropped in the holes after slaughter. Are chickens stunned before slaughter in a non Kosher abbatoir?


      • David Preiser (USA) says:

        deegee, it’s from the mass slaughter the black hats do for Kaporos before Yom Kippur.  See my comment on the last page of the latest open thread.


  14. TooTrue says:

    I’m getting to the stage of the evil of the BBC rendering me speechless, and it takes a lot to shut me up.

    Meanwhile the Guardian had a similar propaganda piece making it appear that Israel was the aggressor:


    But at least Harriet Sherwood mentioned that an Israeli CIVILIAN was killed.

    However, her bias is clear here:

    “Ultra-orthodox Haredi Jews gather at the gates of a local girls school, screaming abuse”


    As if the Guardian would ever have a headline like this:

    “Screaming Muslims push “immodestly dressed” girls back into burning school to die in blaze”

    Which did, of course, happen.


  15. TooTrue says:

    Though I guess it’s fair to add that she probably didn’t write that headline about the Haredi.

    Still, I’ll check her out to see whether she ever writes a positive story about Israel.


    • sue says:

      Don’t waste too much time doing that…. see CifWatch…every other article there is tagged Harriet Sherwood. (I don’t think she would get away with a positive story about israel at the Guardian even if she had a Damascene conversion. )


      • TooTrue says:

        Thanks for that sue. I’ve checked out CIF Watch a few times. I’ll go back there. I also has a brief look at Harriet Sherwood’s history from her Guardian profile.

        I would suggest starting a “name and shame” campaign against these “journalists” except that it wouldn’t be that easy to find many people who woudl regard their work as shameful.