BBC Watch has reported this interview of Chris Patten by the BBC’s Stephen Sackur concerning James Harding:
Sackur: “He [Harding] said – quote – “I am pro-Israel and I haven’t found it hard because The Times has been pro-Israel for a very long time……James Harding is self-declared pro-Israel. Do you have any problem with that? Do you think that it might create problems for you and for the BBC when one considers that perhaps the most contentious issue we all in BBC news and current affairs have to deal with on a daily basis is reporting the Middle East?”
No surprise that Harding might be pro-Israel…he is Jewish.
‘Harding stressed the need for balanced journalism. “We say we’re pro-Israel but we’re also pro the Palestinian state… the question a journalist should always ask himself is are you making the case before opinion is dressed up as reportage?”
It’s a fair question to ask…well it would have been if Sackur had also mentioned the bit about being pro-Palestine as well…and hadn’t added ‘very’ to the words ‘ The Times has been pro-Israel for a long time.’ in his question.
Sackur is married to an Iraqi, Zina Sabbagh….I wonder if that influences his reporting on the Middle East or his interviews with Israeli diplomats?
The Pro-Israel Lobby:
A Lobby to Reckon With
BBC World Service (radio)
11 May 2002
‘In this week’s Assignment, Stephen Sackur investigates America’s Pro-Israel lobby and its influence on the White House’
Sari Nusseibeh, Professor of Philosophy at Bir Zeit University, a leading Palestinian intellectual and political activist, was arrested by Israeli Border Police at his home in the West Bank village of Abu Dis on 29 January.
You have to ask though if the same concerns were raised about the suitability of Muslim Aaqil Ahmed within the BBC when he was made head of religious broadcasting…surely that too concerns one of the most contentious areas of news and current affairs that the BBC has to deal with? Mark Thompson allegedly told Ahmed not to mention his religion…presumably to lessen any controversy…especially as Ahmed had been accused of introducing pro-Islamic programmes to Channel 4….so rather than question his suitability it seems Thompson wanted to sweep the question under the carpet.
Were the same concerns asked about Labour’s James Purnell being given a £300,000 job at the BBC?
Were the same concerns shown about the recruitment by the BBC of Ali Hashem….who previously worked for the terrorist organisation, Hezbollah, in their own Televison station, Al Manar?
The BBC is of course concerned about possible extremists within the ranks of UKIP:
‘Nazi salute’ UKIP candidate claims Facebook account hacked’
Just for interest, and in relation to a previous post that mentioned Israeli historian (of European history), Shlomo Sands, here is Sackur interviewing him: