‘Sam Bacile’ not Israeli, not Jewish: letters to Guardian and Morning Star

September 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm (anti-semitism, Christianity, conspiracy theories, Egypt, Guardian, Islam, islamism, israel, Jim D, Libya, Middle East, stalinism)

To the Morning Star:

Dear Morning Star,
 
Your article ‘US ambassador killed in wave of Islamic protests’ (M Star September 13) was highly distasteful in its gloating tone and attempt to draw a moral equivalence between Christopher Steven (by all accounts a decent man and friend of the Libyan people) and the bloody dictator Gaddafi.
 
But much worse that that, the article repeated the claim that the producer of the anti-Muhammad film that was at least the pretext for the embassy attack was “The extremist Jewish US film maker Sam Bacile.” In the context of the highly volatile situation in the Middle East, and the often fraught relationship between Jews and Muslims here in the UK, that was a completely irresponsible statement. I don’t know where the Star’s Foreign Desk obtained their information, but by Thursday morning the Associated Press had established that ‘Sam Bacille’ is almost certainly the pseudonym of one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian of Egyptian origin, now living near Los Angeles at the same address where Associated Press had previously contacted the person identifying himself as ‘Sam Bacile.’
 
There are quite enough anti-Jewish conspiracy theories flying around in the Middle East and, indeed, in the UK at the moment without the Star adding to them. I think you owe all Jewish people an apology.
 
Jim Denham
 
**************************************************************************************************
 
To the Guardian:
 
Dear Sir,
 
I do not know from where your leader-writer (Grenades lobbed from afar, 13 September) obtained the information that the anti-Muhammad film that provided at least the pretext for the attack on the US embassy in Libya, was the work of “an Israeli-American real estate developer.”
 
But by early on Thursday morning, the Associated Press had established beyond reasonable doubt that the film-maker calling himself “Sam Bacile” is neither an Israeli, nor even Jewish. In fact, he doesn’t exist, except as a pseudonym for one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian of Egyptian origin now living near Los Angeles at the same address at which Associated Press had previously contacted the person calling himself “Sam Bacile.” According to AP, Federal court papers said Nakoula’s previous aliases include “Nicola Bacily.”
 
There are enough anti-Jewish conspiracy theories flying around the Middle East (and, indeed, Europe) at the moment without the Guardian adding to them and further damaging relations between Muslims and Jews. I trust you will issue not only a prominent correction, but also an apology to all Jewish people.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Jim Denham
 
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P.S: Associated Press report, California man confirms role in anti-Islam film, here
 
P.P.S: The online version of the Graun‘s leader has now been amended to remove the reference to “an Israeli-American”…
 
All the online versions of the article have now deleted the following passage that appears in today’s (printed) paper:
 
The circumstances of the firefight that led to the ambassador’s death are unclear. There were conflicting reports last night about whether the attack by Takfiri fundamentalists on the ambassador was planned. But the sequence of events that led to the death of a good man are gut-churningly familiar. The fuse was lit by an Israeli-American real estate developer who launched the latest salvo of culture wars with a grotesquely offensive film depicting the prophet Muhammad as a feckless philaderer. It was screened to an almost empty cinema in Hollywood this year, which is where it deserved to rest. If anything merits the phrase hate speech, it is trash like this.
 
Here’s the new, amended version of that paragraph:
 
If the circumstances of the firefight that led to the ambassador’s death are unclear (there were conflicting reports last night about whether the attack was planned) the provenance of a grotesquely offensive film that depicts the prophet Muhammad as a feckless philanderer, which provoked the anti-US protests, was today equally murky.

The film was attributed by US media reports to a man whom no one can now find any trace of. Indeed the original film may not have existed at all. A clip, dubbed in Arabic, was promoted by a virulent Islamophobe, Morris Sadik, an Egyptian Copt based in California, who campaigns for Egypt to be divided into five states and whose views are disowned by Christian Copts at home. The final poison of this toxic brew was added by the Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has a track record in inciting violence by burning the Qur’an.

The whole episode may have been a grotesque provocation, of which all sides taking positions in this culture war should be wary.

12 Comments

  1. Rosie said,

    It’s asking for the moon, I know, but couldn’t people find out a few facts before opining and theorising?

  2. pinkagendist said,

    Oh please. How ridiculous. This wasn’t about theorizing, this was about deliberate misinformation perpetrated by a (convicted) Christian fraudster and a fanatic attention-seeking pastor in Florida.
    The initial media reports were based on the best information known at the moment of publishing.

  3. Laban said,

    Please, Sir, it wasn’t me. It was that boy over there !

  4. Jim Denham said,

    “The initial media reports were based on the best information known at the moment of publishing”: OK, but where did that “best information known” actually come from? Given that the claims that the film-maker was an Israeli and / or Jew have been shown to be wide of the mark, shouldn’t we be asking the media how it was they jumped to these conclusions? Especially as accusing an alleged “Jew” / “Israeli” of being responsible for the film is so obviously inflamatory. Muslims have – quite rightly – objected when they have been wrongly accused of various violent acts. I think Jews have a similar right to complain about this.

    • pinkagendist said,

      From what I understand the claims came from the fraudster himself, the guy who made the movie.

    • pinkagendist said,

      Look up his connections to the crazy pastor man. I have the impression a group of idiots have been brewing what I imagine is a dual anti-semitic and anti-islamic farce.
      People have been kidding themselves if they suddenly believe whackadoodle Christians are suddenly pro-Jewish.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    And these despicable antisemitic sickfucks are even worse than the Star and the Graun:
    “The film which has sparked protests in Libya and Cairo – called the Innocence of Muslims – was clearly a deliberate provocation. Made in the United States by two film makers with deeply anti-Islamic views – one of them an Israeli American – it claims Mohammed was a fraud, and dresses up a series of insults against him as revelations.”

    http://www.counterfire.org/index.php/articles/159-stop-the-war/16033-libyan-blowback-the-fruits-of-intervention-islamophobia-and-instability

  6. Jim Denham said,

    Pink Propagandist says/writes: “From what I understand the claims came from the fraudster himself, the guy who made the movie.”

    Which is my point: shouldn’t responsible journalists have thoroughly investigated these claims, before publishing such inflammatory and (it turned out) unfounded claims?

    Btw: I’m sure you are right, PP, about this being “a dual anti-semitic and anti-islamic farce.”

    • pinkagendist said,

      I’ve done a bit more research. The original source for the claim was (surprise, surprise) Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal… From there it just got printed and re-printed.
      Now we also know the film producer is also a petty criminal who “on March 27, 1997 was charged with intent to manufacture methamphetamine”.

  7. Martin Ohr said,

    I noticed in the news ticker above George Galloway on press tv last night they were still claiming that the film was a zionist plot. In fact they still claim that Sam Bacile made the film thanks to jewish backers- lovely people.

  8. Jim Denham said,

    A wholly inadequate “correction” in the Graun:

    • A leading article about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which the US ambassador Chris Stevens and three others died (Grenades lobbed from afar, 13 September, page 36) was updated between editions as the facts became clearer about the circumstances surrounding the incident. In particular, the earlier version of the leader said in error that “The fuse was lit by an Israeli-American real estate developer who launched the latest salvo of culture wars with a grotesquely offensive film depicting the prophet Muhammad as a feckless philanderer.” Later reports suggest that this was a fake identity created by the real film-maker. Further, the later version of the leader misnamed Libya’s new prime minister: he is Mustafa Abushagur, not Mustafa al-Shakoura.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2012/sep/14/corrections-and-clarifications?newsfeed=true

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