BBC regular Atwan shatters 14 year old BBC myth on second Intifada

h/t EoZ

Here is a clip from an interview given by that old BBC favourite Abdel Bari Atwan to the Lebanese TV station Al Mayadeen on July 29th.

Apparently Abdel Bari Atwan has not told his friends at the BBC that Yasser Arafat “decided to ignite the second Intifada” or of Arafat’s “period of preparation for the second Intifada”. If he had shared that personal knowledge with them, they surely would not still be running all those embarrassingly inaccurate articles and backgrounders on their website which claim that the second Intifada began because Ariel Sharon went for a pre-coordinated thirty-four minute visit to Temple Mount.

Related Articles:

BBC second Intifada backgrounders: ‘Sharon started it’

BBC exploits Sharon’s death for more promotion of second Intifada falsehood

Bye-bye Bari – at the BBC too?

It seems that the recent Twitter rumours were true: BBC ‘frequent flyer’ Abdel Bari Atwan has resigned as editor of ‘Al-Quds Al-Arabi’.

Whether or not that means that BBC audiences will be seeing any less of him in the future remains to be seen, but it is doubtful that Atwan’s  comparatively mild (for him) parting rant will be a factor in that decision. 

” “I have received death threats from Arab and Western and Israeli police states, and waged a fierce battle against supporters of the Zionist lobby in Europe and the US, before the US prevented me from visiting it. They all have tried and continue to try to defame me and silence my voice,” Atwan wrote in his op-ed Wednesday.”

After all, until now the BBC has had no qualms whatsoever about making extensive use of Atwan’s “voice”, despite his obvious extremism.

“In March 2008, Atwan was quoted justifying a terrorist assault by a Palestinian gunman on Jerusalem’s Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in which eight students were killed, since the religious seminary was responsible for “hatching Israeli extremists and fundamentalists.” During a TV interview last month, he said he considered Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden only “half a terrorist” due to his positive engagement with US forces in Afghanistan. Atwan was also famously quoted as saying that he would dance in Trafalgar Square if Iranian missiles were to hit Israel.”

In fact, Atwan’s latest star turn at the BBC was just one day before he announced his resignation, when he was quoted by security correspondent Frank Gardner in an article about Egypt. 

Gardner article Atwan

One has to wonder if anyone at the BBC will think to join the dots between the chronic promotion of fringe voices such as those of Atwan and the fact that a new poll shows that a majority of licence fee payers do not think they are getting value for money. 

In his own words: Abdel Bari Atwan on BBC Arabic TV

As we have noted here before, the Gaza-born editor of the London-based Arabic language newspaper ‘Al Quds Al Arabi’ Abdel Bari Atwan is a frequent guest on programmes such as Newsnight and Dateline London, as well as on the BBC World Service and Radio 4.

Atwan is of course known for his controversial and often offensive opinions – not least his endorsements of terror attacks against Israelis and his claim that he would “dance with delight” in Trafalgar Square were Iranian missiles to hit Tel Aviv. Such opinions do not appear to constitute a barrier to his habitual participation in BBC programmes: in fact quite the opposite appears to be the case.

Here he is in a 2010 interview on BBC Arabic television – now translated by MEMRI – in which he is given free rein to praise Bin Laden, promote anti-Americanism and propagate the notion that Israel “is occupying our lands”. 

(h/t LW)

“Significant strands of thought” at the BBC

As we have noted here before, Abdel Bari Atwan – the Gaza-born editor of the London-based Arabic language newspaper ‘Al Quds Al Arabi’- is a regular guest on several BBC programmes on both radio and television, despite his frequent voicing of often frankly offensive opinions. 

Readers will probably not be surprised to learn that Atwan is now promoting the notion that:

“… the French military intervention in Mali is designed not only to protect its own interests in the region but to benefit Israel.”

Atwan’s latest tinfoil hat moment is, however, unlikely to dissuade BBC producers from inviting him to contribute what passes as analysis.  Indeed the BBC sometimes appears to actively court bizarre opinions, as was the case in the February 4th edition of ‘Start the Week’ with Bridget Kendall which focused on “the roots and reach of Islamist terrorism from Afghanistan to Africa”.

Start the Week

In that programme (available as a podcast here) listeners were informed (at 13:57) by guest Christina Hellmich that the  Al Qaeda attacks on the US in 2001 were the “consequences” of the West’s actions “in Palestine” and elsewhere. Later (from around 22:20) guest Nadeem Aslam opined that the passengers and crew on the United Airlines flight 93 on September 11th 2001 shared the same motivations as Islamist suicide bombers. Neither of those remarks was adequately challenged by the presenter. 

The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on impartiality state that:

“We are committed to reflecting a wide range of opinion across our output as a whole and over an appropriate timeframe so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented.”

One cannot help but sometimes wonder whether the BBC’s idea of a “significant strand of thought” matches that of its audiences. 

Is Abdel Bari Atwan still welcome at the BBC?

Any regular BBC viewer or listener cannot have failed to have come across Abdel Bari Atwan. The Gaza-born editor of the London-based Arabic language newspaper ‘Al Quds Al Arabi’ – established by Palestinian ex-pats in 1989 – is a frequent guest on programmes such as Newsnight and Dateline London, as well as on the BBC World Service and Radio 4.

Some of Atwan’s many egregious comments and statements have made headlines in the past, but nothing was apparently too controversial for the BBC. Has he now gone a step too far, or will the BBC once more yawn and carry on sending the taxis? 

Read more about the latest outburst from Abdel Bari Atwan (also a Guardian contributor) over at our sister blog CiF Watch.