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Dateline London and the Yelling Al-Quds Editor

July 29, 2012

I love the BBC. It is the most impartial and professional news organization in the world. I always make it a point to catch the discussion program Dateline London every Saturday on the World Service. Every episode consists of a panel of London based foreign and British  journalists, and is presented by Gavin Esler, whose professionalism is exceeded only by….the angry and loud debating style of a regular panelist, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, and the archetypal angry, frustrated, loud, feels-hes-entitled-to-everything-leftist Arab (usually Palestinian).

This week’s episode was no exception. During a discussion of the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, Atwan didn’t hide his contempt for recent efforts to have the games commemorate the 1972 Munich Massacre of Israeli athletes at the hands of the Palestinian Black September. His borderline manic “Why do the Israelis always have to be special?” contrasted sharply with the professional calmness of the other panelists.

It’s not surprising Atwan doesn’t want to be reminded of one of the Palestinians’ most disgraceful hours, and the other panelists were too polite to point out that the Israelis do in fact deserve a unique commemoration, because the very nature of the crime, a massacre of athletes at AN OLYMPIC GAMES, was unique in its barbarity. Since the games started, no one but Black September was ever so despicable as to use them as a platform for acts of terror.

But worse was to come from Atwan. During a discussion of the Syrian regime’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, and the chances that the increasingly cornered junta would use them, Atwan voiced approval of their use, stating that a country that is invaded would use every weapon in its arsenal. “The United States drobbed two atomic bombs in the Second World War!!!” he screamed, possibly trying to be heard all the way in Hiroshima.

It did not occur to Atwan that the use of chemical weapons would in all likelihood kill more vulnerable and unprotected Syrian civilians than well equipped and prepared NATO troops, and Syrian land would be contaminated for God-knows-how-long. Or maybe it did, but he was too busy screaming red faced about the “documented 1400 casualties of Israeli phosphorous bombs”, proving once again that to a Palestinian, everything always has to come back to them, no matter what the topic or subject. 1400? The Gazans should thank Allah that it was Israel they were up against, and not Bashar Assad. Bashar would have murdered 14,000.

It is disappointing that the only Arab panelist on one of the BBC’s most prominent discussion programs always comes up wanting in debating style and basic humanity when compared to his peers.


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