Campaign Against Antisemitism can reveal that the inflammatory broadcaster and regular BBC contributor, Abdel Bari Atwan, believes that “massive Jewish institutions” try to silence him and others because they “believe they own the entire universe and control all the media.”
In an interview broadcast on the Beirut-based, Arabic-language Al-Mayadeen news channel on 14th April 2022 that has been unearthed by Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Online Monitoring and Investigations Unit, Mr Atwan complained of a campaign of as long as 25 years to silence him “led by Israeli security services, Mossad, Shabak and others.” At the time that the interview was broadcast, the JC was urging YouTube to remove a video of Mr Atwan where he reportedly “railed against ‘Jewish Israeli lobbies’ in Parliament, calling the terrorists who killed Israelis ‘martyrs’ and describing their actions as ‘a legitimate right’.” The JC also reported at the time that Mr Atwan characterised the shooting of three Israelis in Tel Aviv as a “miracle” and described the terrorist as a “hero” and those fleeing for their lives were, he claimed, “like mice”.
Campaign Against Antisemitism is now able to reveal that Mr Atwan, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the Rai al-Youm Arabic news and opinion website, asserted in the newly-unearthed interview that “in the UK, as well as in many European countries, Israel is considered above the law. It can challenge whomever [it] wants, it can muzzle mouths.” He went on to engage in antisemitism-denial, declaring that “We have witnessed how Israel and its lobbies succeeded in sabotaging the UK Labour Party and isolating the Chairman, who is Jeremy Corbyn [sic], by means of campaigns and accusations that he is, I mean, antisemitic.”
Speaking in Arabic throughout, he also complained that he was not able to refer to a terrorist who murdered Jewish Israelis in Tel Aviv as a “martyr” because of Israeli interference in the media, saying: “Now that things have evolved so that you are forbidden from describing these martyrs as martyrs. These Israelis started interfering with everything. Look, six, I mean, colleagues, journalists, they expelled them from Deutsche Welle, the German television, just because they criticised Israel.”
He was referring to the sacking of several journalists at the German broadcaster after it emerged that they had reportedly used antisemitic language, such as saying that a “Jewish lobby controls many German institutions” to prevent criticism of Israel, and comparing Jews to “ants” that had invaded “through our weak points.”
Mr Atwan emphasised in his interview that “now the Zionists have succeeded in taking control over the media outlets,” and that “They [the Zionists] [have] become stronger than international laws, stronger than British laws, stronger than German laws.” Referring to the Tel Aviv terrorist attack in April, he insisted that “resistance is a legitimate right, all laws have enshrined it, secular and divine.”
Asked by the interviewer, “Who exactly are the bodies who aim to silence Abdel Bari Atwan and seek to incite against him in the UK?” Mr Atwan answered: “Massive institutions. Massive Jewish institutions. And institutions loyal to Israel. And there are also parties. These parties, for example, the Conservative Party, right now, it is controlled, there is control, one way or another, by these institutions, they want it to adopt what is the Israeli policy. There is also the Labour Party, there are groups, Israel’s friends in the Labour Party, Israel’s friends in the Conservative Party, it is they who want to silence us. They want to enforce the Israeli policies upon us. This is the story.
“And these people, they have deep roots in British society. However, in exchange there are people who support the right cause, the cause of justice, the Palestinian cause, and defend it. They were expelled from British parties because of these positions. But they, these people, although the number of Jews in the UK does not exceed 350,000, 400,000 people, nevertheless, they have seventy members in the House of Commons, do you hear? Seventy representatives in the British Parliament, because they have formidable financial power and economic power, and all of them form an alliance against Abdel Bari Atwan. It is because they don’t want voices. They know the extent of these voices’ influence. They know the extent to which people have reacted to these voices, the extent of the blow to their plans of obstruction and coverup in which these Jewish Israeli lobbies engage within British society. This is the gravity of the matter.”
Needless to say, there are not seventy Jewish MPs in the House of Commons and, even if there were, that should not be a cause for concern, any more than if numerous MPs from any other ethnic or religious minority were sat in Parliament in noteworthy numbers.
Mr Atwan ended by claiming that these interests were pressuring the BBC to stop featuring him, but that, he is relieved, thus far the BBC has resisted, concluding: “[They] believe that they own the entire universe, that they control all the media. This is the truth.”
This revelation comes after the BBC came under pressure yet again for hosting Mr Atwan after other recent inflammatory comments.
The controversy relates to a JC report that Mr Atwan recently defended Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ remark that Israel has committed “50 Holocausts” and his refusal to condemn the 1972 Munich Olympics terror attack on Israeli athletes. Mr Abbas was condemned by the German Chancellor for his comments, which he made at a joint press conference with the Chancellor on a visit to Berlin, and is facing an investigation by German police.
Mr Atwan reportedly wrote in an article for the news site Raialyoum earlier this month: “I support [Mahmoud Abbas’s] refusal to apologise for the killing of 11 Israeli participants at the 1974 (sic) Munich Olympics, and his use of the term ‘holocausts’ to describe the many massacres to which Palestinians have been subjected by Israeli forces.”
He also reportedly claimed in the article that the Munich terror attack was “not committed by Abbas or by the Black September squad that abducted them” but by “Israeli Mossad operatives and German police,” apparently adding: “[Israeli Prime Minister Yair] Lapid’s hands are soaked in the blood of Palestinian children…Israel, supported by Germany’s guilt complex, considers itself above any law and feels free to twist the facts.”
On the same day as the article, Mr Atwan appeared on the BBC’s Dateline London programme, and said in relation to the recent violent attack on the author Sir Salman Rushdie: “The Satanic Verses actually is blasphemy completely and it is offensive. You know, Salman Rushdie, he was very, very cruel when he talked about the Prophet Muhammad and his wives, and actually, to talk about the wives of the Prophet is really very, very dangerous.” The attack is believed to have been inspired by the fatwa issued and promoted by Iran’s theocratic regime, which has a long history of antisemitic policies.
In 2007, Atwan is reported to have said: “If Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.” In 2010, it is claimed that Atwan told an audience at the London School of Economics that “the Jewish lobby… [is] endangering the whole world”. In 2021, he is reported to have said that “Israel today is in a state of confusion and panic, they know very well that what happened in Kabul airport will repeat itself at Ben Gurion airport. But Ben Gurion Airport will be closed, there will be no planes in it, they will have no other option but to flee through the sea. By Allah, they should listen to the advice of Hassan Nasrallah and start learning how to swim because their only option will be Cyprus, their only option will be the Mediterranean Sea.” Mr Nasrallah is the leader of the antisemitic genocidal terrorist group, Hizballah.
Mr Atwan’s remarks have drawn concern that he may be accused of having glorified terrorism.
Campaign Against Antisemitism is writing to the BBC and considering legal options.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “These new revelations of Abdel Bari Atwan’s apparent view that ‘massive Jewish institutions’ are silencing him, that ‘Zionists’ control the media and that it is lamentable how many Jews there are in Parliament because of the Jews’ ‘formidable financial power’ must surely now force the BBC to drop him as a regular contributor. This man has no place on our television screens, and it is shameful that the BBC has yet to recognise that. We shall be writing to the BBC and considering legal action over Mr Atwan’s possible glorification of terrorism.”
Polling that we conducted in 2020 for our Antisemitism Barometer already revealed that two thirds of British Jews were deeply concerned by the BBC’s coverage of matters of Jewish concern, and 55% by its handling of antisemitism complaints. It is likely that these figures would be even higher if polled today.
Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors traditional media and regularly holds outlets to account. If members of the public are concerned about reportage in the media, they should contact us at [email protected].