Thursday, February 4, 2016

UK: Parliamentary event cancelled after complaint over anti-Israel speaker

The Jewish Chronicle reports:

A Parliamentary event due to be hosted by a controversial Palestinian journalist has been cancelled after a pro-Israel group complained to the organisers.

Abdul Bari Atwan, former editor of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, had been expected to chair a session in Portcullis House on Tuesday night featuring Palestinian students speaking on Skype from Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.

The session was planned by the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East (LFPME) group and its chair, MP Grahame Morris.

But on Friday, Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan MP wrote to Mr Morris to complain about past comments made by Mr Atwan.

She said his past comments – in which he allegedly referred to the “Jewish lobby” and his claims that he would celebrate a nuclear attack on Israel – made him unsuitable to lead the event.  [...]

In 2010, police investigated allegations of antisemitism against Mr Atwan after a lecture at the London School of Economics descended into chaos and 30 Jewish students walked out in protest.  He had been speaking on the topic of "How much influence does the Zionist lobby exert in the US and UK?"
Mr Atwan had allegedly accused Jewish students of "bombing Gaza", referred to the "Jewish lobby" and refused to condemn Hamas, saying: "Would you want me to condemn those who are resisting the occupation?"

He was shown on a television station in 2007 saying: "If the Iranian missiles strike Israel - by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight if the Iranian missiles strike Israel."

Mr Atwan is reported to have later claimed some of his past comments were made “sarcastically”.

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