Saturday 2 August 2014

"A distinguished writer on Arab affairs". Who could that be then?

Catching up time...

Having found a couple of consecutive editions of Dateline London to be unusually full of genuine debate and not tilted against Israel in their discussions of the present Gaza conflict, I missed last week's edition which shifted the balance firmly back towards the familiar Dateline position.

In the two previous editions, pro-Israeli guests had actually outnumbered pro-Palestinians guests. Last week's edition reversed that trend and had two pro-Palestinian guests - extremist left-wing Palestinian writer Abdel Barri Atwan and far-left Greek writer Maria Margaronis of The Nation - pitted against a pro-Israeli guest (and self-declared friend of Atwan), left-leaning Observer writer and former editor of the Jewish Chronicle Ned Temko. 

Barri and Maria fulminated against Israel, as expected. Ned trod a cautiously pro-Israel line. The final guest, French left-winger Marc Roche, disappointingly abandoned his previous denunciations of Hamas and adopted a "neutral" position (in the manner of his president). 

Plus, to make my jaw drop, presenter Maxine Mawhinney sucked up to Abdel Barri Atwan by introducing him as "a distinguished writer on Arab affairs". (Slurp, slurp!) I've watched Dateline for years and never heard anyone described like that before. (He's distinguished all right - if that means 'distinguished by his extremism and lack of regard for the truth' (a definition my dictionary doesn't seem to support)).

[Update: As Sue reminds me...]

There was a definite pro-Palestinian slant to last week's edition.  

This week's edition fell somewhere in between the other editions during this conflict. 

There was an American guest, Stephanie Baker, who offered no firm opinions on the matter (sticking to her U.S. political beat). Alongside her, however, were pro-Palestinian Arab writer Mustapha Karkouti and Ian Birrell of the Daily Mail. Ian Birrell, a former kibbutznik, has been vocal in the past few weeks in strongly denouncing Israel's actions in Gaza. The final guest, representing the pro-Israeli side, was Jonathan Sacerdoti.

Jonathan once prompted a comment from me at Biased BBC about an edition of Dateline from January 2011:
At least there was also Jonathan Sacerdoti, making his first - and doubtless also last - appearance. He did well, but faced regular interruptions from Atwan, Polly Toynbee and Gavin Esler (and a couple of "I'll come back to you in a second"s from Esler to boot).  
Well, I'll eat my words here. That wasn't his last appearance. Over three and a half years later (!), he got his second invite to the Dateline studio.

He was, however, the only guest on this edition who faced "regular interruptions from...Gavin Esler". No one else did. (That said though, he was given the first and last words).

All duly caught up again now (for what it's worth), so that's that then.


  1. I tried to post a link to Gavin and 'ari Batwan as i like to call him, but it didn't work. I'm going to try again. If it doesn't work again I'll give up.

    1. Okay, the first link goes to a blank page of "Is", but the one at the end works if you can be bothered to copy and paste it.
      (They're mates, which is what I was going to say in the first place.)

    2. Ain't our comments system great? :-


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.