December 20, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 3459

Abd Al-Bari Atwan, Editor-in-Chief of 'Al-Quds Al-Arabi' Newspaper: It Is Natural to Say One Thing in Arabic and Another in English for Western Audiences

December 20, 2010
Special Dispatch No. 3459

Following are excerpts from a public address delivered by Abd Al-Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. The address, which was delivered in English with simultaneous Arabic translation, aired on Al-Jazeera TV on December 10, 2010.

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Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan: "When the Israeli press attaché Ben-Dor left his position – he was sent to South America – he gave an interview to the Jewish Chronicle, in which he said: 'I couldn't succeed as a press attaché with The Independent or the Guardian, but actually, I was extremely successful in reducing the appearances of Bari Atwan in the mainstream television in this country.' You know, he was proud. He said: 'I instructed the BBC, Sky News, and ITV not to call him a Middle East expert or a Middle East analyst, but just to call him the editor of Al-Quds newspaper.'

"Another thing that he said, which really amazed me, was that what I say in Arabic is completely different from what I say in English. How can I say in English the same things I say in Arabic? These are different languages, different audiences. So why? You know, we, in the Arab world, were always desperate – we were 'dying' – to have speakers who can speak to Western people in their own language, in the way they understand. Here, when I manage to communicate, when I'm a good communicator, they don't want me, they say this is a sin. So imagine that. You know, it's unbelievable.

"So If I'm sophisticated enough to talk to a Western audience, in a way they understand the conflict, in a very neutral way – or in a scientific or professional way – what's wrong with that?" […]

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