BBC’s Jon Donnison does terrorist chic

A Tweet from the BBC’s Middle East Bureau Chief Paul Danahar informs us of a new “cracking piece” by West Bank and Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison in the Magazine section of the BBC News website.  

So, are we about to benefit from some incisive Middle East analysis which will contribute to our increased understanding of the region? Not exactly: the Tweet-worthy news is that Jon Donnison has managed to find a Yasser Arafat look-alike in Ramallah market. 

Under the description “Insight, wit and analysis as BBC correspondents, journalists and writers take a closer look at the stories behind the headlines”, Donnison’s encounter was also broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service as part of the “From Our Own Correspondent” programme. 

Arafat’s corruption is both well-known and well documented. Vast amounts of foreign donations contributed for the benefit of the Palestinian people were siphoned off by the Rais and his aides. Between 1995 and 2000, some $900 million were diverted to bank accounts not belonging to the Palestinian Authority, very little of which was ever recovered. Concerns raised by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee were ignored by the PA until eventually the IMF sent in Salam Fayyad to try to put an end to Arafat’s culture of corruption. 

However, the best “insight and analysis” Jon Donnison has to offer is to refer to “allegations of corruption” and “kickbacks and cronyism”. He even quotes an interviewee who manages to pass off the criminal activities at the expense of the Palestinian people by putting it all down to Arafat being “a terrible manager”. 

Donnison’s only reference to Yasser Arafat’s other claim to fame is the statement “For most Israelis, Arafat was a terrorist”. There too, the evidence is abundant and well documented. Under Arafat’s leadership the PLO carried out numerous terror attacks, commencing in 1965, and was designated as a terror organization by countries other than Israel. Even after Arafat’s supposed upgrading to statesman, his sponsorship of terror did not end with hundreds of Israelis murdered by terror cells under his command and patronage

All that, however, is mere white noise to Jon Donnison who is intent upon portraying the corrupt mass-murderer as some sort of much missed grandfather with a “twinkle in the eye”. 

“He was too big an act to follow.”

“Palestinians have an Arafat lookalike – but for many the real thing has remained irreplaceable.”

A “cracking piece” indeed – if one happens to consider (as apparently the BBC’s Middle East Bureau chief does) that the legacy of one of the architects of modern terrorism and one of the main actors responsible for holding back the Palestinian people’s progression to statehood  is best whitewashed in a puff piece devoid of anything resembling “insight, wit and analysis”.

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