Amnesty to host anti-Israel Atwan talk

Amnesty International has defended its planned hosting of an anti-Israel event featuring guest speakers including controversial journalist Abdel Bari Atwan.

Mr Atwan was investigated by police following a lecture last December in which he called Jewish students "Nazis" and repeatedly referred to "the Jewish lobby" controlling America.

He is due to speak on a panel at the "Complicity in oppression: Do the media aid Israel?" event at Amnesty's central London headquarters on May 23.

The event has been jointly organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Middle East Monitor Online (MEMO) media and lobby group.

Amnesty said it had been unaware of the event

MEMO is a pro-Hamas organisation fronted by Daud Abdullah, a signatory of the Istanbul Declaration which advocates attacks on Royal Navy
vessels if they attempt to stop arms being smuggled into Gaza.

Amnesty said its building was available for a "very wide range" of events, but admitted it had been unaware of the full line-up for next month's session.

An Amnesty spokesman said: "Providing space for an event does not mean that we necessarily agree with all of the views of participants. The key point is that free debate takes place."

He said the charity would now write to organisers to raise Amnesty's
concerns.

Greg Philo, author of two books on media coverage of Israel and the Palestinians, and former BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn are due to appear on the panel at the event, to be chaired by former Guardian associate foreign editor, Victoria Brittain.

Last updated: 11:40am, April 28 2011