So just what does it take to get a YouTube ‘hate’ channel taken down?

The streaming giant has been condemned for 'irresponsible negligence'


YouTube has been condemned for “irresponsible negligence” after failing to take down the channel of a well-known pundit who has apparently breached the web giant’s anti-extremism rules on multiple occasions.

Palestinian-British commentator Abdel Bari Atwan last month celebrated the terrorist gunman who murdered three Israelis in Tel Aviv as a “martyr” and “hero” in a rant online.

After the JC highlighted how the video appeared to breach rules relating to incitement to violence and supporting terrorism, YouTube took it down.
But the web giant has refused to remove a number of other clips that contain offensive and extremist material.

In one recent post, Atwan described Israelis as “Nazis” and repeated Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s claim that Hitler was Jewish.

In the passionate monologue published earlier this month, Atwan told his 763,000 subscribers: “These people [the Israelis], will international courts work with them? They consider themselves above all international laws, they can do whatever they want. They are Nazis. When Lavrov said that Hitler is of Nazi origins, of Jewish Nazi origins, this is true. This is founded in history. We do not add anything new.”

In another video uploaded to his channel four days later, he described Yahya Sinwar, the Palestinian leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as “this brave man, this hero”. Terrorist group Hamas became a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK in its entirety last November.

In an interview with Al Mayadeen TV, which was also broadcast on their YouTube channel, Atwan claims there is a “large campaign that is administered by the Israeli Mossad and the Israeli security services”, which has seen his extremist content translated from Arabic into English.

Atwan spoke of his wish for Hezbollah’s secretary-general to become an imam at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. He describes the terror group’s leader as “honourable sir Hassan Nasrallah”. Hezbollah was proscribed in its entirety in 2019 by the UK government, with its External Security Organisation and its military wing, including the Jihad Council, previously proscribed in 2001 and 2008 respectively.

In another video appearance on Al Mayadeen, which the station posted on its YouTube channel, Atwan predicts Israel’s downfall, saying that “the wise Zionist, or the Israeli, or the Jew” will “buy 10,000 islands in Greece and prepare them to be [their] refuge when the rockets will pour on [them] like rain. This is their future.

“This is the horror that they live under. They look for islands because they know that these rockets will come to them from southern Lebanon, from Iraq, from Syria, from Gaza, from San’aa, even from Sa’da. They will come to them from everywhere in the Arab homeland.
“This is what horrifies them.”

Atwan is well known as a frequent guest on international news channels including on the BBC. The Corporation has told the JC it does not ban contributors and that “appropriate guests are considered on a case-by-case basis”.

The UK’s former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Carlile, told the JC: “Unfortunately YouTube does not fully understand the potentially disastrous effect of some of the material still appearing on its channel.

“YouTube is a magnificent international resource, but the management and moderation of postings is lamentable. The extremist videos posted by Abdel Bari Atwan still breach YouTube’s guidelines, but are not removed.”

He added: “If YouTube does not control their own content, governments will then intervene.”

A spokesperson for CAMERA Arabic, which has been closely monitoring and translating Arabic YouTube content that may breach the site’s guidelines, told the JC: “Even when YouTube is presented with evidence that they should be collecting themselves, they deny it contains incitement despite having removed other videos for almost identical content.”

Following publication of this article, YouTube removed one video flagged by the JC for allegedly violating its hate speech policy. The company said the other videos "are currently under review”. 

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