Joan Ryan

Joan Ryan

The chairwoman of Labour Friends of Israel has “welcomed” the cancellation of a meeting in parliament featuring a British Palestinian journalist.

Joan Ryan reacted after Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East pulled an event with Abdel Bari Atwan, whose past comments about Israel and “the Jewish lobby” have been called anti-Semitic. 

“We welcome LFPME’s recognition of the legitimate concerns about Mr Atwan’s inclusion in this event,” said Ryan, following the cancellation of the event last Tuesday.

Atwan was due to chair the event, with four young Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria sharing their experiences with MPs live via Skype. 

However, Ryan earlier wrote to LFPME chair Grahame Morris, highlighting concerns such as Atwan’s appearance on Lebanese TV in 2007, in which he is reported to have said: “If Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.” 

Ryan also said Atwan made inflammatory comments at the London School of Economics in 2010, talking about “the Jewish lobby… endangering the whole world” and asking: “Do you want me to condemn people for resisting the occupation? Did Hamas commit ethnic cleansing?”