Radio presenter James O’Brien has caused a stir by suggesting Arab states are right to impose travel bans on Israeli passport holders.
The broadcaster used his LBC show on Tuesday to tackle the uproar caused by Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim countries.
Appearing to defend similar bans imposed by a number of Muslim states on Israelis, he said: “Some Arab countries, some Muslim countries, accept the United Nations’ judgment that Israel is guilty of war crimes and therefore take a decision to sanction that sovereign government in Israel with a restriction of travel for its citizens until that sovereign government falls into line with international law.”
O’Brien was later challenged by a caller called ‘Sammy’, who said: “I’ve got a bit of fact checking to do with you if that’s OK? You stated earlier that countries ban Israelis due to war crimes, but the first UN resolution connected to any Israeli military action was in 1952, and the majority of those Arab countries actually banned any Israelis and didn’t recognise Israel from 1948. It’s got nothing to do with military action by Israel. It’s merely because it’s a Jewish state within their area. It’s a reaction to being a Jewish state in the Middle East, and if that’s not racist I don’t know what is”.
The Zionist Federation Chairman Paul Charney criticised O’Brien, saying he “displayed a combination of misunderstanding and malice that destroys any shred of credibility he might have had when it comes to Middle Eastern affairs. Misunderstanding, since he seems to believe that Israel is surrounded by a sea of democracies who are desperate for the sole Jewish state to abide by their high standards of behaviour. And malice, since even if this ‘Through the Looking Glass’ portrayal were true, it still wouldn’t justify a blanket ban on individuals based on nationality – the kind of institutionalised discrimination, after all, that he was condemning Trump for.”
Countries that ban Israelis from entry include Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. Alll have been accused of major human rights abuses.
Listen to ‘Sammy’ challenging James O’Brien here: