Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Great Arab Blow-Up at the BBC

Around May 20, 2013, Fida Bassil was interviewing three guests. I really like her, she is great at putting her mostly male guests in their proper place. 

Fida Bassil

Two of her guests were Arab, and one was a spokesman for the Israeli government. Now, this sounds like a combustion waiting to happen, but the BBC Arabic has done this plenty of times before, so I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary! Plus, no one was in the presence of anyone else, because the guests were calling in via video.

As usual, when there's something really good and dramatic happening, the BBC won't rerun it. Even when the schedule says there will be a re-run, they go and sneak in another program. So I didn't get to snag any photos, because the one time I watched it I was too excited to do anything other than watch what was about to go down. But I will describe it here.

Fida started off by questioning the Israeli guy (he speaks Arabic fluently). I don't really know what he said; I could hardly look at him because of his daggum Adam's apple popping in and out. 

Then she turned to the Arab guy who was shown through video. At first glance, he appeared to be asleep. I think he really must have been, didn't know how to answer the question, and so decided to blow up in spectacular fashion instead to cover his slip!

Here's the thing with Arabs: it always takes some time to get the motor going. This Arab guy was speaking as calmly and normally as you please the first few sentences, then all of a sudden he starts screaming: "I did not know there would be an Israeli on the program! I will not speak to an Israeli! How dare the BBC put me in this situation!"

Then he threw the earpiece out of his ear and marched off the camera range. 
Too bad for him,
he's not a very fit, muscular guy; he's just a big blob, and clearly anger at the Israelis has not spoiled his appetite! He had probably wanted more swagger in his exit, but instead he almost tripped over his chair in ungraceful haste.

The Israeli watched all this stoically. Fida gave the second Arab, who was in the studio with her, a look to say, "alright, we got this, the other guy may be crazy, but me and you will do this together." The second Arab was clearly shocked, and worried that people back home would say he wasn't dramatic and emotional and Arab enough to match the other guy, cause he started his speech slow and half-heartedly, but before Fida's stunned face he tore his earpiece out, too. Too bad they immediately moved the camera away from him as he stormed out, although Fida tried to puncture his speech as best as she could be talking over him and appealing for respect.

So suddenly it was just Fida and the Israeli. I guess he was happy, because now he got to yap without opposition; and Fida was probably wondering how far away from professionalism it would be if she took the stress of the moment out on her one remaining guest.
The BBC, annoying as ever, would not run a repeat of the episode. Really? This was the best thing that happened all day!

Fida finished the program by saying: at the BBC we have to listen to all opinions and then talk them out rationally.

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