An upcoming event in London

Readers based in the UK may be interested in attending an event organised by UK Lawyers for Israel which is to be held in London on September 26th.

“Lord Trimble will reflect on the continuing relevance of the Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31 May 2010.  The Commission was set up by the Israeli Government to investigate the arrest of the Gaza flotilla and the controls imposed by Israel on the transfer of goods to Gaza. It was led by retired Israeli Supreme Court Judge Jacob Turkel and Lord Trimble was one of the two international observers.

Lord Trimble is former first Minister of Northern Ireland, one of UKLFI’s patrons, and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The Turkel Commission investigated whether Israel’s actions in preventing the arrival of ships in Gaza were in accordance with international law.   It examined the security considerations for imposing naval restrictions on the Gaza Strip and the actions taken by the organisers and participants in the flotilla.  The first part of the findings, released in January 2011, concluded that both Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza and its actions when it intercepted the flotilla were in accordance with international law.

This will be an opportunity to hear a fascinating perspective on International Law concerning the restrictions on the transfer of goods to Gaza, and how far Israel can go to protect its borders.”

Details and tickets here.

 

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Activist’s posts dispute BBC’s equivocal account of 2010 flotilla incident

A significant number of BBC reports relating to the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010 still remain accessible online and many of the later ones present a ‘he said-she said’ account of events.

For example, a report published in January 2011 states:

“Israel says its commandos used live fire only after being attacked with clubs, knives and guns.

But activists on board the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara say the commandos started shooting as soon as they boarded the vessel.”

Two articles dating from September 2011 both state:

“At the time, the Israeli military said its commandos fired live rounds only after being attacked with clubs, knives and guns. But activists on board said the commandos started shooting as soon as they hit the deck.”

Under the sub-heading “Who started the violence?” an article from June 2016 tells BBC audiences that:

“This is disputed. The activists say the commandos started shooting as soon as they hit the deck. Israeli officials say the commandos opened fire only after being attacked with clubs, knives and a gun which was taken from them. Video released by the Israeli military stops just before the shooting begins. A UN inquiry was apparently unable to determine at exactly which point the commandos used live fire.”

Interestingly, some of the BBC’s earlier reports presented a less vague picture.

In an article dating from June 2010, the BBC’s Paul Reynolds quoted an Israeli journalist:

“The reporter states that the protesters “attempted to wrest away [the soldiers’] weapons”. They got hold of one handgun, he says, when one soldier, seen on the video, was thrown from the upper deck on to the lower. […]

The Israelis claim that the activists got hold of two pistols and must have fired them as their magazines were found to be empty when recovered.”

In another June 2010 article titled “Activists describe Israeli raid on Gaza aid convoy” the leader of the IHH is quoted as saying that:

“…some of the activists had grabbed the guns off soldiers in self-defence.

“Yes, we took their guns. It would be self-defence even if we fired their guns. We told our friends on board: ‘We will die, become martyrs, but never let us be shown… as the ones who used guns’. By this decision, our friends accepted death, and we threw all the guns we took from them into the sea.””

As those who have read David Collier’s two-part report about the secret Facebook Group called ‘Palestine Live’ will be aware, Israel’s account of the events aboard the ship has inadvertently been supported by one of its members – Greta Berlin – who was quoted in a 2010 BBC profile of the Mavi Marmara flotilla organisers.

The Times of Israel sums up that story:

“A leading pro-Palestinian campaigner involved in the flotilla that attempted to enter Gaza in May 2010 has appeared to corroborate Israel’s version of the events which led to the bloody confrontation on board the Mavi Marmara. […]

In newly revealed posts from a secret British Facebook group, Greta Berlin, the co-founder and spokesperson of the Free Gaza Movement, states that the Israeli troops did not open fire until after Ken O’Keefe, a former US marine aboard the Mavi Marmara, had seized a gun from one of them. […]

“He was responsible for some of the deaths on board the Mavi Marmara. Had he not disarmed an Israeli terrorist soldier, they would not have started to fire. That’s enough. Most of you have no idea what you’re talking about,” she wrote.”

As the ToI notes, Berlin’s 2014 posts at ‘Palestine Live’ contradict the messaging she gave to the international media – including the BBC – immediately following the May 2010 incident. The BBC also interviewed O’Keefe less than a month after the incident. 

Obviously the BBC would do well to review the accounts of events that appear in its available content relating to the Mavi Marmara incident in light of those posts from Greta Berlin.

Related Articles:

BBC reporter revealed to be member of secret anti-Israel Facebook group

Greta Berlin: Gaza Flotilla Propagandist (CAMERA)

 

BBC News continues to tout inaccurate portrayal of the ‘Mavi Marmara’

On several occasions in the past the BBC has misrepresented the ‘Mavi Marmara’ – a passenger ship in the 2010 flotilla – as an “aid ship”.

For example in March 2013 BBC audiences were told: [all emphasis added]

“….nine Turkish activists on a boat called the Mavi Marmara taking aid to Gaza. That boat was boarded by Israeli marines and nine of the activists were killed.”

“Nine people were killed on board the Turkish aid ship, Mavi Marmara, when it was boarded by Israeli commandos while trying to transport aid supplies to Gaza in May 2010 in spite of an Israeli naval blockade.”

And in June 2016:

“It was the Mavi Marmara episode in May 2010, when Israeli naval commandos boarded a Turkish-flagged aid vessel which was aiming to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, that caused the rupture.”

And in October 2016:

“Bilateral relations went into the deep freeze in May 2010 when Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara aid ship as it tried to breach the blockade of Gaza. Ten Turkish activists on board were killed.”

As has been clarified here previously, the Mavi Marmara was of course not an “aid ship” at all. The UN’s Palmer Report (p. 47), documented that it carried 546 passengers but no humanitarian aid supplies for the people of the Gaza Strip.

“If the flotilla had been a purely humanitarian mission it is hard to see why so many passengers were embarked and with what purpose. Furthermore, the quality and value of many of the humanitarian goods on board the vessels is questionable. There were large quantities of humanitarian and construction supplies on board the Gazze 1, Eleftheri Mesogeio and Defne-Y. There were some foodstuffs and medical goods on board the Mavi Marmara, although it seems that these were intended for the voyage itself.  Any “humanitarian supplies” were limited to foodstuffs and toys carried in passengers’ personal baggage. The same situation appears to be the case for two other of the vessels: the Sfendoni, and the Challenger I. There was little need to organize a flotilla of six ships to deliver humanitarian assistance if only three were required to carry the available humanitarian supplies. The number of journalists embarked on the ships gives further power to the conclusion that the flotilla’s primary purpose was to generate publicity.”

On at least two occasions (most recently in October 2016) the BBC has corrected its inaccurate portrayal of the ‘Mavi Marmara’ but that, however, is obviously not enough to prevent the inaccuracy from being repeated.

On December 9th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Turkey drops case against Israeli officers in Gaza flotilla killings“. The opening paragraph reads:

“A Turkish court has dropped a case against four Israeli military officials charged over a deadly raid on a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza in 2010.” [emphasis added]

mavi-marmara-art-9-12

Especially given the previous corrections, it is of course difficult to understand why that inaccuracy is repeated time after time by BBC News.

Update: following communication from BBC Watch, the article was amended and its opening paragraph now reads as follows:

mavi-marmara-art-amendment

 

BBC News again misrepresents the ‘Mavi Marmara’ as an “aid ship”

October 19th saw the appearance of an article by Selin Girit titled “Gas pipeline hope heals rupture in Israel-Turkey ties” in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page.girit-art-19-10

Readers are told that:

“Bilateral relations went into the deep freeze in May 2010 when Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara aid ship as it tried to breach the blockade of Gaza. Ten Turkish activists on board were killed.”

The Mavi Marmara was of course not an “aid ship” at all. As documented in the UN’s Palmer Report (p. 47), it carried 546 passengers but no humanitarian aid supplies for the people of the Gaza Strip.

“If the flotilla had been a purely humanitarian mission it is hard to see why so many passengers were embarked and with what purpose. Furthermore, the quality and value of many of the humanitarian goods on board the vessels is questionable. There were large quantities of humanitarian and construction supplies on board the Gazze 1, Eleftheri Mesogeio and Defne-Y. There were some foodstuffs and medical goods on board the Mavi Marmara, although it seems that these were intended for the voyage itself.  Any “humanitarian supplies” were limited to foodstuffs and toys carried in passengers’ personal baggage. The same situation appears to be the case for two other of the vessels: the Sfendoni, and the Challenger I. There was little need to organize a flotilla of six ships to deliver humanitarian assistance if only three were required to carry the available humanitarian supplies. The number of journalists embarked on the ships gives further power to the conclusion that the flotilla’s primary purpose was to generate publicity.”

The same inaccuracy has been seen in previous BBC reports and it has on occasion (though not consistently) been corrected or amended. Despite that, nearly six and a half years after the incident and over five years since the publication of the Palmer Report, the BBC continues to promote an inaccurate portrayal of the Mavi Marmara, its purpose and its passengers

Update:

Following the publication of this post and communication from BBC Watch, the article was amended and the above passage now reads as follows:

girit-art-amended

 

 

BBC News erases Hamas terror from portrayal of Gaza blockade

On July 3rd the BBC News website published an article on its Middle East page titled “Turkey sends Gaza aid after six-year rift with Israel ends” in which readers were told that:Turkey ship art main

“A Turkish ship carrying 11,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid for Gaza has arrived in the Israeli port of Ashdod. […]

The Lady Leyla ship was carrying food, clothing and toys intended to arrive in Gaza in time for Eid celebrations marking the end of Ramadan.

It has been unloaded at Ashdod and the aid donations will be transported overland through Israel to Gaza.”

Readers were not however given any information which would allow them to put those 11,000 tonnes of goods into context because the article refrained from informing them how much aid is transported into the Gaza Strip on a regular basis.

In the week preceding the arrival of the Turkish ship, 107,531 tons of goods entered the Gaza Strip: in other words, nearly double the amount of goods carried by the Turkish ship on every working day. On the day that the Turkish ship docked, 18,531 tons of goods entered the Gaza Strip in 602 trucks.

Cogat tweet Gaza goods wk ending 30 6

The article purportedly provides readers with background information concerning the core topic of the restrictions imposed by the countries neighbouring the Gaza Strip.

“Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2006 after the Palestinian group Hamas, which runs the territory, abducted an Israeli soldier. The measures were tightened by Israel and Egypt in 2007 after Hamas ousted its rival Fatah and forcibly took control in Gaza after winning elections the year before.”

Remarkably, that portrayal completely erases Hamas terrorism – including the thousands of missiles fired at civilian communities – from the picture provided to BBC audiences. As it has unfortunately been necessary to note here on numerous occasions in the past, the actual sequence of events is as follows:

“The violent Hamas take-over of Gaza took place between June 5th and 15th 2007 and the Palestinian Authority – the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people – was forcefully ejected from power. Following that event, both Egypt and Israel largely closed their borders with the Gaza Strip due to the fact that the body charged with joint security arrangements under the terms of the Oslo Accords – the Palestinian Authority – no longer exercised any control over the territory. 

Three months later – on September 19th 2007 – in light of the escalation of terrorist rocket attacks against Israeli civilians originating in the now Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip – the Israeli government declared Gaza to be ‘hostile territory’.”

Since June 2010 restrictions on the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip have only related to arms, munitions and dual-use items which can be used for the purpose of terrorism. Having failed to inform readers about the Hamas terrorism which brought about and sustains the restrictions, the article closes with an “Israel says” tick of the impartiality box and the amplification of a dog whistle quote.  

“Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas receiving materials that could be used for military purposes, but the UN has long been critical of it.

Last week Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it “collective punishment for which there must be accountability”.”

Reporting on the topic of restrictions on passage and the movement of specific types of goods through Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip and the naval blockade introduced in 2009 cannot possibly be considered accurate and impartial if it fails to inform audiences of the reason for those measures: Islamist terrorism against Israeli civilians.

Not only does this article fail to include any mention of that topic (or the fact that Hamas is an internationally designated terrorist organisation) but a click on the link to the only item of suggested related reading (out of 17 links in total) which seems likely to perhaps provide relevant background information – “Guide: Eased Gaza Blockade” – is dead.

Turkey ship art related

Turkey ship art 404

Obviously BBC News was not sufficiently committed to telling this story in an accurate and impartial manner. 

Inaccuracies in BBC diplomatic correspondent’s description of Mavi Marmara

Turkey’s recent diplomatic moves – including the agreement signed with Israel – were the subject of an article by the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus which appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on June 29th under the headline “Turkey plays diplomatic chess in Middle East“.

Explaining the former nature of ties between Turkey and Israel and what caused the six-year-long rift, Marcus told readers that:

Marcus art Mavi Marmara

In fact, in May 2010 the Mavi Marmara was not “Turkish-flagged” but was registered in Comoros and flew that flag of convenience at the time.

MM registration

Neither was the Mavi Marmara an “aid vessel”: it was a passenger ship (carrying 546 passengers) which formed part of a flotilla of six vessels, only three of which were carrying ‘aid’, as the Palmer report noted (p 47):Marcus Turkey art

“If the flotilla had been a purely humanitarian mission it is hard to see why so many passengers were embarked and with what purpose. Furthermore, the quality and value of many of the humanitarian goods on board the vessels is questionable. There were large quantities of humanitarian and construction supplies on board the Gazze 1, Eleftheri Mesogeio and Defne-Y. There were some foodstuffs and medical goods on board the Mavi Marmara, although it seems that these were intended for the voyage itself.  Any “humanitarian supplies” were limited to foodstuffs and toys carried in passengers’ personal baggage. The same situation appears to be the case for two other of the vessels: the Sfendoni, and the Challenger I. There was little need to organize a flotilla of six ships to deliver humanitarian assistance if only three were required to carry the available humanitarian supplies. The number of journalists embarked on the ships gives further power to the conclusion that the flotilla’s primary purpose was to generate publicity.”

The BBC has previously corrected or amended reports which included the inaccurate description of the Mavi Marmara as an “aid ship” and clearly this article requires the same treatment.

Related Articles:

BBC recognizes that the Mavi Marmara was not an “aid ship”

 

A story serially avoided by the BBC comes home to roost

On June 27th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published an article titled “Israel and Turkey end rift over Gaza flotilla killings” which has since undergone extensive amendment.Turkey deal art

Among the report’s notable features are:

1) The use of euphemistic language to describe those killed in the incident aboard the Mavi Marmara and the concealment of their Islamist links.

“Israel and Turkey have normalised relations, ending a six-year rift over the killing by Israeli troops of 10 Turkish activists on a Gaza-bound ship.”

Ten pro-Palestinian Turkish activists, one of them a dual American citizen, were killed and dozens wounded as clashes broke out after the commandos boarded the ship, descending on ropes from helicopters.” [emphasis added]

2) The promotion of a ‘he said-she said’ account of the incident aboard the Mavi Marmara which ignores the existence of video evidence and witness accounts.   

“The two sides had blamed each other for the violence. The activists said the commandos started shooting as soon as they hit the deck. Israel said the commandos opened fire only after being attacked with clubs, knives and a gun which was taken from them.”

3) The vague statement that the ship was “Turkish-owned” – without any mention of the specific organisation which purchased it (together with one other ship in the flotilla) and the fact that it – the IHH – was one of the publicity stunt’s main planners. Oddly, the IHH is not named even once throughout the whole report and readers therefore remain unaware of its relevant ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.  

“The Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara was part of a flotilla attempting to breach the blockade when it was intercepted by Israeli commandos on 31 May 2010.”

4) A rare realistic portrayal of the aim of the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip is followed by the amplification of a propaganda slur.

“Israel maintains its blockade of Gaza to try to prevent weapons or materials reaching Palestinian militants, with whom it fought a devastating war in 2014, while allowing humanitarian aid into the territory.

Palestinians say the policy is tantamount to collective punishment, and UN and aid officials have warned of deteriorating conditions in Gaza.”

5) The amplification of the Turkish PM’s inaccurate claim concerning the ‘lifting’ of the blockade.

“”The total embargo imposed on Palestine and on the Gaza region in particular, is to being lifted to a great extent through Turkey’s leadership,” Mr Yildirim asserted.”

6) The failure to note the IHH’s opposition to the agreement and its pledge to continue legal action.

“…Turkey agreed to pass legislation protecting Israeli troops from legal claims over the Mavi Marmara incident…”

7) The absence of any mention of political and public opposition to the deal in Israel or of the reactions of Hamas operatives.

One aspect of this report, however, must have been particularly confusing for readers who regularly get their news from the BBC. In the insert of ‘analysis’ from Jonathan Marcus, readers were told that under the terms of the deal:

“Israel sees an end to its practical difficulties with Turkey and gets assurances about future Hamas activity on Turkish soil.”

In the body of the report they were informed that:

“In return, Turkey agreed to […] prevent any military action or fundraising by Hamas operatives based there.”

However, BBC audiences have no idea that there are any Hamas operatives based in Turkey because (as has been documented here on numerous occasions) for the last two years the corporation has diligently avoided telling them that operations – including Hamas’ efforts to strengthen its infrastructure and standing in Palestinian Authority controlled areas – were being run from that NATO member country.

The serial omission of information on that topic obviously now compromises the ability of audiences to understand the background to the references to Hamas made in this article and that impacts their understanding of this particular “international issue“. 

BBC News again misleads audiences regarding Gaza naval blockade

On December 18th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Israel and Turkey reach ‘understanding’ on restoring ties“.

Changes made to that report after its initial publication appropriately (and in line with a previous correction) included the removal of two descriptions of the 2010 flotilla which included the ‘Mavi Marmara’ as an “aid” flotilla that were originally seen in the caption to the illustrating image and in the final paragraph.

Turkey art caption aid flotilla

Turkey art 2 aid flotilla

However, the paragraph inserted to replace the previous version now provides BBC audiences (not for the first time) with a misleading statement concerning the naval blockade.

Turkey art replacement para

As has been noted here before:

“Under the terms of the Oslo Accords – willingly signed by the representatives of the Palestinian people –Gaza’s coastal waters remained under Israeli responsibility. The agreements divide those waters into three different zones named K,L and M.

“Subject to the provisions of this paragraph, Zones K and M will be closed areas, in which navigation will be restricted to activity of the Israel Navy.”

Zone L was designated for “fishing, recreation and economic activities”, subject to specific provisions, including the following:

“As part of Israel’s responsibilities for safety and security within the three Maritime Activity Zones, Israel Navy vessels may sail throughout these zones, as necessary and without limitations, and may take any measures necessary against vessels suspected of being used for terrorist activities or for smuggling arms, ammunition, drugs, goods, of for any other illegal activity. The Palestinian Police will be notified of such actions, and the ensuing procedures will be coordinated through the MC.” [Emphasis added]

Following the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the November 15th 2005 agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (Agreed documents on movement and access from and to Gaza) made no change to the above provisions. 

After the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas in 2007, Israel did introduce maritime zones off the coast of the Gaza Strip as part of efforts to reduce arms smuggling into the territory – for example see the Notice to Mariners No. 6/2008 of August 13th 2008 – but that is not the same thing as a naval blockade (which has a specific legal definition)…”

Not only does this report fail to properly clarify to readers why Israel had to tighten “maritime restrictions” after the violent Hamas take-over of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 but seeing as the article’s subject matter relates to a flotilla intended to breach the naval blockade and that was only put in place in 2009, the reference to the year 2007 is obviously misleading.   

Six months ago both the BBC News website and BBC Arabic also misled audiences with regard to the date of implementation of the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. The English language report was subsequently amended but as we see, the correction has not prevented a similar inaccuracy from being promoted yet again.

Resources:

BBC News contact details

 

 

Move over Galloway: BBC Radio Ulster airs pro-Assad & anti-Israel propaganda

h/t IM

When George Galloway promotes Assad regime propaganda on Iran’s Press TV or the Iranian/Syrian funded Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV, most of us are probably not in the least bit surprised that media outlets beholden to totalitarian regimes make no effort whatsoever to conceal their conscripted status.

However, we reassure ourselves that such blatant and unabashed amplification of the baseless lies and propaganda of a vicious dictatorship could not happen in Western countries where reliable and reputable broadcasters operate according to clearly defined editorial standards. Or could it?

We recently witnessed one instance in which the BBC ran a headline (later amended) composed of pure, unadulterated Assad propaganda.  On Sunday, May 19th 2013 BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Sunday Sequence’ programme – which claims to “explore the week’s religious and ethical news and examine the key debates from the worlds of culture and ideas” with host William Crawley – permitted a long segment of the show to be devoted to running interference for the Assad regime, together with the promotion of anti-Israel conspiracies and tropes of an antisemitic nature. 

Sunday Sequence

The programme’s guest who was provided with a BBC platform from which to engage in that diatribe was prolific anti-Israel campaigner, Vanunu fan, Global March to Jerusalem supporter, ‘Russell Tribunal on Palestine’ “jury” member and former flotilla passenger Mairead Maguire. Host William Crawley – apparently rather over-awed by her status as a 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner – refrained from informing listeners about Maguire’s rich history of anti-Israel activity before allowing her to launch into her largely unhindered propaganda rant.

The programme can be heard here for a limited period of time, with the relevant segment commencing at 08:04. Not far into the broadcast we already hear Maguire state:

“No – Assad is not murdering his own people.”

That is followed at 11:19 by Maguire’s ‘explanation’ of the ‘reasons’ behind potential Western intervention in the Syrian civil war.

“And do you know what the agenda is? The agenda is Israeli security. The agenda is taking over Syria so they can destroy Iran and then we move from Iran to North Korea.”

But Maguire really gets into her stride from 18:10 onwards when Crawley asks: 

“Why do you think – why do you believe – the Syrian crisis is really about Israel?”

MM: “The President of Syria took a very strong stand against the Iraqi war. The President of Syria has taken a very strong stand in defence of the rights of the Palestinian people. He has not bowed down or cowed down to the Israeli and the American agenda. So in that situation he runs the risk of being someone outside who’s not doing as he’s told.”

Of course neither Maguire nor Crawley bother to inform listeners that the Assad dynasty’s supposed “defence of the rights of the Palestinian people” has never extended to Palestinians living in Syria

“Between 70 and 90 thousand refugees arrived in Syria, the majority from Tzfat, Haifa, Tiberias and Acco. In 1954 they were awarded partial rights, which did not include political rights. Until 1968 they were forbidden to hold property. Syrian law allows any Arab to obtain Syrian citizenship as long as his permanent residence is in Syria and he is capable of supporting himself economically. But the Palestinians are the only ones excluded from the terms this law. Even if they are permanent residents and affluent, the law prevents them from receiving citizenship. 

Only thirty percent of those still considered for some reason ‘Palestinian refugees in Syria’ live in refugee camps. In fact, they should have been considered as Syrians from all points of view a long time ago. They were part of the Arab national identity, they are linked by family connections, they should have been integrated into economic life. Yet despite this, as a result of political brain-washing, they remain in Syria as a foreign body, dreaming endlessly of ‘the right of return’, and beaten by their inferior situation. Most of them are at the bottom of the career ladder, in service industries (41%) and construction (27%). But there is nothing like the field of education to clarify their situation. 23% do not even get to elementary school and 3% only get academic education.”

At 19:28 Maguire goes on to say: 

“Somebody has to say to the Americans and to the Israelis you need to make peace out here or you’re going to destroy the whole Middle East and that will affect the whole world. Israel doesn’t want peace. I’ve been many, many times to Israel and Palestine – they don’t want peace.  They have chosen land. And as long as Israel chooses land, then it will continue to cause a slow genocide of the Palestinian people, stealing their land. And America says nothing because America’s afraid of Israel and President Obama is afraid of the Israeli [sic] vote in America because it is powerful. But America has to take a stand. It’s funded to the tune of millions of pounds – the militarization of Israel. And Israel with its nuclear weapons is the greatest threat in the Middle East.”

That barrage of downright lies, factual inaccuracies, defamations and antisemitic tropes is met with a tepid “there are two sides to this story, aren’t there?” reaction from Crawley, but he makes no effort to correct the erroneous impressions audiences have already received from Maguire. At 20:34 Maguire claims:

“Well you see when we were in Syria, Israel attacked Syria. Two planes over Syria. 

Crawley interjects:

“Because of concerns about chemical weapons.”

MM: “No – because it wants to control…”

WC: “But that is their explanation.”

MM: “But I mean this idea that there are chemical weapons – the Syrian government, immediately this myth was put out – immediately wrote to the UN and said send in anybody you want because we can prove we don’t have chemical weapons. And the UN never even answered their letters. But that kind of thing has sort of slowed down now because they knew it was disinformation to destroy Syria.”

The Syrian regime has of course refused entry to UN weapons inspectors and the existence of its chemical weapons stockpiles is common knowledge, but Maguire’s lies go uncorrected by Crawley, who instead poses a question which one seriously doubts he would ask in relation to any other country:

“Do you believe that Israel has a right to exist?” 

Maguire’s presumably unintentionally clichéd reply to that is:

“I totally believe that Israel has the right to exist and I love my Jewish friends. I have very many Jewish friends. But I totally oppose the policies being carried out by Israel. Israel has not the right to attack other countries and feel that it will not be held accountable under international law.”

The programme continues with what is presumably supposed to be a ‘balancing’ phone interview with Professor Beverly Milton-Edwards, which will do little to correct the perverted impressions listeners have already received from Maguire – not least because of its dismal sound quality and the fact that it lasts far less than half the time which she was allocated.

The Assad regime and its Iranian backers will no doubt be very impressed with the latest BBC voluntary contribution to the cause of spreading classic Syrian dictatorship propaganda – although the MP for Bradford West might be somewhat put out at no longer being the only star of the Assad makeover show. Real journalists – particularly publicly funded ones bound by standards of accuracy and impartiality – should, however, know better. 

 

Yet another major BBC accuracy fail in reporting 2010 flotilla

The BBC Editorial Guidelines on accuracy state:

“The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences.  We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact or otherwise undermine our audiences’ trust in our content.”

Consider this filmed report from March 24th by Lucas de Jong which appeared on BBC television news programmes as well as on the BBC News website.

de Jong report

At 00:39 de Jong states:

“Obama is credited with connecting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his Turkish counterpart. Mr Netanyahu apologized to Turkey for this 2010 commando raid that killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel in a Gaza-bound flotilla.”

However, as previously noted here, PM Netanyahu’s apology did not relate to the fact that a “commando raid” took place – as de Jong claims – but to “any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury” and it was made not “to Turkey”, but specifically to the Turkish people.

De Jong’s complete failure to inject any context whatsoever into this section of his report, together with his selective omission of crucial facts, means that viewers unfamiliar with the actual sequence of events are left unaware of the severe violence perpetrated against the Israeli soldiers by the well-prepared mob of religiously inspired Turkish nationals and of the fact that the soldiers acted in self-defence.

Neither are viewers made aware of the fact that the purpose of the “Gaza-bound flotilla” was to breach a legal maritime blockade initiated in order to curb the flow of weapons to the terrorist group Hamas, with which organisers of the flotilla – including the owners of the ship upon which the incident took place, the IHH – are affiliated.

This additional example of inaccurate and context-free reporting on the subject of the Mavi Marmara incident indicates yet again that the BBC is more interested in manipulating audiences’ recollections of that event through distortion of the facts than in accurate and impartial reporting in accordance with its obligations.