LONDON – A BBC documentary screened this week that investigated the Gaza
flotilla incident on May 31 is causing a storm of protest – from critics of
Israel, who are furious that the program was not as hostile to Israel as they
thought it should be.
The critics, including an activist from the Free
Gaza movement who was aboard the Mavi Marmara, are organizing demonstrations on
Sunday outside the BBC’s London headquarters and other BBC offices, and are
calling for a mass campaign of complaints to the BBC in general and the program
makers in particular.
'Lebanese ship to sail to Gaza'
''Viva Palestina' Gaza flotilla to sail'
In Death in the Med, the BBC’s flagship documentary
series Panorama examined the ill-fated Israeli interception of the Mavi Marmara,
the only ship from the Free Gaza flotilla which saw confrontation between
activists and Israeli troops.
The half-hour program had exclusive access
to the Israeli navy unit that took part in the raid and interviewed a number of
the commandos, as well as members of the Free Gaza group and the IHH movement
that organized the flotilla.
Using previously unseen video footage from
the IDF and confiscated passenger tapes, mostly recorded by members of a group
called Cultures of Resistance, the program concluded that the main aim of the
activists had not been to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, but rather to
orchestrate a political act designed to put pressure on Israel and the
The program also concluded that the Israeli
commandos encountered a violent, premeditated attack by a hardcore group
activists organized by IHH members. Nine Turkish nationals were killed
commandos after they came under attack when boarding the Mavi
Demonstration outside BBC's London headquarters planned
Sunday’s demonstration outside BBC headquarters in west London
is being organized by Ken O’Keefe, one of the Free Gaza activists from
Marmara, who was interviewed in the documentary, and a group
called the Muslim
“Enough is enough, we all know the truth of the terrorist
attacks committed by Israel on unarmed peace activists! The BBC needs to
that it cannot continue airing lies as the truth,” this group proclaims
Other protests are being organized at regional BBC offices
in Manchester and Belfast.
Calls to action began even before the program
was aired. The radical group Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC),
founder Asghar Bukhari made a donation to convicted Holocaust denier
Irving in 2006, urged people to complain to the BBC ahead of time.
doubt, the BBC will once again be airing and spreading propaganda on
behalf,” MPAC predicted on its Web site.
An action alert published by the
radical fringe group Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is calling on
complain. In it, the group asks why the program’s presenter, Jane
not mention “the bombs, rockets and white phosphorus dropped on Gaza by
during Operation Cast Lead over a three-week period, killing 1,400
The group also asks why the IDF boarded the ship at night if it
had peaceful intentions, and questions why the presenter gave the
“If Israel’s intentions in boarding the ship were
peaceful, why did the commandos board in the early hours of the morning,
dark, instead of during daylight hours? Why is [Corbin] giving the aid
a religious context when it had none? Again, she presents no evidence of
recruitment of ‘fellow Islamists,’” PSC asked.
lecturer Sue Blackwell, a major player in the call to boycott Israel
also sent a call to action highlighting “the aspects of bias” of the
piece of broadcasting.”
Screening film during Ramadan 'unfair'
Blackwell maintained there were no interviews
with any Palestinians or representatives of any other organization apart
IHH. She was corrected by Mike Cushman, a fellow boycott activist, who
“Lubna Masarwa, who was interviewed (badly) in the program, is a
a representative of Free Gaza. We mustn’t weaken our complaints by
Blackwell also suggested that the time of the
screening was unfair.
“Scheduling the broadcast during the evening in the
first week of Ramadan, when many Muslim viewers were unlikely to be
because they would be breaking their fast, [was unfair],” she said.
you have just watched Panorama
on the Mavi Marmara, please
complain in the
strongest terms to the BBC about outrageous Israeli propaganda being
investigative journalism,” University of Exeter senior lecturer Kamil
urged, in another call to action.
Alluding to a point raised in the
program on Hamas’s stance toward Israel, he said: “It repeats the talk
Hamas not recognizing Israel and thousands of rockets fired at
“Israeli allegations of ‘terrorism’ coming from the ship
and IHH’s alleged terrorist links are given BBC credence (for what it is
The whole tone is also disgusting. Please pass this on and ask all to
Free Gaza activist Ewa Jasiewicz said the whole tone and
framing of the program was “utterly Islamophobic and racist and
“Jane Corbin and her team reduced the Israeli navy’s
violent attack on six ships down to the attack on the Mavi Marmara. It was
clearly the worst attacked, but by singling it out as an
and ignoring the fact that each ship was extremely violently attacked by
commandos who fired as they boarded and passengers from each ship put up
resistance, served to split and isolate activists on the Marmara from the rest
of the movement.
“New depths have been sunken [sic] to with this
documentary, really people need to get out and complain about this
whitewash of Israeli crimes masquerading as ‘journalism’,” Jasiewicz
Last month, Jasiewicz was part of a group of activists who
spray-painted “Liberate all ghettos, free Gaza and Palestine” on a wall
original Warsaw Ghetto.