Anti-Israel group urges BBC complaints

Group angered by broadcast of ‘shockingly biased’ flotilla program.

Death on the Med (photo credit: Screenshot)
Death on the Med
(photo credit: Screenshot)
LONDON – An anti-Israel group, still unhappy with last week’s BBC documentary on the Gaza flotilla incident, is now urging supporters to take complaints all the way to the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee.
The radical fringe group Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has called on supporters to follow a whole series of actions to express unhappiness with the Panorama program that screened last Monday, and put pressure on the BBC for its “shocking bias.”
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The UK’s media regulator Ofcom has already said that it is unable to consider complaints from activists as it is unable to hold the BBC accountable on questions of accuracy and impartiality.
The critics are furious that program, titled “Death on the Med,” was not as hostile to Israel as they thought it should be.
“Many of you will have by now received a reply from BBC Audience Services, justifying the broadcast about Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla as ‘balanced and impartial.’ “This is not good enough, and we’re now asking you to take the next steps needed to keep up the pressure on the BBC and bring it to account for this shockingly biased piece of reporting,” the group’s campaign material and e-mails state.
The group wants people to write again to the BBC then contact the BBC Executive.
“Tell them [the BBC] you are not satisfied with their response, and that you now want your complaint to be dealt with formally by the BBC Executive.”
It then urges supporters to contact the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit if not satisfied after two more exchanges.
It even provides template letters, with a plethora of allegations, to use for each stage.
“If after two more exchanges, you have not received a satisfactory response, write to the Editorial Complaints Unit. Your letter should not exceed 1,000 words (about four pages).
Provide a one-page summary of your complaint,” it reads.
The BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards is the last port of call for PSC supporters to express views on the documentary program.
“If an investigation by the Editorial Complaints Unit proves to be unsatisfactory, you can request an appeal to the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee,” said the group.
“Some people and groups seem desperate to punish the BBC for broadcasting a program widely accepted as balanced and fair,” said Jonathan Sacerdoti, Zionist Federation of the UK’s director of Public Affairs. “It is certainly strange to hear people accusing the BBC of pro-Israel bias.
“Once again, they are showing their true colors, concentrating on attacking Israel rather than engaging in practical initiatives aimed at fostering cooperation and mutual understanding. For these people, coverage of Israel should always be viciously critical.
They are as uninterested in truthful and balanced reporting as they are in a fair and peaceful settlement to the long-running conflict itself,” Sacerdoti added.
A demonstration took place outside the BBC’s headquarters in west London, and also in Bristol and Manchester, on Sunday afternoon.
It was organized by activist Ken O’Keefe from the Free Gaza movement, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara – the ship boarded by naval commandos on May 31 on which nine Turkish activists were killed – who had himself been interviewed for the program, and the Muslim Defense League.
“The BBC once again aired and spread propaganda on Israel’s behalf,” said a Facebook page set up by the organizers.
“Enough is enough, we all know the truth of the terrorist attacks committed by Israel on unarmed peace activists! The BBC needs to know that it cannot continue airing lies as the truth,” the page said.
By Sunday morning, 268 people registered on the page to take part in the demonstration.
The Zionist Federation hand-delivered a letter to BBC director-general Mark Thompson during the protest on Sunday.
“We are not alone in wishing to place on the public record our view that [the] Jane Panorama program on the flotilla incident was for the most part balanced, well researched and well documented,” the letter said.
Meanwhile, The Independent, known to be the UK’s most hostile newspaper towards Israel, has apparently refused to publish an advert, signed by over 200, criticizing coverage of the flotilla incident by the BBC and the Panorama program.
An activist called Cheryl “Filasteen” Abdul from Newcastle has set up a protest page on Facebook after her efforts to get the protest letter published failed.
“The advertising department there does not seem to appreciate the virtues of a free press because they kept telling me it was based on opinion, not facts,” Abdul said.
“This for a newspaper that carries a whole section called ‘Viewspaper.’ It may be a case of commercially-biased advertising not understanding that an advert does not imply the paper’s support for what is carried but apparently the legal department have raised objections based on the attitude of the Advertising Standards Authority [the UK’s advertising regulator], though it is only a one-off advert which makes it very clear that the views expressed are those of the authors only,” she added.
Abdul is urging people to write to the Independent’s editor Simon Kelner.
“I suggest people email/ write to Simon Kelner, the editor, who wrote not so long ago of the Independent that ‘Today it is avowedly a ‘Viewspaper’, not merely a newspaper,’” she urged.