BBC Radio 4's World at One yesterday, Tuesday 28th August, can be heard here for a week after transmission. The programme covered the verdict which exonerated the Israeli military of any blame for the death of Rachel Corrie, crushed under an Israeli military bulldozer carrying out one its frequent missions to bulldoze Palestinian homes.
On this occasion the BBC have strayed from their frequent dishonesty by omission or weasel words to outright untruth. A number of Israeli soldiers did not die in any incident related to "what happened that day", i.e. the day of the killing of Rachel Corrie, the subject of the interview.
You can listen to the original piece and judge for yourself.
18:32 Slot on the Rachel Corrie verdict starts.
19:00 BBC reporter gives usual 'balanced' report, careful not to suggest Israeli Army has been lying.
20:39 Craig Corrie, Rachel's father presents his case for 2minutes 16 seconds, arguing that the judge was just a mouthpiece for the Israel Army lawyers.
23:25 Mark Regev is given 3 minutes 14 seconds to claim, unchallenged, that "Israeli courts are known for their independence ...internationally", that "Palestinians know that our courts give justice" and to question whether Rachel Corrie and other supporters of Palestinian rights are "rational" since "the area was a war zone".
25:03 Martha Kearney says to Regev: "Clearly Rachel Corrie was one of the casualties of what happened that day and I know Israeli soldiers died too."
During the interview, Regev denied that Israeli bulldozers that day were demolishing Palestinian homes, one of several of Regev's lies, unchallenged by Martha Kearney.
Kearney's language on supposed military casualties in Gaza on the day of Rachel Corrie's killing is extremely vague, but is clearly designed to offer help to Regev. Kearney is actually peddling a naked lie here and Regev eagerly accepts the untruth and builds on it.
Martha Kearney could not know that "Israeli soldiers died too...casualties of what happened that day" because no Israeli soldiers died in Gaza in the three weeks before Rachel Corrie's death on March 16th or in the following five weeks.
A soldier of the occupation forces, Sgt Doron Lev, was killed in Gaza on February 23rd 2003 by a resistance fighter. Cpl. Lior Ziv was killed on April 20th. The exhaustive Israeli archives - http://bit.ly/fyqm - list no other Israeli military fatalities in Gaza between those dates.
An Israeli man, Zachar Rahamin Hanukayev, not then serving in the Iraeli Army, was killed at Karni Industrial Crossing at the opposite end of Gaza from Rafah on April 15th.
The record shows clearly, therefore, that Kearney was spreading disinformation favourable to the Israeli version of events and clouding the story of an unarmed American peace activist.
There were nine Palestinian deaths at Israeli hands the day Rachel Corrie was bulldozed under the ground, including a four year-old girl and a 90 year-old man. This was covered in the Observer, but barely merited attention from other UK media. We are used to this treatment of spilt Palestinian blood as water and Israeli blood as precious, but the development from naked bias to shameless lies to help Israel spin the killing of Rachel Corrie is shocking. Though not surprising to anyone who remembers the BBC refused to even broadcast the humanitarian appeal on behalf of Gaza from British charities.
Edinburgh 29 August 2012
A stand-up's sharp take on the BBC and Palestine
"I’ve been studying Israeli Army Martial Arts. I now know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back.
"The situation in Palestine seems to be, in essence, apartheid. I grew up with the anti apartheid thing being a huge focus of debate. It really seemed to matter to everybody that other human beings were being treated in that way. We didn’t just talk about it, we did things, I remember boycotts and marches and demos all being held because we couldn’t bear that people were being treated like that."
Obviously, it feels strange to be on the moral high ground but I feel a response is required to the BBC Trust’s cowardly rebuke of my jokes about Palestine.
As always, I heard nothing from the BBC but read in a newspaper that editorial procedures would be tightened further to stop jokes with anything at all to say getting past the censors.
In case you missed it, the jokes in question are:
"People think that the Middle East is very complex but I have an analogy that sums it up quite well. If you imagine that Palestine is a big cake, well…that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew."
I think the problem here is that the show’s producers will have thought that Israel, an aggressive, terrorist state with a nuclear arsenal was an appropriate target for satire. The Trust’s ruling is essentially a note from their line managers. It says that if you imagine that a state busily going about the destruction of an entire people is fair game, you are mistaken. Israel is out of bounds.
The BBC refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal in 2009 to help residents of Gaza rebuild their homes. It’s tragic for such a great institution but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well drilled lobbying.
I told the jokes on a Radio 4 show called Political Animal. That title seems to promise provocative comedy with a point of view. In practice the BBC wish to deliver the flavour of political comedy with none of the content. The most recent offering I saw was BBC Two’s The Bubble. It looked exactly like a show where funny people sat around and did jokes about the news. Except the thrust of the format was that nobody had read the papers. I can only imagine how the head of the BBC Trust must have looked watching that, grinning like Gordon Brown having his prostrate examined.
The situation in Palestine seems to be, in essence, apartheid. I grew up with the anti apartheid thing being a huge focus of debate. It really seemed to matter to everybody that other human beings were being treated in that way. We didn’t just talk about it, we did things, I remember boycotts and marches and demos all being held because we couldn’t bear that people were being treated like that.
A few years ago I watched a documentary about life in Palestine. There’s a section where a UN dignitary of some kind comes to do a photo opportunity outside a new hospital. The staff know that it communicates nothing of the real desperation of their position, so they trick her into a side ward on her way out. She ends up in a room with a child who the doctors explain is in a critical condition because they don’t have the supplies to keep treating him. She flounders, awkwardly caught in the bleak reality of the room, mouthing platitudes over a dying boy.
The filmmaker asks one of the doctors what they think the stunt will have achieved. He is suddenly angry, perhaps having just felt at first hand something he knew in the abstract. The indifference of the world. ‘She will do nothing,’ he says to the filmmaker. Then he looks into the camera and says, ‘Neither will you’.
I cried at that and promised myself that I would do something. Other than write a few stupid jokes I have not done anything. Neither have you.
Full statement by Frankie Boyle here at chortle.co.uk
BBC Panorama’s John Ware aired a documentary on 30 July 2006 aimed at showing how funds raised by British charity Interpal have helped Hamas.
Subsequent criticisms of Ware have pointed out that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had to settle out of court with Interpal last year after calling them a 'terrorist organisation'. It has to be noted though that Ware was more clever. All he is saying is that Interpal had 'helped build Hamas into the popular movement it is today'. As such, these are still preposterous grounds for a documentary. It is something intangible that nobody could know or prove. Ware consequently had to clutch at various straws to try and construct a case. He also employed some very questionable methods.
Spinwatch August 2006, read more
The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is not unique -- whatever the news media may suggest. Lorenzo Veracini argues that the conflict is best understood in terms of colonialism. Like many other societies, Israel is a settler society. Looking in detail at the evolution of other colonial regimes -- apartheid South Africa, French Algeria and Australia -- Veracini presents a thoughtful interpretation of the dynamics of colonialism, offering a clear framework within which to understand the middle east crisis.