Panorama – Death in the Med – credit where credit is due


By raycook
August 17, 2010
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When I saw that Panorama, one of the BBC’s longest running investigative programmes, was being fronted by Jane Corbin, I was not sure that Israel would get a fair hearing. The last time I saw Ms Corbin in action on this programme was to report on evictions and demolitions in Jerusalem which ultimately failed to deliver a lot of context.

This time Corbin managed to tell the Israeli side for a change and also interviewed key players on the IHH side. The IHH being a Turkish humanitarian organisation that behaved in anything but a humanitarian way and has links to Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda. There are calls for its being proscribed in the USA and Europe.

The programme did an excellent job of piecing together video into a timeline. This was interspersed with interviews of IDF soldiers who actually took part, received injuries and fired on their attackers.
Interviews with the IHH were predictably disingenuous, representing their actions as defensive and claiming the IDF fired first.

The accusation of firing first was, perhaps, the only disappointing feature in this documentary. Jane Corbin said there were conflicting accounts. In other words, she sat journalistically on the fence. She did say, however, the the IDF could not have fired a weapon and rappelled on to the deck at the same time. The IHH claimed that the IDF shot first so their attack with knives, iron bars, captured pistols and, according the the Israelis, another firearm not used in the IDF, was purely defensive.

This claim is demonstrably nonsense. Firstly, if you are standing on a deck waiting for soldiers to come down a rope and they are somehow managing to fire at you, and you are so defenceless, wouldn’t you get the hell out of the way? If you do not have firearms and someone is shooting at you, would you just wait to attack with iron bars and knives? It’s ludicrous.

The IDF admitted that once they had seen there was strong resistance they should have regrouped and considered more carefully their next move. Instead, they decided to land on the deck even though they had already seen that this would meet with violence. This was a blunder and the current enquiry in Israel will surely further reinforce that fact, already admitted by the military. Israeli intelligence as to the nature of the threat failed miserably. The Mavi Marmara was hijacked by about 40 IHH activists and their plans to attack the IDF, clearly shown from their own videos, were unknown to the majority of activists on the ship who were completely innocent of any intentions other than, perhaps, passive resistance; and this was what happened on all the other boats.

The conclusions any sensible person would draw are these: you may not agree with the boarding of the Mavi Marmara, but it was clearly demonstrated that the Israelis were using paintball guns before they landed on deck and that this was their ‘weapon’ of choice as a non-lethal crowd controller. Handguns were only used when the attack on them became lethal.

It is also clear there was considerable confusion and fear amongst the soldiers, some of whom were taken below and one reported that he believed he would be killed. One of the Turkish activists protected him and probably saved his life. In this respect, his actions are praiseworthy. Other activists seem to have tried to treat the injured Israelis.

There was still no explanation of how and when and where the 9 activists were killed. The fact that 50 were also injured demonstrated, to me, that the soldiers, in fear of their lives, with good reason (some had already been bludgeoned, thrown off deck rails, stabbed and even shot) did what any soldier would do, namely use enough force to stop the immediate threat and discourage further attack. One IDF soldier, when asked if he killed anyone, said he shot at his assailants’ legs and this was then reinforced with video of an injured activist with leg wounds.

I believe that the soldiers went for non-lethal shots, but as they feared being overwhelmed and being killed they used lethal force. Maj Gen (Ret) Giora Eiland, who carried out the IDF investigation, made the remark that, under the circumstances, casualties were low. He didn’t elaborate why, and such remarks don’t play well with international audiences. This was not a well-judged remark, but at least it was honest.

Jane Corbin herself concluded, having seen the remnants of the aid, that the whole flotilla was a political provocation, not a humanitarian one. The Mavi Marmara carried no aid whatsoever (a point not made in the film) and other items were of such little importance to Hamas that they either did not let them through as a form of protest, or they were out-of-date medicines. You can see details of the aid carried by the other boats and what the Israelis did with it on a previous post of mine here.

No doubt apologists from the Free Gaza Movement will simply say that the whole incident would not have happened had it not been for the blockade, the Israelis are liars etc. But I ask you, if the Beeb can’t find anything with which to beat Israel up then maybe the IDF did indeed enter a trap and protected themselves from lethal force with lethal force.

First posted at http://www.raymondcook.net/blog/index.php/2010/08/16/panorama-death-in-t...

COMMENTS

mattpryor

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 11:47

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Thanks Ray, very good summary and I agree with you. It was a fascinating insight into the events that did not pass moral judgement on either side, but presented the facts in a balanced way.

The trouble is that the "other side" will see this as biased towards Israel because it was not biased against Israel enough! But I think most people that watched this documentary will conclude that Israel acted reasonably, although clearly the entire event was a tragedy that should have been avoided (and it seems Turkey bears a large part of that responsibility).

I cannot help but wonder how any other armed forces in the world would have behaved in similar circumstances.


Yvetta

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 12:43

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It's a funny feeling, being able to praise the BBC for once.
Perhaps we should write fan letters about last night's programme.

Daphne Anson: What a Difference a Jane Makes - to BBC balance on the Middle East
daphneanson.blogspot.co


Yvetta

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 12:44

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Ms Bagel - half-baked as usual - meant to post:

Daphne Anson: What a Difference a Jane Makes - to BBC balance on the Middle East
http://www.daphneanson.blogspot.com/


mattpryor

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 13:02

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For an idea of how the "other side" received Panorama, here's some amusing reading:

http://www.immortaltechnique.co.uk/Thread-1-2-Panorama-Israeli-Propagand...


mattpryor

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 13:10

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And...

http://www.shoah.org.uk/2010/08/17/shameless-zionist-bbc/

Delightful. I have quite a lot of sympathy for the Beeb when I see the sort of stuff it has to put up with.


Yvetta

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 14:36

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Don't waste your sympathy, Matt - they are usually terrible. But it's great to see how a truly balanced programme has upset the other side.


telegramsam

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 14:37

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Goodness, Matt, the other side sound just like the whingers of cifwatch.


mattpryor

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 14:39

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If that's the comparison you make in all honesty then you have lost your way. I feel sorry for you.


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 14:41

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ZF view:

We commend the BBC for their presentation of this issue in last night's 'Panorama' and encourage you to write to them to thank them for their fair coverage. You can do so by using this email address: panorama.reply@bbc.co.uk


raycook

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 16:33

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I followed ZF request and emailed the programme.

"Congrats to the producers and Jane Corbin on a balanced and fair discussion of the Mavi Marmara incident.

Te BBC is often criticised for perceived anti-Israel bias, indeed I have been one of those critics. But if I have the right to criticise I also have the obligation to commend."


raycook

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 16:36

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H/T to Elder of Ziyon for this link:

http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/ipc...

Shows the IHH were true to form on the Mavi Marmara


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 19:01

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http://www.palestinecampaign.org/

Wanna see knickers twisting ...


DLeigh-Ellis

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 20:13

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It was certainly an excellent documentary. In particular, I appreciated the effort to place the events into the order that they occured, as they occured....

The footage of people cutting bars from the ships was incredibly important, as was the fact that the Israeli preliminary shots were only paintballs, unlike the live rounds claimed by those on the boat.

The discord between the two apparent factions on the boat was also something that had not been reported on much. The BBC did a good job in probing to see the politics within the politics.


DeborahMaccoby

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 20:35

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Ray, you write: "She did say, however, that the IDF could not have fired a weapon and rappelled on to the deck at the same time."

This struck me as very puzzling, since surely the soldiers could have fired from the helicopter first and then abseiled down to the deck - or some could have stayed in the helicopter and fired while others were abseiling down.....

Also, as the PSC link posted by Jonathan (thank you Jonathan) points out, there was no mention at all of the Turkish autopsy, which said people were shot in the head, sometimes in the back of the head. Surely there should have been at least a mention of this?

Deborah


DeborahMaccoby

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 20:43

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PS Here's a link to the Guardian report about the Turkish autopsy.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:6a5iAGYCopoJ:www.gu...

Surely in a balanced programme this should at least have been mentioned?

Deborah


telegramsam

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 20:44

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Funny how that PSC letter reads like a ZF action memo. Hilarious in fact.


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 20:58

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Only hilarious to a traitor like you


DLeigh-Ellis

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 20:59

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like a broken record....


mattpryor

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 21:08

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Deborah: Since it's not on the Guardian website anymore perhaps they found out they'd been mislead and removed the story, in which case the BBC can hardly be expected to mention it?

Or perhaps, as I'm sure many at the PSC believe, those evil Zionists made the Guardian remove it from their website!


mattpryor

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 21:10

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Lo and behold, here is the "replacement" article. I haven't done a detailed comparison (dinner's cooking) but they seem to have revised quite a few of the "facts" from the original:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/04/gaza-flotilla-attack-autopsy...


telegramsam

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 21:20

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In order to be "fair and balanced" I think I'll send the been a psc and a zf letter.


raycook

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 22:27

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Deborah - you really are trying very hard to find some reason for believing the lies of your jihadi friends:

This struck me as very puzzling, since surely the soldiers could have fired from the helicopter first and then abseiled down to the deck - or some could have stayed in the helicopter and fired while others were abseiling down.....

Although I find it obnoxious that you really believe that the IDF would have fired live rounds unless they were being attacked, and I think I have laboured this point on these blogs and on my own; if the IDF had been shooting at the people on the deck, then why did the the thugs/activists not run for their lives clutching their knives and iron bars?

Why would the IDF, intent on doing harm to the IHH suicide attackers, fire a few live rounds then rappel down with paintball guns. It only makes sense to those who are ideologically blinded to the obvious truth. Israelis always lie in your world, especially if it means you have to accept that 'your side' were in the wrong.

Why do you identify with this bunch of murderers intent on martyrdom?

As for the Turkish autopsy, again, I have discussed this before, so what!? Yes they were shot in the head and the back of the head and the back, several times (if we can believe the autopsy reports, which I do, because the ISraelis have not denied it).

This is what happens to a group of 40-50 people armed with knives, metal bars, at least one (stolen) gun who have been using them and who are coming at you, to kill you, and you have a small hand gun. You shoot low to disable, but if they keep on coming you shoot, your colleagues shoot, to save yourself and each other and that means you shoot to kill and if that means shooting in the back of the head someone attacking your fellow soldier you do it. You don't think as the knife approaches your colleague's chest 'ooh, if I shoot him now that will look very bad on a British TV programme 3 months from now. I'd just better let my mate be stabbed in the heart', or 'Excuse me, old chap, would you mind turning round so I can shoot you in the forehead, it will look much better in the autopsy report'.

Why the autopsies were not discussed was a matter for the programme makers. I would like to know, and I've also said this before, from the Israeli side, who was shot where and how and under what circumstances.

I'd hazard a guess that the Turkish forensic team now scouring the Mavi Marmara will magically be able to find clues that show the Israelis a) shot first b) killed needlessly and if they do, I'm sure you will not be questioning their findings; let's see.

If you are a humanitarian, even if you believe the Israelis were acting illegally in the first place, which I do not, there is no excuse for the IHH behaviour, none. It was a planned martyrdom exercise. Period.

For once, the media is actually finding that the Israelis were not acting as they had been portrayed, even by our blessed PM, and not even this one time can any left-wing jihadi apologist, let alone the jihadis themselves, just admit that the IHH started the violence, continued it with murderous intent and the Israelis were defending themselves.

But this is so typical because you have so demonised the Israelis in your own twisted world view that not a single positive thought about Israel or the IDF can be allowed to penetrate in case it might wake you from the trance and you start to see the truth that you have brain-washed yourself to deny.


amber

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 23:48

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Maccoby's post is, as usual, disgusting. She would rather believe the jihadists of the IHH, jihadists who have been linked, by France, to the attempted blowing up of Los Angeles airport, jihadists who support the Taleban in Afghanistan (killing British soldiers as we speak) and jihadists who are antisemitic (you can see antisemitic chanting on the ship prior to embarkation, on Youtube, not covered by the documentary, and jihadists who declared their intent to become shaheeds, before sailing. She would rather believe them, than Jewish Israel.

For shame. But what do you expect from someone who has no problem marching with Hizbollah supporters, on demos organized by Hizbollah supporters?


jose (not verified)

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 07:44

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The autopsy says that some were shot in the head, sometimes in the back of the head? So how does that prove it wasn't done in self-defense?

If you see someone beating to death your buddy, will you wait until the aggressor faces you until you shoot? So forget this overblown story about the Turkish autopsy. Did you forget that we have the filmed proof of how the Israeli commando was welcomed? How could the "welcome committee" have waited for them quietly on the deck if helicopters had been firing at them?
Did you forget that they had shown premeditation by cutting the boat's handle bars a day before the assault?

I guess you were not hired by Scotland Yard.


telegramsam

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 08:09

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I believe no versions because they are just versions: a combination of half truths, spin and propaganda usually egged on by people paid to do the spin and propaganda.


raycook

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 08:59

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ooh, now we are in the pay of the Israel lobby. Cn;t wait to see my bank statement.


telegramsam

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 09:32

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Sorry for the misunderstanding, Ray, but really anyone who works for an organisation whose job it is to make sure their version of events gets spun and propagated is being paid to put forward a certain version. Do you fulfil that criterion Ray?
That's why I have an aversion to versions.


raycook

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 09:34

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or is your scepticism only limited to reports and enquiries that do not bash Israel?

How's your scepticism on Goldstone?


telegramsam

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 09:37

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Scepticism on goldstone is huge, not least because it did not get the Israeli side. But then whose fault is that?


Jon_i_Cohen

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 10:00

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Deborah, Deborah, Deborah - still flogging that dead horse!
Time to let it rest now.
(Or perhaps you weren't watching the same BBC Panorama programme as the rest of us).


Jon_i_Cohen

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 10:02

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btw
What's a Turkish Autopsy?
Type of coffee?


DeborahMaccoby

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 11:12

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Eyewitnesses speak of execution-type shootings at very close range, and the Turkish autopsies bear this out.

And who was actually doing the attacking? Who stormed the ship?

Deborah


amber

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 11:41

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Maccoby's silence about the IHH is truly revealing - not a word of criticism about this antisemitic jihadist group from her.

Maccoby, Israel did not "storm" the ship, as the video proves. Its soldiers boarded the ship, perfectly legally, and were immediately set upon by jihadist thugs. You can see this on the video. Why don't you believe your own eyes? Are you really so indoctrinated with hatred for the Jewish state?

I guess you are, as you march with Hizbollah and Hamas supporters.


amber

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 11:45

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Meanwhile, Turkey continues to bomb Kurdish villages in northern Iraq, killing hundreds of civilians, without any criticism. It is now helping the Syrian dictatorship to do the same to Syria's Kurds - as we speak, there are mass arrests and killings. No BDS movement for them.

Hypocrisy.


amber

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 11:46

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Israel needs to send a flotilla to the Kurds - I'm sure the Turkish armed forces would be sweetness and light itself.


Jon_i_Cohen

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 11:46

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Exactly so Amber!
But, there are no Jews involved, so who cares?


Macairt

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 11:56

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'And who was actually doing the attacking?'

The IHH, Free Gaza et al. They are trying to break the blockade on Gaza, with the result that Hamas can import whatever it desires to prosecute its jihad until Israel's extinction.

I think that constitutes a de facto act of war. And the IHH openly supports and allies itself with Hamas, as does Erdogan, who is IHH's chief patron or sponsor.

But, then, they and their members were rousing themselves with songs commemorating Arab Muslim victories over/slaughters of Jews.

'Who stormed the ship?'

Israel, obviously, if by "storm" you mean "tried to take it over peacefully without hurting anyone, at considerable risk to the soldiers involved".

People were killed, at close range, after soldiers fired first to warn, wound or incapacitate, because they kept coming at them with staves, piping, knives and, finally, gunshots.

If the IDF had gone in armed to the teeth, and made a show of massive force at the outset, there might have been fewer casualties. Ironically, it may have been the IDF's reluctance to use live fire that encouraged "activists" to persist in their aggression, which the soldiers were loathe to deter with bullets.


telegramsam

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 12:28

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Amber, the Kurds are landlocked so a flotilla would be silly. However, the late great arye eliav was israel's pointman in Kurdistan in the 60s and 70s when the Mossad was operating there. Israel continues to help the Kurds in Iran and northern Syria both militarily and financially. The northern Iraqi Kurds are now benefitting from American largesse as well as Israeli help.


telegramsam

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 12:31

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Amber, marching with Hamas and hizbollah proxies is as odious as standing with EDL/BNP, so it's a bit of a score draw.


mattpryor

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 13:21

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I don't approve or agree with their politics, but to the best of my knowledge neither the EDL or the BNP use torture and murder for political advantage, they do not launch wars on neighouring countries, they do not store missiles in schools and in peoples' homes, they do not have inhouse bomb-makers, and they do not regularly preach Death to Jews.

To equate any British political faction, no matter how unpleasant their views, to groups such as Hezb or Hamas is frankly ridiculous and reflects poorly on the person that makes such an assertion.

To march with the BNP or EDL (which neither Jonathan or the ZF does) is to demonstrate questionable and distasteful politics. To march with Hezbollah or Hamas is to show solidarity with terrorists. Anyone who thinks the two things are the same must have a very limited and naive view of the world.


raycook

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 13:53

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Macairt/Matt: couldn't have put it better.

telegram: "so it's a bit of a score draw." more like a couple of own goals, LOL

In a contest of the most odious surely those who support terror by keeping silent about it because it suits their political ideology are as bad as any group who is honest enough to say who they hate and what they want to do those they hate.

The former are dangerous and dishonest hypocrites, the latter are just bigoted, racist, murderous, brain-washed robots.


telegramsam

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 14:17

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Given half a chance EDL/BNP would do exactly what Hamas/hizb do, so comparing the Nazi scumbags to each other is quite appropriate.


Jonathan Hoffman

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 17:15

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You are completely lacking in moral compass. You believe that there is moral equivalence between proscribed terrorist groups whose policy is to murder Jews, and legal political groups who are simply racist. Your (anonymous) views are worthless and you are abusing your posting privilege therefore.

Here is Panorama's response to the whinging haters.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_8924000/8924473.stm

I have never known the BBC to respond like this to complaints that a programme was biased against Israel.


DLeigh-Ellis

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 18:07

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With all respect, the problem is not how much the EDL compare to Hamas in their rhetoric or beliefs, that is a false argument. The much simpler fact (and relevent element) is that Jewish organisations should not be willing to accept support from such groups.

This link, (if you can lower yourselves to click on something from the Guardian,) shows some examples of precisely why we should not be having anything to do with these groups.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2010/may/28/english-defence-league-un...

The argument that the EDL are 'not as bad as Hamas' has absolutely no impact on the notion that Jews should accept the backing of these individuals. Furthermore, as the link above shows, the EDL have threatened people with violence and worse, so how far removed they are from a Hamas ideology is hard to pin down, the evidence suggest they are a few degrees apart at best. This group is a dangerous combination of football hooliganism and extremist politics. I find it hard to believe that most JC readers cannot percieve this simple truth.


DLeigh-Ellis

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 18:08

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Just realised that this board has departed somewhat from the OP, apologies to Ray for continuing the trend.


DLeigh-Ellis

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 18:13

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Sorry to go for the third, but must add - quote from EDL supporter in the video.

'If them barriers break one day and our lads get through, they will murder them all,'

Sorry Matt, but I think the fact that they do not have missiles or bombs is simply a question of means, not ideals.


mattpryor

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 19:17

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DLE: I think we're probably in agreement, on the whole. As you say it's a false argument as JH has not invited or welcomed support from either group although his opponents are clearly at pains to paint a different picture.


Harvey

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 19:53

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DLE

OT - It's important to make a clear distinction between the EDL who were neither invited or encouraged by our side and the presence of a number of overtly antisemitic individuals who took part in the anti Ahava demo .

I was subject to an antisemitic outburst from one such person ,a middle aged Irishman ,and when I asked several of his colleagues their opinion they simply laughed in my face and informed me that I deserved it.

I would hazard a well informed estimate that most of these so called humanitarians harbour a malign intent towards Jews and are able to conceal it using the anti Zionist card.


Jonathan Hoffman

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 20:36

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Harvey

That Irishman is a raging Jew-hater. No ambiguity there. He is a stinking antisemite.


amber

Wed, 08/18/2010 - 22:40

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Harvey, next time that happens, go straight to the police and make a foral complaint about being racially abused.

Let's face it, most of them are there because they are racist scumbags in the first place.