Freedom Flotilla and the BBC’s Shame

by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

UPDATE: See Jairo Lugo’s report on the protests outside the BBC offices in Manchester and elsewhere here. Also, check out these excellent articles by Robert Fisk and Glenn Greenwald, and the Guardian’s report on the world renowned figures who are aboard the ship.

The BBC proves its despicable subservience to the Israeli propaganda machine once again. Before it was shamed by Al Jazeera and others into covering the Freedom Flotilla massacre, it reported the story as a mere claim by Hamas. Here is how it first appeared on the BBC’s website:

BBC News – Israel intercepts Gaza flotilla, says Hamas

The Palestinian movement Hamas says the Israeli navy has intercepted a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip.

The massacre soon became the top news story on Google News and Twitter. The BBC could no longer maintain the pretence of ignorance. It finally reported on the massacre as a matter of fact, but appended this line: “Hamas, a militant palestinian group that controls the Gaza strip, has fired thousands of rockets into Israel over the past decade.”

The victims weren’t innocent, you see. They were on their way to aid these terrible people who fire ‘thousands of rockets into Israel’. That’s all you need to know. And if you mention those hundreds of thousands of bombs, missiles and rockets that Israel has shot into Gaza…Why, you must be an anti-Semite!

I had to take the risk, so I sent in a complaint. Presumably I wasn’t the only one wondering at the relevance of the line to the report because it was swiftly removed. In its place, the BBC posted a short video segment in which the reporter went out of his way to ‘stress’ that according to the Israeli military no one was killed. He then went on to excuse the killings because ‘clearly when you have as many as 600 people on board these ships, at night, in high sees, it is a very very difficult situation…and you can imagine a rather chaotic situation. Of course the Israeli military is very well experienced with dealing with crowd control’. But turns out he wasn’t entirely shameless. He did add: ‘but certainly if you’ve got live fire being fired as well as tear gas canisters which is what is being reported was fired, then that is a very dangerous situation in a very crowded space’.

The BBC has now added a sidebar in which ‘diplomatic correspondent’ Jonathan Marcus tells readers how terrible this massacre is…for Israel’s image! The clueless ass tells us that ‘this was always going to be a high-risk operation’… for Israel! He addes: ‘Taking over vessels at sea is no easy task, even if the units carrying out the mission are well-trained, and it is especially difficult if the people already on board the vessels resist.’ But at least he thinks the deaths are a tragedy…but for Israel! Because they ‘threaten to make what was always going to be a potential public relations disaster for Israel into a fully-fledged calamity.’ So the BBC pays a ‘diplomatic correspondent’ your tax money so he can worry about the myriad ways Israel hurts itself by killing innocent civilians in international waters!

Thanks to all who’ve written in. Don’t let them get away with using your tax money to feed you propaganda on behalf of a foreign criminal entity. For more on the BBC’s disgraceful record of whitewashing Israeli crimes see this and this.

This is your money being used in the service of murderers and child molesters. You have a responsibility to act. At minimum, you can complain.

Author: Idrees Ahmad

I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

7 thoughts on “Freedom Flotilla and the BBC’s Shame”

  1. This is a great piece and should be read by anyone who for some reason(s) continue to hold illusions about the impartiality and benefits of the BBC.

    Indeed, according to a HAMAS official interviewed on al-Jazeera Arabic this morning BBC Arabic were saying that there weapons on board the Flotilla!

  2. Unbelievably the pro-Zionist sub-editors at the BBC have now actually decreased the number of reported murder victims – At approx 15;45hrs may 31 2010 the BBC were inaccurately reporting the number of murder victims as ’10’ when the true figure is almost 20 murdered victims of the zio-racist Pirate rampage

    More than 10 people have been killed after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army says.

    but as of 20:36 hrs May 31st clicking on the same BBC link – – now gives you an edited version of the story with reduced figures for the number of victims of the murderous Israeli Pirate rampage

    At least nine people have been killed after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army says.

    what a bunch of cretinous craven media-whores the bbc are

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