Israel’s barbaric attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla at the end of May caused outrage around the world. Many more people realised Israel was an aggressor, not a victim.
But since shooting nine peace activists dead, the Israeli state has led a concerted attempt to rewrite history—making their commandos the victims of an assault by “terrorists”.
Shamefully the BBC went along with this in Monday’s Panorama programme.
Anyone unfamiliar with the story would not have learned that the Freedom Flotilla was made up of international pro-Palestinian activists taking aid to Gaza. The impression given was that it was simply an Islamist intervention by IHH, the Turkish NGO.
The only footage shown was provided by the Israeli military (IDF) —after all, it had confiscated all cameras from the convoy.
One IHH supporter said that if he died taking aid to Palestine he would be a martyr. This was presented as if it was a suicide bomber’s video, and he was planning to die.
Activists were shown sawing metal railings from the boat as the IDF approached. This was apparently evidence that the flotilla had planned the violence—rather than evidence that desperate people look for any way to defend themselves.
Immediately after the attack the IDF said that its soldiers had been shot, though it soon had to withdraw this allegation. It released a recording it claimed was broadcast from the flotilla, telling the Israelis, “Shut up, go back to Auschwitz.”
The IDF soon backed off, admitting that the recording had been doctored. But both these allegations were included in the “evidence” presented by Panorama.
And the programme repeated as fact Israel’s lying defence that problems in Gaza are down to the rise of the Islamist movement Hamas and IDF attacks are a measured response to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.
This is not simply about media bias. Israel is now putting the United Nations (UN) under pressure to tone down its investigation into the attack.
Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, is happy to go along with this. The four-member panel will include a representative each from Turkey and Israel, but, she said, “This panel is not a substitute for those national investigations” by Turkey and Israel. Instead, “It complements them.”
Israel’s investigation is set to be a whitewash. And the Financial Times reports that Barack Obama warned the Turkish government to stop criticising Israel or risk losing a massive arms deal from the US.
In one of its more bizarre passages Panorama accused the flotilla of being “political”, rather than being serious about delivering aid. As if there was a distinction between the two in the case of Gaza.
And keeping that political momentum going is vital, which is why socialists should support the new Viva Palestina convoy, which leaves to take more aid to Gaza on 18 September.
For more information go to www.vivapalestina.org