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August 17, 2010

Appalling BBC Panorama programme this evening!

Hello all,

Tonight’s (Monday) Panorama programme was truly appalling
even by the BBC’s dire standards.

Willem happened to spot it just before it started – to the
best of our knowledge it had not been advertised in advance.
It claimed to be looking into “what really happened” when
the Israeli navy attacked the Mavi Marmara. No chance.

It’s hard to know where to start, but here are just some of the
aspects of bias that struck us:

– copious interviews with Israeli military spokespeople including
one who took part in the assault, whose anonymity was
preserved by blurring his face and anonymising him as “Lieutenant A”;

– use of film footage either shot by the Israelis or stolen
by them from those on the boat;

– use of some film footage by “Cultures of Resistance”, but always
with the implication that this was a group which encouraged

– portrayal of the IHH as a terrorist group which took control of
the ship;

– NO interviews with any Palestinian person, to the best of my knowledge,
apart from a Hamas spokesman;

– interviews with only ONE non-Turkish person on the boat, so that
most of the testimony from those on the boat was mediated by

– no interviews with representatives of any organisation participating
in the flotilla apart from IHH;

– no interviews with anyone on any of the other boats, indeed hardly
any mention that the Mavi Marmara was part of a large flotilla
organised by international humanitarian groups;

– no indication whatsoever that Israel’s attack might have been illegal
under international law – the emphasis was only on whether the force
used was “proportionate”;

– scheduling the broadcast during the evening in the first week of
Ramadan when many Muslim viewers were unlikely to be watching because
they would be breaking their fast;

– worst of all, playing the tape provided by the Israelis which has a
voice supposedly saying to them, from the Mavi Marmara, “go back to
This tape has been SHOWN to be a fake. Any pretence at investigative
journalism has gone right out of the window.

As some of you know, Tony Greenstein has been collecting signatures for an
advertisement to be placed in the Independent (and also the Guardian if funds
permit) raising the issue of the BBC’s consistent pro-Israel bias. Now is
the time for that advert to be published! But Tony still needs funds. Send
your pledges to him at and he will tell you where to
send the cheques. You can add your signature too if you have not yet done so.
Tony can let you have the full text of the proposed advertisement.

Here are the BBC web pages covering this abysmal piece of broadcasting – the
tone of the web pages are exactly the tone of the programme itself:

And here is how to make a complaint to the BBC if you saw any of this
shameless hasbarah and want to tell them what you think of it:

Please forward this post to appropriate lists and individuals. Apologies
for the inevitable duplication.


Targeting: Barack Obama (President, USA), Rt Hon David Cameron (Prime Minister, UK) and Binyamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister, Israel)
Started by: Gail Vaughn

The following letter has been sent by Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, and Gerry Grehan, Chair of the Peace People, Northern Ireland, to President Barak Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, other world leaders and prominent personalities, to ask for their help in obtaining the lifting of all restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu and for him to be granted freedom to leave Israel.

Please express your support for this letter by signing this petition.

28 July 2010

We are writing to you on behalf of a good man, a man of peace and conscience, who was returned to prison for three months on 23 May 2010.

He was released from prison on Sunday 8 August 2010. We need your support to help gain his freedom from Israel.

He is Mordechai Vanunu the Israeli nuclear whistle blower. In October l986, Vanunu told the world that Israel had a Nuclear Weapons Programme. He was kidnapped and given 18 years imprisonment for espionage and treason. Twenty four years later he continues to be punished. In the Jewish Scriptures there is great emphasis on justice and freedom. He served the full 18 years of his sentence (twelve years in solitary confinement, described by Amnesty International as “cruel, inhuman and degrading”). Upon his release, the Israeli Government put severe restrictions upon him, including forbidding him to leave Israel and speak to the foreign media. It was the breaking of these restrictions, in summer 2004, by speaking to the foreign media, (mainly a long interview to the BBC), which resulted in his being returned to solitary confinement again this May.

Last month Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience and called on the Israeli authorities to lift the restrictions immediately. “The restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu arbitrarily limit his rights to freedom of movement, expression and association and are therefore in breach of international law. They should be lifted and he should be allowed to start his life again as a free man. Mordechai Vanunu should not be in prison at all, let alone be held in solitary confinement in a unit intended for violent criminals. He suffered immensely when he was held in solitary confinement for 11 years after his imprisonment in 1986 and to return him to such conditions now is nothing less than cruel, inhuman or degrading.” 18 June 2010 Amnesty International

Yet, when he is released from prison he will still have to remain in Israel and the restrictions will be reviewed and probably renewed yet again, as they have been renewed each year for the past 6 years.

Vanunu is seen as a traitor by some, a hero by others. One thing is clear, he has been punished and served the full sentence and it is time after 24 years to do the human thing and let him live as a free man.

The Israeli Supreme Court continues to accept the Secret Services’ claims that he still has secrets, but a report by Reuters, 20 December 2009, shows that he does not :

” … Yet Uzi Eilam, a retired army brigadier-general who ran the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission between 1976 and 1986, said anything that Vanunu — a cause célèbre among disarmament campaigners — might still disclose about Dimona is of little relevance. “I’ve always believed he should be let go,” said Eilam.

“I don’t think he has significant things to reveal (about Dimona) now.”

However, we believe that he will be free and our hope is that you will in some way facilitate his early release which would be welcomed by a world waiting and watching for a peaceful and secure future for Israel and its people. We would greatly appreciate your advising us of any action you take –


Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

Gerry Grehan, Chair of the Peace People

Vanunu has been nominated year after year for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The many prominent names who have called for his release and respect of his human rights over the last 24 years include:

The late Nobel Laureates Joseph Rotblat and Harold Pinter; Nobel Laureates Former President Jimmy Carter; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Mary Ellen McNish (on behalf of AFSC); Betty Williams; Adolfo Perez Esquival; Rigoberta Menchu; Shirin Ebadi; Wangari Maathai; Mairead Maguire; John Hume

Kidnap victims Brian Keenan; Anthony Gray

Politicians and human rights activists: the late Robin Cook, former UK Foreign Secretary; former Israeli Minister Shulamit Aloni; Helen Bamber; Simon Hughes; Daniel Elsberg; Bruce Kent; Noam Chomsky; Rabbi Philip Bentley (USA); Michael Mansfield QC; Dr Paul Oestreicher; Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; Tariq Ali; Jeremy Corbyn; Ken Livingstone; Ben Birnberg; David Goldberg QC; Alex Salmund

Actors, writers, musicians and artists: Emma Thompson; Julie Christie; Susannah York; Vanessa Redgrave; the late Corin Redgrave; Yoko Ono; Bono; Peter Gabriel; the late Graham Greene; the late Yehudi Menuhin; Janet Suzman; Gilad Atzmon; Richard Hamilton; Michael Rosen; David Gilmore; Benjamin Zephaniah, Alexie Sayle; Maggie Hambling; Tom Conti; Simon Callow; Jeremy Hardy; Miriam Margolyes; Prunella Scales; Arnold Wesker; John Williams; Roger Lloyd-Pack; Christopher Logue; the late Adrian Mitchell

Journalists: Andrew Neil; Jon Snow; John Pilger; Robert Fisk; Duncan Campbell; Victoria Brittain; Richard Norton-Taylor


Eden Abergil, The Product Of A Blindfolded Society

Max Blumenthal

Eden Abergil during “the most beautiful time” of her life

Is there anything shocking about the Facebook photos showing the Israeli female soldier Eden Abergil posing in mocking positions next to bound and blindfolded Palestinian men? While her conduct was abominable, I did not find it especially distinct from the documented behavior of Israeli soldiers and Border Police in the Occupied Territories.

Below is a photo I took in Hebron in June before soldiers demanded that I stop shooting (I will release video from Hebron as soon as I get the chance). Scenes like these can be witnessed on any given day in the West Bank. Not only do they show the dehumanization that the Palestinian Morlocks are subjected to on an hourly basis, they depict the world where Abergil spent what she called “the most beautiful time of [her] life.” It is easy to see how young Israelis (or anyone) would be sapped of their humanity in such an environment.

In July, I waited inside the cafeteria of Israel’s Guantanamo-like Ofer Prison after watching Ibrahim Amira, a leader of the Ni’ilin popular committee, be sentenced by a kangaroo court to six months in prison for the trumped-up charge of “incitement” (he was accused of paying kids to throw rocks at the Israeli soldiers who invade their village at least every week, as if they needed encouragement). While I stood at the counter to order a coffee, I watched four female jailers gather around a laptop to check their Facebook pages. I wondered what their status updates looked like. If they wrote anything relating to their work, would their Facebook pages look different than Abergil’s? Of course not. Just take a trip to Eyal Niv’s blog and look at some of the photos other young Israelis are posting.

I took this photo in Hebron in June before soldiers ordered me to stop shooting. A Palestinian man was being near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron.

You don’t have to go to the West Bank or into an Israeli prison to recognize that Abergil is a typical product of Israel’s comprehensively militarized society. Just watch the documentary, “To See When I’m Smiling.” In the film, which tells the soul-crushing stories of four young women conscripted into the Israeli Army, one of the characters recounts posing for a photo beside a dead Palestinian man who had an erection. She was smiling from ear to ear in the photo. However, at the end of the film, when she is compelled to look at the picture for the first time in two years, she does not recognize the monster who bears her image. Her contorted facial expression seems to ask, “Who was I?”

“To See When I’m Smiling” was produced by Breaking The Silence, a human rights group formed by ex-Israeli soldiers who collect testimonies from their peers. Incidentally, Breaking The Silence has published a 132-page booklet of testimonies by female soldiers (PDF here) who participated in acts at least as hideous as those depicted on Abergil’s Facebook page.

Here is Testimony 63, by a female sergeant from the Nahal Unit who served in Mevo Dotan:

I recall once, this was after we moved to Mevo Dotan, to the base there, some Palestinian was sitting on a chair and I passed by several times. Once I thought: Okay, why is he sitting here for an hour? I feel like spitting at him, at this Arab. And they tell me: Go one, spit at him. I don’t recall whether anyone did this before I did, but I remember spitting at him and feeling really, like at first I felt, wow, good for me, I just spat at some terrorist, that’s how I’d call them. And then I recall that afterwards I felt some thing here was not right.


Not too human. I mean, it sounds cool and all, but no, it’s not right.

You thought about later, or during the act?

Later. At the time you felt real cool.

Even when everyone was watching, you felt real cool.

Yes, and then sometimes you get to thinking, especially say on Holocaust Memorial Day, suddenly you’re thinking, hey, these thing were done to us, it’s a human being after all. Eventually as things turned out he was no terrorist anyway, it was a kid who’d hung around too long near the base, so he was caught or something.

A child?

An adolescent.



Blindfolded and all?

Yes. I think that at some point no one even stood watch over him.

The female sergeant recalled the Holocaust when she reflected on her actions. If you are raised in a Jewish home, it is difficult not to see the ravages of the occupation in the light of the Holocaust, regardless of whether you know that the Israeli army’s violence bears little comparison to the exterminationism of the Nazis. Just as when I watched “To See When I’m Smiling,” Abergil’s photos made me think of Costa Gavras’ haunting Holocaust film, “Music Box.” If you have seen it, you will understand my reference. If not, rent it.

I also thought of the first stanza of “Vision,” a poem by the Palestinian writer Muhammad al-Qaisi. The poem reminded me not only of the Abergil’s public unmasking, but also of the many Israelis who told me about their experiences in the army as though they were describing some morally debased person they had never met:

I see the faces change their complexion

peel off their outer skin

I see the faces divested

of makeup and masks

and I see an empty stage

the spectators denying their own images

in the third act.

:: Article nr. 68902 sent on 17-aug-2010 11:18 ECT

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