Dora McPhee (VIC) writes to Media Watch detailing serious omissions and bias in the ABC’s screening of “Death in Med” 8Sep10 September 8, 2010

Dear Jonathan Holmes,

I write because I was deeply concerned about the ABC’s screening of the
documentary by Jane Corbin, “Death in the Med”, on the Foreign Correspondent
program on Tuesday 7 September at 8.00pm. The is program was extensively
criticised for its pro-Israel bias when it was shown in the UK and received
many letters of complaint forcing the BBC to have to write  a defence of the
program, which many felt did not address the key concerns.

I was dismayed that our own ABC did not see that this was a program that if
screened required some discussion on the controversy surrounding it or a
counter program that would address the issues evaded by it.

Not only was an inordinate amount of time given to spokespeople seeking to
give the Israeli version of events but in contrast to the framing of the
so-called “balance” pieces from the peace activists side there was a subtle
reaffirmation of the Israeli position in numerous instances. This sort of
“balance” within a documentary is far more insidious and manipulative than
some that parades itself as pure propaganda in that it allows the ABC/BBC to
profess “balance” when in fact the opposite is true.

Since the programme was aired on the BBC, Ken O’Keefe, one of the activists
interviewed, has written an open letter to the BBC Panorama’s Jane Corbin
indicating that he had only agreed to participate in the documentary if it
was made plain that the activists had let the commandos go after disarming
them and treating them for their injuries incurred in the confrontation.
This was an important point as it undermines the Israeli narrative that the
activists were intent on using violence and terrorised the Israeli
commandos. Instead the documentary gives the false impression that the said
commandos escaped rather than being treated for their injuries and then

What is even more egregious is the testimony of the commando supposedly
wounded by a knife attack to the abdomen who testifies that he somehow
miraculously jumped ship and swam to safety. We are not shown evidence of
his abdominal wound and it beggars belief that with such a wound he was able
to swim to safety without serious ramifications. This testimony is not even
challenged for its veracity by Corbin and we are left with the impression
that it was the IDF that was in danger and not the activists, nine of whom
were killed and scores of whom were injured. How some them came to be
injured fatally is not even addressed and yet they lost their lives.

In fact the most glaring omission was any footage or eye-witness accounts of
the killing of the nine activists or the autopsy results that show gun shot
wounds in some cases from behind  and above and others directly to the head,
which seriously calls into question the Israeli version of events. There was
a UK activist that was an eye witness to at least one of the killings who
indicated it was not in self-defence as the soldiers claim nor was the
deliberate shooting of the activist filming the scene. None of these issues
was ever brought to light in the documentary….things that should have been
germane in bringing us closer to the truth, which the documentary claims to

We are not told that the Israelis confiscated all video equipment and
footage and that the footage now released by them is highly selective. We
are given no indication on whether these snippets have been edited or shown
out of sequence to support one version of events.

The IDF have since admitted that the recording they claimed to be broadcast
from the flotilla…”Shut up, go back to Auschwitz….” had been doctored after
intense criticism claiming that it was a forgery made them back off. And yet
this recording is used in the documentary. While Corbin notes the
authenticity has been questioned she then proceeds to say “For the Israelis
it was a warning sign things wouldn’t go smoothly”, which implicitly
suggests she accepts the claim that it is genuine for how could the faked
recordings have been a warning sign? The documentary contains many such
instances of sly innuendo while parading as an exercise in “balance”.

I could go on but will direct you to these sites which discuss the film in
question at length:

There are many others if you care to look.

Thank you for giving this your time and consideration,

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