Challenge false claims from the BBC re events in Gaza in March 2003

On Tuesday, 28 August 2012, the BBC failed to air factual information.

Ask Martha Kearney and the BBC why she made a false and incomplete statement in her interview with Israeli government spokesman, Mark Regev. Was she trying to keep the so-called “balance” and appease him/the Israeli government?
You may want to take the opportunity to make sure our protest reaches Martha Kearney and Nick Sutton, editor of The World at One:
Check your own facts here, at 0:25:04, (or see end for a full transcript) to challenge false claims from the BBC:
Listen to the broadcast [until 6 September 2012: begins at 0:18:30 into the programme; ends at 0:26:39]
Clearly Rachel Corrie was one of the casualties of what happened that day, and I know Israeli soldiers died too’.
This astonishing claim was made by the BBC’s Martha Kearney on BBC Radio 4’s World at One on 28Aug2012 whilst interviewing Israeli government spokesperson, Mark Regev.
In fact, no Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza on the day Rachel Corrie was murdered. However, nine Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, including a four-year-old girl, but Kearney chose not to mention this.
This is what you can do:
[update added in October 2012:
According to an e-mail received from Nick Sutton, editor of The World at One,
“Complaints [to the BBC] are now handled centrally for us to make the most efficient use of your licence fee.
To send your complaint to the BBC please submit it centrally [your blogger’s emphasis]through our complaints website at to be guaranteed a reply (or alternatively by post to BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Darlington DL3 0UR or by phone on 03700 100 222).”
Your blogger has just done so – it’s a convoluted process requiring about ten minutes. You need to have your facts at hand. What I submitted may help you get through quicker – please contact obanconcern4palestine AT for a transcript.

[original contact information:

Please write to Martha Kearney and ask her to back up her claim that ‘Israeli soldiers died too’ that day.
Email editor of the World at One, Nick Sutton, to ask why false information was broadcast on his programme.
• And make a complaint via the BBC’s complaints system about this broadcast. Please ask for a reply.]


Do feel free to e-mail copies of your enquiries, and any replies, to
obanconcern4palestine AT!
And here’s the full transcript of this section of Martha Kearney’s programme,
BBC Radio 4 – World at One – News, analysis and comment from the UK and around the world with Martha Kearney, aired on Tue, 28th Aug 2012, 1pm, from 0:18:30 until 0:26:39 • 6 days left on 1Sept2012

[MK:] ‘The death of Rachel Corrie crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer made her a symbol of the Palestinian uprising. Her story was dramatised on stage in a dozen countries. Today an Israeli court has ruled that the state wasn’t at fault for her death in the Gaza Strip in 2003. The judge said that the 23-year-old’s death was a “regrettable accident.”
‘Our correspondent Jon Donnison is in Haifa.
[to JD:] ‘Remind us exactly of what happened that day in Rafah when Rachel Corrie was killed.’
[JD:] ‘Well, Rachel Corrie was part of a group of activists from an organisation called the International Solidarity Movement, very much, er, supporters of the Palestinian cause, and they were in Gaza, in Southern Gaza, around Rafah, trying to stop in their view the demolition of Palestinian homes and property by the Israeli army, and they were in effect acting as human shields, positioning themselves between the bulldozers and the Palestinian homes. At some point on that day in March 2003, Rachel Corrie fell or stumbled or somehow was crushed by either the bulldozer or rubble that the bulldozer was shunting forward.’
[MK:] ‘And what was it that the judge said today?
[JD:] ‘Well, the judge ruled very much against Rachel Corrie’s family. What he in effect said was two things: That the bulldozer driver, the man driving the bulldozer, had not seen Rachel Corrie, that was very much backing an earlier investigation carried out by the Israeli army; he also said that Rachel Corrie had taken a risk by being in what in effect was a war zone, a closed military zone, where combat was taking place and that, although the accident was ‘regrettable’ in their view, er, it was a risk that she shouldn’t have taken in the first place.’
[MK:] ‘And obviously the family were very disappointed by that.’
[JD:] ‘Very disappointed. Immediately after the verdict, they looked pretty shell-shocked, like the wind had been taken out of their sails a little bit. They’ve obviously been making many costly trips over to Israel from the United States to pursue this case.
‘And a short while ago I spoke to Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father, and I asked his, him for his reaction to the verdict.’
[CC:] ‘Well, I’m not really surprised. We knew, er, that it was going to be an uphill battle. Or, I used to say that the Israelis had an incredible home-court advantage when we went into court here. But, er, I think it’s outrageous. I think we brought a lot of material to court, a lot of evidence, and of course we demanded that the Israeli government bring evidence to court. And some of that they simply did not bring.
‘The finding seems outrageous to me. It’s, it’s almost as if the judge has simply let the, er, the attorneys for the defense write, write his opinion because he found with them on, on every simple [single?] cause. And I think that people who have experience, and unfortunately we’ve now had almost ten years’ experience following this cause, now, that’s, that’s happened over and over and over again.’
[JD:] ‘The judge agreed with the army that the bulldozer driver had not seen Rachel. Do you accept that?’
[CC:] ‘Well, I actually agree with my daughter, who said, my daughter Sarah, who said that she thinks that somebody saw Rachel. I think you come from the beginning and you see a changing story.
‘So, the Israeli government was telling our government, first, that a wall fell on Rachel. And then, a few days later, they said, “Well, we weren’t doing any home demolitions then.”
‘And I heard from, er, a person who was at that briefing. He said, “So, why did you say a wall fell if you weren’t even doing that?” And, erm, so their story changes over and over again and that, that makes me wonder why do you have to change a story?’
[JD:] ‘How do you feel about the Israeli justice system?’
[CC:] ‘I don’t feel very good about it right now. But of course they have a chance.
‘We, er, we’re planning on appealing this and so I think there are lots of, er – without really talking to our attorney – I think there are lots of grounds for appeal on this.
‘And let’s remember that, er, the courts are the way that we’ve all agreed in civilized societies to redress grievances in a non-violent way. You have to make the courts work. That’s incredibly important in a society. And that’s fighting for one of the basic sort of rights that we in the United States get from Great Britain, you know, coming down from the Magna Charta.
‘These are big issues that we work with here, and he, he kinda laughed that off. But they are huge issues and, er, and I feel kinda good about being on the right side of this stuff.’
[JD:] ‘Craig Corrie, Rachel Corrie’s father, talking to me earlier today. And as he suggested he does plan to challenge this in Israel’s Supreme Court. He said he’d be back in the United States in a few weeks’ time, but back in the Middle East, in Israel and indeed in Gaza later on in the year.
[to MK:] ‘Martha.’
[MK:] ‘Jon Donnison in Haifa, thank you.’
‘What about Israeli government reaction? Earlier I spoke to the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, Mark Regev, and questioned how it was the case that the bulldozer driver hadn’t seen Rachel Corrie.’
[MR:] ‘I understand that someone from the outside would think, oh, that must be impossible. But a whole team of experts looked at this issue, which was an essential claim, an essential point in the trial, and they said it actually was impossible for him to see.’
[MK:] ‘But one of her fellow activists, Tom Dale, told the court, the bulldozer went towards her very slowly, she was fully in clear view straight in front of them, wearing a bright orange high-visibility jacket.’
[MR:] ‘Mr Dale’s testimony, of course, he can say what he likes. But it’s not an objective testimony.
‘First of all, I don’t know if he’s even driven a tractor in his life, not this type of tractor.
‘And secondly, of course, he’s coming from his own very partisan position from the organisation that he represents.’
[MK:] ‘It’s the view of Rachel Corrie’s mother that this wasn’t a fair trial.
‘She said, “the Israeli state has worked extremely hard so that the truth behind what happened to my daughter is not exposed.”‘
[MR:] ‘I of course understand the feelings of the mother. I think any parent has to sympathise, empathise, feel the pain of the Corrie family. I mean, their daughter died in a very tragic accident. But ultimately, that’s what it was. It was a tragic accident.
‘Israeli courts are known for their independence. I mean, we had a meeting yesterday and we had no idea which way the court would rule.
‘There are numerous examples of Israeli courts ruling against the government, against the military. Israeli soldiers have been sent to jail. Er, [the Israeli] judiciary’s known internationally for its independence and professionalism. And I think the best claim I could say to support that is the fact that every day Palestinians take the Israeli government to court in our courts because they know that our courts give justice.’
[MK:] ‘Clearly, Rachel Corrie was one of the casualties of what happened that day and I know Israeli soldiers died, too. But has this meant there’s a rethink of the policy of what was happening at that time, bulldozing Palestinian houses?’
[MR:] ‘There were no houses that were demolished that day!
‘This is not about protecting someone’s house. The operation on that day was dealing with clearing a territory, a part of land that was used for sniping. There were trees there, there were bushes there, there were places where people were shooting at our, at our people from them. We had to clear the territories to be a clear view of vision. This is not about housing demolitions, not at all.’
[MK:] ‘But on other days, isn’t it the case that houses were demolished by Israeli forces?’
[MR:] ‘Correct. Especially in that area because that is the area of Rafah, which is immediately on the Sinai-Gaza border.
‘And as you’ve seen in all the news reports since then, this is an active area of terrorist activity. And obviously, it was a war zone. As you say, Israelis were killed there. An hour before Rachel Corrie’s tragic death, a grenade was thrown at our forces.
‘The question has to be asked: This tragedy was preventable. This tragedy shouldn’t have happened. The question is, why did this happen? I think one has to ask questions: Did the activist, did these people act in a way that would be considered rational or responsible?
‘I mean, if you read the seven-page transcript, it’s clear that the drivers of these tractors actually moved away from the demonstrators on a number of occasions. And yet the demonstrators followed after the tractors. I mean, they really acted in a way that I think a normal, responsible person would consider irresponsible.’
[MK:] ‘Mark Regev.’ [26:39]
In the transcriber’s own humble opinion, Mark Regev speaks from a place of patronising disdain and disrespect. He heaps insult on injury by pointing the finger of guilt at the activists.
May the Corrie family win their appeal to the Israeli High Court!

About Oban Concern for Palestine

. . . supporting people in Palestine and Israel who oppose the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Oban Concern for Palestine are a group of Argyll residents who share an interest in Palestine, a friendship with its people and a deep concern for their welfare. And, for the sake of Israel, we want to encourage the government of Israel to comply with international law. Oban Concern for Palestine believe that the oppression of the Palestinian people is a grave wrong, that the government of Israel is in violation of international law, and that we have a duty to speak up and do what we can to bring it to an end. We welcome new members and supporters. For more information, please contact obanconcern4palestine AT gmail DOT com • +44 7747 300 062 • Oban Concern for Palestine, c/o Stronchriach, Rowan Road, Oban, Argyll, PA34 5TY, UK
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2 Responses to Challenge false claims from the BBC re events in Gaza in March 2003

  1. On Palestine Campaign, you can find this information:
    The BBC and Rachel Corrie
    Thank you to everyone who’s written to the BBC over the false claims made by World at One presenter, Martha Kearney, that Israeli soldiers died on the same day Rachel Corrie was killed.

    This article details the bias of the BBC’s coverage of the Corrie verdict, and how it took up the narrative presented to it by Israeli government spokesperson, Mark Regev.

    The BBC has written back to those who complained last week, to say: “[Kearney] did not intend to imply that Israeli soldiers were killed on the same day as Rachel Corrie’s death. Her question was actually an attempt to focus on the issue of the bulldozing of Palestinian homes.”

    If true, it was an incredibly poor attempt by a senior BBC journalist. If you received this response, please write back, saying that, whatever Kearney meant to say, the clear impression was given that Israeli soldiers died on the same day Rachel was killed. Ask for a correction to Kearney’s claims to be broadcast on the World at One. Also ask why Regev’s falsehoods about Israeli justice went unchallenged by Kearney. Please ask for a reply.

    If you haven’t complained yet, it’s still not too late to write to the BBC, asking Kearney to back up her facts.

    Write to:
    Martha Kearney:
    Nick Sutton, editor of World at One:
    Please also make a complaint via the website, asking why the BBC broadcast Kearney’s false statements and Regev’s lies.

    Read PSC’s open letter to BBC Chair Chris Patten, asking for an on-air correction of Kearney’s comment:
    PSC calls on Chris Patten to correct BBC falsification of events around Rachel Corrie death

    On Tuesday 28 August, an Israeli judge ruled that activist Rachel Corrie, crushed by an Israeli armoured bulldozer, was responsible for her own death. Presenting an item on the ruling for BBC Radio 4’s World at One, presenter Martha Kearney said: ‘Clearly Rachel Corrie was one of the casualties of what happened that day, and I know Israeli soldiers died too.’ This was not true – no Israeli soldiers died on the day Rachel was killed, but two Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces.

    Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Director, Sarah Colborne, has sent an open letter to Lord Patten, Chair of the BBC Trust, asking for an on-air correction to be made.

    For more information on the BBC’s coverage of the Rachel Corrie ruling:

    Read the BBC’s response to complaints from PSC members and others:

    PSC’s letter to Lord Patten (see here:

    Dear Lord Patten

    I would like to register with your office Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s serious concern at remarks made by BBC presenter, Martha Kearney, on the World at One on August 28th, 2012.

    During a segment on the Israeli court ruling in the Rachel Corrie case, Ms Kearney said to Mark Regev, the Israeli government spokesperson, who she was interviewing at the time: ‘Clearly Rachel Corrie was one of the casualties of what happened that day, and I know Israeli soldiers died too’.

    No Israeli soldiers died on the day Rachel Corrie was killed. A BBC presenter, in a news programme, set out a different framework to the actual reality of that day’s events. Listening to the show, the World at One audience would have been left with the false impression that several Israeli soldiers and one activist had been killed on a given day.

    We have written to Ms Kearney asking her to provide the facts to back up her claim, but have not received an answer. A complaint via the BBC’s complaints system has elicited this astonishing response: ‘[Kearney] did not intend to imply that Israeli soldiers were killed on the same day as Rachel Corrie’s death. Her question was actually an attempt to focus on the issue of the bulldozing of Palestinian homes.’

    If Ms Kearney ‘did not intend to imply that Israeli soldiers were killed on the same day as Rachel Corrie’s death’, as the BBC Complaints team says, then why did she clearly say: ‘I know Israeli soldiers died too’? What then was she actually trying to imply by those apparently unambiguous words? Her insertion of ‘I know’ at the beginning of the sentence would seem to imply that she has personal knowledge that Israeli soldiers were killed on the same day. Moreover, how does making a bogus claim that Israeli soldiers were killed on the same day as Rachel Corrie ‘focus on the issue of the bulldozing of Palestinian homes’?

    For the BBC and its journalists to be seen as a reliable and trustworthy news source, the organisation must be seen to face up honestly to mistakes and endeavour to rectify them. The initial response from the Complaints team is highly discrediting to the BBC’s reputation and, unfortunately, indicates that taking this issue through the Complaints team right up to the BBC Trust will fail to have the issue addressed in an unbiased way.

    We believe that only an on-air correction of the statement will amend the false impression of events given to World at One listeners. If you wish to discuss this further with PSC, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Yours sincerely
    Sarah Colborne
    Director, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

  2. News just in via Palestine Solidarity Campaign:
    “After seven months of lobbying by PSC and PSC members, the BBC has conceded that Martha Kearney was not ‘duly accurate’ when she said on Radio 4 that Israeli soldiers had died on the same day as Rachel Corrie. No Israeli soldiers died that day. However, with breathtaking hypocrisy, the BBC Trust has said that she was right to mention the fabricated deaths as this provided ‘context’, and right not to mention Palestinians killed the same day as this was not relevant information.

    “The Trust’s ruling comes days after the BBC aired a Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for Syria, four years after it refused to air a similar appeal for Gaza.”

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