Pressure mounts for BBC to broadcast Gaza appeal

In an "Inexplicable" decision, the BBC has refused to broadcast an aid appeal for the victims of the Gaza conflict, this raises serious questions regarding impartiality, and whether the BBC itself is a misguided victim of an Israeli media control and censorship campaign-JW


Pressure mounts for BBC to broadcast Gaza appeal

The BBC has been accused of "being complicit in denying humanitarian aid" to the people of Gaza after refusing to broadcast an appeal for emergency funds.

Director general Mark Thompson is coming under increasing pressure to allow the screening of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) film.

He yesterday turned down an appeal from the International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander to reverse his decision not to show the appeal, fearing it could compromise the broadcaster's impartiality.

Today health minister Ben Bradshaw claimed the decision was "inexplicable", while the Muslim Council for Britain said it would "severely jeopardise efforts to raise millions" for the aid effort.

“In sabotaging the DEC appeal broadcast, the BBC is clearly acting against the public interest," said a spokesman.

"As custodians of the public trust in the BBC its Governors must act immediately to avoid the blame of being complicit in denying humanitarian aid to the desperate people of Gaza.”

The pressure increased further today when rival broadcaster ITV announced today it would show the appeal.

A spokesman said: “After careful consideration, and in consultation with other networks, a common consensus has been reached by the majority of broadcasters and as a result ITV will broadcast a DEC appeal.”

Former minister Tony Benn also criticised the BBC's stance, adding that it was "denying the aid agencies money they desperately need". He is set to join a protest outside Broadcasting House later today.

Previous television and radio appeals by the DEC have raised millions of pounds to help those caught up in war or affected by natural disasters in countries such as Burma and the Congo.

The organisation is made up charities including g Action Aid, the British Red Cross, Christian Aid, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Oxfam and Save the Children.

Mr Benn told the Today programme: “I never thought I would live to see (the BBC) refuse to broadcast a humanitarian appeal on the grounds that it was controversial. I know why it is - because (Tzipi) Livni, the Israeli Foreign Minister, has said there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“The BBC raised £10 million for the Congo and £18 million for Burma. That decision is denying the aid agencies money they desperately need. People are dying in Gaza. There’s an absolute crisis in Gaza.”

Mr Alexander has written to the BBC, ITV and Sky in an effort to get the appeal on air and help what he called a "dire" humanitarian situation.

"“While I recognise that this is a decision rightly taken by broadcasters," he wrote. "I hope that in light of the great human suffering still taking place in Gaza, you will reconsider your decision in relation to the DEC appeal.”

But the BBC head responded, saying the Gaza issue was a "highly controversial news story within which the human suffering and distress which have resulted from the conflict remain intrinsic and contentious elements”.
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Mr Thompson also questioned whether the aid would get to those in need in Gaza.

In his reply he wrote: "We concluded that to broadcast a free-standing appeal, no matter how carefully couched, ran the risk of calling into question the public’s confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in its coverage of the story as a whole."

This explanation was branded "completely feeble" by Mr Bradshaw, on Radio 4's Any Questions programme.

“I think this was an inexplicable decision. This is a humanitarian catastrophe and I am afraid the reasons given by the BBC are completely feeble.

“Firstly, the one about delivery - the British Government is giving £25 million to Gaza relief. We don’t have a problem getting it in. There’s no reason why there should be a problem getting the relief in.

“Secondly, this nervousness about being biased - I am afraid the BBC has to stand up to the Israeli authorities occasionally.”

MCB secretary general Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari added: “The excuses given by the BBC are simply untenable and the Governors need to act quickly before the Corporation’s image is irretrievably tarnished.

“The need reverse this decision is even more compelling as the BBC’s coverage of the carnage in Gaza was very tame and not reflective of the scale of the violations committed there.”

"Bloody Biased Corporation"

George Galloway lays into the "Bloody Biased Corporation"

"The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it,
ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is."
Winston Churchill

Former UK MP, cabinet minister and BBC producer, Tony Benn,

has his say on the controversy in an interview on the BBC.

The DEC has a website with a link for online donations by credit card. I'd like to suggest that anyone who is so inclined and can afford it might want to consider making a donation to help them make up what they might have lost by the BBC refusing to broadcast their appeal for donations. Here is the link:

"When does the mandate of victimhood expire"

An excerpt from a Robert Fisk article in the UK Independent:-
Full Article:-

"...In Ireland, my favourite journalistic justification for this bloodbath came from my old mate Kevin Myers. "The death toll from Gaza is, of course, shocking, dreadful, unspeakable," he mourned. "Though it does not compare with the death toll amongst Israelis if Hamas had its way." Get it? The massacre in Gaza is justified because Hamas would have done the same if they could, even though they didn't do it because they couldn't. It took Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times's resident philosopher-in-chief, to speak the unspeakable. "When does the mandate of victimhood expire?" he asked. "At what point does the Nazi genocide of Europe's Jews cease to excuse the state of Israel from the demands of international law and of common humanity?"...."