28.1.09

BBC Gaza Appeal

Up until Monday evening, I was comfortable in the assumption that the BBC’s decision not to air the DEC’s Gaza appeal was being sufficiently fought by various journalists, politicians, pundits and the public. I figured that every intelligent, non-partisan person could see that the BBC were being completely idiotic in their decision, and hence felt no need to actually do anything about it myself.

On Monday evening, however, one of my (intelligent, non-partisan) friends vehemently defended the BBC’s decision. This completely bowled me for six – as said above, I figured that any reasonable person could see that the BBC were wrong. My friend said that the Gaza crisis was “man made”; a result of a conflict rather than a natural disaster and therefore the BBC would be compromising its impartiality.

I kept crying Vietnam at him (the BBC aired the DEC’s Vietnam appeal, which read: “No politics. No boundaries. Send us money now. We'll rush your aid to the people of Vietnam”) but he maintained that the BBC’s decision was right. In addition to Vietnam, I believe the BBC has aired appeals for Darfur, Burma and Congo – all results of “man made” conflict. With that in mind, is it not hypocritical to veto the Israel/Palestine conflict?

Yes, this conflict is particularly complex but the point is, the politics shouldn’t matter in this case. The DEC appeal is purely humanitarian with no political overtones. It aims to take food, water, shelter and medical aid to children who are dying in Gaza. Humanitarian aid is inherently impartial. If anything, the BBC is compromising their impartiality anyway in wishing not to offend Israel.

A number of journalists and public figures have spoken out against the decision including Jon Snow (a personal hero) and Rageh Omar. I also give kudos to actress Samantha Morton who said she will refuse to work for the BBC again if it does not reverse its decision. Unfortunately, most BBC workers don’t have the same luxury. Many of them are reportedly furious about the decision but cannot speak out about it. I do bits and pieces of work for the BBC (e.g. I’m scheduled to guest on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine shower later today) and as a freelancer, I’m grateful for the income they provide, but I feel kind of dirty now.

At least I, unlike in-house journalists, can speak out about the decision. I truly believe that the BBC bottled it. They got it severely wrong and are stubbornly refusing to back down. I just wish I had the courage, like Tony Benn, to read out the appeal address while on air later today. In lieu, I will add my complaint to the thousands already received by the BBC. I won’t rely on other journalists and members of the public to fight the decision. I will add my voice to the dissent and I urge you to do the same:

WATCH THE APPEAL: www.guardian.co.uk/media/video/2009/jan/26/dec-gaza-appeal

DONATE TO DEC: www.dec.org.uk or call 0370 60 60 900

COMPLAIN TO THE BBC: www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

6 comments:

  1. If people were seriously concerned about the appeal not reaching the masses then they would have realised by now that it has reached the ears of MANY more people now than it would have otherwise. Ironically even the BBC itself is covering the furore of it NOT showing the appeal. The DEC is getting money for Gaza anyway, surely that's a win?

    Sure there's a principle involved, so complain away. But we're all free to withdraw from the BBC, so it's a buyer's market really.

    Unfortunately however, bashing the BBC (in this case more than others perhaps) has now become a bit of fad, a way for people who may not really care to present that they do. But then I guess all noble causes have a bandwagon follwing them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. > Shak

    I think “surely that’s a win” is simplistic and reductive. Most people ARE aware (and grateful) that the appeal has received more publicity due to the BBC’s decision but it doesn’t make it right. I think people are right to continue complaining about it.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “we’re all free to withdraw from the BBC” – we all have to pay our TV license. Switching off the BBC doesn’t really do anything since we still have to fund them. It’s one of the reasons people are angrier about the BBC than Sky. I can own a TV and choose not to pay for Sky; not so with the BBC.

    Also, I think you’re wrong about this being a case of what’s trendy; you certainly are in my case. I generally have huge respect for the BBC and am proud to work for them. This particular case has angered me because it is based on blatant hypocrisy, terrible judgement and utter pig-headedness.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You're right we cannot rely on others to put forward common sense views on our behalf any more. You look at message boards and its clear that people's ignorance is being exploited by a media that has been cowed into resistance by Israel.

    Now a tin pot rocket thats about as powerful as something you get from your local firework shop (slight exageration but you get my meaning) gets the same equivalence as a 50 ton aerial bomb.

    Anyway the point i wanted to make(sorry if i put this on your shoulders kia but you have been blessed with literary skills and a platform to present your views) is that I hope you use your gifts to stand for truth and when you do see injustices speak out against them. At the end of the day money is just a thing its what we say and do that defines us

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kia, you are completely wrong. It is 100% clear that the DEC appeal is "taking sides". It is not just a humanitarian appeal. There is no way the BBC could air this without appearing biased. Is the DEC also planning to broadcast images of the civilians killed on the Israeli side, for many years, without provocation, by terrorist rocket fire from Gaza. Remember that Israel peacefully surrendered Gaza, only to be betrayed. If your neighbors fired over the fence every day and killed your children, would you be expected to live on without responding, for years on end? Hamas hides its weapons amongst schools and hospitals, hoping to invite the kind of attack Israel has mounted. No matter what Hamas does, they seem to win the public relations war, even though they are terrorists, and Israel is defending themselves. It seems that you and others have failed to realize this. I would suggest that the BBC air quite a bit more coverage that clarified this. The British public, on the whole, seem quite deluded and biased. It's shocking that they would demand their journalists to give up their cherished impartiality in order to reflect their biased views. I'm neither Jewish nor Muslim. I'm just unbiased.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aaahhhh i know i shouldn't rise to the bait but this anomynous is just pedalling lies. Let me just list the lies....and rebut them

    1) Without provocation? Since 1967 israel has occupied Gaza. When they did pull out. They blockaded from land sea and air. They starved the population and have attacked the elected government of gaza with so called 'targeted actions'Killing officials as well as civilians.
    2)There appears to be no evidence that hamas stores weapons in Hospital or UN schools. Even if it did two wrongs don't make a right. Hamas are war criminals for targeting innocent Israelis that doesn't mean Israel can do what it likes. That said 11 civilians have been killed by Hamas nearly a thousand in three weeks by Israel. Who is the bigger terrorist?

    3)Whilst rockets are being fired into israel it is not a humanitarian crisis. The people of Sderot still have food, shelter medicine, access to basic human needs. A high percentage of Gazans do not.

    Thats what the appeal was about. It was about helping people who were starving and dying. Politics aside people are suffering, babies are dying and the world can help. For this reason alone BBC should have aired the ad. We pay the license fee the least we can expect is our public broadcaster making decision based on simple principles of humanity.

    Finally yes i am biased as all people are. Human sufferring does affect me. Whether it be the death of an Israeli or a palestinians

    ReplyDelete