Monday 26 January 2009

Could Israel's supporters help to get the BBC off the hook?

The BBC management has made a daft, damaging, mistake over the DEC Gaza appeal - already achieving the very thing (bringing its impartiality into question) which they were trying to avoid, and now presenting the problem of whether and how that mistake can be reversed now that there is widespread pressure to reverse it.

Tom Harris is right both that the decision is very difficult to understand - but also that the decision must be the BBC's to make.

Sit-ins by the Stop The War coalition make it more difficult, though bafflement at the BBC decision is very widely shared among non-partisan voices, and both government and opposition have adopted a careful tone in asking the BBC to think again. But perhaps there is still one form of outside 'pressure' which could help and not hinder a reversal of policy. It would be good to hear from more voices in Britain who were among those to support the Israeli military action and who do not believe the humanitarian appeal for Gaza has any impact on impartiality.

Iain Dale and Neil D on the robustly pro-Israel Harry's Place have been among those to argue, as strong supporters of Israel, that the BBC should broadcast the DEC appeal.

As Martin Linton MP asks on LabourHome how many supporters of Labour Friends of Israel, or indeed the Israeli Embassy, would object to the humanitarian appeal being broadcast?

UPDATE: Mark Thompson says he is standing firm, but is now focusing on not showing the DEC's film, while appearing to say the news coverage about the row is reporting and giving prominence to the appeal! Why not agree with the DEC to make a short announcement which gives out the emergency number? (Even Janet Daley, among the few voices to defend the BBC, thinks that giving the number out during news bulletins is is the "obvious compromise", and that there is no barrier to it once the BBC has ditched its concerns about the delivery of aid).


David T said...

Norm as well.

Here incidentally is Tony Benn on the issue:

“Friends, the BBC would never be allowed to broadcast any message from Jesus. Because Jesus told us to love our neighbours and if the Archbishop of Canterbury read the Ten Commandments it might upset the Israeli government.”

I always think that taunting Jews with the story of Jesus is a brilliant way to advance an argument.

The Members said...

It is a pity that Israel graving power strategy has now reached the BBC too.