Minister presses BBC on Gaza appeal
Last Updated: Saturday, 24 January 2009, 04:28 GMT- Search: Gaza appeal DEC
A Government minister has urged the BBC to "stand up" to the Israeli authorities and broadcast an appeal to raise emergency funds for Gaza.
Ben Bradshaw, himself a former BBC journalist, said that broadcasters' decision not to screen the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) was "inexplicable" and dismissed the Corporation's explanation for its position as "completely feeble".
BBC director general Mark Thompson on Friday turned down a request from International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander to reconsider his decision.
Mr Thompson said that he was concerned that broadcasting the appeal might compromise the BBC's impartiality. The BBC and other broadcasters have also expressed anxiety about whether any aid raised could be delivered effectively on the ground in Gaza, where thousands of people are in need of food, shelter and medicine following a three-week Israeli military offensive.
This is strange.
Anyone who has watched Al-beeb's coverage of Gaza this past month might consider that Thompson's defence: "might compromise the BBC's impartiality" is pretty risible. Jeremy Bowen could not have been more obvious in his partiality had he presented his reports in Arab headgear and followed every mention of the word 'Israel' by spitting on the ground.
The Government, meanwhile, has been tolerant of Israel's action, and has taken a lot of flak from the Left as a result. Perhaps this is a disciplined approach. Perhaps Miliband has said little because he is on the naughty step after his childishness, arrogance and stupidity in India. Perhaps they were waiting to take their lead from the Great One, Obama (who kept his head down over the whole thing, quite correctly). Anyway, they have pissed off their own people.
So this Disasters Emergency Committee appeal tiff provides the fig-leaf for the Government (it's humanitarian, innit?). But the BBC is suddenly sensitive of being seen as the Hamas Supporters' Club, so has turned down the disaster appeal, in a thoroughly illogical attempt to achieve balance. The Government, unable to criticise Israel in the way its instincts tell it to, have unleashed that deadly attack dog, Ben Dover-Bradshaw, to try to gain some credibility with the Left. He is trying to lead us to believe that the Beeb won't broadcast because of pressure from 'the Israeli authorities'. Is this likely? Wedgie Benn will be marching on Broadcasting House later today, with a full tobacco pouch and a large thermos.
Socialist fur flying. Love it.