Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Unbearable Excuse of Impartiality

By Joseph El-Khoury

A young girl, from the Al Solton family, at Al Shatee school where she has been staying
being displaced from her home by the current conflict in the Gaza,
January 10, 2008
. Eman Mohammed/Save the Children

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has refused to broadcast an emergency appeal on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), a coalition of Aid agencies. Since 1963 this umbrella organisation has been involved in setting up efficient aid relief to victims of natural disasters and armed conflict across the world.

Representing well established charities the likes of Oxfam and the British Red Cross, they can hardly be suspected of pro-Hamas sympathies. Their websites reads: "At times of overseas emergency, the DEC brings together a unique alliance of the UK's aid, corporate, public and broadcasting sectors to rally the nation's compassion, and ensure that funds raised go to DEC agencies best placed to deliver effective and timely relief to people most in need".

In response to numerous calls, including from British Government officials (Douglas Alexander, Ben Bradshaw) and the tireless veteran MP Tony Benn, Caroline Thomson (CEO) echoed today the earlier words of the corporation’s Director General Mark Thompson, in his insistence that the decision was motivated by a commitment to ‘impartiality’. This surprising decision reveals a lack of sensitivity to the suffering of thousands of Palestinian casualties (wounded, orphaned, displaced etc) following the Israeli assault on Gaza.

If balanced reporting is a highly regarded value in complex conflicts, impartiality is a sad excuse for not airing an appeal to victims of war, regardless of the identity of the aggressor. Reading through the viewers comments on their online portal, one could argue that some support can be found among sections of the public for their editorial line so far on this matter. Obviously many others, including many British TV Licence payers (effectively those who fund the BBC as a public service) are appalled by it and have also made their thoughts clear in the comments section.

Abstract impartiality might have been achieved on the Gaza conflict, except that the BBC might realise that it has lost any relevance in its coverage of the Middle East, notably among Arab and Muslim audiences (An ironic state affairs at a time they are launching their Persian TV service). This relevance was earned the hard way through the excellent truly balanced reporting over the years by reporters of the class of Jeremy Bowen and Alan Johnston, to only name a few.

By emulating Sky and the covert pro-Israeli stance of the Rupert Murdoch-controlled media, the bureaucrats might have reassured the Right Wing pro-Israeli section of their audience, who have long accused the BBC of anti-Israel bias at the hint of any criticism...but by doing so this well respected and loved institution might have lost its soul.

Related links:
- BBC defends Gaza appeal decision
- To donate to the Gaza appeal


Anonymous said...
Please share video if you support its message

© 2009


The world can see our suffering
All the bad that’s happening
Each day's spent just hoping
You'll be gone by morning

Our girls and boys they look so sad
Their mums and dads it makes them mad
Everyone will make a stand
Until our people get their land

Someday I hope you realize
Our people you can paralyze
But we will never compromise, our home
Your tanks and planes just terrorize
Your men with guns just brutalize
But we will never sacrifice, our home

Help me, somebody help me
To do what's right but make a stand
Show me, somebody show me
How to stop their might with bare hands

Aint it right to fight a mighty bully
Damn the man whose gang gets heavy
Fall the wall that is tall and messy
Seal the deal when it stops being silly

You want to steal our land and base
We'll never agree coz wed have no place
Your offer you deal is a big disgrace
What an insult to our entire race

Our sons you eliminate
Leaders you assassinate
But we wont let you liquidate, our home
Our children you just suffocate
Houses you just decimate
But we wont let you evaporate, our home

Teach him, somebody teach him
To find a way to show some care
Show him, somebody show him
How to walk away and do what's fair

Anonymous said...

Find out more about British Red Cross work in Gaza at
or to donate to our appeal go to

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