Unfortunately, the BBC has ultimately chosen not to air a Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) humanitarian appeal for Gaza. Sky News has also joined in by not airing the appeal. The reason the BBC feels that they could not air the appeal for Gaza is because they “could not broadcast a free-standing appeal, no matter how carefully constructed, without running the risk of reducing public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in its wider coverage of the story” according to director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson. The head of Sky News said they would not air the appeal either because it was “incompatible with our role in providing balanced and objective reporting of this continuing situation to our audiences in the UK and around the world.”
This decision by the BBC and Sky News and their explanations for it is a bunch of baloney. First of all, this is a humanitarian appeal by an umbrella organization formed by 13 humanitarian aid agencies including Oxfam and Save the Children. The purpose is to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians! How could this possibly be unbalanced or taking a political stance? It’s absolutely ludicrous. Second, by not choosing to air this appeal they are being impartial. They are obviously caving in to Israeli pressure. Innocent Palestinian civilians suffered tremendous losses as a direct result of the Israeli assault; human lives lost and enormous structural damage. That’s a fact. The aid agencies can provide and distribute the aid if only Israel would completely open up the borders. The only people who could possibly view that as being partial to the Palestinians are staunch Israeli supporters who would never be critical of Israel’s actions, regardless of how heinous, callous and/or illegal.
This decision comes several days after thousands of protesters marched in front of the BBC’s offices in London on Saturday after their initial decision not to air the appeal. There have been thousands more who have called in and sent emails. One person wrote “I think the reasons for blocking help for a grave humanitarian disaster are simply astounding. How can simply bringing food, medicines and homes to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians be seen as political impartiality? How stupid do the BBC think the British public are?”
The very fact that the BCC and Sky News have refused to air the appeal brings more attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Unfortunately, this decision is also preventing more money from being raised. It is encouraging to know that a very large segment of British society is appalled by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and wants to do something about it. It should be noted that ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have decided to air the appeal. It’s sad that this kind of conversation is not even taking place in the US.
The man’s sign in the picture above pretty much sums up the image the BBC conveys by refusing to air the appeal: