Saturday, January 24, 2009

The BBC Should Screen the Gaza Appeal

As readers know, I have been an uncompromising supporter of the Israeli action in Gaza. That does not mean I do not appreciate the unfolding humanitarian horror there. It does not mean I am blind to the deaths and injuries which have been caused, or to the destruction of homes and buildings. Just as I am not blind to the terror and suffering caused to the Israeli people by Hamas rocket attacks. Israel has the capacity to rebuild damaged buildings. That is not the case in Gaza.

Which is why I am rather at a loss to understand the decision by the BBC to refuse to show a humanitarian appeal by the Disasters & Emergencies Committee to appeal for aid to Gaza. This is not a political appeal, it is an appeal for the kind of goods, money and services which we all readily gave to help the victims of other disasters like the Indonesian Tsunami. Perhaps the BBC thinks it will come under fire from its detractors and those who support Israel. If so, they have misjudged the situation.

I have no idea what the Israeli attitude to this would be, or that of the Jewish community here. I would hope that like me, they would be in favour of screening this appeal. If Channel 4 and ITV are showing it, then so should the BBC.

UPDATE: Mark Thompson explains the BBC decision HERE. He makes some valid points, but I still think it's a wrong decision.


Hacked Off said...

What about the BBC mentioning the riots in Greece, Latvia, Bulgaria, and not least Iceland,where they have forced the resignation of the PM and the Head of Banking Regulation?

Political Censorship?

The Penguin

JuliaM said...

Perhaps they expect their viewers to be more familiar with the Iceland patronised by celebrity chav Kerry Katona, rather than the country...?

Mr Mr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Dale,

As His Grace has said, the only reason for not broadcasting the appeal is because the Government are demanding that the BBC do, and Ben Bradshaw is fully persuaded that BBC coverage of the Gaza conflict has been unacceptably pro-Israel.

Of course humanitarian appeals should be broadcast. The BBC is being absurd.

arsailman said...

Isn't this the same UK which has ceased educating its children about the Holocaust, lest they hurt the feelings of the thousands of Muslim immigrants who will never assimilate, anyhow?

Shaun said...

I'm a frequent critic of Israel though have been impressed by the care and restraint they've shown in the latest Gaze engagements (If they wanted a massacre of genocide then they have nukes, air-fuel explosives and a 1st world army so could inevitably do 'better' than a paltry < 1000 casualties, a figure the Hutus & Tutsis exceded *daily* during their Rwandan spat, using only machetes and rifles).

That said, when you consider that Hamas ruthlessly control what gets in or out of Gaza and to whom it is distributed, any aid project at this precise moment can only strengthen Hamas' hand by strengthening its resource distribution or by weakening the projected effects of the IDF attack upon the popular support for them. Its unpleasant but Hamas have done this - they have made their own people their human shields and seek to blame any suffering on israel while any aid comes from them/from Allah. Why should the BBC, the DEC or anyone else support that? Arguments about 'oh, think of the children' are nonsense as Hamas *directly profit* from either charitable relief OR from the suffering of their civillians. The BBC, and our other media, has a role in reporting such things, not in enabling them.

Mark Thompson said...

Completely agree Iain and have posted similarly to yourself on my blog.

The thing is, as soon as I heard this I (and I suspect many others) instinctively knew this was wrong and would be very unpopular. How can The DG of the BBC have got it so wrong?

Mark Thompson said...

Oh and just to clarify, I am not the DG. I just have the same name!

Anonymous said...

The bbc have been blatantly pro palestinian throughout the conflict,why stop now?
I would give if there was an independant aid organisation running things,but not if it will just fall into hamas hands.

Unknown said...


No doubt Iain Dale and all the commenters here would be criticising the BBC if they did show the advert going "Waagh, Waagh, Waagh the BBC are so biased! Why should I be forced to pay a licence fee? Why should i be forced to pay for their left-wing propoganda? Waagh, Waagh, Waagh!"

Pretty laughable also that you think it's ok for the Israelis to bomb the living s**t out of Gaza because 13 Israelis died (of course the Israelis killing 1300 in Gaza is completely proportionate) & then everyone should give to charity to help the Gazans.

The world is seriously f***ed up!

Anonymous said...

I think there is a very good reason why the Beeb is loudly saying they are not getting involved - it's to do with the Balen report.

Nich Starling said...

I wonder what other israeli apologists would have made of it if the BBC had screened the appeal ?

I note Sky are not screening it either but anti BBC/Israeli apologists seem to be silent on this.

Iain Dale said...

I rather object to your description of me as an Israeli apologist. I am no more an apologist for Israel than you are an apologist for the Liberal Democrats.

Quite how you reckon I remain silent when I have made my views clear is bewildering.

Jess The Dog said...

At first I thought there was some definitive reason why this could not be screened, ie. that it was in breach of their charter. In that case, this stance would get my support.

However, that doesn't appear to be the case and I can't think of any valid reasons for not screening this, particularly as it is a DEC appeal.

It is loathsome to listen to the likes of Wee Dougie Alexander whining on about this.....why don't they take their heads out of their backsides and do something about it at the Cabinet table rather than bleating after the event. Although the Israeli attack is partly justified, they have acted without due discrimination and proportionality and the evidence is damning.

Anonymous said...

Supporting this appeal is like giving a drug addict money when they approach you with the "I just need 50p to make a phone call" line.

It will simply provide a layer of insulation for the people of Gaza between their hardship and the reality that they brought it on themselves by voting for and tolerating the rule of Hamas.

There would be no closed border, no impediment to travel to work, no restriction on the flow of aid etc etc if Hamas observed the rule of law, tolerated political opposition, oh, and stopped lobbing rockets into Israel.

Show the film if you want, but anybody giving money is a fool.

gordon-bennett said...

You cant equate the "Indonesian tsunami" and the punishment of Gaza. The former wasn't self-inflicted; and up till now the Gazans have spent too much of the charity they have been given on weapons.

Was there a disaster relief appeal for the Georgians after the recent russian invasion?

Richard Edwards said...

There are two issues here that are in danger of being intertwined.

First, and most importantly, these decisions are a matter of editorial policy. In a free society it is not for politicians to dictate such matters. Bradshaw should be ashamed. We don't have a one party media, yet.

Second, that does not mean that the decision is immune from criticism. But there is a fine line when that criticism comes from politicians. Without care it can amount to improper pressure.

The Grim Reaper said...

Yes, the Beeb should screen it. Right now.

This is why I never get involved in the Israel/Palestine debate. No matter what view you hold, no matter how rational, there's always some moron out there ready to pounce on it. We're already seeing it here and we're only 16 comments in. Coming up next, some prat accuse Iain of being in the pay of Israel or something ludicrous like that. Seriously, why the hell can't people talk about this rationally and sensibly?

Still, thank god this isn't Guido Fawkes blog, otherwise we'd have a million posts about Zio-Nazis" and pizza IDF by now.

Unknown said...

The BBC coverage of the conflict was fairly balanced, this makes it even more mystifying why they wont show this appeal.
Anyone who followed the rather more graphic al-Jarrera coverage will realize the true nature of suffering to the ordinary people of Gaza.
While we should all condemn Hamas tactics, they are just as much a resistance movement as a terrorist organization and the sooner the Israels wake up to this fact and start treated the Palestinians as equals the better.

Anonymous said...

Times online reporting that BBC are to broadcast it after all at

Doug said...

Showing the appeal or not will not change the fundamental anti-Israeli stance of the BBC. I certainly won't be giving any money as it will undoubtedly help terrorists in the end.

Daily Referendum said...

Oh dear labour lords change law for cash

Unknown said...

Thank you very much for the post Iain. People can donate to the appeal at

Bird said...

The BBC are simply sensitive to the charge that they are pro Palestinian.

Rich Tee said...

Some points:

- saying something is "beyond politics" is a classic lefty trick. Look how Jacqui Smith used it over Damian Green.

- all the other stations are commercial stations. Tune in to cable/satellite you will see numerous charity adverts. The BBC does not screen commercials. There are humanitarian disasters going on all the time, what is so special about this one?

- If the BBC had just gone ahead and screened it I probably would have missed it and I wouldn't know anything about it.

Nich Starling said...

Iain, you and other CFI bods are apologist for Israel because we never hear the criticism. A godo friend to Israel offers support but also criticism. What about the latest evidence of mass shootings by Israeli forces of unarmed civilians ? No report on this from Tories who support Israel even though it is all over the BBC website and others.

Sorry if I offended you Iain, but I think it is difficult to differentiate between Israeli apologists and those who support Israel openly but never off criticism of them.

Have a good weekend. ;-)

DespairingLiberal said...

Anything for an anti-BBC pop eh Iain?

Pure humbug on your part. The reason the BBC and other broadcasters have been so hesitant is fear that the Right, egged on by bloggers like yourself, have accused them of leaning too much to the Palestinians, after they committed the cardinal crime of reporting the Israeli's indiscriminate attacks on civilians amounting in many cases to war crimes.

I am waiting in vain to read your article criticizing Sky for it's initial refusal to allow the DEC appeal. Could this be in any way related to your frequent appearances on that channel?

DespairingLiberal said...

Penguin, I was hard pressed to find any mention of the Iceland story in any media other than obscure ones on the internet. Perhaps Iceland is just considered too small to be all that newsworthy?

Anyway, the BBC did cover it, but not on the front page.

Iain Dale said...

Despairing Liberal, you really are pathetic on this. So I can't win, can I? If I don't criticise the BBC for not screening then it is because I am in the pay of Israel. If I do, it's because I am in the pay of Sky. Desperate stuff.

I was unaware that Sky were't showing it either. I am happy to say I think they should? Satisfied? Jesus. What planet do you live on?

Iain Dale said...

Sorry Canvas, but how how can doing the wrong thing help anyone? Please explain.

I have never suggested doing nothing, and I note you can quote no Conservative politician who ever has.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

There are two ways of reading this kerfuffle:

1. The whole BBC has been consummate in assuring the appeal has maximum publicity, without "advertising" or apparently taking sides.


2. The peasants in the newsrooms of the Beeb took umbrage at a directive from the Seventh Floor (err ... my knowledge of BBC geography may be at fault) and engineered the result as in (1) above.

No other explanation covers the observable facts.

Either way, trebles all round.

I must admit, though, I am not entirely convinced by Cranmer's point @ 6.51. Why should a primary and unbiased news-source have a parallel existence, automatically parroting pleas from outside agencies, however worthy? Is that a blanket licence, or is a qualifying body-bag count involved?

DespairingLiberal said...

Iain, I live on the planet where almost every entry you make in your blog seems to contain some criticism of the BBC. Yet on this important one, you didn't mention at all that Sky were also refusing to show it, as (initially) were all the other channels. And as a total co-incidence, you seem to make regular appearances on Sky, where you are greeted effusively by the totally unbiased presenters, whose pure hearts have never been touched for a moment by the thoughts so often promulgated by their proprieter, R Murdoch, that the BBC should have it's license fee removed. It is just because of you as a person, not your positions on your blog, that you all get on so famously!

Nich Starling said...

Iain, you MUST have been aware that Sky were not covering the DEC appeal because I commented on it yesterday here and you responded directly to my comment.

Iain Dale said...

Sigh. When I wrote the piece I was not aware.

[bangs head on table]

DespairingLiberal said...

Yes Iain, of course, you are always so rough and ready and untutored in the current facts when you make your postings.

Take my assault as a compliment - I think you are good enough at this not to leave things out through ignorance!

On the other hand, if you really didn't bother to check what the other channels were saying on this before you dived in to chuck one at the BBC, then I think that says a lot anyway.

Penguin - also note that BBC News 24 just had as a key Breaking News feature the resignation of Iceland's commerce minister. Reported by Reuters - this was also repeated on CNN, but not on Sky. Sky have a long-running feud with Reuters (Fox criticised them as a left-toady, so Reuters journalists started not supplying content to Murdoch enterprises), but like other channels, do not keep a correspondent in Iceland. It has been pointed out elsewhere that the lack of international media in Iceland may have been a contributory factor in their banks getting away with murder.

Iain Dale said...

By the way, I appear on Press TV, owned by the Iranian government, probably as often as I appear on Sky. I suppose I am also controlled by Ahmandinejad too under your perverted logic!

Perhaps I should only ever appear on the BBC and not get paid for my time. Probably safest in your weird world, eh?!

DespairingLiberal said...

Well, I suppose we can psychologically adjust to the Press TV thing and try to fit it into our picture of you Iain!

I just feel though that your efforts to start a TV channel may have something to do with your attitudes. I know many people regard the position of the Beeb as monopolostic and anti-competitive. To some extent, I agree, but I think TV channels need to be regulated as well and the BBC is a useful social invention. It's concept is good but the execution is I agree sometimes flawed.

Strange though how the Right go on so much about the pernicious BBC license fee monopoly but appear quite comfortable about the pernicious monopolies they created like the railway "operators" and the ghastly foreign-owned energy "utilities" - more like parasitic organisms sucking our blood now.

Iain Dale said...

I don't disagree with that, and although I am critical of the BBC I have never advocated its abolition.

Jonathan explains it all said...

No aid should be given to Gaza until Hamas are forced to recognise Israel and make peace. Anything else is supporting and encouraging the killing of Israeli babies in the future.

neil craig said...

During & leading up to the Kosovo war the BBC regularly screened appeals to give money to those nice openly genocidal KLA monsters (& never, of course, to the Serb refugees from Kosovo, Krajina or Sarajevo). Lets not pretend that the BBC makes any attempt at impartiality or that their refusal to show this (though they had Tony Benn on to make an "unofficial" appeal) is anything other than cosmetic PR.

Alan Hood said...

I agree with you on this I think that the BBC should broadcast this appeal. It is an insult to the viewers' intelligence if they think they can't differentiate between an appeal for aid and any political stance.

I cannot believe that anyone can object to appeal for aid for the people of Gaza. Surely not even the Israeli Army can object to that, surely. If they do then it is very worrying.

Ironically with all this publicity the appeal may attract more people contributing than if the BBC did show it.

On a slightly different point I feel that the Gaza invasion was totally wrong and also counter productive to Israel. Even if you don't agree with that it is worthwhile reading an article by Sir Gerald Kaufman on this:

Man in a Shed said...

The probelm is that one of the major weapons of war are pictures of suffering Palestinians.

Hamas calculate that such pictures help undermine support for Israel on their long march to its annihilation. ( And how right they are ).

They have provoke Israel beyond the point of endurance to ensure it happens. ( Does anyone else know of a nation which would put up with missiles being fired at its towns every day ? )

So the pictures that generate sympathy and cash for the charities also help achieve Hamas' war aims, and help to ensure that more missiles will be fired and more retaliation will ensue.

Of course the Hamas policy of using human shields and publishing the damage and suffering is very effective. But it only prospers because we let it.

This is by far a better case for governments to provide quiet and rapid aid, and to ensure that Hamas can claim no control over it or credit for it ( which is perverse given that they brought this suffering on their own people ). This is one of the few occasions when state action would be best. I believe the UK govt has already started sending aid, so it can be done.

Note that this ensure people get help (the same amount of help if government has the will) without feeding the cycle that brought the clash about in the first place.

Bardirect said...

Oh dear!

Weygand said...

I note that 6 out of 43 posts on this matter are from our beloved host.

Were any proof needed that Iain is sensitive on this matter, there it is.

His feelings will be well known to regular readers, which is why many of us feel that, whether from politeness or pragmatism, we would do better not to post on it.

Breaking my vow of purdah, I would observe that Mark Thompson only became DG because of the Greg Dyke fiasco.

Rather like Gordon Brown following Blair, he has shown that he has neither the personality nor the self-confidence nor the judgement needed to step into the lead role.

Benjamin said...

Hilarious. Mark Thompson subjected himself to a two fingers up humiliation on BBC Breakfast this morning when the journalists showed him exactly what they thought by beaming the appeal up behind him whilst he was explaining exactly why the BBC would never show it. You can see it here: