Growing up in Britain I always considered the BBC as one of the essential elements of British life. When traveling abroad I couldn’t help but miss my favorite, familiar TV shows. Rather than a mere conduit of cultural activity the BBC was an essential part of the nation’s culture.
The fact that it is a public broadcaster, funded in most part by the license fee payer means the BBC has always had a very fine line to walk when it comes to news reporting and politics. Being an iconic broadcaster means that some lobby or other will have an issue if the BBC takes a definitive position on a subject and no issue is more difficult than war. The BBC’s positions on the Falkland’s war two Persian Gulf wars have attracted strong criticism from people who regarded the BBC as insufficiently independent from the government’s position at the time.
In the days when there were only three or four television channels the BBC’s importance in our culture was assured. Now in the days of multi-channel Britain the BBC has an increasingly difficult job in justifying its privileged position.
The BBC’s decision to boycott the DEC Gaza appeal is a new low in the corporation’s history. Many Muslims believe the BBC has a history of being pro-Israeli. Now, as a result of this cowardly decision, we know it is. It is a rare occurrence indeed when the BBC takes a position that unites not only all the main political parties but most of the country against it.
The BBC’s coverage of Israel’s attack on Gaza was appallingly anodyne. Compare its output to the footage from Channel 4 News or Al-Jazeera and you start to question if all those millions of pounds going to the license fee are worth it.
There are many who questioned in the past if the BBC is in league with the government. The question is now which government? The bizarre decision to not participate in the broadcast is more to do with the BBC being cowed by the Israeli government and their insidious lobby than any concern about the distribution of aid or false arguments about impartiality.
Not only have the Palestinians suffered a brutal attack with a series of war-crimes committed against them killing 460 children. Over 400,000 Palestinians are without water. Many more are homeless thanks to the Israelis bombing their houses. Their plight needs addressing immediately. The BBC’s suggestion is to “let the situation in Gaza go down the news agenda before reconsidering” is beyond tragedy. So what the BBC is in effect saying is, let the disaster pass (in other words let more Palestinians die or suffer) before we do anything about the situation.
Many people are concerned about the plight of the Palestinians, they should be, one of our nation’s most respected institutions is actively harming them. The other broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Five did all broadcast the appeal on Monday, January 26.