Mark Thompson the director general of the BBC who has been instrumental in blocking the Aid appeal request made by the Gaza Disasters Emergency Committee a Umbrella organisation which launches and coordinates responses to major disasters overseas. DEC consists of Action Aid, British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, and World Vision
He refused to air the appeal saying it would effect the BBC’s impartiality. Yet the same person has taken the time to meet with Ariel Sharon a person who is often called a war criminal in relation to his actions during the Qibya Massacre in 1953 and the Sabra and Shatila massacre. According to the Israelis government’s own report the Kahan Commission he was indirectly responsible for the event. Mark Thompson’s move was “the first visit of its kind by any serving director general”.
Fascinating, then, to learn that its director general, Mark Thompson, has recently returned from Jerusalem, where he held a face-to-face meeting with the hardine Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Although the diplomatic visit was not publicised on these shores, it has been seized upon in Israel as evidence that Thompson, who took office in 2004, intends to build bridges with the country’s political class.
Sources at the Beeb also suspect that it heralds a “softening” to the corporation’s unofficial editorial line on the Middle East.
‘This was the first visit of its kind by any serving director general, so it’s clearly a significant development,’ I’m told.
‘Not many people know this, but Mark is actually a deeply religious man. He’s a Catholic, but his wife is Jewish, and he has a far greater regard for the Israeli cause than some of his predecessors.'”
The Director general of the BBC should not be paying house calls on leaders of foreign states to discuss the BBC editorial line. In addition as the BBC is a publicly funded organization there should be transparency as to what was discussed during this meeting, and there are wider questions as to whether this meeting has led to changes or ‘softening’ of the corporations unofficial editorial line.
Andrew Robert’s blames aid agencies
Aid agencies and the BBC for being “institutionally pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli”. Roberts then goes on to say that DEC is “mired in anti-Israeli assumptions”.
I have to admit I had no idea who Andrew Roberts was and so looked him up on Wikipedia
Who is Andrew Roberts?
In an April 2007 article in The New Republic by Johann Hari, Roberts was accused of supporting massacres against civilians, including the Amritsar massacre, which he called “necessary”, and British concentration camps built during the Boer War, using quotations from his books and broadcasting. Hari pointed out Roberts had addressed and praised the Springbok Club, a white supremacist organisation that flies the old South African flag and calls for “the reestablishment of civilised European rule throughout the African continent”. The historian Mike Davis says of Roberts’ claims that the British camps were built to protect the Boers, and they only died of diseases brought about by their own incompetence: “This is tantamount to Holocaust-denial. His arguments about the Boer concentration camps are similar to the arguments of the Nazi apologists about those camps.”
Roberts responded that he had not realised the Springbok Club was racist and claimed his arguments did not amount to a defence of massacres and concentration camps. Hari responded with lengthy quotes from Roberts’ work which he claimed contradicted this. [See ‘Correspondence’, The New Republic, Feb 12th 2006.
Not a exactly glowing biography from Wikipedia. But back to the actual allegation. I think it’s preposterous to link Humanitarian aid to politics. Feeding civilians is not a political issue. The fact that a small minority see feeding children as a “political” act of support is ridiculous. Next time we have a humanitarian crisis we can sit around and discuss if sending aid to flood victims of hurricane Katrina or saving life’s constitutes support for the Bush Administration.
As far as I can see the BBC’s line has more to do with caving into 10 years by scrutiny and lobbying organisations who have levelled the charge of antisemitism and anti-Israel bias in BBC coverage of Israel and Palestine. Under that cumulative pressure they have caved in to demands and made a serious error in judgment.