Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shame on you, Caroline Thomson

First, the Israeli government did its best to make sure that we could not see inside Gaza by preventing journalists from entering. Now the BBC will not allow us to see the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee for immediate, urgent help for the people of Gaza. The BBC gives two reasons for this. They question whether there is access to Gaza for any aid that is raised. Why does Caroline Thomson , Chief Operating Officer of the BBC, think that she can second-guess the judgement of the country's experts in giving aid (and the UN) ? Perhaps this is just cover for the second reason given. Caroline Thomson argues, "The most important thing that the BBC can do for the people of Gaza is to carry on reporting impartially." So why would broadcasting the DEC appeal affect that ? Because, she says, "it will look to a whole range of people that we are taking sides." She means of course the pro-Israeli lobby in Britain which springs into action when anyone shows the slightest sympathy for the sufferings of Palestinians. Giving in to those people is taking sides. Giving aid to the suffering is not. Presumably Ms Thomson thinks it is OK to pay £6 million to Jonathan Ross but the BBC must not show anyone asking for aid to Gaza. She says she has to take decisions carefully about the BBC's "unique gift of air time. Ross gets hours every week . She won't give Gaza two minutes. Shame on you, Caroline Thomson, shame on you.