Socialist Worker

Journalists’ union condemns BBC’s decision to block Gaza DEC broadcast

by Peter Murray, NUJ vice-president
Issue No. 2136

The NUJ journalists’ union says that BBC bosses have betrayed the broadcaster’s public service duty by refusing to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) humanitarian aid appeal for Gaza.

This does not show that the BBC has not taken sides in the conflict. Members of the NUJ’s national executive council last Saturday heard denunciations of the corporation’s “cowardly and politically motivated” decision.

They agreed that the decision was clearly intended to hide the fact that BBC bosses do not want to embarrass the Israeli government, whose three year blockade of Gaza and bombing of civilian areas have caused the humanitarian disaster.

NUJ members and officials have joined the tens of thousands of protesters at lobbies, demonstrations and other events across the country.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop The War Coalition, British Muslim Inititative and others have organised these activities.

NUJ officials in Glasgow and London have tried to build a dialogue between anti-war groups and the BBC over its coverage of the Gaza crisis.

But the corporation’s decision is likely to have set that back irrevocably.

Transmit

The BBC claims it cannot broadcast the DEC appeal because it would be doing so in the middle of “an ongoing news story”.

Why then did it feel able to transmit similar appeals in the middle of the Rwanda genocide in 1994, or during the crisis in Darfur?

The NUJ asks, why should Israel be treated any differently? We believe the only reason is that it has the fourth most powerful army in the world.

That is why the union has repeated its call for a ban on military exports to Israel and why we pledge our support for those campaigning for the British government to enforce such a ban immediately.

Our executive condemned the Israel Defence Forces’ (IDF) massacre of more than 1,300 people in Gaza – over 400 of them children.

It also supported an international investigation into the killing of at least four Palestinian journalists and the abduction by the IDF of two others working for the Lebanese TV station al Alam.

This investigation should also look at the deliberate air strike on the al-Jowhara tower block in Gaza City, where up to 20 media organisations are based.

The NUJ calls on all sides in the conflict to respect their responsibilities for the safety of journalists in war zones.


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Tue 27 Jan 2009, 18:47 GMT
Issue No. 2136
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