Sunday, 1 February 2009

Raw courage: the very stuff of liberalism

Stars attack BBC over Gaza appeal

THE BBC's best-loved stars from across north London have criticised the corporation's decision not to show an aid appeal from Gaza, but have urged against a planned boycott of the public service network.

Monty Python star Michael Palin, former newsreader Martin Bell, veteran comedian Warren Mitchell and BBC presenters Joan Bakewell and Esther Rantzen have all questioned the actions of the network.

I bet the question wasn’t; “Why, on this one occasion, are you not falling over yourselves to treat the ‘Palestinian’ people of Gaza as hapless victims of unthinking Israeli violence?”

This week the BBC and Sky refused to show the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella group of 13 aid agencies who have been organising televised pleas for 46 years without interruption.

The local stars, also including writer Deborah Moggach, whose Anne Frank serieswhich proves that she and presumably publicity around the appeal and its recipients can’t be anti-Semitic...has just been shown on the BBC, and Only Fools And Horses actor Roger Lloyd-Pack, have slammed the decision but have fallen short of those, such as Oscar-nominee Samantha Morton, who said she would boycott future projects unless the BBC had a rethink.

Well done, that’s precisely one of you prepared to leave acting your career at the mercy of liberal Hollywood, ITV, Channel Four, and numerous other program commissioning organisations, and I expect there’s a whole department at the BBC devoted to excluding artists who make overtly Left-wing and pro-Palestinian comments from ever working at the Beeb again as long as they live, right? …

Ms Rantzen said: "I don't think death is discriminatory…especially when brought by missiles lofted randomly at Israeli towns and villages by Hamas. I’m certainly not going to mention at any point the great care that the Israeli forces take to avoid hurting non-combatants, nor the deliberate siting of Hamas terrorists and their resources where any counter-measures are certain to cause civilian casualties…and I would be delighted to give donations to the appeal provided the charities can ensure that the money goes to save lives.

Good for you. Obviously those of us who pay taxes to Her Majesty’s Government to pass on to the European Union and the United Nations to hand over to Hamas in a variety of ways might think something different.

"But I think it would be completely inappropriate to boycott the BBC.What with it being a major employer of ageing TV celebrities and all…I think that would be very self-important and none of us can know the full arguments put both to the BBC and Sky when they came to these decisions."And none of us are is getting any younger and who knows when That’s Life might be revived?

Hampstead Garden Suburb's Martin Bell agreed: "The BBC has made the totally wrong decision but I don't believe in a boycott - we need the BBC."

Pronounced in Standard Received English as ‘- I may still need the BBC’

Primrose Hill resident Joan Bakewell said she wasn't sure about sit-ins, boycotts or tearing up licence fees…or contracts, pay cheques, future royalties.. but did think the decision was wrong. So I hope I’ll be able to dine around Hampstead and Islington without the cut direct from my fellow bien-pensants."

The two-minute appeal was aired on all terrestrial channels on Monday night just before 6.30pm. A backlash then came from stars, who threatened to rule out appearing in BBC productions or paying licence fees.

‘Stars,’ plural…?

Despite the BBC and Sky's failure to show the film, the appeal has raised a record £1million. As Michael Palin pointed out: "The BBC's decision seems confused to say the least but,I really like being a successful BBC travel writer. Lovely holidays I get to go on…as a result, this has been one of the most widely publicised appeals in recent years and anyone who chooses to contribute can do so without any difficulty.I would be more worried if I felt the BBC's coverage of the war was inadequate, but I think the BBC did a commendable job of trying to get stories out of Gazawithout asking any awkward questions or for corroboration from non-Hamas sources… despite the Israeli ban on the international press...which may have been related to the court-suppressed report of the BBC’s overwhelming bias against Israel over everything but especially about the Lebanon war."

Other stars said the corporation should go back on its decision and air the piece. Long-time Gaza supporter Mr Lloyd-Pack said: "The decision is a bad mistake. I have written to them and asked that they rescind on that decision.By not showing this appeal they are exercising support the other way. This is not about politics……though any BBC series showing the medical and psychological results of eight years of rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian areas would have been political..- the wrong kind of… people are dying."

South End Green resident Ms Moggach said: "I can't imagine why the BBC isn't showing it. They have shown these appeals for other war situations and what has happened in Gaza is terrible beyond belief."

Highgate's Warren Mitchell told the Ham&High the boycotters can at least be thanked for raising awareness: "I think the BBC should show it. This is a humanitarian thing and being Jewish I have a worrisome interest in the whole matter.

But not to the point of risking putting one particular Jew at odds with one of his most generous of employers.

"I'm sure the BBC won't care if some out-of-work actors…(poor souls, whoever they might be, but they won’t be me)…

… fail to pay their licence fee, but it does get a bit of publicity - even the Ham&High is writing about it."

So far, more than 20,000 people have complained to the BBC about its decision.

Out of 60,000,000.

From Ham and High here.

Many thanks to eagle-eyed DB in the Why Our Politics Is Rubbish post at House of Dumb.


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