“This is not an appeal by Hamas asking for arms.” But don’t tell that to the BBC, who declined to broadcast a plea for aid to the Gaza Strip by an organization comprised of the British Red Cross, Oxfam, and several other high profile charities. They said they feared allowing charities to ask for civilian aid in the wake of the 22-day long Israeli war on the Gaza Strip would make them seem biased.
In reality all it did was spark the ire of their viewers: reportedly the BBC has received 11,000 complaints already for declining to broadcast the plea for humanitarian aid, and today Archbishop of York John Sentamu also condemned the move. Antiwar protesters are scheduling a rally outside the BBC’s London offices.
The Gaza war stirred up no small measure of popular sentiment, both in favor of and against the Israeli offensive, which killed 1,400 people and destroyed much of the strip’s infrastructure. Yet in its aftermath Israeli students have collected several trucks full of basic aid for the survivors seemingly without accusation of bias, so it is unclear of what the BBC is so afraid.
Former BBC Director Greg Dyke defended the decision however, saying it was a “no-win situation,” and that “on a subject as sensitive as the Middle East it is absolutely essential that the audience cannot see any evidence at all of bias.” Every other major channel in the nation has run or will run the appeal: so far it appears not to have harmed popular perception of them: or helped popular perception of the BBC. The current BBC chief operating officer says that when “things have calmed down” they are open to considering a future request.