|01-25-2009, 11:12 AM||#1|
Avalon Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2008
Tony Benn accuses BBC of appeasing Israel
A former British Cabinet minister says the BBC seeks to appease Tel Aviv by refusing to broadcast a humanitarian appeal for Gaza.
The BBC has sparked controversy by refusing to broadcast a charity appeal for the victims of the war on Gaza.
In a Saturday interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, former Labour MP Tony Benn attributed the BBC refusal to claims made by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that there is no humanitarian crisis in the territory.
The former Cabinet minister lashed out at the network, saying that the BBC "betrayed" its public service obligations by refusing to broadcast the humanitarian bid -- which has left aid agencies with a donation shortfall of millions of pounds.
"To deny the help that the aid agencies and the UN need at this moment in time is incomprehensible and it follows the bias in BBC reporting of this crisis, which has been widely criticized," said Benn, who is the president of Stop the War Coalition.
According to Benn, the "biased" BBC coverage of the war has "appalled" those who have seen the humanitarian crisis unfolding on television in recent weeks.
The British network says in its defense that it refrained from broadcasting the "controversial" appeal mainly because it would undermine its policy of impartiality.
The public-funded BBC has raised more than 10 million pounds for the humanitarian situation in the Congo, and some 18 million pounds for the Burma crisis.
"I never thought I would live to see [the BBC] refuse to broadcast a humanitarian appeal on the grounds that it was controversial," responded Benn.
"The destruction in Gaza, and the loss of the lives of over a thousand civilians and children, has shocked the world as Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, made clear, when he saw the devastation for himself," he added.
The former parliament member urged the BBC Trust to reconsider its decision on Gaza for the sake of its 1.5 million residents still in danger due to the lack of food, fuel, water and medical supplies.
Tel Aviv launched a three-week-long offensive into Gaza in late December, during which it paralyzed relief efforts for the territory by repeatedly blocking stockpiles of food, fuel and medicine bound for the strip.
The Gaza Strip had been under an 18-month blockade prior to the military operations.
The United Nations, worried about the deepening humanitarian impact of the war, says there is an urgent need for emergency shipment.
Relief workers say the humanitarian situation in the impoverished strip is at its worst with over 1.1 million people -- about 80 percent of the residents of Gaza -- dependent on food aid.
At least 1,340 Gazans were killed and at least 5,320 others were hospitalized as a result of the onslaught.