The BBC [and Sky]’s decision to decline to broadcast the Disaster’s Emergency Committee Appeal for Gaza is wrong.
It reveals some profoundly muddled thinking by its increasingly irrational, defensive and spineless DG, Mark Thompson. Thompson’s actions over both this and the recent Ross-Brand-Voluptua-Sachs fiasco, tell us a lot about why the Senior Editor and DG roles should be separate; but a lot more about why Thompson is simply not up to the job he was given on the back of the BBC’s pasting by HM Government and the noble Lord Hutton*
[*over, you'll remember, the BBC Today Programme's allegedly inaccurate claims that the government had sexed up its Iraq weapons dossiers - which of course we now know didn't happen, after all those WMDs were found in Iraq ...oh, no, sorry... that was in an alternative dimension wasn't it...].
But muddled thinking is not the worst aspect of Thompson’s befuddled decision-making
The BBC is a news and editorial organisation – so everything that its senior editor does and says becomes an editorial statement.
So by arguing that the BBC cannot be seen to take sides, Thompson has accepted the Israeli government’s implicit argument that its well-resourced and powerfully armed ‘Defence’ forces are at war with the whole Palestinian people.
Or at any rate that Israel is at war with the whole population of Gaza, which they have conveniently given the temporary status of an independent state, in order to declare war on it and its population.
Mark Thompson today announced, in effect, therefore, that the targeting of Palestinian civilians by the IDF is reasonable.
Mr Thompson should move to the Hague immediately – after all who needs an International War Crimes Tribunal when Mr Thompson can do the job of deciding whether it is reasonable to use missiles with phosphorous warheads on civilian populations for a fraction of the cost – and indeed in an iota of the time - that it will take to convene the trials which are prompting Ehud Olmert to establish a specialist war crimes defence team, and fund, to protect members of the IDF who may be held to account for their actions in Gaza over recent weeks.
Thompson’s stance is doubly unfortunate given the sterling work being done by Jeremy Bowen, BBC Correspondent, in covering this ‘conflict’.
Worst of all Thompson is accepting the argument of all men of war, terrorist or statist, over the needs, and, supposedly internationally-assured, human RIGHTS, of civilians.
He is therefore implicitly justifying the notion of ‘total war’ which predated the Geneva Conventions and has been exploited subsequently by evil-doers as diverse as Hitler and the militias of Rwanda.
Congratulations Mr Thompson, now maybe you can try yourself for incitement to genocide as the DJ’s and hosts of Radio Interahamwe in Rwanda and the Congo were tried for crimes against humanity, for you are justifying and inciting future slaughter of the innocents as surely as they ever did.
Now perhaps you could also resign while some vestige of the BBC’s independence and moral authority as a news organisation and as an institution committed to the defence of human rights remains. Or are human rights a bit one-sided for you these days, Mark?
Though it really ISN'T about sides, is it Mark? Not at all, as it happens, since I imagine that Hamas would agree with your analysis, as much as the IDF will; for it is they who will benefit, while the civilian population continues to suffer; and with each new slight and signal of your imbalance and lack of care for the conditions of the civilian population of Gaza, greater hatred is bred.