Celebrities Boycott BBC for Gaza

A galaxy of British actors and directors threatened to boycott the BBC if the world’s biggest broadcaster did not reverse its decision not to air an aid appeal for the homeless population of the bombed-out Gaza Strip.

"We will never work for the BBC again unless this disgraceful decision is reversed," they wrote in an open letter to BBC’s director-general Mark Thompson cited by The Scotsman on Tuesday, January 27.

Last week, the BBC refused to air an aid appeal by Disasters Emergency Committee, a coalition of charities including Oxfam, British Red Cross and Islamic Aid, to raise funds for the people of Gaza.

More than 1,350 people, including 437 children, were killed and 5,450 wounded in 22 days of air, sea and land Israeli attacks.

The deadly onslaught left Gaza infrastructure in tatters, with 4,100 homes totally destroyed as well as 17,000 homes, 1,500 factories, 25 mosques, 31 government buildings and 10 water or sewage pipes damaged.

Thompson claims that airing the fund-raising appeal could compromise the BBC’s impartiality.

"I will never work for the BBC again unless they change their mind," actor Samantha Morton, who initiated the boycott call, told a fund-raising event for the Medical Aid for Palestinians agency Monday.

BBC longtime actor Tam Dean Burn, prominent writer Pauline Goldsmith and actors Peter Mullan and Alison Peebles joined in.

"We therefore are taking what action we can in protest at this decision," said the group’s open letter.

The signatories also vowed not to pay their TV license fee to the publicly-funded broadcaster in protest, urging others to do likewise.

"It is time for the people of Britain to take a stand on this issue."


The BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body, has ordered a review into the controversial decision after receiving up to 21,000 complaints in just few days.

It said that the huge public concern meant it was inevitable to review the decision.

Because of the intense public feeling about the situation, the trust is expected to announce its verdict within days of receiving an appeal.

Pressure is mounting on the BBC to reverse its controversial decision.

More than 100 MPs have signed a motion criticizing the BBC and Sky News for refusing to broadcast the Gaza appeal.

"The fact that well over 100 MPs from different parties have signed this Commons motion shows the breadth of concern about the position which the BBC and Sky are taking," said Richard Burden, the Labour MP who tabled the motion.

The BBC’s decision was also met with fierce criticism from the Church of England archbishops, editorial writers and senior British government ministers.

Protests were held Monday outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House headquarters, with people burning their TV licenses.

Sit-ins were also staged at the BBC’s London headquarters and its broadcast center in Glasgow.

The BBC’s news coverage of the Middle East has repeatedly provoked controversy among commentators in Britain.

In 2006, a report by the BBC’s board of governor found that the BBC’s coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is "inconsistent, incomplete and misleading", failing to adequately report the hardships of Palestinians living under occupation.

(IslamOnline.net and newspapers)

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