Thursday, January 29, 2009


To Mark Thompson, BBC

Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC, recently decided not to air a television appeal by a group of UK charities on behalf of the people of Gaza, on the grounds that it would be seen to compromise the BBC's "impartiality". Thompson defended his decision on the BBC website, to which I sent this response:

I have little to add but endorsement to the overwhelming view that says you were completely wrong. Your reasons are inadequate and unconvincing, and if you (BBC) are incapable of drawing a clear line between politics and human suffering you are simply incompetent as journalists and inept as a public service. It is completely inadequate for a media organisation to say that the matter is "contentious" when you have the means to distinguish one story from another. This was not about who was right or wrong, but about what people in the UK might do to help the victims - the dying, the wounded, the hungry, the homeless and the terrified. This was a matter of simple humanity. Had all the devastation or similar suffering been on the Israeli side I would have equally expected an appeal for help to be broadcast by the BBC for them. But the situation is in Gaza, and however it has come about, it is one in which ordinary people need help, that is all.

The sort of impartiality the BBC should show is not about scurrying to avoid to offence to "sides" as much as having a clear moral framework of humanity, decency and respect that applies to all. I see your response and action as being those of a time-serving back-watching bureaucrat, not those of the leader of a purportedly authoritative and independent (less alone humanitarian) broadcaster. You have taken the BBC down by yet another notch rather than strengthening it in any way, and you should consider your own position.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Why the economic situation is unlikely to get better any time soon

This is a fantastic article, in every sense of the word.



Embargo stupidity

It would be good to think that global social entrepreneurship could flourish independently of the small-minded agendas of politicians. So it was very disappointing, on making contact with the Ashoka organisation, to find that we (Massar/Syria) cannot engage with them (or rather, they cannot engage with us) due to the constraints of US/Syria relations. This just seems pathetic, and completely counter-productive. Here we are, looking to increase citizenship, encourage social and political participation, emphasise human rights, generally make the world a better place - all things that you would think the US administration, even under GWB, would approve of - and Ashoka can't do business with us because it's American and we are Syrian. If ever there was an example of political stupidity at foreign policy level this is it.


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