Category Archives: Philanthropy

BBC thinks that some humanitarian aid is more biased than others: the exceptionalism of Israel, yet again.

The Guardian UK notes that the BBC has refused to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, “leaving aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations.” (Jenny Percival, ‘Broadcasters refuse to air Gaza charity appeal,’ The Guardian, January 23, 2008;”

BBC claims that they didn’t want to show bias. They also weren’t sure about how the money would be spent. The appeal went out on three other UK stations and was from a consortium of 13 major aid organizations such as the Red Cross, Oxfam, and Save the Children. The BBC decision has spurred world wide condemnation, massive protest outside the BBC headquarters, and the censure of the British parliament. The refusal has even prompted noble prize winner Mohamed El Baradei, the director of the UN nuclear agency to cancel an interview with the BBC. He said the refusal “violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people irrespective of who is right or wrong.”

If we step back a bit, we need to ask how this kind of situation might have come to pass. Surely, aid appeals for Darfur, the Congo, Rwanda, Kosovo, last years earthquake in China, etc, were not subject to the same level of scrutiny and concern, notwithstanding the “complex” problems which exist in each of these situations/conflicts.. Muzzlewatch issues are actually at the core of this newest outrage. Under the barrage of ostensibly “pro Israeli” efforts, most mainstream and corporate news agencies learn to be very cautious regarding all things Israel.  (see the recent post on Bill Moyers and Bob Simon) Thus, in the present Gaza crisis, Hamas fighters are called “Hamas militants” although the government of Gaza is run by Hamas. Could we say the same thing about Israeli militants instead of soldiers?

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United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York withdraws support from filmm festival about Israel’s Arab citizens

Ha’aretz gives us one more reason to shop at the famous New York market, Zabar’s:

The United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York has withdrawn its support from a Manhattan film festival showcasing Israel’s Arab citizens. The Other Israel Film Festival, which opened yesterday, features movies and panel discussions that focus on the Arab-Israeli experience outside the context of political conflict.

The UJA-Federation publiclydenies the cancellation was in any way political, but Ha’aretz reports:

Sources, however, cite outside pressures from right-wing elements in the Jewish community and from potential donors who objected to an Israeli festival that was about the country’s Arab citizens only.Projects to be featured at the festival include “Arab Labor,” a new television satire series written by Haaretz columnist Sayed Kashua, as well as well-known films such as “Syrian Bride” and “Trumpet in the Wadi,” the feature based on the novel by Sami Michael.The festival “is not about the conflict,” said Zabar, the founder of the festival, whose eponymous specialty supermarket is a New York City landmark. “It is not about taking sides; this festival is about people.”

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