… and the majority were not civilian

iPetitions_logostar-petitionForce the BBC to fulfill their obligation for impartiality

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The petition is available on ipetitions.com. If clicking on the link or the ipetitions logo above does not suit your purpose paste http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/change-bbc-boilerplate-on-gaza-casualties-to into your browser.

Aim of Petition

Petition BBC to modify its Hamas preferred boilerplate on Gaza casualties and the civilian-combatant ratio to reflect that those figures come from an openly biased source and are highly disputed by Israel.

The full petition

Modify the BBC Gaza boilerplate “on the Palestinian side more than [whatever is their current claim] have been killed, the majority of them civilians” to “Hamas sources claim [whatever is their current claim] have been killed, the majority of them civilians. However Israeli sources strenuously contest this claim as to both the total number and the percentage of those killed who can be claimed to be civilian“.

Questions

I don’t receive the BBC. Why bother?

The British Broadcasting Corporation is the world’s oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees, with about 23,000 staff.

Almost uniquely in the mainstream media it has a legal obligation to impartiality. While there may be no specific penalty for breaching those obligations, failure to uphold them may lead to the Parliament of the United Kingdom to modify the unique business model where British citizens are effectively taxed to finance it while profits from sales of its products are kept rather than refunded to the nation.

At the very least it may be forced to defend its actions when time comes to renew its charter.

Also the BBC is answerable to an arguably independent body, the BBC Trust, whose responsibility is to ensure compliance with BBC Guidelines. Given the Corporation’s size, wealth and worldwide reach, any BBC changes may generate a follow-on effect in other media outlets.

Why not simply complain directly to the BBC?

Anyone who has ever tried to utilise the BBC Complaints procedure will have discovered that it is designed to protect the BBC from criticism. The BBC reply form-letter claims they aim to respond to you within 10 working days depending on the nature of your complaint and the research needed to address it.

Their response, even that they have received the complaint, is consistently months later than promised. Perhaps if you complain their staff are underpaid …?

A rock-ribbed complainant might, if very persistent, take the complaint from its original boilerplate fob-off, by appeal, all the way to the BBC Trust which generally rejects practically all complaints, anyway. Unfortunately nothing is older than eighteen month old news. The glacial pace of the procedure means that uncorrected false assertions become effectively fact-by-repetition.

Why a specific change rather than a general protest?

Many accuse the BBC of a culture of bias against Israel to which they often respond that they receive complaints from both sides, by which they assume they are getting it about right. The corporation relies on the difficulty of tracking and identifying general bias over time to deflect criticism. That some complaints may be justified and some not is apparently beyond their comprehension.

If we are lucky with this petition we may lead to an easily verifiable change in BBC reporting practice. If not, thousands of petitioners demanding that change will embarrass the BBC and force them to defend their policy. WIN-WIN.

Haven’t the BBC already found a way to explain the figures to Hamas’s advantage?

BBC WatchBBC Radio 4’s ‘More or Less’ does damage control on Gaza casualty figures is a must read review of this from BBC Watch. It proves that the BBC is well aware of the dispute over the figures and has no excuse to treat one as more credible than the other.

At most the ‘experts’, all drawn from the anti-Israel camp, have provided a possible alternative explanation for the majority of casualties being young men of combatant age.

Personally I feel their explanation is as plausible as the explanation cult members give for explaining why their personal messiah doesn’t come when they predict and doesn’t even telephone. You can make your own judgement.

Radio 4 doesn’t even begin to explain why such a large percentage were identified as members of terrorist groups, at least for as long as Hamas was willing to allow their names to be released. Hamas Social Media Rules describe terrorists as innocent civilians and have learnt not to identify their own and spoil the illusion. The more casualties they can claim the better chance there is for outside forces to feel forced to intervene and for Hamas to gain a public diplomacy.

What can I do (formerly Action Items)?

  • Sign the petition: I hope I am not overly optimistic in aiming for 10,000 signatures. If we can reach that amount we will become serious news.
  • Spread the word: ipetitions provides the means for widgets, email, Facebook and twitter. BTW you are also allowed to talk 🙂
  • Bloggers please write about this on your blogs. Posts tend to disappear if you are active so I would really appreciate helping by using the widget.
  • Do you have media contacts? Let them know about the petition.
  • Contact Five Minutes for Israel is you have any questions, suggestions or problems

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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One Response to … and the majority were not civilian

  1. Pingback: Hamas's "Victory" | الحرب الطائفية في المملكة

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