Complaint to BBC concerning pro-Israeli bias in coverage of the massacre occuring in Gaza

Rupert’s Readers!

I think that this might interest some of you: It is the text of a complaint I have just sent to the BBC Today programme:

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I am writing to complain about the repeated pattern of pro-Israeli bias on your newscasts.

For example (this is one of many possible examples): this morning on _Today_ from 8 until 8.22a.m., you featured several voices on the Gaza situation – not one of them was a Palestinian, or a direct sympathizer with their plight. You DID give some airtime however to an Israeli citizen living in south Israel! We have heard HUGE amounts on your airwaves from these Israelis, who are suffering — but they are suffering just a tiny percentage of what the Gazans are suffering!

Is this, to coin a phrase ‘proportionate’? Shouldn’t we be hearing a lot more — not a lot less — from the desperate civilians of the open-air prison of Gaza, as compared to from Israeli civilians?

Imagine the following parallel situation: In Zimbabwe, over 380 MDC people and civilians hemmed into a narrow strip of land in the country are killed as a result of government attacks; while 2 civilians in nearby Zanu PF areas are killed by the MDC supporters. Is it remotely conceivable that, in such a situation, the BBC would choose frequently (as this morning) to air ONLY a voice from the Zanu PF side, and no voice from among the MDC??!

Please think about this! People are dieing in large numbers: your coverage is not helping them to live.

PLEASE let us hear many more voices from the Palestinians, from the Gazans, from the ordinary people!

There are now well over 380 Gazans killed, compared to 2 Israelis killed. Yet you persist in giving Israeli citizens MORE coverage than Palestinian citizens! Can anyone listening with an open mind avoid the conclusion that either (1) you value Israeli lives more, or (2) you are responding to Israeli ‘flak’ in a craven way, by trying to avoid generating further criticisms from their sophisticated ‘media-attack’ operation.

I suspect that the answer is (2). But this is not acceptable — it is not acceptable for the BBC to compromise its editorial values in response to pressure from a government and organisations working on behalf of this government.

Come on BBC, you can do better than this with my licence-fee! …

I look forward to understanding why you chose to run this morning’s broadcast in the way that you did — and, more than that, I look forward to never hearing broadcasts like that again! When one side in an absolutely patently-uneven conflict is suffering so extremely, I expect the BBC to manifest that in its coverage – from now on.

Please don’t disappoint me.


 Dr. Rupert Read, Reader in Philosophy (specialising in Social and Political Philosophy and Philosophy of Language) at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.

MASSACRE IN THE GAZA STRIP – Join the Norwich protest [I will be there!]



All welcome – stay as long as you are able.

More info: Frank 01493 664499

Ending the Working Time Directive Opt-out!

The recent vote by Members of the European Parliament to scrap the opt-out on the Working Time Directive might sound distant to the concerns of people in the East of England – but Greens believe it was the right decision and that it will matter a great deal to thousands of workers and families.

There are over 3 million people in the UK who currently work over 48 hours a week. Eastern Region has the highest proportion of such workers outside of London – about 15% of all people in this Region will be directly helped.

The Working Time Directive still allows the flexibility to work over 48 hours for a proportion of the year. What it seeks to stop is prolonged periods of long hours, which UK workers carry out more than in any other EU country. Excessive hours can mean stress, anxiety and depression and increased health risks, such as cardiovascular problems (which affects 66,000 UK workers a year). Long hours can also impact on family life.

It is astonishing that 2 out of the 3 Conservative MEPs for our Region voted to keep the status quo, the other abstaining. Having portrayed themselves as a more caring party, keen to support families, in reality when it comes to making decisions they revert to type and support the interests of big business over those of ordinary working people.

If elected as an MEP for the Eastern Region on the 4th June 2009, I will continue to support measures that help workers and families.



Green Party urges end to Israeli air assault and ruling out of Israeli ground attack [News release]

This was sent out to the British media yesterday — its content a clear contrast to Brown’s dreadful failure to call on the Israelis to stop their mass-killing bombing-raids:
Green MEP Caroline Lucas calls for suspension of EU Israeli association agreement


London, UK – 28 December 2008


The Green Party has today demanded an end to Israeli air assaults on Gaza, and for both sides to stop the escalating violence in the region.


Green Party leader and Member of the European Parliament, Caroline Lucas, said, “The Israeli action is clearly counterproductive to the prospects for peace. The population of Gaza is already suffering from the Israeli blockade, which has accelerated their decline into even greater hunger and poverty.  Casualties among the civilian population only serve to make people more angry and sow the seeds for further violence.”


The United Nations office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories published a report on 17 December highlighting the plight of people living in Gaza as a result of the Israeli blockade.


Dr Lucas also called upon EU leaders to consider suspending the EU Israel association agreement in the light of ongoing human rights abuses.


Iraq shoe- thrower – offer him asylum [Media release]


Green Party urges Britain to offer asylum to the Baghdad shoe-thrower



“The Green Party calls on the British government to condemn the torture and prosecution of the Baghdad shoe-thrower, Muntadar al-Zaidi, and to demand his immediate release and the dropping of all charges against him. If Mr al-Zaidi feels it is no longer safe for him to remain in Iraq, we urge Gordon Brown to offer him political asylum in the UK,” said Peter Tatchell, the human rights spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales, and the party’s parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.


“The overthrow of Saddam Hussein was supposed to usher in a new era of democracy and human rights. The torture and prosecution of the shoe-thrower is an ugly revival of the abuses that existed under the Baathist dictatorship. It is not what we expect in post-Saddam Iraq,” added Mr Tatchell.


Mr al-Zaidi is due to stand trial in Baghdad on Wednesday 31 December.


Meanwhile, to express his support for the shoe-thrower, Norwich Green councillor Rupert Read, the Green Party’s lead candidate for the Eastern Region in the June 2009 European Parliament elections, has posted a pair of his old shoes, one each to Gordon Brown and George Bush, and posted a video of his doing so on the internet: 


Peter Tatchell explained why the Green Party is backing the shoe-thrower:


“Mr al-Zaidi’s protest was a courageous, symbolic gesture to challenge the US President’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, the mass civilian casualties caused by the war, the use of torture by US military forces and the US attempt to rip off Iraq’s oil wealth.


“His heroic action was in the fine traditions of the young men who burned their draft cards to protest against the US war in Vietnam and of the Black Power salutes by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico Olympics in protest at the racist discrimination suffered by African-Americans.


“Mr al-Zaidi’s did not physically harm anyone or cause any damage – only embarrassment to President Bush and the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Causing embarrassment should not be a crime. To prosecute him for this protest is petty and disproportionate; unbefitting Iraq’s new democracy,” said Mr Tatchell.


There is evidence that Mr al-Zaidi has been beaten in the face by prison guards, and his brother says that Muntadar has lost a tooth, has had ribs broken and has been burned with cigarettes.


Mr al-Zaidi could face between five and 15 years in prison, under draconian Iraqi laws that echo Saddam Hussein’s repressive tyranny.


Cllr. Read explained why he posted his shoes to the British Prime Minister and the US President:


“I wanted to highlight my support for the show-thrower and to remind the government of its duty to defend human rights in Iraq. Maybe if enough of us do this and also protest in other ways, then the spotlight of publicity will shame the governments of Iraq, Britain and the US into treating this courageous protester more fairly and humanely.”


“Al-Zaidi’s trial starts on 31 December. Let’s give this courageous journalist a present for the New Year: let’s keep this man, with whom so many of us sympathise, out of prison. The charges against him should be dropped. Given the physical brutality he has already suffered, Muntadar deserves his immediate freedom,” said Cllr. Read.

Gaza: Ceasefire Now

  Dear friend,

As we watch the Gaza bloodshed with horror, appalled at how the crisis is spiraling further out of control, one thing is clear — this violence will only lead to further civilian suffering and an escalation of the conflict.

There must be another way. Over 280 are dead so far in the Gaza Strip and hundreds more injured — rockets are striking Ashdod deep inside Israel for the very first time, and the Israelis are mobilising for invasion. A global outcry has begun, but it’ll take more than words — the immediate violence won’t end, nor will wider peace be secured, without firm action from the international community.

Today, we’re launching an emergency campaign which will be delivered to the UN Security Council and key world powers, urging them to act to ensure an immediate ceasefire and address the growing humanitarian crisis — only with robust international oversight and action can civilians on all sides be protected and real steps be taken toward a wider peace. Follow this link now to sign the emergency petition and send it to everyone you know:

After Gaza’s bloodiest day in recent memory and eight or more years of ineffective US and global diplomacy, we need to get world leaders to do more than issue statements if they’re to ensure a lasting ceasefire.1 Through the UN Security Council and other international bodies, the world can provide the help and pressure needed to stop the violence and change the situation on the ground in Gaza — preventing the rockets and incursions, re-opening crossing-points under international oversight so that instead of weapon-smuggling, the 1.5 million ordinary people of Gaza can get the fuel, food and medicines they so desperately need.

All sides to the conflict will continue to act as they have in the past if they believe that the world will stand by and allow them to do so. We mobilised for a ceasefire in 2006’s Israel-Lebanon war and succeeded, but this time the international community must not delay — let’s raise a truly worldwide outcry. 2009 is a year that things can be different. As we face this crisis, and the possibilities of a new year, it’s time for us everywhere to work together to stop this violence.

With hope and determination,

Brett, Ricken, Alice, Ben, Pascal, Paul, Graziela, Paula, Luis, Iain and the whole Avaaz team

1 Further actions could include: a formal resolution from the Security Council rather than issuing a press statement as was done on 28 December 2008; explicit private and public international pressure on the parties to end the hostilities including developing clear terms for the resumption of negotiations; proper international oversight of the Rafah border; and in time, a detailed Security Council resolution setting out the terms in international law for a permanent peace between Israel and Palestine. For background, see this Jerusalem Post article, “No international pressure to end op”:

Bus prices must fall!


Could the First Bus service from the Earl of Leicester into the city centre here in Norwich now be the most expensive in the country, mile for mile?

First blamed the high price of fuel for the August fare rises and I am somewhat astonished by their refusal now to review fares following the huge fall in fuel prices.
The frequency of buses down Dereham Road is excellent and really it should be a “no brainer” to choose the bus instead of the car when visiting the city from the western side; however, it is actually cheaper for many families in my ward to drive into the city and park all day at St Andrews – there is no incentive to take the bus! This is madness – it is this that results in congestion … and in high exhaust emissions…
Both myself and my wife hold Oyster cards and use these every time we visit London. A single bus journey in London is £1 with the card and the same “ticket” can be used with any bus company. Why can’t we have something like that in Norwich?

I wish the new boss of FirstBus all the best in his new Job, but I also call for his 1st act to be a significant reduction in the fairs to help struggling families.

In the longer term, behaviour like this (keeping their prices up, when fuel prices plummet) on the part of First only increases the pressure for implementing Green Party policy – the re-regulation of the buses, the taking of them into public control once more. If companies like First behave like this, then we can only get justice and a decent service for the people of Norwich by having democratic control over this vital public service – public transport.