UK government halts funding to BBC quoted and promoted charity

The Telegraph informs us that:

“The government has ceased funding a British charity which sponsored events accused of promoting hatred and violence against Jews. 

The Department for International Development (Dfid) said that it no longer supported War on Want, which helped pay for “Israeli Apartheid Week” in February this year. […]

War on Want, whose logo appears on publicity materials for Israeli Apartheid Week and the meeting, has received £260,000 in funding from Dfid over the last two years.

The subsidy is doubly embarrassing because the Government has recently banned local authorities and other public bodies from implementing boycotts of Israel.

A Dfid spokesman said last night that it has ceased funding of War on Want, apart from a small project with a distinct branch of the charity in Northern Ireland.”

As was reported here last year, this is not the first time that ‘War on Want’ has been active in the organisation of ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ in British universities and its activities include additional forms of anti-Israel campaigning.WoW 1

Among the other bodies funding ‘War on Want’ is the charity ‘Comic Relief which – as has been noted here before – receives considerable support from the BBC. In addition, BBC Radio 4’s charity appeals slot has featured ‘War on Want’ on several occasions.

In light of the circumstances which prompted the decision taken by the Department for International Development, one would of course expect that ‘Comic Relief’ and additional funders of ‘War on Want’ will be reviewing their position.

That same background should of course also prompt the BBC to ensure that on the fairly frequent occasions upon which it hosts representatives of ‘War on Want’ on its programmes, care should be taken to meet the existing BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality which require that audiences be made aware of the association of contributors with a “particular viewpoint”.

BBC promoted NGO supplying props for ‘Israel Apartheid Week’

One BBC-related issue which we find ourselves having to raise on these pages with disturbing frequency is that of the inadequate introduction of guests or interviewees linked to political NGOs. In our round-up of NGO contributors to BBC content in 2014 we noted that:

“In some instances an interviewee or contributor to BBC content was presented to audiences by name and with the title of his or her organization, but more often than not the political agenda of that organization and the interviewee’s resulting “standpoint” were not adequately clarified – as demanded by BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality. The same practice was evident when quotes were used from organisations’ press releases without being attributed to a specific person. […]

In other cases, interviewees or contributors were presented by name only and – again in breach of editorial guidelines – BBC audiences were not informed of their affiliations with campaigning organisations or of the fact that their contribution should be assessed within the context of a particular political agenda.”

On at least two occasions last year the ‘Senior Campaigns Officer’ for ‘War on Want‘, Rafeef Ziadah, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4. On one occasion – in a programme about Jerusalem – Ziadah’s employment at ‘War on Want’ and her activism in the BDS movement were not clarified to listeners at all, whilst on the other – in a programme about drones – her position at ‘War on Want’ was mentioned but the BBC did not bother to meet its own editorial guidelines by informing audiences about that organisation’s anti-Israel campaigning.

One recent manifestation of that political campaigning comes in the form of an offer from ‘War on Want’ to supply props to student groups organizing ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ events at UK universities. Students are encouraged to:WoW 1

“Organise an Apartheid Wall display on your campus to raise awareness about the ongoing destruction and human rights violations caused by the Wall. Props available to borrow are:

Six wall panels. Each panel measures approximately 2 metres x 1 metre and is heavy and must be supported. Your group may borrow some or all of the panels.

One watch tower measuring 2 metres by 70cm diametre. It is very heavy.

Four  cardboard/paper mache over sized guns measuring 1.5 metres each (new – not in picture)”

In other words, the BBC has provided audiences with information on Israel-related issues by means of a representative of an organization with a very clear political agenda which has been repeatedly concealed from listeners.

An additional aspect of this issue is the fact that among the bodies funding ‘War on Want’ is the UK charity ‘Comic Relief’ which is supported by the BBC.  This year’s annual fundraising drive – known as ‘Red Nose Day‘ – will take place on March 13th, with much BBC One programming devoted to the event. As we noted here two years ago:

“As a publicly funded body committed to impartiality, it is imperative for the BBC to ensure that – via its partnership with Comic Relief – it is not associated with organisations such as War on Want which demonise Israel as part of a racist campaign to deny self-determination to one specific ethnic group.” 

Unfortunately, not only has nothing changed on that front since those words were written, but BBC collaboration with the amplification of the ‘War on Want’ political agenda by means of inadequately introduced interviews with its ‘Senior Campaigns Officer’ appear to have become the norm.

If the BBC’s Director of Television is as concerned about antisemitism in the UK as his remarks last December suggest, a serious review of the activities of organisations funded via his programming is just as urgent as examination of the corporation’s failure (despite the repeated lip service paid to that issue) to adhere to its own editorial guidelines on impartiality when introducing guests and interviewees.  

Not funny: BBC supported ‘Comic Relief’ and the demonization of Israel

Comic Relief is a UK charity with which readers in Britain are no doubt familiar. The charity’s prominent supporters include the Sainsbury supermarket chain, British Telecom and the BBC and its main fundraising event is Red Nose Day – to be held this year on March 15th – with the BBC devoting much of its programming on that day to the event and running a telethon to collect donations. 

War on Want Christmas card

One of the charities which has enjoyed considerable funding from Comic Relief is War on Want which is heavily involved in anti-Israel activity, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.  War on Want’s president, Rodney Bickerstaffe, is – unsurprisingly –  also a patron of the Hamas supporting and enabling Palestine Solidarity Campaign. 

Just this last week, two of War on Want’s employees – including senior campaigns officer Rafeef Ziadah who is also a representative of the Palestinian BDS National Committee – took part in an Israel Apartheid Week event in London. Richard Millett was at the event and has written about it on his blog. 

“At last night’s event Ziadah called for a boycott of Tesco and Sainsbury’s due to their trade with Israel. She also unveiled War On Want’s new campaign for Britain to instigate a two-way arms ban against Israel; both selling arms to Israel and buying arms from Israel, which, she claimed, are “tested on Palestinian bodies and then used in Afghanistan.” “

“Ziadah finished by holding up “a rock from Haifa” which, she said, was as close to home as she could get as “a Palestinian refugee”. She said she hoped that herself, Eid, Kopty and Jarrar will all one day meet on Haifa’s beach without being oppressed by the “racist state of Israel”.”

Read the full account here.

As a publicly funded body committed to impartiality, it is imperative for the BBC to ensure that – via its partnership with Comic Relief – it is not associated with organisations such as War on Want which demonise Israel as part of a racist campaign to deny self-determination to one specific ethnic group.