IN 2010 I led evidence in a South African court that ‘Judaism was not monolithic’, or to use the parlance of Amma Khalid (see below) ‘monothetic’, i.e based on a single basic idea or principle. There were many different expressions of Judaism I told the court, in particular there were those who disputed claims made by the Orthodoxy regarding the origin of the Torah, as too were there divergences on issues of Sabbath observance.
The Torah itself was unclear and contradicted itself. Since the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) or Reform, progressives such as myself believed in a ‘separation between Synagogue and State’. Instead of upholding my right to privacy in the face of the obscene ecclesiastical charges and racist propositions put to me by Kahanovitz SC acting for apartheid media company Media24, the court decided to adopt a moral position consistent with ultra-Orthodox, Rabbinical Judaism.
AJ Cheadle found that since I was a ‘Jew in breach’ of my alleged religion, I could not claim discrimination i.e. Antisemitism on the basis of the offensive inquiries and objections made by the respondent in the matter, who not only disputed my Jewishness but had proceeded to impugn whether or not I was indeed a Jew and outrageously denied they knew I was Jewish even though they were now insisting on authoring and issuing such inquiries.
As Thomas Jefferson put it in an 1803 letter to an English politician, 26 years after establishing an Act enshrining religious freedom in 1777: “I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others”
Cheadle then claimed to reserve judgement in the doctrinal dispute, despite his open bias towards the respondent (who turned out to be his client) demonstrated by his adopting their position in the matter.
The company had initially objected to my attendance at a ‘mixed race’ music venue on the Sabbath, and appeared to also object to my use of a company vehicle on Shabbat, supposedly in contravention of Jewish law. My own pleadings in the matter were simply ignored and mocked, with the respondent’s version of the case along with false and misleading narrative, uplifted and handed down.
Thus Cheadle upheld a claim inter alia, reiterating apartheid-era justifications for separate development, whilst proceeding to trash the findings of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, an inquiry into gross violations of human rights under apartheid in which the company had essentially been found guilty as one of the ‘handmaidens of the apartheid regime’.
The company also attacked my byline, infringed upon journalistic privilege, sought a gagging order, and made a number of frivolous and vexatious allegations regarding several interviews conducted with jazz musicians. In turn I accused the company of censorship, race profiling of readers, de facto newsroom segregation and denial of my rights as a journalist. Restrained from calling any witnesses in the matter, I was forced to lead my evidence from the witness box, sans an attorney.
I was not given leave to appeal nor even present when the decision was handed down and a petition to the Labour Appeal Court was turned down in my absence. You can access my case documents here. https://medialternatives.com/case/
Today I was thus surprised to find pretty much my own case regarding the racist Anti-Secular Inquisition by Media24, reiterated in support of an Art History Professor, cast out due to similar sensitivities to do with religion. It is a welcome respite from the machinations of the religious police and theocrats in my own country to read the argument in support of an Enlightenment in Islam.
Almost 17 years since the initial incident which led to my complaint being filed, I continue to condemn the anti-Secular, partisan,1994-denialist decision of the corrupt Labour Court of South Africa. I once again demand that my rights to an identity independent of the state’s religious authorities and especially religious policing, be restored alongside my rights as a journalist.