The Press Council’s deportment of SA Jewish Report

AT the face of it, a cartoon caricature of a ‘greedy capitalist’ isn’t anti-Semitic. Taken within the context of a boycott and disinvestment campaign against Israeli goods? Well, there are some who may be offended. Personally I don’t find such images, which are redolent of similar Nazi propaganda, in particular the earlier Dreyfus Affair, terribly problematic.

Distasteful yes, and often accompanying conspiracy theories of Jews controlling the world, or bizarre plots to murder Christ and Christian babies, the images are well-known and documented. The illustration in question is a stock ‘man eating money’ image, symbolising greed, similar in many ways to earlier NP-inspired ‘Hoggenheimer‘ images from the 1930s and also deserving of comparison with ‘watermelon men‘ images, from the 1950s symbolising, indolence.

Although the picture in question has appeared in the context of such mischief, and is often used by anti-Semites, it is not one of the truly abysmal images depicting Ashkenazi Jews, with over-sized facial features deserving of our opprobrium. Judge Bernard Ngoepe is right to some extent, and on this account alone, to attempt to discount the controversy, since the image could just as well have found its home on the cover of Noseweek.

Unfortunately the logical analysis provided by Ngoepe is absolutely flawed. The least of which is its resort to an a priori finding — reasoning which proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience.

The argument goes: Somebody who is Jewish says the cartoon used in this context is not Anti-Semitic, therefore it must follow that the author Tali Feinberg cannot impute any Anti-Semitism to BDS on the basis and must apologise.

The finding is wrong for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is clear that Feinberg quotes the opinion of an esteemed academic and expert on the subject, Prof Milton Shain, whose conclusions are thus immediately at odds with the a priori finding. (Frankly, the result does pose the question, why similar union campaigns are devoid of caricature? The subject of the use of cartoons in politics is especially touchy when compounded by religion.)

Secondly, Ngoepe essentially quotes only one opinion, provided by the complainant, that of David Saks, a member of the SAJBD in order to substantiate his own opinion in the matter.

Thirdly, Ngoepe is correct in averring a lack of balance and fairness, thus an impact upon journalistic standards of their member, insomuch as the report in question failed to solicit either the opinion of GIWUSA or BDS, the two affected parties.

Lastly, the sanctions imposed do not fit the nature of the offense. (SEE: Sanef Urges JR to reconsider its position).

In upholding the complaint in its entirety, instead of making an objective ruling upholding the rights of both parties, and thus the complainants right to respond to the article (right of reply) — to thus have their views published by the Jewish Report, as too the publisher’s right to publish, Ngoepe chose to side with the complainant. It is thus a highly politicised stance and outcome, one which immediately calls into question the Press Council’s standing and capacity to act.

The Press Council’s opinion in this regard really runs counter to the idea that a publisher may publish an authors opinion, based as it is on an academic’s opinion, however problematic and contrary to mainstream politics, it may be, and is contradicted by its own previous findings — rulings made when similar complaints are lodged by Jews regarding anti-Semitism in the press, (see my own complaint against Cape Times).

Does this make me biased when it comes to pointing out the resulting hypocrisy? It certainly should and please mark my words — the result is now an exile of the party concerned, an outcome which does not bode well for the council since BDS via its advocacy of far-ranging sanctions, which often translate into cultural sanctions against anyone vaguely Jewish, has long since gained a reputation for Anti-Semitism, in other words, hostility to secular Jewish identity.

I have merely to refer readers to death threats issued against the runner up to last year’s Miss Universe.

In seeking to close down the debate on what constitutes anti-Semitism, (rather than interpretation of the cartoon per se), and instead of reaching out to issues of fairness, the result rubs salt in the wound as it were. Surely it is not up to non-Jewish members of the council to determine such definitions, same way as whites don’t get to define racism, and an apartheid media company doesn’t get to decide who is a member of the anti-apartheid movement or not?

The result thus erroneously attempts to limit discourse, to force an apology on the substance of the unproven allegations, instead of a sanction on the merits, and with the unfortunate effect, a professional excommunication from the council. Which leads one to conclude Ngoepe is really entertaining a presumption in seeking to set BDS up as a movement whose reputation is beyond question at the same time that he denies the right of SA Jewish Report to call out Anti-Semitism, however and whenever they see it (surely all a matter of opinion?).

I also note there appears to be some debate as to whether the Clover boycott effects the so-called occupied territories or not. For the record, both sides in the tragic case of injustice vs injustice need to be heard.

If anyone wishes to engage with Medialternatives on creating a press code of conduct that would include internationally accepted definitions of anti-Semitism that include the right to criticise the policies of the state of Israel, please comment below. Surely time for a South African code?

SEE Press Council Expels SA Jewish Report.

SEE: Furore over SA Jewish Report, BDS Clover cartoon and the Press Council — let the ConCourt decide

Israel Apartheid Week: Blaming the Jews

BLAMING the Jews has become a national sport in South Africa. Instead of taking the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to the next level and prosecuting perpetrators of crimes against humanity it has become convenient to simply blame the Jews for apartheid. The latest incident in which ANC Western Cape leader, Marius Fransman blamed Jews for taking business away from Muslims,  in a racist slur  where he justified sectarian slander by pointing to war crimes in Israel is but one example.  The unintended consequence of Israel-Apartheid week is that now apartheid never happened the way it did in South Africa, and its all the fault of the Jews.

This is not surprising since South Africa’s myopic judicial system insists that all Jews must be Orthodox and therefore Zionists. The Labour Court of South Africa’s steadfast refusal to admit expert evidence from a progressive female Rabbi is a case in point. My ongoing litigation following a complaint against an apartheid media company which refused to participate in the TRC is ample proof. It is thus interesting to witness the following incident in which 400 rabbis from around the world penned a letter asking Jerusalem police to protect women at the Western Wall who want to pray and read the Torah together. The issue of women’s rights in a largely Orthodox world has increasingly become a heated topic of debate in Israel, in which ultra-Orthodox communities still practice religious segregation where the women are separated from the men.

Islam also practices religious segregation, invoking apartheid according to the widely used second definition given by dictionaries. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive cars, however one does not see Muslims in South Africa battling to get into Jewish Day Schools and calling this apartheid. The idea of separating people according to gender and religion is not a new one. What is new, is the strange demand by Palestinians to Ur-like exclusive rights to the entire land formerly known as the British Mandate of Palestine, as if Palestinians are now the Chosen People of the Bible. Nevertheless, and in spite of this, I continue to support the rights of Palestinians to self-determination, but this solidarity comes at a price. A leading UK physicist,  professor Lawrence Krauss walked out of a debate earlier this week, one held by an Islamic group at the University Collage of London, in protest against gender segregation — a controversial move supported by well-known athiest, Richard Dawkins.

Israel has become a mirror image of apartheid South Africa. An inversion of the race segregation we experienced under the National Party. Like any mirror image, ones perception can be deceptive. The left ear is the right ear in the mirror. Your eyes are transposed, one half of the face, is now on the left and the other on the right.

So in Israel, and unlike South Africa, one sees ethnic-based “race segregation” the result of an armed struggle.  The partition barrier in the West Bank has been built subsequent to the uprising. The separation of Palestinians following their refusal to accept Israeli citizenship has all happened post-Intifada. A recent incident involving bus segregation in Haradi communities is revealing. It started out as a segregation issue involving women, and quickly escalated into a segregation issue involving Arabs and Jews. We thus have the strange reversal of the civil rights movement in which activism by people such as Rosa Parks is seen as the cause of the problem, not the solution.

In a recent address, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said  the public domain must be kept “open and safe” for all Israeli citizens. In his view, Israel is a “mosaic” of Jews and Arabs – secular, religious and haredi.”

“Until now there was peaceful coexistence and mutual respect, recently there have been attempts to unravel that coexistence.”

The Israeli prime minister claims to be “strongly opposed” to separate seating for males and females on buses, and says that “marginal groups cannot be allowed to dismantle our common denominator.”

However in order to protect the rights of Haradi communities to observe religion in an antiquated, often repugnant way, at least to modern civilisation, Palestinian children are dying in the West Bank.

The IDF continues to occupy the territory in defiance of UN resolution 242. The dominant Likud party persists in offering war instead of peace, refusing to explain to the world why it is that Jews should be allowed to settle in the area once known as the Kingdom of Israel & Judah, in which Jewish artifacts are everywhere, including Rachel’s Tomb, a site holy to all three-monotheistic religions . The atrocities are mounting, so too the fall-out, as Jews become collectively responsible for apartheid.