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Op-eds

Fighting the media battle

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev
The past fortnight has seen a flurry of biased media coverage against Israel in certain sectors of the mainstream media, much of it relating to the furore that greeted local musician DJ Black Coffee’s going ahead with a scheduled performance in Tel Aviv.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Apr 12, 2018

Much of the work of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (sometimes in collaboration with the SA Zionist Federation) has thus been geared towards responding, wherever possible, to these attacks.

Given our limited resources, we have to be selective regarding which articles we respond to, much as we would like to reply to all of the clearly inaccurate and unfair reporting and commentary that continually surfaces.

The ANC international relations subcommittee roundly condemned DJ Black Coffee and “reiterated the call for the cultural boycott of Israel”.

In our press statement, we commented that calling for such a boycott was “immoral and inconsistent with how South Africa normally conducts its foreign policy” and that “prejudice, rather than any genuine concern for human rights, is what appears to be behind this decision”.

Our response was widely carried in the various media reports on the issue, as well as by a number of radio stations. Members of our professional staff have also had a number of opinion pieces responding to attacks on Israel appear in the press over the past few weeks.

Sadly, we have also seen a sharp upsurge in violent confrontations on Israel’s Gaza border, which is contributing to the negative climate.

Yom Hashoah

At the time of writing, the regional branches of the board – in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein – are finalising preparations for this year’s Yom Hashoah ceremonies in their respective centres.

The focus this year is on remembering those who, despite the impossible odds, physically resisted their persecutors, with a particular emphasis on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. While no more than delaying the inevitable, such acts of resistance have since become a source of inspiration for the Jewish people in their continued fight against anti-Semitic hatred, a scourge that remains very much with us and which is today showing dangerous signs of regaining a degree of legitimacy in mainstream discourse.

In Johannesburg and Durban, the keynote address will be given by Holocaust survivor Irene Klass, who will speak about her experiences during the war. Born in Lodz, Poland in 1931, she was confined to the Warsaw Ghetto at the age of nine, but subsequently succeeded in escaping.

With the number of survivors in our midst steadily dwindling, we should all seize, and treasure, these opportunities to hear first-hand testimony about the horrors that were inflicted on our people.

For our youth in particular, it is something that they should be exposed to whenever possible. It is they, after all, upon whom the sacred duty of carrying forward the flame of remembrance will ultimately devolve when those who lived through those terrible times are no longer with us.

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 to 13:00.

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