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Ant Katz

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Ant Katz is currently the editor of this website. He has spent almost his entire working career in community media at every level. Born and bred and educated in Joburg (an Old Davidian Linksfield), Ant ‘emigrated’ to the Eastern Cape in the early 80s where he started a number of community titles between PE & Plett & became involved in the Struggle by training & employing families of emigrant cadres & sharing information he obtained by virtue of his position back offshore through the same channels. In ’92 Ant sold his stable of titles to Times Media for whom he then worked in various capacities and as directors of various companies. In 2003 he branched out into the world of digital community media consulting and 2009 he built and launched  (SEE MORE BELOW).

Friedman: BDS-SA Incompetence promoting Zionism

by Ant Katz | Mar 10, 2016
The recent article by Professor Steven Friedman in The Daily Vox headlined “How the incompetence of BDS-SA has promoted Zionism in SA” certainly took my breath away. No friend of Zionism, Prof Friedman’s candour and honest appraisal of the situation on the ground in SA was a huge blow to BDS.

Click here to read this piece in its original form or see below.

“It takes special skill to turn the fight for Palestinian rights into a marginal movement in a country where the vast majority identify with victims of oppression of one identity group by another” he wrote.

Worse for BDS, however, was BDS-SA’s response today which can be read here: VERBATIM FROM THE HOUSE OF HORRORS. While BDS’ profanities and theologies were certainly not called for, they are most telling of where the organisation, which has received several black eyes during this week’s Israel Apartheid Week event, finds itself.

In the gutter.

Here's Prof Friedman's critique verbatim:


How the incompetence of BDS-SA has promoted Zionism in SA

It takes special skill to turn the fight for Palestinian rights into a marginal movement in a country where the vast majority identify with victims of oppression of one identity group by another, writes STEVEN FRIEDMAN.

The country is ours, where the self-importance of the solidarity movement glosses over the fact that its successes are limited to one successful, never repeated, march two years ago. The movement’s most visible face, BDS SA, seems to have largely given up on the society, focussing its efforts on an alliance with the governing party which has failed to shift foreign policy to a clearly pro-Palestinian position and has set back chances of building broad support because it excludes and alienates many people.

Since BDS SA and its allies became the face of the solidarity movement, Zionist influence here has increased. While the movement sees getting ANC struggle warhorses to pile up trolleys at Woolworths and then refuse to pay as a major triumph, in the political mainstream, Zionist influence has strengthened. Yes, we do now have labelling laws which are meant to identify goods made in the West Bank and Gaza – but then so does the European Union, hardly an anti-Zionist stronghold. At the same time, the media hardly tell the Palestinian story while the Israeli ambassador boasts in private of how many good friends the Israeli state has in government.

This failure to turn solidarity with Palestine into a mainstream movement here is particularly astounding when we consider that the vast majority of black South Africans are sympathetic to the cause – if the realities of Palestinian life are explained to them. There is no hard survey evidence to back this – but experience confirms it: when University of Johannesburg academics successfully campaigned for the end of UJ’s official links with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, we received strong support in the wider society.

Why this failure? In very broad terms, it is a product of a refusal to treat public opinion with respect, as something to be nurtured rather than taken for granted. But the more concrete problem is not telling the Palestinian story.

If we hark back to the fight to turn world public opinion against apartheid, very little of it was about rallying people around abstract calls for one-person-one-vote. While that goal was never hidden, anti-apartheid strategists understood that, when people are asked to identify with a cause which does not affect them directly, they are far more likely to react to a concrete story of human suffering than to what seems like an abstract demand.

Support was built by focusing on specifics – forced removals, pass laws, police violence, political prisoners, racist restrictions on sport. People with a sense of justice can relate to that – it hits home in a way which abstractions never can. (This can be so even when people are close to the action –

The Daily Vox’s description

of a day in the life of a domestic worker probably helped people make sense of the reality of today’s South Africa better than any academic paper).

The solidarity movement here is interested only in abstractions. As I am writing this, the Israeli state has finally agreed to release Palestinian hunger striker Mohamed al-Kik who fasted for over three months. No thanks to the local solidarity movement who have ignored al-Kik and all other Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike. What could be more human, more likely to instil outrage, than a person willing to starve themselves to death because they have been unjustly imprisoned?

It is surely stating the obvious to say that the hunger strikes of Palestinian political prisoners are not the only issue on which the Palestinian plight could be presented as a compelling human story. Every day at 3am in Bethlehem, volunteers, including South African activists, wake to chronicle the harassment and humiliation which Palestinians experience at check points – their reports are published. But there has been no campaign here to focus attention on a form of repression which forces people simply going about their business to stand in line for three to four hours each way and to endure humiliation when they arrive at the head of the line.

If solidarity work in this country focussed on the human cost of Zionism, the check points, the destruction wrought by the Separation Wall, police and army violence and political prisoners, the Palestinian struggle would take on a human form, win the support of the broad public, and stem Zionism’s influence here.

The solidarity movement should know that – the only time it has organised a show of support was when people were being slaughtered in Gaza (a human story not even it could ignore). But then piling up trolleys at Woolworths for no apparent reason is easier than the real work required to run campaigns which reach people’s hearts.

Steven Friedman is Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg.

This is part of a special series called Apartheid 2.0, which The Daily Vox is running in partnership with Al Jazeera’s Palestine Remix.

Featured image: Ihsaan Haffejee

Read the series:



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Always an innovator, Ant Katz was the second person in the Eastern Cape (after UPE) to install Microsoft Windows and the first publisher in SA to produce a digital newspaper combining advertising and editorial. His Jeffreys Bay-based production facility was visited variously by management of Media24, Times Media and Caxtons when they heard that it was possible to do this. Ant Katz worked on Times Media teams throughout the country and the world seeking the latest and most innovative common IT platforms for their myriad of business interests.

Ant’s experience as a journalist, editor and media law specialist, media marketer and manager ensured he was well poised to become involved from the very start of online news websites and, from 1997 to date has had a hand in the development of over 30 such sites – of which is but the latest. While less challenging operationally than daily newspaper websites, says Ant, this has been the most challenging to develop. “One is always having to try and anticipate the technology of the future, today,” he explains. And, while it may be easy for a journo to know what his various readers want, says Ant, “making sure that users can find what they want and use what they need in the easiest possible way is the secret of online news success.”

Add to that the question of on what tech platform they will want it in three years’ time, and you’ll understand why Ant has to keep his eyes on all evolving tech trends and be ready for those that will become ubiquitous.


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