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Cricket SA’s outright antisemitism

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The ongoing scandal over David Teeger being summarily removed as captain of the South African Under-19 cricket side has been the Board’s primary focus as the new year gets underway. The ostensible reason for Cricket South Africa’s (CSA’s) action was a concern over security due to threatened protests at the upcoming Under-19 World Cup. However, in spite of repeated approaches for clarification on the security and intelligence reports that led to this conclusion, no such information has been forthcoming.

On 16 January, the Board met the management of CSA, headed by the chairperson of its board of directors, Lawson Naidoo. Once again, CSA categorically failed to provide any credible evidence that Teeger’s captaincy had posed any real security threat. CSA’s vacillating and contradictory responses to the questions put to it further reinforces our conviction that the “security concerns” excuse was trumped up. According to Daily Maverick, the expert opinion of a leading security company with extensive experience in event security was that the threat to Teeger or anyone else at the World Cup “was close to zero”. However, even if there had been credible information of possible protest action, CSA could have taken appropriate steps to deal with it had it chosen to do so.

Since there appears to be no basis to the stated concerns about security, together with an independent investigation commissioned by CSA itself having cleared Teeger of any breaches of the CSA code of conduct, the only reasonable conclusion must be that a young member of our community was stripped of his captaincy due to his being a Jewish person who at a private Jewish communal event expressed support for Israel and its armed forces following the 7 October terror attacks. Daily Maverick cricket reporter Craig Ray has described CSA’s handling of the matter as “ham-fisted, and frankly, spineless”. To that we can add that it constituted an outright act of antisemitism by our country’s premier cricket governing body.

Immediately following the CSA meeting, the Board convened an online media briefing at which President Zev Krengel and I reported on what was discussed. More than 40 journalists, including from overseas, attended, and there were many questions. Noting that every single time we challenged CSA on the safety issue, it had shifted the goalposts, I stated that what it had done was to find an excuse to exclude a young Jewish cricketer and days before the start of the tournament, strip him of his honours in the most hurtful and humiliating way. Krengel compared CSA’s capitulation to the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, at which the American team pulled two Jewish athletes out of the 100m sprint relay at the 11th hour so as not to upset their Nazi hosts.

At the time of writing, we’re organising a protest outside the CSA headquarters at 86 5th Avenue Melrose Estate (corner Glenhove). This will take place this Thursday, 18 January, at 16:00, and I encourage as many people as possible to join us.

The other issue that has been capturing the headlines is, of course, the case lodged by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice. On 16 January, the Cape Board held a webinar emceed by our national vice-president, Mary Kluk, in which Judge Dennis Davis provided a typically erudite analysis of what the case is about beyond all the emotion and rhetoric that has surrounded it. I commend our Cape colleagues on organising this successful and timeous event.

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

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