supporting-rape-survivors

SA Featured Item

South Africans have easy access to anti-Semitic texts online

  • the-synagogue-of-satan
Did you know that when you order the newest gadget from Takealot.com, your child’s birthday present from Loot.co.za, or the latest bestsellers from Exclusive Books online, you can also add a copy of the blatantly anti-Semitic The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to your cart?
by TALI FEINBERG | Jul 11, 2019

These online bookstores stock millions of books from overseas and independent publishers, and it appears the stock isn’t vetted. But, according to David Saks, associate director at the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), The Protocols of the Elders of Zion “continues to be a banned publication in South Africa, and therefore any local distributor stocking it is in breach of the law”.

This isn’t the only anti-Semitic text being sold by these stores. When local community member Greg Schlosberg was browsing Loot.co.za in April, he came across The Synagogue of Satan: The Secret History of Jewish World Domination by Holocaust-denier Andrew Carrington Hitchcock.

When Schlosberg queried this with Loot.co.za, he was twice told, “Unfortunately we cater for all sorts of customers with a vast variety of interest in books.” He wrote to the store again, saying, “Books such as this promote religious intolerance and incite hatred. Such hatred can, in turn, lead to hate attacks being carried out by fanatics.” He cited the example of the terrorist attack at a shul in San Diego in April.

He then took the matter to the Cape SAJBD, which contacted Loot.co.za regarding the anti-Semitic material. “Loot told us that it stocks more than 17 million books, and there is no vetting process on this stock. It said the stock doesn’t represent the company’s views, but I told them that by selling it, they are promoting it,” said Cape Board Director Stuart Diamond. “I asked them if they would have the same response if it was racist towards other South Africans, and they agreed that it was problematic.”

Said Schlosberg, “There’s no place in society for material such as this to be so easily accessible. These websites are either advertising these books knowing full well what the product comprises, in which case action needs to be taken against them, or there is a greater need for checks and controls to be implemented by these websites. Either way, it’s unacceptable.”

Alison Swain, the digital marketing manager of Loot.co.za, later wrote to Diamond again, thanking the Cape SAJBD for bringing this to their attention. “The views and opinions expressed in all the books on our site are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views and values of our brand,” she wrote.

“The product [The Synagogue of Satan by Andrew Carrington Hitchcock] was unavailable to order [supplier was out of stock] on our site, and I have just been notified by our product team that the book has been removed from the website. Our apologies to the South African Jewish community if this has caused any distress. It was definitely unintended,” she said.

However, a simple search by the SA Jewish Report showed that books called The Synagogue of Satan by other authors are still available on Loot.co.za, Takealot.com, and the Exclusive Books online store, although it is unclear if they are anti-Semitic in their content.

What’s more, multiple copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are for sale on all three sites. The book is a fabricated anti-Semitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan to achieve global domination. Unedited copies of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, and The International Jew: the World’s Foremost Problem by Henry Ford, are also available.

While it’s clear that there is no anti-Semitic agenda at these online stores, and they aren’t promoting these books, they create a loophole for anyone wanting to access these hate-filled texts, for as little as R109.

A further search shows other discriminatory texts on these sites. A book called Black People, White People – Who is the Devil can be bought on Takealot.com and Exclusive Books, and if you search Takealot.com with the word “Islam”, the first book that comes up is titled Islam: Evil in the Name of G-d. The book cover lists a series of offensive terms regarding the Prophet Muhammad.

There are also many books with the words “k*fire” and “n*gger” in their titles, although most of these appear to carry historical contexts. One book is titled Niggerology 101 (The Basic Nigger Lesson Plan): The Truth about the Word Nigger and Them Niggers.

The South African Holocaust & Genocide Foundation’s Tali Nates and Mary Kluk said, “In a democracy such as ours, the public have easy access to racist and anti-Semitic information through books, articles, or the internet.

“We encourage members of the public to become upstanders, and to write to the booksellers requesting that they remove literature filled with racism, anti-Semitism, and hatred from their shelves.”

The SA Jewish Report approached all three stores for comment. Swain explained that Loot used “reputable local and international book suppliers” that sends them automatic feeds. “It’s unfortunately near impossible to vet every book and author which gets automatically uploaded and listed,” she said.

If books are flagged, “We will deal with it on a case by case basis, and after reviewing the query, will take relevant action. Once flagged and removed, our system will permanently block that title,” she said.

When asked if Loot would remove anti-Semitic books like The Protocols if the Elders of Zion from the site in future, Swain responded, “Note that we still have to adhere to the fact that constitutionally, authors are allowed freedom of speech. If a book does constitute hate speech or any human-rights violations then we will most definitely review and take action to remove it.” She agreed that the books the SA Jewish Report had flagged would be reviewed, and said some had already been removed.

Asked if Loot would look at removing books and texts that are discriminatory against other groups, she said, “We can’t comment at this stage. We take this extremely seriously though, and will have internal discussions about it, and advise accordingly.”

Exclusive Books Chief Executive Grattan Kirk thanked the SA Jewish Report for bringing this to his attention, and said that he would look into it. “As a bookseller, we don’t publish books, and are just a retail conduit for publishers. I would therefore think you should approach the publishers directly.”

Takealot.com said it would need more time to respond to questions.

Advocate Mark Oppenheimer says that according to South Africa’s constitution, freedom of expression is limited when it is “propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence, or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm”.

In this context, the sale of the books might be constitutionally protected. So, if a Holocaust denier does not call for imminent violence against Jews, his book can be sold.

Diamond said he hoped the board could play a leading role in calling out companies in instances like this. “We [the Cape Board] want to be a direct line for anyone who sees hatred or products that contain hate speech. That’s why we say that South Africa is #NoPlaceForHate. These online stores might not have done this intentionally, but as South Africans, we deserve better.”

1 Comment

  1. 1 Phillip Pisciotta 14 Jul
    I was not aware of this.  However, the book is available fo rpurchase at almost any book store in the USA.  So are a lot of other books I would never purchase.

    If they promoted the additional item, or gave it away for free, I'd have issues. But to simply offer it as an item for purhase I find it just as upsetting, but legal as I do other more upscale book stores in the USA.

    Phillip

    PS:  Your Robot Code doesn't appear until after you submit, then you have to re-submit with the code.  Might want to check with your WWW site manager.

Comment

  1. RadEditor - HTML WYSIWYG Editor. MS Word-like content editing experience thanks to a rich set of formatting tools, dropdowns, dialogs, system modules and built-in spell-check.
    RadEditor's components - toolbar, content area, modes and modules
       
    Toolbar's wrapper 
     
    Content area wrapper
    RadEditor's bottom area: Design, Html and Preview modes, Statistics module and resize handle.
    It contains RadEditor's Modes/views (HTML, Design and Preview), Statistics and Resizer
    Editor Mode buttonsStatistics moduleEditor resizer
      
    RadEditor's Modules - special tools used to provide extra information such as Tag Inspector, Real Time HTML Viewer, Tag Properties and other.
       
20-09


Yad---Generic-Banner---2


 

Follow us on

Newsletter