The Sunday Times and The Hot Potato

2015-11-02 10:48

Jews have long been accused of controlling the media. It’s apparently one of our more endearing qualities, along with being communists and capitalist and liberals and racists. We are reportedly both very stingy and very flashy. We apparently also have secret meetings where we get to decide the fate of future presidents, but as of late, given the quality of global leadership, are doing a sub standard job in this regard. So I guess we are to blame for the sorry state of the world. This apparently comes as no surprise to many.

Which makes the standoff between the South African Jewish community and the Sunday Times so interesting. This is the story: The terror group Hamas – the organisation who continue to insist that its members stab Jews in the streets of Israel visited South Africa as guests of the ANC government. It was a clandestine well-kept secret until they arrived in the country (remarkable that their visas were in order, unlike so many others who have been refused entry). It was a slap across the face of the Jewish community as Hamas continues to call on Muslims to kill Jews. Their Charter is clear in this regard as are a multitude of recent statements lauding the murder of innocent people as they go about their day, committing the crime of simply living.

The South African press largely ignored the visit. Whether it was because the student protest dwarfed the visit, or whether it was because it was too challenging to deal with, can only be speculated. The fact that the South African media displays a notoriously anti Israel bias, but tries its best to present itself as a non partisan medium, makes reporting on Hamas a real challenge. For the press to ignore the current Hamas statements and to ignore the Hamas charter that so clearly calls for the murder of Jews simply because they are Jewish, would exhibit a flagrant bias and would let the proverbial cat out of the proverbial bag. And no one would want that. The best alternative is therefore to ignore the fact that our government is cozying up to murderers and doing so with our tax money (Jewish and otherwise).

In a frustrated response to the lack of reporting and in order to set the record straight, a group of concerned Jews got together and decided to take out an advert in the Sunday Times. The advert essentially gave a background as to who Hamas really is. The Sunday Times accepted the advert and payment was duly made. And then, on Friday afternoon, something went wrong and the Sunday Times pulled the advert, refusing to publish. Speculation abounds and once again the Jewish community is left wondering as to the real circumstances that led to that decision being made.

Political adverts are not uncommon. The New York Times and other leading newspapers feature such statements in the regular course of business, so long as they adhere to the laws of the country. Freedom of speech is balanced with incitement, defamation and hate speech. The Sunday Times itself have featured adverts when a group of Jewish intellectuals needed to make a statement condemning Israel. So it seems that the subject matter is not one that they have shied away from before.

It is understandable that the Sunday Times would not want to become the platform for a fight that is taking place many miles away and one that essentially has little to do with its readers. But given the fact that Hamas was awarded a royal welcome onto South African soil by the government, and that they intend setting up shop in South Africa makes it not just relevant but a crucial dialogue. A dialogue that it is not only reluctant to engage in, but has refused to. It is conceivable that Hamas’ flagrant call for terror contradicts a comfortable narrative that places only Israel as the aggressor and is it conceivable that the press doesn’t want to go head to head with a terror organisation, but without dialogue this can never be unpacked.

The fact that both South Africa’s opposition political parties and the South African media have treated the Hamas visit as hot potato should be a major worry for South African Jews and non Jews alike. It is clear that no one wants to go near this subject and that everyone seems too afraid to do so. And that is the essence of what needs to be understood. And that of course begs the question. If it’s not the Jews who control the media, then who does?

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