UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

South African Media Watchdog Says Israel Can Be Called An Apartheid State

A ruling by South Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority gives hope to those facing spurious attacks of anti-Semitism by the Israeli lobby when legitimately criticising Israeli political and military attacks on Palestinians. In a report from Australians for Palestine, Sonja Karkar said “That this decision was reached in South Africa is significant because that country more than any other would know exactly what are the conditions that constitute apartheid.”

A statement by the South African Artists Against Apartheid Collective explains the background. http://www.southafricanartistsagainstapartheid.com/2011/07/legal-victory.html

"In a bold ruling defending the right to freedom of expression and political speech, the South African media watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), unequivocally dismissed all complaints relating to the SA Artists Against Apartheid radio advert that called for the boycott of Israel and compared Israel to Apartheid South Africa.

In February this year, during the South African tour of the UK dance band, Faithless, a radio message featuring Dave Randall (lead guitarist of Faithless) was broadcast on 5fm, the mainstream South African radio station with over 2 million listeners. The advert was in support of the South African Artists Against Apartheid collective. In the advert Randall says:
"Hi, I'm Dave Randall from Faithless. Twenty years ago I would not have played in apartheid South Africa; today I refuse to play in Israel. Be on the right side of history. Don't entertain apartheid. Join the international boycott of Israel. I support southafricanartistsagainstapartheid.com."

The advert was posted on youtube, receiving thousands of hits in just a few days. Radall's message, in support of southafricanartistsagainstapartheid.com was met with immediate celebration, and attack. It was reported that 5fm fielded an inundation of calls, facebook messages and tweets.

Attempting to limit the right to freedom of expression of SA Artists Against Apartheid, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) attacked the radio advertisement. In an official complaint to the ASA, SAJBD alleged that the view expressed that Israel is an Apartheid State is "untrue, not supported by any evidence… and contains a lie which amounts to false propaganda”.

The SAJBD sought an order requesting the SABC to apologize for broadcasting the radio advert.

In a significant legal victory for Palestinian solidarity as well as freedom of political speech, the ASA released a ruling on 5 July 2011, dismissing each and every complaint made by the SAJBD against the advert and instead ruled in favor of the submissions made by SA Artists Against Apartheid. The ASA also refused to provide any sanctions in favor of the SAJBD.

Reggae DJ, "The Admiral”, and member of the SA Artists Against Apartheid collective, welcomed today’s decision:
“The ASA decision is significant due to our own history of Apartheid. The decision sends a clear message to the Zionist lobby that the time has come for an end to the baseless accusations of “discrimination” and “hate speech” whenever criticism of Israel is voiced. Calling Israel an Apartheid state is legitimate because Israel practices Apartheid. The boycott of such an oppressive regime should be supported as it was in our own Anti-Apartheid freedom struggle.”

South African Palestine solidarity groups have celebrated the ASA ruling claiming it as a “legal victory” for the boycott of Israel movement. Fatima Vally from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Working Group said in a press release:
“This is the second major boycott of Israel victory coming from South Africa in less than six months. The first being the historic decision by the University of Johannesburg to sever its ties Israeli ties. The boycott of Israel is the new anti-apartheid movement, and its growing rapidly.”

See the full ruling at http://www.southafricanartistsagainstapartheid.com/2011/07/legal-victory.html