This article is currently published on IsraeLink:
Journalists have an ethical imperative to report the news based on facts. The following exchange was motivated by a radio broadcast by well- known 702 host, Redi Tlhabi’s excoriating the leader of the opposition, the Democratic Alliance’s, Mmusi Maimane. Listen here:
Rolene Marks letter to Redi Tlhabi:
Redi Tlhabi’s response:
Tlhabi’s response contained many factual errors which cannot be left unchallenged. To do so would be to allow dangerous misinformation to flourish at a time when comparisons between Israel and Apartheid South Africa often lead to intimidation and sometimes violence against Jews.
Thank you for replying to me. While I would love to sit down face to face to chat, I am happy that we have opened up a dialogue on a very contentious issue, one that is highly emotionally charged for many South Africans.
I am also glad that you raised the issue of bullying. We in the media occupy a bully pulpit, it is often very hard for disempowered members of the public to argue and disagree with us, when they do, we should welcome this, this is a fundamental principal of democracy. You have always asked your listeners and readers to engage with you and you must, in turn, be willing to accept the criticism as much as you give it, without feeling bullied. To disagree with you is not to bully you, unless a double standard is applied.
The anti-Israel propogandists often send abusive mails and threats to me. I have been called everything from “Occupier Barbie” to being told “Hitler should have finished me off” and that there was “a gas chamber waiting for you”. Luckily, I am able to shrug it off. My people have been subject to abuse, racism and oppression for so long, this is not new to us. The fact that your letters implies that Jews are not the indigenous population of the land of Israel raises deep concerns for me and clearly alarm bells over your understanding of the past 3 000 years of history.
The fact that I live in a free, democratic and non-racist society where all citizens of Israel vote freely and equally in a democratic state appears not to fit into your narrative. Your assumptions about Israel, its ideology and practice are so far from the reality, that I invite you to come see for yourself rather than adopt the jaundiced views of the most well-funded propaganda machine in the world. As journalists, we have a moral responsibility to report the news based on facts rather than the alternative facts that appear to have permeated our society of late.
I want to explain to you, why to many, your views represent a double standard, that opens you to the criticism you have received.
The thrust of your argument appears to be that Israel traded and cooperated with the old Apartheid regime and must therefore be subject to special scrutiny and criticism for its “current actions”.
While Israel’s cooperation with the Apartheid regime is a cause of much embarrassment to me as both a South African and an Israeli, Israel’s role in not standing up to Apartheid is insignificant in comparison to those countries with whom you appear to have no problem. Israel’s total amount of trade with the then Apartheid government was a mere $200m dollars per annum compared to U.S.A. – $3.4 billion, Japan – $2.9 billion, Germany- $2.8 billion, U.K. – $2.6 billion etc.
It was the oil tankers from Iran and Saudi Arabia which kept the wheels of apartheid oiled. Arab oil exports to South Africa totaled more than $3 billion per year and, if that supply had been cut off, would have ended apartheid in the 1960’s. The Saudi and Iranian human rights records are abysmal and constitute some of the worst human rights violators in the world today. Nonetheless South African government officials often visit both of these countries, yet you have failed to ever raise any issues of concern about them. So the question to be raised is whether a double standard is applied by yourself?
Image courtesy of Spotlighting
France supplied Apartheid South Africa with weapons, nuclear material and financial aid, Switzerland the USA and Britain funded the Apartheid regime, Germany supported the racist regime in extensive trade. I include a few of the thousands of examples that can be sited:
- Royal Dutch/Shell’s subsidiary, Shell South Africa, was involved in extensive operations in the petroleum, mining and chemical industries of South Africa and Namibia, with an estimated turnover of more than US$2 billion in South Africa in 1989.
- In 1962 Britain’s ICI and South Africa’s De Beers each put £5 million into AECI (African Explosives and Chemicals Industries) to set up three new plants producing tear gas, ammunition for small arms, anti-tank and aircraft rockets.
- British Leyland’s South African subsidiary supplied Land Rovers that were used by the South African police against students in the 1976 Soweto uprising.
The human rights records of all of these nations in Iraq, Libya, Syria have resulted in many hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. Once again, South African government officials often visit, yet you remain silent and raise no issues of concern? One has to ask if a special standard is applied to the Jewish State and why?
It appears that your perspective has little to do with a historical relationship between Israel and South Africa. It also looks as if not to be based on human rights. When our leaders visit Russia, perpetrator of some of the greatest crimes against humanity in modern times in places like Syria and Chechnya and which has recently occupied parts of the Ukraine, you have never raised any issue of concern.
When the ANC hosted internationally criticized Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in South Africa, a man responsible for attempted genocide against the Jewish people – you failed to raise your voice.
President Jacob Zuma and Hamas’ Khaled Meshaal
And therein lies the rub of why you have opened yourself up to so much criticism from such a broad range of South African society. If your views on human rights were consistent, you would have no criticism. But when a special standard is applied to Jews and the Jewish state, you lead people to ask some very troubling questions.
I would love to welcome you here in Israel to see for yourself and understand the remarkable, vibrant, troubled, free, complex and conflictual society in which I live. You and all people are always welcome.