Biased media? An Israeli perspective

Rolene Marks is an ex-South African who now lives in Israel. Her evocative three-column opinion article in a prominent Israeli newspaper commented on the findings of the Russell Tribunal that took place in November 2011 in the District Six Museum, Cape Town, South Africa. 

See “Breaking News” on the website of the Jerusalem Post at:

Kangeroos in South Africa

I replied to her article in a letter to the Jerusalem Post (published on 14 November):

Examining apartheid

Sir,

Rolene Marks, ex-South African, claimed in “Kangeroos in South Africa” (November 10) that the use of the term apartheid “to describe Israel… makes a mockery and cheapens the tremendous suffering endured by South African’s black citizens”.  She concluded: “Jurists of the tribunal, under the laws of balanced, democratic jurisprudence, I find you guilty of racism.”

However the Russell Tribunal’s focus was not apartheid crimes in Israel as Ms Marks assumes. The question the Tribunal posed was: Is Israel guilty of apartheid crimes in Palestine? Not once did Ms Marks refer to Israel’s conduct in Palestine, thus in the West Bank and in Gaza.

It also seems as if she is unaware of public declarations by black South Africans in support of the Russell Tribunal’s findings. Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) for example said:

“Black South African workers — especially a mineworker like myself — who bore the brunt of South African racial capitalism, and understood the purposes and mechanisms of apartheid, know that when we talk about the conditions faced by our Palestinian comrades we are talking about apartheid.”

In her own words, Ms Marks is a “proud Zionist Israeli”.  Her underlying message is “We are right and they are wrong”.  Such a position of exclusivity contributes to a divide between people.

For peace based on human rights and for a society that rejects apartheid, we need to face the facts and deal with them within applicable international law.

This was the agenda of the Russell Tribunal.”

According to the Jerusalem Post Ms Marks is “a member of the Media Team – Israel, an arm of the South African Zionist Federation, and deals with bias in the media.  She is regularly interviewed on Israel and Middle East issues on South African radio.”

The Russell Tribunal found that “Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalized regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law.”  For the full report of this Tribunal, see www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com

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