Press statement: SABC/SAFM cancellation of programme with Prof Qumisyeh

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13 March 2013

PRESS STATEMENT:

 The Palestine Solidarity Campaign notes that the SABC and SAFM arranged to present a phone-in programme and debate between a distinguished visiting Palestinian activist, Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, and a representative from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), who undertook to present the Zionist perspective on Israel’s policies toward Palestinians. This was to have taken place just after the 9h00 news on SAfm on Tuesday 12 March 2013.

At the last minute, after having originally agreed to take part, the SAJBD withdrew its agreement and refused to participate. The programme was immediately cancelled by the SABC on the grounds that the SAJBD had been invited to ensure “balance” and that, following the withdrawal of those who would put the Zionist perspective, this “balance” no longer existed.

This is not the first time that Zionists have used this tactical ploy to silence those who disagree with them. In order to do this, it is of course necessary that the public platform would be provided by someone who sympathised with the Zionists and who thus could be trusted to play their shabby game with them. The obvious intention is to violate the constitutional right to the freedom of expression, freedom of the press and other media, and the freedom to receive or impart information or ideas while at the same time claiming to be seeking “balance”.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is completely unafraid to confront Zionists in any public debate – a debate which the SAJBD is clearly desperate to avoid. We believe that their evasive tactics further highlight the parallels between apartheid and Zionism. These are apparent at every turn and stone.

On its part, the SAJBD reveals itself – yet again – to be too craven to face in public, in front of an open microphone, or in any other form or venue those who wish to present the reasons why Zionism and the Zionist policies of Israel are racist, oppressive, and a violation of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinians.

Moreover, the action of withdrawing from a programme it agreed to take part in is itself a clear political statement. The SAJBD has had to rely on the SABC to provide it with cover to skulk behind, even though by its own act the SAJBD has itself forfeited any right to a claim of “balance”.

Further, the SABC is revealed as having not yet freed itself from its squalid role as the apologist for, and would-be sanitiser of, apartheid. It used to make the same bogus claim to “balance” when silencing those who opposed what the whole world condemned as a crime against humanity – just as it has now done in the case of Zionism.

None of this is surprising. In 2007 the SABC and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies entered into a formal ageement which – in summary – empowered the SAJBD to censor how the SABC presented affairs concerning the Middle East.

Racism in general, and Zionism in particular, cannot cope with the searchlight of democracy. The SAJBD is seeking to protect itself from being exposed by its critics, and thereby to sanitise Israel by attempting to subvert rights protected by the South African constitution. One of the most visible victims is the SABC itself, which is content to render meaningless in practice what it claims to be its editorial policies in its published Editorial Code. We point to statements it makes to the effect that it avoids promoting discrimination in its programmes on the grounds of political persuasion, and that it seeks balance by presenting relevant views on matters of importance.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign condemns the cancellation of the interview with Proof. Mazin, and demands that the SABC honour the obligations and duties it boasts of.

ISSUED BY THE PALESTINE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN, SOUTH AFRICA

Contacts for further comment:

 Martin Jansen 0828702025 or Mercia Andrews 0823683429

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