Earlier this week, South African News sites screamed the following headline: “Jewish Radio Station gets Slap on the wrist for Hate speech”. According to the News24 article, Chai Fm was reprimanded by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa for having broadcast, “hate speech and propaganda”. Chai Fm is South Africa’s only Jewish community radio station.
In terms of the news reports, the complainant sited three incidents of potential hate speech two of which were dismissed and one upheld. It was said that a guest speaker “was against Muslims in general” and associated Palestinians with Nazis.” No further information was provided.
So I did what the BCCSA and the reporter should have done, and I listened to the ten minute podcast. Ten minutes. It turns out that the offending “guest” was in fact a re broadcast of a Sun News Network video clip. Sun News is a Canadian news entity. The question posed by the presenter was whether Hamas (remember, them — that terrorist Organization) could become the next Nazi Regime and if so what the world would do to stop this? The presenter sited the Hamas Charter which calls for the destruction of Israel and Jews no less than 12 times”. “From the river to the sea” He sites Iran’s public and repeated intention to destroy Israel and he works through the history of the area. Strangely, he hardly mentions Muslims at all but focuses his expose on Hamas and the reaction of the world to Israel. The only time he does so is when he speaks of the extremists in Paris storming shuls. As a matter of interest, the broadcast took place during Protective Edge and some months before the more recent Paris incidents.
The presenter most certainly had a view and it is one that one might choose to side with or not. He was hard hitting with regard to Hamas and even more so with regard to the global approach to Israel. But at no time could he have been accused of inciting hatred. Unless of course you diapered with him.
Why then is this “against Muslims in general?” and why would the BCCSA have upheld this finding? It simply makes no sense to anyone who listens to the broadcast that first appeared on Canadian screens. What is even more perplexing is that this “slap on the wrist” appeared in almost every South African news publication.
Sadly what the article did provide was a launching pad for anyone who wanted to weigh in on this very weighty non news story. Needless to say, the comments that followed contained more hate speech that it is even alleged that that the broadcast contained, but that was acceptable, in the name of freedom of speech of course.
What also followed was a barrage of tweets to the radio station. Tweets like “We will storm ur radio station and teach u a lesson for hate speech!” I guess underscoring the irony on so many levels that the mind actually boggles.
The article, in my view could compete comfortably in the finals for the “Most Non News worthy article of all time” Competition (assuming there was one), and but for the fact that it had the word “Jewish” in the headline would unlikely have ever been written.
If Chai Fm was guilty of hate speech then they should be sanctioned and fined in accordance with the rules of the BCCSA. But applying a double standard, and providing a platform for further hatred and bias seemed just a little counter productive to me. Especially when they managed to get it so wrong.