The social fibre of our communities is in a dangerous stage of unravelling and I believe the media and some community organisations are partly to blame for this unacceptable situation. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is brought to our communities by biased and sometimes gravely propagandistic reporting and actions, pitting sections of the community against each other.
On Saturday night, 21 March 2015 at The Zone, Rosebank, three Jewish teenagers were physically assaulted and verbally abused by three South African men. The teenagers were clearly identified as Jewish, wearing Kippot (traditional Jewish head coverings). While one of the students was being hit, another assailant swore at him saying: “You F***ing Jew” and “your f***ing people are killing our innocent children”.
As far as I know, this is the first time that Jewish teenagers have been physically and verbally abused in this way. It led me to the conclusion that the media, together with organisations in furthering their particular brand of ideology, plays a huge role in stigmatizing and demonizing people in our communities. This is a very dangerous development and the media in particular has to reconsider its responsibility of informing its readership with unbiased and substantiated facts.
Partly to blame for the tendency to propagandize events is the simple, and which I call, copy and paste method. That is simply to copy reports from AFP, Reuters and other news agencies and publish them in our local media without considering the possible negative effects on society. A better approach would be proper investigative journalism.
I do not propagate censorship of sensitive issues at all. Press freedom is a too precious commodity and I support it wholeheartedly. The thorn in the flesh is the deviation of the media from professional journalistic standards which have been particularly evident the past 3 years. The media should not play a role in dividing communities but rather educate by publishing issues responsibly and professionally.
The uninformed in our communities are also used as cannon fodder by dubious organisations to enhance their questionable agendas. One example is the “activists” who demonstrated in front of a conference centre in Sandton where a Jewish conference was held in the beginning of March 2015. When asked why they demonstrate, they said they don’t know and that they were bussed in to demonstrate.
The usual line is that Israel should be branded as an Apartheid state and therefore boycott actions should be instituted against Israel. Such a notion is clearly false and the latest election result, which was held on 17 March 2015, makes nonsense of the growing efforts to stigmatize Israel as an Apartheid state. An Arab Palestinian party is now the third largest party in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament). Even a person who has visited Israel only once will testify to the fact that Israel is not an Apartheid state. The only conclusion to these feverish hate-mongering is a sinister hidden agenda.
If these multiple actors on the hate stage are transparent and their goal is to seek justice for the disenfranchised, they should be applauded. But, that is not the case and some pertinent questions should be asked. Why do they choose to ignore the status of women and public executions in Saudi-Arabia? Why are they silent about the grave atrocities in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia and other countries where innocent people are murdered just because they don’t practise the same religion as the murder gangs? That is hypocritical and false.
South Africa is a multi-cultural, multi-faceted country with various races, religions and creed. If we allow the current divisive actions to go unchecked, we will leave behind a shattered country in which none of us wants to see our children and grandchildren live.
Our rainbow nation is broken and only we can heal it. In this regard the media plays a crucial and underestimated role.