Jewish Report expelled from Press Council of South Africa after reporting on “racist undertones” of BDS cartoon
The South Africa-based newspaper, Jewish Report, has been expelled from the Press Council of South Africa.
The move comes after a November 2020 article in the Jewish Report, which reported the opinion of two experts on antisemitism who argued that there was antisemitic imagery used in a cartoon advocating for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
The cartoon, which was posted to the Facebook page of the South African Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (SA BDS) Coalition, showed a grotesque, overweight banker in a pin-striped suit, with the logo of Israeli-owned dairy company Clover Industries on one shoulder, shovelling money into his mouth while a much smaller worker is left with much less. The words in the image read, “Don’t buy clover products!!” and “Don’t feed Clover’s greedy bosses!”
The caption on the post says: “Greedy bosses connected to apartheid Israel. Blood curdling milk [and cheese, yoghurt, etc.]. Every reason to boycott Clover! Change your brand. Viva GIWUSA [General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa] and the struggle for a living wage! Clover was recently permitted by the Competition Commission and the department of trade and industry to be owned by Central Bottling Company (CBC), in turn owned by Milco, an Israeli concern operating in the Occupied Territories. The unions and Palestine solidarity organisations jointly submitted objections to the Competition Tribunal. Our objections were ignored.”
Milton Shain, an Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Cape Town, said that, although the cartoon is not an obvious representation of a Jewish capitalist, “it has enough resonance with age-old antisemitic images and tropes.”
David Saks, from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, agreed, saying that the image “helps confirm suspicions that stereotypes of greedy, exploitative Jews are being used to fuel the anti-Israel positions held by the various trade unions.”
Following the publication of the Jewish Report article, and a complaint by a member of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance on behalf of the SA BDS Coalition and the General Industrial Workers Union of SA (Giwusa), the Press Council of South Africa, which offers its members a code of ethics to guide South African journalists, expelled the Jewish Report. This is the first time in twenty years that the Council has expelled a member.
In response, the Chairperson of the Jewish Report, Howard Sackstein, issued a statement saying: “Through its failure to recognise the racist undertones of the cartoon, the Press Council became party to the perpetuation of racism, hatred and bigotry in South Africa. By calling on the South Africa Jewish Report to apologise to racists, the Press Council discredited itself and failed the people of South Africa.”
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