Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:10 pm Post subject: SA reporter banned for being Jewish
|SA reporter banned for being Jewish
Posted by: "B Taverna" email@example.com bltaverna
Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:52 am (PST)
Two other articles on South Africa are linked
at the website as indicated.
SA reporter banned for being Jewish
Oct. 26, 2006
The head of news at the state-owned South African
Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has been accused of
acting arbitrarily in unofficially blacklisting eight
journalists and commentators. Among the banned
journalists is Israel-based freelancer Paula Slier, a
Jerusalem Post contributor, who has been barred from
reporting because she is a Jew.
South Africans show solidarity (archive)
Don't boycott the BBC (August 15 op-ed)
SABC management set up a commission under former SABC
head Zwelakhe Sisulu and advocate Gilbert Marcus -
after complaints about a ruling, allegedly by news
head Snuki Zikalala, that certain commentators and
analysts not be used because they were critical of
South African President Thabo Mbeki.
The commission, which has now released its findings,
said AM Live anchor John Perlman was right when he had
said that blacklisting of commentators and analysts
was happening "by instruction."
Zikalala ordered an outright ban on reports from Slier
because, the commission found, he assumed that since
Slier was Jewish she supported Israel.
Zikalala admits to supporting the PLO and justified
his ban on Slier, who used to report regularly for the
SABC until barred in 2004, by calling the conflict in
the Middle East a "Jewish war" and saying the
corporation needed someone who was "impartial."
But the commission ruled that Slier's reports were
impartial and that the ban was in direct conflict with
SABC's policies and bylaws.
Zikalala and Perlman have now been instructed to
submit statements explaining their actions to a
Here, in a very personal account of her journalistic
motivations and experiences, including with the SABC,
Slier laments the growing conformism and culture of
censorship in South Africa today:
"I couldn't hear the presenter's question as Kassam
rockets had started to explode around me. As she asked
again what was happening, a rocket landed just 80
meters behind me. A column of dust filled the
television frame and smoke choked my lungs. "I was
reporting live from the Israel-Gaza border for Russia
Today, a 24-hour English-language TV news channel for
which I am the Middle East correspondent. Gilad Shalit
had just been kidnapped.
"Two weeks later, Hizbullah had kidnapped two other
soldiers and I reported under fire again, this time
from the Israel-Lebanon border. In flak jacket and
helmet, I went live in front of a closed military
zone. It was unnerving during one television report
when a dozen or so Katyushas flew over my head,
slamming into Kiryat Shmona just in front of me. Then
too, the anchor's question faded amid the whistle of
missiles and the roar of artillery. Such is the job of
the journalist - people were diving for safety while
we headed the other way for the story.
"Edward R. Murrow, the legendary broadcaster, once
said about television: 'This instrument can teach, it
can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it
can do so only to the extent that humans are
determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is
merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and
perhaps decisive battle to be fought against
ignorance, intolerance and indifference.'
"These words are among the reasons I became a
journalist and I feel the fight is as important now as
it ever was. When I reflect on the kind of journalist
I aspire to be, and the caliber of other journalists
working here in the Middle East, I'm saddened that for
my former bosses at the South African Broadcasting
Corporation, hard work, dedication, a commitment to
truth and a striving for objectivity are not among the
criteria of good journalism.
"SABC is South Africa's national public service
broadcaster. Its mandate is to provide free, fair and
accurate programming. Through its radio and television
channels it broadcasts in 11 languages to more than 30
million people. It's a sad day when the head of news
and current affairs of the biggest broadcaster in a
land with so many freedoms has become notorious for
"Snuki Zikalala is quoted in the SABC inquiry report
as saying, 'From the movement where I come from we
support the PLO... You can't undermine the Palestinian
struggle, you can't. For me it's a principle issue.'
"Zikalala describes the conflict in the Middle East as
a 'Jewish war' and accuses me of taking sides. His
argument, by inference, is that because I'm Jewish I
automatically support the policies of the State of
Israel without question, which is simply untrue.
"The situation came to a head in November 2004 when
then-PLO chairman Yassir Arafat was dying. I was
reporting for SABC as a freelancer in Ramallah - I had
since left the corporation where I'd been a senior
news reporter and anchor for several years. I was
covering the story hourly when suddenly I was told my
services would no longer be needed. No explanation was
"The inquiry found that Zikalala's direct instruction
not to use my reports from the Middle East 'because of
alleged bias' was 'improper and against SABC policy.'
"Furthermore, it found that his position was
'motivated by a political position... which has no
place whatsoever in a public broadcaster.'
"Encouraging words, but it's alarming that they are
said about the chief whip of SABC news.
"Like all professional journalists, my faith remains
in the distant reaches of my mind and is nowhere to be
found when I am reporting. Everybody carries personal
baggage, but it is the job of the professional
journalist to move beyond it.
"Over the years my reports have drawn equal criticism
from both Jews and Muslims in South Africa - in that I
am happy that like the great journalists who are
accused by politicians of being right wing and left
wing at the same time, I belong to no one. It's
ludicrous to say that because a journalist has a
certain background they cannot report on a particular
subject. Eventually you reach the point where you say
that only a particular race can cover a particular
story, that a white person shouldn't write about
Africa or an Arab about Israel.
"Perhaps the biggest irony of all is that I am now
working for Russia - once one of the world's greatest
censors - and yet I am free to report on whatever I
see fit without fear or favor.
"Russia Today is a state-controlled channel, but it is
freer than the SABC. The major difference between
pre-1990 Moscow and the Johannesburg of 2006 is that
back in the USSR the censorship and the muzzling was
backed up by a secret police who had labor camps
instead of a public service mandate. At least in
communist Russia, the lack of political freedom could
be blamed on torture, intimidation and the boot.
"Today, in a South Africa that basks in freedom,
employees are scared to speak the truth for fear of
becoming sidelined, and so-called journalists take
hollow pride in groveling in the footsteps of
politicians. There's no excuse for that."
JUDEA & SAMARIA are clear and unquestionably JEWISH!
MiddleEast Political Expressions