Press Release on whether Israel can be called an Apartheid State

South African Artists Against Apartheid | Kairos Southern Africa | July 6, 2011 | SA MEDIA WATCHDOG RULING: SABC does not have to apologise – Israel can be called an….

South African Artists Against Apartheid | Kairos Southern Africa | July 6, 2011 |

SABC does not have to apologise –
Israel can be called an “apartheid” state

This afternoon, in a bold ruling defending the right to freedom of expression and
political speech, the South African media watchdog, the Advertising
Standards Authority
(ASA), unequivocally dismissed all complaints relating
to a radio advert on 5fm that called for the boycott of Israel and compared
Israel to Apartheid South Africa.

February this year, during the South African tour of the international dance
band, Faithless, a radio message featuring Dave Randall (lead guitarist of Faithless)
was broadcast on the popular SABC radio station, 5fm. The advert
was in support of a local group, the South African Artists Against Apartheid
. In the advert Randall says:

“Hi, I’m Dave Randall
from Faithless. Twenty years ago I would not have played in apartheid South
Africa; today I refuse to play in Israel. Be on the right side of history. Don’t
entertain apartheid. Join the international boycott of Israel. I support”

In an official complaint to the ASA, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD)
attacked the radio advert and alleged that the view expressed that Israel is an
Apartheid State is “untrue, not supported by any evidence… and contains a lie
which amounts to false propaganda”.

The SAJBD sought an order requesting the SABC to apologise for broadcasting the
radio advert.

Today the ASA dismissed each and every complaint made by the SAJBD against the advert and instead ruled in favor of the submissions made by SA Artists
Against Apartheid, who were represented by Webber Wentzel Attorneys.
The ASA also refused to provide any sanctions in favor of the SAJBD.

Reggae DJ, “The Admiral”, and member of the SA Artists Against Apartheid
collective, welcomed today’s decision:

“The ASA decision is significant due to our own history of Apartheid. The decision
sends a clear message to the Zionist lobby that the time has come for an end to
the baseless accusations of “discrimination” and “hate speech” whenever
criticism of Israel is voiced. Calling Israel an Apartheid state is legitimate
because Israel practices Apartheid. The boycott of such an oppressive regime
should be supported as it was in our own Anti-Apartheid freedom struggle.”

South African Palestine solidarity groups have celebrated the ASA ruling claiming it
as a “legal victory” for the boycott of Israel movement. Fatima Vally from the Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Working Group said in a press release:

“This is the second major boycott of Israel decision coming from South Africa in less than six months. The first being the historic decision by the University of
Johannesburg to sever its Israeli ties. The boycott of Israel campaign is the
new Anti-Apartheid Movement, and its growing rapidly.”

The SA Artists Against Apartheid collective welcomes this positive decision, an
adverse ruling could have had detrimental consequences for freedom of
expression in general, and Palestine solidarity in particular.

The full ruling is attached this email. The original advert flighted on 5fm is available for viewing here:

Below is a short summary of the four main issues dealt with by the ASA.

1. Discrimination

Responding to the SAJBD
complaint that the 5fm advertisement resulted in discrimination, the ASA
rejected the complaint entirely, stating that the reasonable person would
clearly understand that:

“[The advertisement] is a call to all listeners irrespective of their circumstances,
race, gender and the like, to support the [cultural boycott of Israel] cause…if anything, it [the advert] is condemning the actions and
events in Israel, rather than victimising or castigating people of Israeli
origin. Put differently, it is condemning oppressive actions…”

2. Freedom of expression and political speech

SA Artists Against Apartheid submitted that the ASA should take into account the fact that
the radio advert was a form of political speech which is protected by the right to freedom and expression
under section 16 of the South African Constitution:

“Political expression is of particular importance in a democratic society because it has a bearing on each citizen’s ability to formulate and convey information, ideas
and opinions about issues of public importance. International campaigns such as
the cultural boycott of Israel have a domestic implication as well, as South
African citizens are entitled to express their views on the stance that should be adopted by South Africa in relation to Israel.”

3. Offensive advertising

Responding to the complaint that the advertisement constituted offensive advertising, the ASA ruled
that a reasonable person who is neither hypercritical nor hypersensitive:

“…cannot reach a conclusion that this commercial was intended to offend.
There are no calls for violence, no derogatory comments
flung about, and no implication that all Israelis should be condemned. The commercial states the artists’ reason for not
performing in Israel, and invites people to join in the cause

4. The claim that Israel is an apartheid state

SA Artists Against Apartheid submitted that the view that Israel is an apartheid state

“is based on a sound factual matrix and the connection between apartheid South Africa and Israel has been made numerous times in
the South African media. The claim is therefore justified […] “

SA Artists Against Apartheid successfully disputed the allegation that the reference to Israel being
an apartheid state can only be justified by a ruling of an International Court:

“The term “apartheid” is clearly not an exclusively legal term and is recognised as a descriptive
term to refer to a situation that exhibits segregation and inequality.”

The ASA noted that extensive evidence was submitted in favor of the case that Israel is
an apartheid state. Some of these submissions included “reports by a UN Special
Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as a copy of the
International Court of Justice [ruling] concerning the [Israeli Separation]
wall in Jerusalem”. In addition substantial academic studies, newspaper articles and political cartoons
(several by cartoonist, Jonathan “Zapiro” Shapiro) were also submitted justifying the ability to express the view that Israel is an apartheid state.

Furthermore, affidavits by Israeli Professor, Uri Davis and former South African
Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils were also attached to the SA Artists
Against Apartheid submission.

Significantly, the 2009 South African government Human
Sciences Research Council
report, that found Israel guilty of the crime of
apartheid, was also an official submission.