popsAs much as it may be argued that major global media outlets share a bias in favour of Israel, current trends reveal a gradual shift in this position.

Amongst the large corporate media that has a worldwide footprint, it was unthinkable that Israel would ever receive bad press. Yet this is the case today even if evidence of this shift is not as pronounced as one would have hoped for.

Ardent lobbyists of Israel who have always perceived mainstream Western media to be uncritical cheerleaders of the zionist regime, are in despair at the turn of events.

Unable to come to terms with the fact that no matter how embedded western media platforms are with their Hasbara cause, individual journalists and commentators who value their personal integrity are known to display a greater sense of objectivity.

In other words, the one dimensional approach that sanitised Israel’s bloody policies is fast fading. And being replaced by coverage that displays a willingness to adopt a tougher stance, even at the risk of being falsely demonised as antisemitic.

South Africa’s public broadcaster SABC, known for not straying too far away from official government position, has also courageously adopted this challenging stance.

Its flagship investigative    programme “Special Assignment” recently focused it’s lens on the conflict by hosting a debate around the question of the Zuma administration’s foreign policy leanings.

Who should the SA government side with? Israel or Palestine? Or remain neutral without taking sides?

This bold approach is indicative of the levels of dissatisfaction displayed by pro-Palestinian solidarity activities at Pretoria’s “fence sitting”.

How often haven’t we heard or read that the SA government’s response to Israel’s ongoing repression of Palestinian rights is hopelessly inadequate?

Whether the forms of Israel’s repression have been bloody massacres, brutal displacement or racist settlements, throughout the last twenty years post-apartheid South Africa’s “balancing” policies have been disappointing.

Expressions of solidarity with Palestine while retaining and building upon apartheid-era economic and military ties with Israel cannot be perceived as a commitment to human rights.

Such inconsistencies are endemic throughout Europe and the West. Glorifying values of justice, freedom and dignity while pursuing policies which undermine such laudable values is a sickness.

This disease is unfortunately not only confined to Europe and America. It defines the incongruity of Arab dictatorships and their unwritten fear that threats to Israel’s security is a threat to them too.

It’s a real fear based on the fact that their thrones rest on the sweat and tears of their populations who had no choice in crowning them as overlords. Thus the inherent insecurity and the knowledge that if their respective citizens had a choice to freely exercise democratic practices, their despotic reign will evaporate.

The post-colonial elite who are entrenched as unelected kings, monarchs and ameers, recognise their vulnerabilities and have thus tied their political fortunes to that of Israel’s.

But South Africa cannot be viewed in the same light. Yet it conducts its foreign policy with Israel in much the same as the Arab world. Despite marginal differences which define these as either overt or covert, South Africa’s official position on Israel is best described as “Talk Left Walk Right”.

Given dramatic changes in media’s new found challenging coverage of Israeli policies, most of the inconsistencies prevalent in the West, the Arab world and yes South Africa, will usher a fresh sense of urgency to confront zionist racism.

Iqbal Jassat

Executive: Media Review Network


South Africa