Photo: AFP
Ramallah. Reporter banned from covering Mideast
Photo: AFP

Reporter blacklisted 'for being Jewish'

South African news network manager reportedly says: We support the PLO

A Jewish South African reporter has been 'banned' by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) from providing news coverage from the Middle East, after her managing director said he did not want a "white Jewish girl" covering the region, the reporter told Ynetnews.


"I was a reporter and newsreader, and Snuki Zikalala was head of TV and radio news, so he was my line manager. He was not that great to work with," Paula Slier, the reporter, told Ynetnews.


In 2004, Slier went to Ramallah to cover Arafat's illness. While in the West Bank, Slier said she was informed that the SABC had "received a directive: 'No more reports from Paula.'"


"I tried to find out why they were not using my work anymore, and I was told by a senior manager in SABC, which obviously I can't name, that Zikalala said they don't want a white Jewish girl reporting from Ramallah, though the implication was from the whole of the Middle East," Slier said.


After it emerged that SABC's blacklist included a range of sources, including some critical of the South African government, SABC launched an investigation of itself.


"When the investigation came out, Zikalala told the inquiry: 'From the movement I come from, we support the PLO.' And then he went on to call what was happening in the Middle East a 'Jewish war,' and then he said: We know Paula, we know the position which she holds," Slier said, quoting from the investigation.


The full investigation was published by South African newspaper the Mail and Guardian, though SABC had initially tried to get a court order to ban the newspaper from publishing the full report.


"The thing is, in South Africa, I've been heavily criticized by the Jewish community for being pro-Palestinian. So he makes the inference that because I'm Jewish, I would automatically support what would be happening in Israel," Slier added.


"In the inquiry, Zikalala said we need a reporter who is impartial," Slier said, adding: "This is problematic, the guy is head of TV and Radio News."


'Not anti-Semitism' 

Slier told Ynetnews she did not feel the directive to blacklist her was anti-Semitic.


"For me personally I do think there is a difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment. Many in the Jewish community in South Africa fear that if many people start spreading anti-Israel sentiment, it will cause deeper anti-Semitism. But that's not the view I have. I often find that people do have the right to criticize Israel," Slier said.


"I don't have any experience of anti-Semitism at the SABC, and I worked there for quite a few years. He (Zikalala) has a particular anti-Israel view. What is worrying is that this guy now, as head of SABC, is taking his own personal view, and imposing it on the SABC," she added.


'Confirms our suspicions' 

Michael Kransdorff and Steven Magid, authors of the Jewish South African blog It's Almost Supernatural, have been closely monitoring the story. They told Ynetnews that the blacklisting of Slier proved widespread suspicions held by the Jewish community of bias at the SABC.


"The Jewish community and my blog in particular have for a long time criticized the SABC and considered them biased against Israel. This story confirms our suspicions," said Magid.


Speaking to Ynetnews, SABC Spokesperson Kayzer Kganyago said the comments attributed to Zikalala in the SABC's internal report have not been verified. "The report was not made public, we cannot comment about things in the report, because it was not a judicial inquiry. It was a fact-finding commission. Therefore the things said in the commission were not tested."


"Some of the people who made those allegations were anonymous sources, so it would be better for us not to comment on those issues," he added.


Kganyago added that Zikalala has "responded in writing to the SABC's chief executive."


"The matter is now in the chief executive's hands, and he can look into the allegations that were put in place, before deciding whether to take action," Kganyago said.


Initial report received by Red Email


פרסום ראשון: 10.27.06, 12:19
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