Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 12 September 2014/17 Dhul Qa’dah 1435
Freedom of expression won the day when, and capital-backed Zionist censorship came a distant second, when the South Gauteng High Court decided that Continental Outdoor Media was wrong to unilaterally remove billboards, on M1 and M2 highways in 2012, of a shrinking Palestine. The court saw through plans by Zionists, who exerted pressure on Continental boss Barry Sayer, to misuse the religious and cultural card.
Brought to court by the local branch of Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global campaign pushing for economic boycott and isolation of Israel because of its apartheid as well as occupation policies, the case served to entrench freedom of expression in South Africa. For Israel apartheid regime apologists – the same anti-Palestinian lobby said to have put pressure on Continental to remove billboards (in breach of its contract with BDS) – the verdict is a source of disappointment.
The judgment was passed just weeks after Israel ceased shelling an otherwise blockaded Gaza, the world’s largest open-air prison, and killing no less than 2,100 Palestinians (mostly civilians) simply because they are Palestinians. Since it was created in 1948, the State of Israel, as per political Zionism teachings, has repeatedly sought to expel and kill the people of Palestine.
Continental claimed that it removed the billboards – which graphically illustrate how political Zionism displaced indigenous people of Palestine by importing members of the Jewish community as well as non-Jewish Europeans – because it felt it would offend Jews and would hurt the company and its shareholders. Continental’s claim that the boards, in the northern parts of Johannesburg, were “prejudicial to public morals” or “insensitive” to any religious group was also exposed as a lousy pretext.
“The 1946 map, marked ‘Palestine’, is almost completely shaded with a few white patches,” court papers show, explaining that the shaded parts signified lands inhabited by the indigenous people. Things looked remarkably different in 1967 – the year of Yawm an-Naksa when the indigenous Palestinians, or Semites, lost their ancestral lands to the invading political Zionists. “The 2012 map, again predominantly white, marked ‘Israel’, reflects patches of shaded area, which are now much reduced.”
For the City of Johannesburg, Continental’s removal of the billboards – a series of maps that shows how the Israeli colonisation has forced the subjugated Palestinians into tiny patches of land (Bantustan-style) – was, in the first place, unfortunate since they depicted the factual realities that Palestine is facing. Juxtaposed with the advertising company’s shabby line, the City’s assertion probably unearths another sad truth: exposing Zionism for its atrocities and unabated colonialism can be hurtful to right wingers who, like Benjamin Netanyahu, deny Palestinian existence. Such is Israel’s version of Nazism and apartheid in the 21st century.
In solidarity with the people of Palestine and court battle against Zionist censorship, the BDS, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, was joined by progressive formations such as the ANC Youth League and the Freedom of Expression Institute. Also on board were the Congress of SA Students, Media Review Network, Right2Know, SA Students’ Congress and the Young Communist League of South Africa.
With the court’s judgment dismantling Continental-Zionists’ censorship and anti-Palestinian propaganda, the advertising company has been instructed to reinstate the boards that show how the Tel Aviv apartheid and Nazism regime stole land from the fellow, but subjugated, Semitic community.