The South African Zionist Federation (Cape Council) welcomes the ruling by the Press Ombudsman against the Cape Times over its 18 November 2015 article, headlined “Israeli military chiefs face arrest in SA”. The Ombudsman found that the Cape Times committed a Tier 2 offence, known as a “serious breach”, in its portrayal of conclusions as fact. Specifically, the Ombudsman found that “the newspaper is in breach of Section 2.3 of the Press Code for stating its conclusions as fact, namely that:
- South Africa would enforce Turkey’s warrants of arrest should the Israeli commanders set foot in this country;
following the arrest of any of the four charged with war crimes, South Africa would grant Turkey’s request for extradition; and
Turkey has welcomed South Africa’s decision to enforce the arrest warrants.”
Rowan Polovin, Acting Chairman of the South African Zionist Federation (Cape Council) laid the successful complaint, which meticulously detailed several problematic aspects of the article, including conclusions being stated as fact, the omission of contextual information of the details leading up to the Mavi Marmara incident, as well as details about the terrorists and weapons on board the ship.
There was one argument that the Ombudsman dismissed, regarding anti-Israel bias in the article, stating that he was “in no position to decide on the merits of the contextual arguments in question”. The South African Zionist Federation (Cape Council) respectfully disagrees but accepts this finding.
It is unfortunate that the Cape Times wrote a misleading front-page headline and article on 15 February 2016 about the Ombudsman’s ruling, indicating that the entire case was dismissed, when in fact the overwhelming and fundamental essence of the complaint was won. This has created an incorrect assumption in the public about the outcome of the case. We call upon the Cape Times to correct this.