David Teeger: Axing of South Africa U19 cricket captain sparks antisemitism row

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has said it has dropped David Teeger as captain of its Under-19 side because of security concerns following comments he made about the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

But Jewish leaders have called the move an “outrageous act of antisemitism”.

Teeger, who is Jewish, came under criticism after being quoted last October as praising Israeli soldiers.

CSA said it was worried about protests and violence during the upcoming U19 Cricket World Cup in South Africa.

It said Teeger’s removal as captain was in the “best interests” of all parties.

“We have… been advised that [protests] are likely to focus on the position of the Under-19 captain David Teeger and that there is a risk that they could result in conflict or even violence, including between rival groups of protestors,” read a statement from CSA.

It said it was acting on “expert advice”.

Teeger, 19, is set to remain a member of the South African Under-19 World Cup squad and a new captain is yet to be announced.

But the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) criticised the move as “shameful”.

“There is no basis for this decision, other than the fact that Teeger is Jewish,” read a statement issued by SAJBD national chairperson Karen Milner.

“This is not the first time that Jews have been excluded from sporting bodies in our history. The SAJBD will do everything in its power to fight against this vicious prejudice.”

Teeger had previously been cleared of any wrongdoing by CSA, following an inquiry into whether he had violated its code of conduct.

Following Teeger’s initial comments in October, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) lodged a complaint with CSA stating that Teeger’s views were a “provocative and inflammatory political statement”.

CSA subsequently appointed advocate Wim Trengove to determine whether Teeger had violated its code of conduct. The inquiry cleared Teeger of any wrongdoing.

“The Constitutional Court has made the point that the right to freedom of expression does not protect hate speech, but emphasised that the expression of unpopular or even offensive beliefs does not constitute hate speech,” Trengove wrote.

Trengove added that while Teeger’s comments may have been offensive to some, his views are shared by others within the country and did not violate South African law nor the CSA code of conduct.

Relations between South Africa and Israel have been severely strained over recent months following the start of the war in Gaza.

Israel says it is trying to eliminate Hamas, which launched an attack on Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,300 people and taking some 240 others back to Gaza as hostages.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says more than 23,350 people – mostly women and children – have been killed by Israel in the war.

South Africa has filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging that Israel is engaging in “genocidal acts” in the conflict.

Israel has responded by stating that South Africa has presented “a sweeping counter-factual description” of events to the ICJ.

The Under-19 World Cup in South Africa runs from 19 January to 11 February, when the final will be played at Willowmoore Park in Benoni.

BBC

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