IT'S NOT CRICKET
Jewish Board of Deputies calls for Teeger’s reinstatement, accuses Cricket SA of antisemitism
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies has called on the International Cricket Council to force Cricket South Africa to reinstate David Teeger as SA under-19 captain.
The David Teeger saga took a new twist on Tuesday with a prominent Jewish organisation comparing the actions of Cricket South Africa (CSA) to those of Nazis at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, and accusing the cricketing body of being “antisemitic”.
Teeger was stripped of his captaincy of the South Africa under-19 team on 12 January due to security concerns, according to CSA. These concerns apparently relate to comments Teeger made last year, expressing support for Israeli soldiers in the ongoing war in Gaza.
CSA established an independent investigation into Teeger’s comments and appointed advocate Wim Trengove to investigate a complaint made by the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance.
Trengove’s final determination cleared Teeger of any breaches of the Constitution and of CSA and the Gauteng Lions’ codes of conduct.
CSA issued a statement at the time accepting the outcome and confirming Teeger as SA under-19 captain for the World Cup on home soil, which starts on 19 January.
But in an astonishing turn of events, CSA stripped Teeger of the captaincy at the 11th hour, using vague claims of security concerns as the basis for the decision.
It appears to be nothing short of political interference to relieve Teeger of the captaincy.
On Tuesday, a meeting between the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and CSA, called by the cricketing body, broke down.
CSA could not offer any proof of these alleged security concerns, which corroborates several media reports, including in Daily Maverick, showing them to be questionable.
“We were called into this meeting where Cricket South Africa were given an opportunity to explain to us why, in fact, this was not an antisemitic incident, but why there were other reasons for David being stripped of his captaincy,” SAJBD national chairperson Karen Milner told a media briefing.
“Having come out of this meeting, having heard the responses… there was nothing that Cricket SA was able to present that was in the least bit convincing that there is a security threat.
“We requested the security report. They informed us it wasn’t a report, it was a security briefing.
“When we made the point that it’s fairly obvious that there is no benefit to him to remain on the field but stripped of his captaincy — and on top of that, he would like to remain in his captaincy — they shifted the argument.
“They moved from arguing that this was about David’s safety to a broad-based argument that this is in fact about the safety of everybody else and of the people who were coming to [spectate].
“Every single time we challenged them on the safety issue, they shifted the goalposts, and that is why we understand this as deeply, deeply antisemitic.
“What they have done is found an excuse to exclude a young Jewish cricketer to strip him of his honours in the most hurtful and humiliating way, days before the start of the tournament.”
Daily Maverick approached CSA chairperson Lawson Naidoo to give his account of the meeting, but he declined to comment.
However, Naidoo spoke to News24: “A few weeks ago, we were being called Zionist sympathisers and now we’re being called antisemitic.
“That demonstrates the impartiality in terms of the decisions we’ve taken in the interests of the game and not trying to satisfy political positions,” said Naidoo.
CSA are under severe pressure for their ham-fisted, and frankly, spineless handling of the matter. It’s not the first time the leadership of the organisation has been found lacking.
In this case, they initially dithered over whether to sack Teeger when his comments, made at a Jewish Achievers’ ceremony, came to light.
It could also have been used as an important moment of teaching and learning for Teeger and CSA, if everyone had got together in a room and thrashed it out.
Having said that, although Teeger made his comments at a Jewish forum to a Jewish audience, as captain of a national team, he should have been more sensitive to the impact of his words on a broader cross-section of the country he represents.
“They [CSA] told us directly that they tried to get David to step down voluntarily because they said it would be hard for him… he refused and that’s when they stripped him [of the captaincy],” SAJBD president Zev Krengel said.
“It sounds like they put pressure on him before — this is according to chairman [Lawson] Naidoo — to get him to step down voluntarily to try to save face.
“We believe it’s total political interference — we believe Cricket SA chose the easiest route by just kicking out the Jewish captain for views they thought might bring a few protests to the games.
“We made it very clear that we won’t rest. We found this to be pure antisemitism. This smells of what happened in 1936 in the Nazi Olympics where two American athletes were pulled out of the 100m sprint relay at the 11th hour because they didn’t want to upset the [German hosts]… and the American athletes’ team pulled out their two Jewish [sprinters].”
On the basis of a report no one has ever seen, based on intelligence of threats no one understands, Teeger was stripped of the captaincy but retained in the team.
“There is something very suspicious that he was named captain; Cricket SA meets with the sports minister, and the next day he is asked to step down — which he refuses to do — and is stripped of [the captaincy],” Krengel said.
“There is a pattern throughout the world of this massive explosion of antisemitism and now we’re seeing that explosion of antisemitism seeping into our sports fields.
“If the international, independent sports bodies are not going to put a stop to this, we are literally going to see in sport, with racism, where it exploded and they had to put so much time and effort to try to stop it, which they still do.
“At this time now, it’s up to the International Cricket Council to make sure that David is reinstated as captain… that he can play.
“David still wants to play and help his team, despite being humiliated by CSA for bogus and disgusting reasons. He will play in the opening game if he is selected.” DM