Fair dinkum, despite the millions of black and coloured survivors of South African apartheid, the best the Sydney Morning Herald could come up with to commemorate the passing of Nelson Mandela in its Saturday edition was the testimony of a white man. And not just any white man either - Australia's most vocal defender of Israeli apartheid:
"I served as chief sub-editor of The Cape Times during the apartheid era - and Nelson Rohilahla Mandela was the unspoken presence in the room. A key instrument in the government's strategy of subjugating the country's black population while keeping the ruling white sector uninformed about the revolutionary movements fermenting beneath the surface was press censorship. It was illegal for newspapers to promote the aims of a 'banned' organisation... South Africans never heard from Mandela or his colleagues... [Yet] Mandela was there. Silenced. Casting a giant shadow. And as one of the nation's anti-apartheid newspapers, we were acutely aware that in our midst was a colossus whose time had come." (Media bans kept colossus out of sight, Vic Alhadeff, chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/12/13)
One of the nation's anti-apartheid newspapers?
So just what was it that qualified a South African newspaper of the time to be described as anti-apartheid?
"We consistently erred on the side of caution because we knew from harsh experience what the penalties were for violating the censorship laws." (Riots of change, Vic Alhadeff, The Australian Jewish News, 26/6/09)
Consistently err[ing] on the side of caution. I see... so that's what brought apartheid to its knees. Who would have thought?
But what a modest man Alhadeff is! I bet you didn't know what a critical role he played in the Mandela story?
I thought not.
Come now, surely you don't think Mandela could have done it all by himself? No, contrary to current media adulation, great man though he was, Mandela was no saint. Not even close! There were actually times when he needed to be taken aside and told to mend his errant ways... which is where Alhadeff comes in:
"Firmly opposed to apartheid, [Alhadeff] worked against it and even confronted Nelson Mandela personally when he felt the great man had been hypocritical." (Former journalist Vic Alhadeff, abc.net.au, 22/1/08)
I told you what a modest man Alhadeff is. I mean, why else would he not include that particular revelation in his piece for the Herald?
Perhaps the editor of the 'Independent. Always' Sydney Morning Herald could prevail upon him to tell the full story in a future edition.
For those not into holding one's breath, see my 23/10/10 post SuperVic?