The South African Jewish community along with allies from the Christian community and former national cricket players protested outside Cricket South Africa (CSA) headquarters in Johannesburg on Thursday.
South Africa is hosting the U-19 Cricket World Cup and has garnered headlines around the world for the controversial “relieving” of David Teeger, the pro-Israel Jewish captain of the national squad. Teeger will still play in the tournament.
Teeger, in a speech at the “Jewish Achievers Awards” on Oct. 22, dedicated his “Rising Star” award to “the State of Israel and to every single soldier fighting so that we can live and thrive in the Diaspora,” saying that the “true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel.” Following the speech, CSA, the sport’s national governing body, stripped him of the captainship of the under-19 team for the 2024 Cricket World Cup.
He was also subjected to an ethics probe, in which he was cleared of allegations that his speech violated the cricket body’s ethics code.
The U-19 Cricket World Cup starts Friday in Bloemfontein, South Africa. CSA claims that it stripped him of his captaincy due to safety threats. A media announcement issued by CSA on Jan. 12 stated: “There is a risk that could result in conflict or even violence including between rival groups of protesters.”
The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) condemned the actions of CSA and has launched a petition calling for Teeger’s reinstatement. According to SAZF, its petition garnered 52,000 signatures in less than two days and would be handed over to CSA.
“SAZF believes that there is political interference stemming from South Africa’s relationship with Iran, Hamas, Qatar and others that is now starting to affect the local Jewish community. We understand that this is political interference from CSA, not the security concerns which they have given as the core for their argument,” said Benji Shulman, SAZF director of public policy.
The Democratic Alliance, the opposition party in the South African parliament, has called on the CSA to reveal the security threats against Teeger.
Darren Bergman, shadow minister for trade and industry and a DA Jewish Member of Parliament, told JNS: “We want to know where the security threat is. If Teeger was targeted as a captain, surely he would be targeted as a player? This is just not cricket. One only needs to look at the background of Lawson Naidoo, the CSA chairman, to see where his political affiliations lie and to see whether someone with an agenda should be in charge of a sports body.
“The DA will be protesting. We will be taking it to the highest levels and we are not going to stop until justice is served. This is not about the politics in the Middle East; this is about putting politics in sports.”
In a statement released on Jan. 17, the ruling African National Congress party condemned DA “for coming to the aid of the fired captain, David Teeger. Teeger was removed as the captain after having expressed his public support for the genocidal Israel Defense Forces.”
According to Howard Sackstein, chairman of the South African Jewish Report newspaper, “CSA has basically said that no Zionist can ever captain a national team. Jews who wish to play sport are being pushed into the closet and asked to be the new Marranos of South Africa. What they got wrong was, we are not those sort of Jews.”
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies has demanded that the International Cricket Council launch an immediate investigation into CSA about stripping Teeger of his captaincy.