US brands as antisemitic South Africa’s demotion of Jewish cricket player

Envoy Deborah Lipstadt dismisses cricket squad’s claim of ‘security concerns’ in decision to strip David Teeger of men’s U19 team captaincy after he voiced support for IDF

Illustrative: US Special Envoy to Combat and Monitor Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt speaks at a conference focused on bans on ritual slaughter that have been proposed and approved in European countries in Brussels on October 20, 2022. (US State Department)
Illustrative: US Special Envoy to Combat and Monitor Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt speaks at a conference focused on bans on ritual slaughter that have been proposed and approved in European countries in Brussels on October 20, 2022. (US State Department)

US antisemitism envoy on Friday Deborah Lipstadt branded as antisemitic the decision by South Africa’s Under-19 team to strip Jewish star player David Teeger of his captaincy, after he praised Israeli troops fighting Hamas in Gaza.

Lipstadt, a preeminent historian of antisemitism whose position affords her the rank of ambassador, wrote on X that the decision is antisemitic. “When a Jew outside of Israel is held responsible for Israel’s policies, this is antisemitism,” wrote Lipstadt.

In its decision, Cricket South Africa cited the risk of “conflict or even violence” against Teeger and the team over Israel’s war against Hamas in response to the terror group’s October 7 massacres, ahead of the U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup, which South Africa is hosting.

“CSA has decided that David should be relieved of the captaincy for the tournament,” Cricket South Africa said in a statement. “This is in the best interests of all the players, the SA U19 team, and David himself.”

The statement added he would remain an “important and active member” of the team, albeit not its captain.

In her statement X, Lipstadt rejected Cricket South Africa’s stated rationale.

“‘Security concerns’ can and should be addressed by tightening security, not by punishing the object of the threat,” she said.

Teeger, in an October 22 public speech, praised Israeli soldiers fighting Hamas, whereupon Cricket South Africa, 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.

“Yes, I’ve been [given] this award, and yes, I’m now the rising star, but the true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel,” Teeger said, according to the South African Jewish Report. “And I’d like to dedicate it to the State of Israel and every single soldier fighting so that we can live and thrive in the Diaspora.”

Following a complaint by the local Palestine Solidarity Alliance about his comments, Teeger was suspended from playing cricket while the league investigated him for hate speech, a charge from which he was exonerated in December.

David Teeger. (Screenshot from YouTube/The South African Jewish Report via JTA)

Teeger’s subsequent demotion, Cricket South Africa said, was to protect the team from hostile action by pro-Palestinian activists, but many believe it was merely punishing Teeger despite acquitting him of violating the ethics code.

South African Jewry is one of the world’s most outspokenly Zionist communities. Teeger’s demotion, to many South African Jews, is a form of political persecution with a chilling effect on their freedom of expression and the uniting effect of cricket, one of the country’s most popular sports.

South Africa last week dragged Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, accusing it of perpetrating genocide in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip — an allegation Israel has rejected as a baseless libel. Israel invaded Gaza with the declared goal of dismantling Hamas following the murder by 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists of some 1,200 people, among a string of atrocities, in a murderous rampage in southern Israel on October 7.

Israel’s actions against Hamas have resulted in over 24,000 deaths in Gaza, according to unverified statistics provided by Hamas medical authorities in Gaza that include its own terror operatives and victims of failed rocket launches at Israel. Israel says it has killed some 9,000 Hamas operatives in Gaza and blames Hamas for the deaths of non-combatants the terror group uses as human shields.

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