RESPONSE: "Nine Days in North Korea"
WORDS BY JOSEPH JOHNSON
What follows is an amended version of a complaint sent to the Honi Soit editorial team. I offered Honi numerous opportunities to respond or explain their actions, but wasn’t even afforded a response.
Honi Soit has recently come under a significant amount of criticism for publishing Jay Tharappel’s article “Nine Days in North Korea”. Much of this criticism is both warranted and obvious: with no input from the editorial team, Honi has published what can only be described as North Korean propaganda. Tharappel flippantly refers to gross historic human rights abuses as “past sacrifices” which the North Korean people have been “rewarded” for, and cruelly refers to the most oppressed nation on Earth as “egalitarian and energised”. The folly of publishing such an article is clear.
What is less clear to me, as a Jew, is why Honi would publish an article written by Tharappel. I would expect that the country’s leading student newspaper would be more rigorous with their editorial standards, especially when publishing work by a man outed by the Sydney Morning Herald as an anti-Semite only a week ago. Tharappel has a long history of anti-Semitism. Beyond the “Death to Israel” badge and “Curse the Jews” slogan both the Sydney Morning Herald and Honi reported him wearing, some of Tharappel’s past anti-Semitic actions are as follows:
- Denying and trivialising the official figures of the Holocaust
- Saying of the Hezbollah flag, “one day this flag will be raised over the Knesset”. Hezbollah has explicitly and repeatedly called for the genocide of the Jews, and its flag is an AK-47, the connotations of which are obvious
- Comparing Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler
- Propagating anti-Semitic narratives of Jews controlling the media
All of this behaviour violates the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of anti-Semitism. The University of Sydney SRC has adopted this definition, as have many governments and institutions worldwide. Tharappel’s behaviour is unacceptable, and publishing his work only normalises anti-Semitic attitudes that are far too common in our hyper-partisan political climate. Honi has historically provided a voice for the marginalised. In the case of Tharappel, it provides a voice for a man whose views, actions, and words promote harm and hate. In publishing his article, the Honi editorial team has disgraced itself. As a Jew, I am personally offended; it ought to go without saying that it is wrong to provide a platform to anti-Semites. Honi should immediately retract this article and apologise.
EDITOR'S NOTE: It's to our understanding that the AUJS is launching an official complaint with the SRC.