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Part of the series on
Desmond Tutu
31607 tutu desmond
The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu
Early Life
Tutu's role during apartheid
Tutu's role since apartheid
Role in South Africa
Chairman of the Elders
Role in the Third World
Israel
China
United Nations Role
Political Views
Other Humanitarian Initiatives
Academic role
One Young World
Honours
Media/film appearances
Writings
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Article discussion

Israel

While acknowledging the significant role Jews played in the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa, voicing support for Israel's security concerns, and speaking against tactics of suicide bombing and incitement to hatred,[1] Tutu is an active and prominent proponent of the campaign for divestment from Israel,[2] likening Israel's treatment of Palestinians to the treatment of Black South Africans under apartheid.[1] Tutu drew this comparison on a Christmas visit to Jerusalem in 1989, when he said that he is a "black South African, and if I were to change the names, a description of what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank could describe events in South Africa."[3] He made similar comments in 2002, speaking of "the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about".[4]

In 1988, the American Jewish Committee noted that Tutu was strongly critical of Israel's military and other connections with apartheid-era South Africa, and quoted him as saying that Zionism has "very many parallels with racism", on the grounds that it "excludes people on ethnic or other grounds over which they have no control". While the AJC was critical of some of Tutu's views, it dismissed "insidious rumours" that he had made anti-Semitic statements.[5] The precise wording of Tutu's statement has been reported differently in different sources. A subsequent Toronto Star article indicates that he described Zionism "as a policy that looks like it has many parallels with racism, the effect is the same.[6]

In 2002, when delivering a public lecture in support of divestment, Tutu said "My heart aches. I say why are our memories so short. Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?"[1] He argued that Israel could never live in security by oppressing another people, and continued, "People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful - very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God's world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust."[1] The latter statement was criticized by some Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League.[7][8] When he edited and reprinted parts of his speech in 2005, Tutu replaced the words "Jewish lobby" with "pro-Israel lobby".[9]

The Holocaust

Tutu preached a message of forgiveness during a 1989 trip to Israel's Yad Vashem museum, saying "Our Lord would say that in the end the positive thing that can come is the spirit of forgiving, not forgetting, but the spirit of saying: God, this happened to us. We pray for those who made it happen, help us to forgive them and help us so that we in our turn will not make others suffer."[10] Some found this statement offensive, with Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center calling it "a gratuitous insult to Jews and victims of Nazism everywhere."[11] Tutu was subjected to racial slurs during this visit to Israel, with vandals writing "Black Nazi pig" on the walls of the St. George's Cathedral in East Jerusalem, where he was staying.[10]

Palestinian Christians

In 2003, Tutu accepted the role as patron of Sabeel International,[12] a Christian liberation theology organization which supports the concerns of the Palestinian Christian community and has actively lobbied the International Christian community for divestment from Israel.[13] In the same year, Archbishop Tutu received an International Advocate for Peace Award from the Cardozo School of Law, an affiliate of Yeshiva University, sparking scattered student protests and condemnations from representatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Anti-Defamation League.[14] A 2006 opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post newspaper described him as "a friend, albeit a misguided one, of Israel and the Jewish people".[15] The Zionist Organization of America has led a campaign to protest Tutu's appearances at North American campuses.

Gaza

Tutu was appointed as the UN Lead for an investigation into Israel's 2006 bombing of Beit Hanoun bombings [1]. Israel refused Tutu's delegation access so the investigation didn't occur until 2008.

During that fact-finding mission, Tutu called the Gaza blockade an abomination [2] and compared Israel's behavior to the military junta in Burma.

During the 2008-2009 Gaza War, Tutu called the Israeli offensive "war crimes".

US Protests against Tutu

In 2007, the president of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota cancelled a planned speech from Tutu, on the grounds that his presence might offend some members of the local Jewish community.[16] Many faculty members opposed this decision, and with some describing Tutu as the victim of a smear campaign. The group Jewish Voice for Peace led an email campaign calling on St. Thomas to reconsider its decision,[17] which the president did and invited Tutu to campus.[18] Tutu declined the re-invitation, speaking instead at the Minneapolis Convention Center at an event hosted by Metro State University.[19] However, Tutu later addressed the issue two days later while making his final appearance at Metro State.

“There were those who tried to say ‘Tutu shouldn’t come to [St.Thomas] to speak.’ I was 10,000 miles away and I thought to myself, ‘Ah, no,’ because there were many here who said ‘No, come and speak,’” Tutu said. “People came and stood and had demonstrations to say ‘Let Tutu speak.’ [Metropolitan State] said ‘Whatever, he can come and speak here.’ Professor Toffolo and others said ‘We stand for him.’ So let us stand for them."[20]

Dershowitz comment

Alan Dershowitz referred to Tutu as a "racist and a bigot" in April 2009, due to Tutu's participation in the controversial Durban II conference and because of what he believes are Tutu's misguided criticisms of Israel. [3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Apartheid in the Holy Land". The Guardian. 29 April 2002. http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/comment/0,10551,706911,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  2. "Israeli apartheid". The Nation (275): 4–5. 2002-06-27. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20020715/tutu. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  3. Ruby, Walter (1 February 1989). "Tutu says Israel's policy in territories remind him of SA". Jerusalem Post. 
  4. "Tutu condemns Israeli apartheid". BBC. 29 April 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1957644.stm. Retrieved 2006-11-28. 
  5. Shimoni, Gideon (1988). "South African Jews and the Apartheid Crisis" (PDF). American Jewish Year Book (American Jewish Committee) 88: 50. http://www.ajcarchives.org/AJC_DATA/Files/1988_3_SpecialArticles.pdf. 
  6. Barthos, Gordon (20 December 1989). "Israelis uneasy about Tutu's Yule visit". Toronto Star. 
  7. Anti-Defamation League (2006). "ADL Blasts Appointment Of Desmond Tutu As Head Of U.N. Fact Finding Mission To Gaza". Press release. http://www.adl.org/PresRele/UnitedNations_94/4933_94.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  8. Phillips, Melanie (6 May 2002). "Bigotry and a corruption of the truth". Daily Mail. 
  9. Tutu, Desmond (forward) (2005). Michael Prior. ed. Speaking the Truth: Zionism, Israel, and Occupation. Olive Branch Press. p. 12. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Tutu Urges Jews to Forgive The Nazis". San Francisco Chronicle. 27 December 1989. 
  11. "Tutu assailed". Chicago Sun-Times. 30 December 1989. p. 13. 
  12. "Desmond Tutu lends his name to Sabeel". comeandsee.com. 18 June 2003. http://www.comeandsee.com/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=464. Retrieved 2006-12-04. 
  13. "A call for morally responsible investment: A Nonviolent Response to the Occupation" (PDF). Sabeel. April 2005. http://www.sabeel.org/documents/A%20nonviolence%20sabeel%20second%20revision.pdf. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  14. "Tutu Honor Too Too Much?". Jewish Week. http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=7706&print=yes. 
  15. Derfner, Larry (15 October 2006). "Anti-Semite and Jew". Jerusalem Post. p. 15. 
  16. Furst, Randy (4 October 2007). "St. Thomas won't host Tutu". Minneapolis Star Tribune. http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1463394.html. 
  17. Furst, Randy (15 October 2007). "St. Thomas urged to reconsider its decision not to invite Tutu". Minneapolis Star Tribune. http://www.startribune.com/local/11591286.html. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  18. "UST president says he made wrong decision, invites Tutu to campus". University of St. Thomas Bulletin. http://www.stthomas.edu/bulletin/news/200741/Wednesday/Dease10_10_07.cfm. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  19. Mador, Jessica (12 April 2008). "Desmond Tutu avoids politics while talking about peace". Minnesota Public Radio. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/04/12/tutu2/. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  20. Minor, Nathaniel (17 July 2009). "Tutu talks at Metro State" (PDF). The Aquin, St. Thomas' student newspaper. http://www.stthomas.edu/aquin/0708/080418.pdf. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 

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