Archbishop Desmond Tutu has mastered the technique of expressing love for the Jewish people while at the same time smearing their homeland as an apartheid state and giving its enemies a pass. He did this at a 2007 Sabeel Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.
During his speech at Old South Church, Tutu said Jews are indispensable for “a just and caring world” but failed to condemn those who would murder Jews because they are Jews. He also invoked Hebrew Scripture against Israel in a patently discriminatory manner, directing his theological and scriptural cri de coeur exclusively at Jews, and not the Palestinians.
Tutu is at it again. In a piece titled “Justice requires action to stop subjugation of Palestinians,” which appeared in the Tampa Bay Times on May 1, 2012, Tutu used the same strategy to encourage delegates attending the United Methodist General Convention to divest from companies that do business with Israel. Tutu’s effort to convince the Methodists to divest failed as delegates disapproved (by a two-to-one margin) a proposal to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola.
In his piece, Tutu condemned Israeli “domination over Palestinians.” In his effort to smear Israel, he failed to take into account that the Jewish state has been attacked from nearly every bit of territory from which it has withdrawn since the 1990s, including Sinai, south Lebanon, cities and towns in the West Bank under Palestinian Authority control and Gaza. He also ignored the anti-Semitic incitement that appears in official Palestinian media.
Tutu wrote, “Many black South Africans have traveled to the occupied West Bank and have been appalled” but he ignores the fact that black African refugees risk life and limb trying to reach Israel, seeking human rights and freedom. He ignores the fact that, because of the obsessive focus on criticizing Israel, many real and egregious human rights violations have been ignored including the existence today of slavery in Africa.
Israel is not an apartheid state. Israeli-Arabs serve in the Knesset and on the Israeli Supreme Court. They vote in elections and participate in the life of the nation in ways that blacks in Apartheid South Africa could not.
Tutu’s main gambit is to compare rabbis in the U.S. who opposed divestment to white clergymen who stood in opposition to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the civil rights battle of the 1960s. He tells them it is time for them to remove the blinders from their eyes. This is ridiculous. The white clergymen were confronted with a demand for equality and justice. American rabbis and the homeland they defend, are confronted with a totalitarian movement that seeks Israel’s destruction and promotes anti-Semitism.
The fact is that Dr. King was a supporter of Israel and understood Israel’s need for security. Congressman John Lewis, in his own right a leader in the civil rights movement, wrote an Op-Ed in 2002 describing King’s “special bond with Israel”:
During his lifetime King witnessed the birth of Israel and the continuing struggle to build a nation. He consistently reiterated his stand on the Israeli-Arab conflict, stating “Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is uncontestable.” It was no accident that King emphasized “security” in his statements on the Middle East.On March 25, 1968, less than two weeks before his tragic death, he spoke out with clarity and directness stating, “peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”
It’s time for Tutu to remove the blinders from his own eyes. Israel is faced with implacable enemies motivated by a hateful ideology. These enemies have tried to exercise a veto over Jewish national life in the land of Israel for decades. Until the Palestinians abandon these efforts, there will be no peace and until Tutu grapples with this reality, he will be no prophet of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.