Desmond Tutu: Endorsement of BDS Veers into Religious Anti-Semitism » ADL Blogs
May 3, 2012 Off

Desmond Tutu: Endorsement of BDS Veers into Religious Anti-Semitism

In an open let­ter to mem­bers of the United Methodist Church, retired South African Arch­bishop Desmond Tutu endorsed a pro­posed res­o­lu­tion call­ing for Church divest­ment from com­pa­nies “that sus­tain Israel’s occupation.”

Although the res­o­lu­tion was rejected at the United Methodist Con­fer­ence cur­rently under­way in Tampa, Florida, Tutu’s last ditch attempt to avert defeat veered into clas­si­cal religion-based anti-Semitism when he speaks of the pun­ish­ment of the Jews in the past who “dis­obeyed G-d:”

Hebrews…were oppressed as slaves in another land. As time moved on, this peo­ple dis­obeyed God and time and time again the prophets had to call them back to their deep­est values.

Tutu then calls on activists to take action to pun­ish Israel for their poli­cies today:

But God, who is the same yes­ter­day, today and for­ever, nei­ther slum­bers nor sleeps. Prophetic voices have been call­ing this empow­ered peo­ple who were once oppressed and killed, to their deep­est val­ues of jus­tice and com­pas­sion, but they have refused to lis­ten even to the most rea­son­able voices. The human com­mu­nity can­not be silent in the face of the gross injus­tice being meted out to the peo­ple of Pales­tine. If inter­na­tional courts and gov­ern­ments refuse to deal with this mat­ter, we in the churches and in the rest of civil soci­ety really have no choice but to act in small ways and big ways.

Tutu also uses shock­ing lan­guage about the Holo­caust, includ­ing an appar­ent con­dem­na­tion of the very found­ing and exis­tence of the State of Israel:

The Jew­ish Holo­caust, engi­neered and imple­mented pri­mar­ily by Euro­peans, gave some ide­o­logues within the Jew­ish and Chris­t­ian com­mu­nity an excuse to imple­ment plans that were in the mak­ing for at least 50 years, under the rubric of excep­tional Jew­ish secu­rity. In this way began the immense oppres­sion of the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple, who were not at all involved in the Holo­caust. Not only is this group of peo­ple being oppressed more than the apartheid ide­o­logues could ever dream about in South Africa, their very iden­tity and his­tory are being denied and obfus­cated. What is worse, is that Europe and the USA are refus­ing to take respon­si­bil­ity for their actions with regard to both the Holo­caust and the over-empowering of the Israelis, their dis­re­gard for the inter­na­tional con­ven­tions and reg­u­la­tory frame­work of the nuclear indus­try and their con­tin­ued oppres­sion of the Pales­tin­ian people.

Tutu is a promi­nent sup­porter of the BDS (boy­cott, divest­ment, sanc­tion) cam­paign against Israel and a gen­er­ally harsh critic of Israel. He has declared time and again that Israeli poli­cies towards Pales­tini­ans are the same or worse than those imposed against black South Africans under apartheid.

Tutu’s April 26 let­ter, posted on the web­site of “United Methodist Kairos Response” (Kairos is a highly prob­lem­atic anti-Israel doc­u­ment pre­pared by Pales­tin­ian Chris­tians), is a retread of many of his old accu­sa­tions and assertions.

Tutu appears to be engag­ing in an all-out cam­paign to fur­ther his anti-Israel agenda. In a May 1 op-ed in The Tampa Bay Times he endorsed action by the Methodist Church, called the 1,200 Amer­i­can rab­bis who had signed an open let­ter to “our Chris­t­ian neigh­bors” oppos­ing Church divest­ment ini­tia­tives, “sadly mis­guided” and said “it is long past time for them to remove the blind­ers from their eyes and grap­ple with the real­ity that Israel becom­ing an apartheid state or like South Africa in its denial of equal rights…”