Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu slandered by Israel apologists

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has been called bigoted and anti-Semitic by  David Hersch, vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, in an attempt to remove Tutu from his position as patron of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.

In recent years Tutu has been on the receiving end of a number of defamatory attacks. The eminent human rights advocate has become a target because of his uncompromising position on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. However these attacks ignore his principled commitment to the safety and dignity of all people in Israel and Palestine.

Sign the petition in defense of Tutu here and read Open Shuhada Street’s press statement below.

——————————————————————————————————

PRESS RELEASE – ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS DESMOND TUTU SLANDERED, CONCERNED SOUTH AFRICANS CIRCULATING PETITION IN DEFENCE OF TUTU

12 Jan, 2011

A new petition initiated by concerned South Africans is quickly gathering widespread support nationally and internationally. This petition can be viewed at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/defend-tutu/. The petition is a pledge of support for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who has recently been the target of slanderous attacks by those who reject his principled and fair-minded stance on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

In the first 48 hours, over 1000 people added their names to petition. The current count is over 1,600. Some of the prominent signatories include Arthur Chaskalson, Lord Joel Joffe, Omar Barghoutti, Adam Hochschild, Andrew Feinstein, Annie Lennox and Zackie Achmat. Open Shuhada Street endorses and fully supports the petition started by concerned South Africans in defence of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

The petition was initiated by members of Open Shuhada Street in their personal capacities. It opposed a call from David Hersch, vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, demanding that Archbishop Emeritus Tutu be removed or resign from his position as patron of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. In a circulated letter Hersch called the Archbishop Emeritus anti-Semitic and bigoted. These sentiments were echoed by well-known Israel-booster Professor Alan Dershowitz, who called Tutu a “bigot” and an “anti-semite”.

In recent years the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has been on the receiving end of a number of defamatory attacks. The eminent human rights advocate has become a target because of his uncompromising position on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. However these attacks ignore his principled commitment to the safety and dignity of all people in Israel and Palestine. He has personally met with Palestinian leaders to express solidarity with their suffering under Israeli occupation, and to strongly urge them to refrain from violent attacks on Israeli targets and civilians.

Last October, the Archbishop Emeritus asked the Cape Town Opera not to travel to Israel. His argument was based on his firm belief in human rights and equality. He wrote, “Only the thickest-skinned South Africans would be comfortable performing before an audience that excluded residents living, for example, in an occupied West Bank village 30 minutes from Tel Aviv, who would not be allowed to travel to Tel Aviv, while including his Jewish neighbours from an illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian territory.”

In retaliation against the Cape Town Opera statement, Rhoda Kadalie called the Archbishop Emeritus a “bigot” and the Israeli Ambassador accused him of “bias” and of “deliberate populist incitement” (Cape Times, 28 Oct 2010). By slandering the name of the heroic champion for human rights, Kadalie, Hersch and the Israeli Ambassador have joined the ranks of the Archbishop Emeritus’ past critics: Thabo Mbeki, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Chinese occupiers of Tibet and Ugandans denying the rights of gays and lesbians.

Lungisa Mndende, the Khayelitsha Coordinator of Open Shuhada Street and a signatory of the petition, led a delegation of members on a visit of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre last December. In support of the petition he remarked, “Visiting the Holocaust Centre was very painful, but it was an important reminder of past injustice. Whether it is the struggle against Nazi genocide or against Apartheid, it is important for us to remember the history of oppression. For his advocacy of non-violence and human rights Archbishop Tutu is an ideal patron for the Holocaust Centre because he reminds us that we have the strength and the duty to struggle against racism and violations of human rights at home and in every country around the world.”

The full text of the petition is appended below. The petition can be accessed electronically at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/defend-tutu/

——————————————————————————————————

PETITION IN DEFENCE OF ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS DESMOND TUTU

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has publicly criticised Israeli policy towards Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. He has also criticised Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. These criticisms are well-known.

Recently, his criticisms of Israeli policy have elicited bitter personal attacks. Amidst calls for him to be removed as Patron of the Cape Town and Johannesburg Holocaust Centres of the South African Holocaust Foundation, Tutu has been attacked and labelled an anti-Semite and a bigot

Disagreements should be debated openly, but these personal attacks are totally unacceptable.

During the Second World War, which killed 60 million people, Nazi Germany killed socialists, gay men and lesbians, Roma people, and resistance fighters, but its most systematic destruction was of the Jewish people. Six million Jews were transferred to ghettos and concentration camps before being murdered.

This grotesque crime against humanity must never be forgotten. Its legacy and lessons belong to and must be guarded by all of humanity. Racism including anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and inhumanity must be resisted wherever they occur. As stated in the Mission Statement of the South African Holocaust Foundation, we must build “a more caring and just society in which human rights and diversity are respected and valued.”

This is precisely the cause to which Tutu has dedicated his life. He represents the finest tradition of resistance to all forms of oppression. He has taught us that understanding the Holocaust begins with appreciating that the only way for each of us to be safe is for all of us to be safe. He embodies the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document born of the horrors of the Second World War, the rights contained in which pertain equally to Israelis and Palestinians.

To use the Holocaust in an attempt to delegitimise Tutu is to undermine its legacy and insult the memory of its victims. To call him an anti-Semite, because he has attacked the policies of the Israeli government, is outrageous, renders the term meaningless, and enfeebles the necessary efforts to defeat real anti-Semites and racists.

Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 18 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Wow, dog bites man time!

    Just another day at the sausage factory of slander. They sure can churn it out.

  2. hophmi says:

    Just want to point out that despite Hersch’s position, his comments are not endorsed by the South African Zionist Federation. They are made in his individual capacity.

    link to timeslive.co.za

    Personally, having gotten to know the leaders of the SA Jewish community over the summer during my visit there, I do not believe Tutu or Goldstone will be removed from the Board of the Holocaust Center.

  3. Jim Haygood says:

    ‘ … an attempt to remove Tutu from his position as patron of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.’

    Which brings up an interesting point — South Africa, a multicultural society like ours, has incorporated some ethnic and religious diversity into the leadership of its holocaust centres in two major cities.

    By contrast, try to find the ethnic diversity on the board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, funded by taxpayers to the tune of $50 million a year:

    link to ushmm.org

    Where are the black people? Where are the non-Jews? Looks like some kind of unwritten “gentlemens’ agreement” at work here …

    • hophmi says:

      You’ve brought this up before, and you have neither substantiated your claim that the USHMM receives $50 million in federal funding a year or your erroneous claim that the entire board is Jewish.

      • MRW says:

        Hophmi,

        Haygood’s claim is easy to substantiate. Check out Wikipedia. It takes two seconds to find out, and the entire board is Jewish. Name one who isn’t. Name one from this list: link to ushmm.org

        Furthermore, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum eats up 1/3 of the federal arts budget.

        • annie says:

          the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum eats up 1/3 of the federal arts budget

          you’ve got to be kidding me!

        • MRW says:

          Annie,

          To be clear, because the budget is an octopus, it’s 1/3 of the fed money for museums, although museum and library services are joined.

      • MRW says:

        The 2011 budget from federal funds: $50,520,500.

        Do your homework, Hophmi, before you start whining.

        • hophmi says:

          Do your own homework. This has been brought up before. Kitty Dukakis is not Jewish, to my knowledge. Neither is Pierre Richard-Prosper, an former undersecretary for human rights and labor. Neither is Orrin Hatch. That’s three; you asked for one.

          But it should be no surprise that most of the board members are Jewish. It is mostly the Jewish community that pushed for the museum, did the groundwork in Congress, and raised a lot of private money. If you’d like to see more non-Jewish board members, I suggest you write to your Congressperson and makes your views known. The board of the National Museum of the American Indian is, duh, mostly Native American. I can’t imagine why.

          The second claim was that the USHMM ate up 1/3 of the federal arts budget. That claim has not been substantiated. For that claim to be substantiated, you’d have to show that all of the money USHMM gets from the feds is out of that budget and that that budget is $150 million. No one has presented a source for the money claims yet. The only source I see for the number you quoted is the USHMM report about their own request. I do not know what they were actually granted for FY2011.

          And of course, it wouldn’t much matter what the percentage is. Every national museum makes a budget request. Congress has to approve it. Since it is one of the most-visited museums in Washington, it should not be surprising that it has a large budget.

          It is funny that you, who, like the Holocaust revisionists, complain about the federal budget for the USHMM, accuse ME of whining.

        • lysias says:

          Kitty Dukakis is Jewish. I thought I remembered this being reported during her husband’s presidential campaign, so I looked up her Wikipedia entry, which, sure enough, says this:

          Dukakis is Jewish, and had her husband been elected president, she would have become the nation’s first Jewish First Lady.

        • Chu says:

          You’ve brought this up before, and you have neither substantiated your claim that the USHMM receives $50 million in federal funding a year or your erroneous claim that the entire board is Jewish.

          3 out of 55+ council members is about 5% non-Jewish.
          I believe that substantiates Jim Haygood’s 1st claim.

        • hophmi says:

          Excuse me. The claim was that there are no Jews. Jit is offensive enough to suggest that there something wrong with that, but the fact is that it’s not true.

  4. Jim Haygood says:

    More importantly, where are the native Americans on the US Holocaust Museum Council?

    What do native Americans think as they see $50 million a year lavished on commemorating a European tragedy, while their ongoing displacement into the economic and geographic backwaters of the North American continent gets short shrift?

    How do you say ‘Nakba’ in Navaho?

  5. MRW says:

    Did they dream this up at the big hasbara conference last year in Israel? Is this how Israel intends to counter “delegitimization?” Smearing people across the globe?

  6. Theo says:

    I also had the pleasure of the polite comments of Prof. Dershowitz after I commented on his debate with Gideon Levy of Haaretz on RT TV.
    Although I quoted historical facts, partly based on records in the Jerusalem Museum, he called me an anti-semite and a bigot and advised to to crawl back under the stone where I came from.
    Calling Boston a home I cannot understand how a reputable and world estimed university like Harvard can continue to associate itself with such a nasty, undignified person like that ugly individual is. Helen Thomas was dismissed for a mild comment on Israeli occupation, nothing comparable to the outbursts of Dershowitz.

    American zionists are the major cause for the killing and subversion in Palestina, both jewish and christian ones, as we should not forget the evangelical church that waits for the coming repture as soon as a jewish state is established. With 30-40 million members they far outnumber the jewish zionists, and I always thought that christianity and judaism both teach peace and love to your fellow humans.

    Jews were always known for being liberal and fair and as soon as our american jews realize the terrible mistake they are making by supporting a fascist regime in Israel just to revenge the Holocaust, (although the palestenians had nothing to do with it, but lived peacefully side by side with the jews, according to Rabbi Weiss), they will be in position to put an abrupt end to that killing, occupation and surpression.
    Let´s not forget, there is no such thing as a jewish nation, it is a religion whose members come from hundred different nations and groups, some semitic, but mostly others, such as khasars, a turk nation.
    As Mr. Benjamin Freedman so aptly said: ” a chinese will not become an arab just because he converts to islam”.