15 October 2007 - Et tu, Tutu? Tutu, too
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming conference in Boston entitled: “The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel: Issues of Justice and Equality.” The conference, quite naturally, is being held on a Friday night and Saturday, thus minimizing the presence of observant Jews. (Despite this, the host institution, the Old South Church, claims that it “Engages Three Faiths.”)
Tutu will arrive in Boston having provoked yet another pseudo-free speech fight, this time at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, which “disinvited” Tutu after consulting with Jewish leaders who expressed concern about Tutu’s views. At the behest of the Anti-Defamation League—one of the villains of the so-called “Israel lobby”—the university renewed its invitation to Tutu to speak.
The involvement of the ADL in the Tutu affair has not stopped Israel-haters from rolling out the usual nonsense about censorship, which is one way to make bogus views seem worth defending. Yet for all the many good things that Tutu stands for, his views on Israel are condemnable. In a 2002 article, for example, Tutu compared “the Jewish lobby” to “Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin.”
Tutu will preside over the conference, which will kick off on Oct. 26 with anti-Israel propaganda films, a “teach-in” about the evils of Christian Zionism and a discussion featuring John Dugard et al. on “the apartheid paradigm.” The circus will continue on Oct. 27, featuring Noam Chomsky and friends, punctuated by interfaith services and culminating in an anti-Israel demonstration billed as a “peace rally.”
I am disappointed in Tutu. In the anti-apartheid struggle, and on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he stood for the idea that the weaker party in a conflict must obey the same moral principles as the stronger party, or else everything it is fighting for will unravel. It is a lesson the Palestinians have not yet learned, and the reason ugly measures like the security barrier have become necessary.
Tutu frequently compares Israel to apartheid South Africa—a stupid and malicious analogy, referred to by international law expert John Strawson as a “wholly inaccurate analogy . . . which was mobilized for Soviet Foreign policy interests and not in the interests of the Middle East.” Tutu’s participation in the conference will lend legitimacy to the analogy and promote conflict instead of peace. It’s a disgrace.