Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tutu insulted by St. Thomas

Shame on the University of St. Thomas for canceling Desmond Tutu’s appearance there.

Tutu is a bishop who helped to end apartheid in South Africa. A Nobel laureate, he has won many other prizes for his work in human rights, peace and justice. Why would St. Thomas do this to a man of stellar credentials? Because, like American politicians, it caved in to the Israel lobby. Here is some of what Tutu said at Metropolitan State, where he had to give his address instead of at St. Thomas.

“I have been very deeply distressed in all my visits to the Holy Land, how so much of what was taking place there reminded me so much of what used to happen to us Blacks in Apartheid South Africa.”

“I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at the road blocks and recall what used to happen to us in our motherland, when arrogant, young white police officers would hector, and bully us, and demean us when we ran the gauntlet of their unpredictable whims – whether they would let you through or not. When they seemed to derive so much fun out of our sullen humiliation.

“I have seen such scenes, or heard of them, being played out in the Holy Land. The rough and discourteous demands for IDs from the Palestinians were so uncannily reminiscent of the infamous pass law raids of the vicious Apartheid regime. We saw on those visits, or read about things that did not happen even in Apartheid South Africa. The demolition of homes because of a suspicion that one or other family member was a terrorist. And so, all paid a price in these acts of collective punishment.

“We don’t know the exact truth because the Israelis won’t let the media in. What are they hiding? But perhaps, more seriously, why is their no outcry in this country at the censorship of their media? . . .

“Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten the humiliation of wearing yellow arm bands with the Star of David? Have my Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten the collective punishment? The home demolitions? Have they forgotten their own history so soon? And have they turned their back on their profound noble and religious traditions? Have they forgotten that their God, our God, is a God who sides with the poor, the despised, the down trodden?
“We condemn the violence of suicide bombers. And if Arab children are taught to hate Jews, we condemn the corruption of young minds too. But we condemn equally unequivocally the violence of military incursions and reprisals that won’t let ambulances and medical personnel reach the injured.”

Tutu’s words were exactly what all Americans, including Jews, need to counter the very effective propaganda machine of the Israeli government. As Tutu commented, “The Israeli government is placed on a pedestal where to criticize them is immediately to be dubbed anti-Semitic. As if the Palestinians were not Semitic.”

Obviously Tutu knows and respects Judaism, and I personally find nourishment in Jewish spiritual writings. I am certain that if American Jews knew what is really happening in Palestine, they would not support the State of Israel so unconditionally.

Someday Americans will be ashamed of their tacit support for Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians.
October 11:
We can thank Jewish Voice for Peace for the welcome news that St. Thomas reversed its previous decision to ban Bishop Desmond Tutu. They along with other Jewish voices counter the Israel lobby led by AIPAC. They inform Americans of the facts in Palestine. I hope their leadership will nudge our country toward more compassion for the Palestinians.

1 comment:

irving said...

Strong and true words, though Americans don't support Israel, they are too apathetic at what goes on over there. It is the politicians afraid of the power of the Jewish lobby that support Israel. Anyone who doesn't has no chance of being reelected because of the huge Jewish vote. Sad but true. Follow the money and the votes.

Peace and Blessings!