God's Politics

God's Politics


Turning Down Tutu? (by Allison Johnson)

posted by God's Politics

I received an e-mail today from a progressive Jewish organization titled “Let Desmond Tutu Speak at a Minnesota University.” It referred to my alma mater, the University of St. Thomas, where administrators recently snubbed the archbishop by refusing to allow him to speak at a PeaceJam International conference on campus. Based on the opinions of a select group of local Jewish leaders who claim Tutu made anti-Semitic remarks in a 2002 speech, the university decided to pass on the opportunity so as not to potentially offend members of the Jewish community. Officially, Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations at St. Thomas, had this to say to the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages:



We had heard some things he said that some people judged to be anti-Semitic and against Israeli policy…. We’re not saying he’s anti-Semitic. But he’s compared the state of Israel to Hitler and our feeling was that making moral equivalencies like that are hurtful to some members of the Jewish community.


Hennes stops short of calling Tutu anti-Semitic, but the speech he cites caused the Zionist Organization of America to target college campuses and lobby them to ban Tutu from speaking engagements. A Jewish member of our own St. Thomas community, instructor Marv Davidov, told City Pages:



As a Jew who experienced real anti-Semitism as a child, I’m deeply disturbed that a man like Tutu could be labeled anti-Semitic and silenced like this…. I deeply resent the Israeli lobby trying to silence any criticism of its policy. It does a great disservice to Israel and to all Jews.


It became even more personal for me when I read that my former advisor, Cris Toffolo, was removed from her post as department chair by the administration over a letter she sent to Tutu expressing her dissent over the decision. This kind of secrecy and censorship on my university’s campus is upsetting and discourages freedom of expression in academia. I am embarrassed that my role model for social justice is being smeared by my own school, and that a professor was demoted in the process.


Most schools would bend over backward to host the moral voice of the anti-apartheid movement. St. Thomas is missing the opportunity to have Tutu inspire its students to “act wisely, think critically, and work skillfully for the common good,” as its mission so boldly states.


It is true that Tutu has been an outspoken critic of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians and has used language on occasion that is less than sensitive. What University of St. Thomas leaders seem to overlook is that he uplifts, inspires, and motivates people of all faiths to end poverty and oppression through nonviolence. Tutu stated in the infamous 2002 speech, “God waits for you, for you to act.” As an alumna who takes the mission statement of St. Thomas seriously and as a Christian working for peace and justice, how can I not?

Allison Johnson is the policy and organizing assistant for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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canucklehead

posted October 8, 2007 at 3:29 pm


It boggles the mind of anyone conversant with the Biblical record how the Holocaust, horrible as it was, effectively transferred Israel from the ranks of “those who could do no right” to the ranks of “those who can do no wrong!”



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neuro_nurse

posted October 8, 2007 at 3:33 pm


Opposition to Israeli policies and politics is not tantamount to anti-Semitism.



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Moderatelad

posted October 8, 2007 at 4:02 pm


Maybe he should speak at Columbia University in NYC – they let anyone talk regardless of their views about anything that has happened in the world.
Just a thought –
.



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Kristi

posted October 8, 2007 at 4:21 pm


Yes, the secular Israeli government is NOT the Israel of the Bible that we are charged to support. Many confuse the two. When they get in line with God’s plan, then we can all get in line with full support. For now they are behaving in an unconscionable and unethical way towards the Palestinian people, that is for certain. The Palestinian government however, behaves this way equally towards Israelis and its own people, but then they do not have the charge from God that Israel does to do right. I expect more from Israel. Desmond Tutu is one of our most profound voices for social justice, and though equating Israel with Nazi Germany was inappropriately callous towards American Jews, to not allow him to speak at all, is to throw the baby out with the bath water.



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neuro_nurse

posted October 8, 2007 at 4:41 pm


“Maybe he should speak at Columbia University in NYC – they let anyone talk regardless of their views about anything that has happened in the world.”
According to frontpagemag and the Terrorism Awareness Project, Ann Coulter is speaking at Tulane as part of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.
Funny thing is, no one at Tulane seems to know anything about it. I checked several of the websites of other universities that are supposed to be hosting these events, and there’s no mention of it there either.



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james

posted October 8, 2007 at 4:44 pm


I fully agree with what neuro_nurse has posted.
What is it that prevents some people from being unable to make this fundamental distinction between the people of the Jewish faith and the government of Israel?
My question is relevant and serious.
Any ideas?



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Dan PAX

posted October 8, 2007 at 4:49 pm


Perhaps those who defend Israel and wish to silence their critics need only to visit Palestine and Gaza to see the devastation that Bishop Tutu was refering to. Discrimination, ghettos and walls surrounding an occupied land are unacceptable in today’s world. And all of us Jews, Catholic Christians and Gentiles alike should be reminded of this. Prophetic voices are silenced by those who fear justice. And this Catholic University banning a prophetic speaker smaks of cencorship. Cencorship perhaps driven so as not to offend DONORS?



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I and I

posted October 8, 2007 at 5:08 pm


I share the concerns about Israel’s human rights record, and am glad Tutu addressed those. But I think it is sad, sad, sad, that he chose the words he did. Along with being insensitive, it is a distraction from his larger point about the human rights, a point that isn’t made often enough. And it creates yet another controversy when we don’t need yet another controversy.



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bren

posted October 8, 2007 at 5:12 pm


James, the Christian Zionist movement in the United States claims two million members. According to the documentary I saw the other night on Bill Moyer’s Journal, the Christian Zionists absolutely see modern Israel as the Israel of the Bible. Moreover, they have a very active lobby in Washington which, among other things, is encouraging war against Iran in order to protect Israel. What motivates the Christian Zionists, of course, is their belief in the End Times. So while they appear to be supporting Israel, in fact, they would only support Israelis until the End Times when the Jews would either have to convert to Christianity or be condemned to hell.
I am simply repeating what I learned; I don’t agree with it, in fact I find it terrifying! But you did ask. And if you want to check whether my understanding is correct, go to Bill Moyer’s Journal on pbs.org (I’m sure the Moyers Journal has its own link but I don’t remember it.) Perhaps one of the most frightening elements in the documentary were the people who encouraged folks to pay close attention to what university teachers are teaching about Israel and to put pressure on schools to fire them if they are critical of Israel. Having said that, I should add that I think it’s entirely possible that the group that pressured St. Thomas was a combination of American Jews and Christian Zionists.



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Drew

posted October 8, 2007 at 5:32 pm


I partly agree with the claims of this article. Although I am very much opposed to the Israeli occupation of Israel, to compare Israel to Hitler is downright ludacrous and dangerous. Today there’s a lot of criticism against Israel due to the Palestinian plight (and rightfully so, there are some issues that are blatantly wrong that Israel cannot excuse. The settlements policy is a disaster, and if we are ever to move forward towards peace, it needs to stop), but it seems that Islamist extremists justify oppression onto others by bringing this issue up. As we have plenty of criticism against Israel, I’m going to mainly focus on the other half of the Palestinian plight in this response: the Arab nations. This is just another comprehensive view to show that treachery for the Palestinians is not exclusive to Israel, but includes Arab nations as well.
I will first start off by saying that to deny that the Ottaman Turks did not play a part in the Palestinian plight is completely false. To say that Jews are alien usurpers of Palestinian is equally ignorant as to claim that the Arabs have no place in the land of Israel. The instructions to inhabit did not always have Jewish orgins. The Ottamans oversaw Palestine during the early 20th century, and they voluntarily sold land to the Zionists against Palestinian wishes. In 1911, 150 high-profile Arabs actually telegraphed Turkish parliament to protest these continued land sales, but their cable was ignored. During the late 1940s, the refugee problem got serious when 5 Arab nations that could not accept Israel in their midst declared war. During this period, Palestinian refugees were expected to leave. Even Khaled al-Azm, the prime minister of Syria during his 1973 memoirs mentioned that “the call by Araban governments to the inhabitants of Palestine, to evacuate it and to leave the bordering Arab countires, after having sown terror among him… Since 1948, we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave.” He also sated that “this collective flight helped the Jews, whose position improved without any effort on their part.” Do you see how the Arab nations have also contributed to the Palestinian crisis? If we’re going to indict Israel for the Palestinian problem, we must also indict the Arab nations as well.
his same prime minister, Khaled al-Azm has stated that “we have caused them [the Palestinians] to be barren and unemployed.” Kuwait has banished 300,000 Palestinians to seek revenge on Yasser Arafat for supporting Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1991, many of whom never knew Palestine. Israel has taken in 98,000 Palestinians under a Family Reunification Effort and they have donated more than any Arab nation to the UN Agency that cares for Palestinian refugees. Palestinians can’t be professionals or own land in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia refuses to immigrate Palestinians although they support telethons promoting suicide bombings (and it’s a major pepretrator of Wahhabism causing much tribal insularity within Islam, and a major factor in our current genocide in Darfur), and Egypt won’t have anything to do with them after their conflicts with Israel. Who’s exactly betraying whom?
During World War I, the Arabs assisted Britain in fighting the Ottamans under the condition that Palestine would be turned over to the Arabs. However, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 caused Britain to break its presumed pact with the Arabs as the promised land of the Arabs became the twice-promised land to the Jews (as they were facing increasingly spiteful attacks in Europe). As a results, the Muslims have accused Western colonizers of treachery ever since.
Then we have the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which the goverment of Turkey still denies to this day. If many of these Muslims in the Middle East are concerned about the Palestinian plight, why is nobody making amends to the Armenians? Shouldn’t we be indignant when the Armenians demand only an apology and none of their property?
Have any of you heard of Haj Amin el-Husseini? He was the mufti of Jerusalem in 1921 and president of the Supreme Muslim Council in 1922. He had a unilateral intention to rid Palestine of the Jews (as well as content of authorizing serial murder against the Arabs). As Nazism spread in Europe, so did Haj Amin’s tyranny. The British government in its 1937 Peel Commission Report stated about the civil unrest in Palestine “that for an Arab to be suspected of lukewarm adherence to the national cause is to invite a visit to the body of gunment.” Furthermore, this report stated that “a number of Arabs have asked for British government protection.” So, is this inner terror of the Arabs through Haj Amin el-Husseini the fault of the Jews or inner-strife within the Islamic world?
In addition, Haj Amin was complicit during the Holocaust with Nazi Germany. This same person who called for assassinations against many Arabs pressured the UK to turn away a vast number of Jewish refugees attempting to go to Palestine. Some drowned in the Mediterranean Sea and some were sent to concentration camps. Haj Amin also prevented orphaned Croatian children from making it to the Holy Land. Later down the road, Haj Amin paid Hitler a visit and supported his plan to rid the Jews. He even went to the Balkans to persuade Bosnian Muslims to support the Nazi war effort. Luckily, not only did Bosnian Muslims resist him, but they also hid Jews in their home (Sarajevo is a unique microcosm of the world in which Muslims, Christians, and Jews coexist peacefully). Actually, some of these Muslims were honored by Israel and they decided to stay in Israel and become citizens. There were many Muslims (from India, Central Asia, and even Palestine) who supported the Allied cause. However, once again our old friend, the mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin went to imams in the Bosnian SS with assurance that Islam and Nazism share commitments to social order, family structure, and hard work. From Nazi Germany, Haj Amin would preach propoganda to the Arab world stating “Kill the Jews wherever you find them; this pleases God, history, and religion.”
But now we can move on into the post-Holocaust front. In 1947, the UN proposed a partition of Palestine, 45% for the Palestinians and 55% for the Jews (but also keep in mind that most of the Jewish land is in the Negev Desert, least fertile areas of Palestine). The Jews adopted the UN plan and six months later proclaimed independence. The Arabs, however, declared war against Israel and as a result lost more territory. Furthermore, the Arab League and particular areas occupying Palestine claimed to speak for the Palestinians but at the same time they prevented any Palestinian participation in the political process (when people of Palestinian descent can hold office in Israel) Once again, Israel is not 100% in its travesties against the Palestinians. The Arabs have their own debt as well.
And then there’s the Cold War, but most manipulation came from the Soviet Union rather than the United States. Joseph Stalin transferred weapons from Czechoslovakia to Israel and helped the Jews defend themselves against the Arabs, but then after Israel’s 1948 victory, Stalin knew that Israel would be an ally to the United States, so he armed the Arabs with Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser. Under him, Egypt took a stance economically and cultural position on socialism; but this fast-track secularization backfired (which is why I believe Islam needs to reform in these areas of the world, rather than be secularized) as they tried to nationalize Al-Azhar University in Cairo. After a defeat from Israel in an effort to wage war, the Islamists came in and substituted secularization with Islam being the key to the world’s problems. In an effort to wipe out the Zionists, Islam fundamentalism came into being in Saudi Arabia, which due to its wealth in oil, funded radical Muslims. Egyptian liberal Gaber Asfour has stated that the hope “has been that a return to strict Islam would provide the strength for a final victory over Zionism and Israel.”
Now we come back to Palestine during the mid 1970s. In this period, Yasser Arafat utilized the world “martyr” without any Koranic connatations, whatsoever. Nabil Amr (a former minister of Arafat’s cabinent) risked his life for the sake of integrity. He accused the Palestinian chairman of dismissing goodwill, world-aid, and legitimate coexistence with Israel. He concluded that, “we have committed serious mistakes against our people, our Authority, and our dream of statehood. To make up for these mistakes, we must confess our failures first, and then take immediate action. Our people are noble and deserve from us the commitment to think with them and for their benefit. We cannot let our poeple’s destiny be set free to chance, a chance that, under a new world order, may take yet another eternal struggle without opening a door of hope.” This person, Nabil Amr, survived bullets shot at his house by Palestinian gang-members. Since his statement, there have been Palestinians who have agreed with him saying that Israel is not the complete catalyst of their people’s oppression.
Believe me, I have read eye-witness accounts that state how the current problem in Palestine has not been helped by Israeli occupation in the West Bank, and I have heard horrifying stories such as a pregnant women at a security checkpoint, who gave birth in her car and fainted when she got out, only to be laughed at by Israeli soldiers. Unless you suffer from post-modern cultural relativism, there is nothing around that. It is blatantly wrong, and yes, Israel does deserve criticism for illegal settlements and the continuation of neo-Zionism and undermining the integrity of the Palestinians. But if we are to truly address the Palestinian plight, we also need to indict imperialists from ALL angles including Saudia Arabia and others, not just the United States and Israel.
So in conclusion, Israel is not the alpha and the omega of Palestinian’s oppression. The Arab nations are very guilty as well.
Desmond Tutu has every right mind to criticize Israel (it is not immune to that), but to say that Israel is the equivalent to Nazi Germany is very dangerous and mistaken, especially given the context of Wahhabism and militant Islam that dominates the entire sphere of Saudi Arabia and has permeated Islam from Mauritania to Malaysia.



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Drew

posted October 8, 2007 at 5:38 pm


But yes, Desmond Tutu should be allowed to speak. His life story of faith and courage should be an inspiration to many people and to pass up this opportunity would be a mistake.



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kevin s.

posted October 8, 2007 at 6:05 pm


He compared the state of Israel to Hitler’s regime, and said that American are afraid to point this out because of the “Jewish lobby”. That’s not “less than sensitive”, that’s a kick in the teeth, as anyone who understands history should know.
A private instution said no thank you. Good. There are plenty of people with important, compelling things to say who don’t compare Israel to Hitler. If “most schools” want to bend over backward to accommodate Desmond Tutu, then he should have no problem finding a forum in which to speak.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 8, 2007 at 6:15 pm


Before I commented, I decided to read the speech and I saw nothing remotely inflammatory about it — that is, unless you consider his references to the “Jewish lobby.”



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Alicia

posted October 8, 2007 at 6:35 pm


My impulse is to say, “Let him speak.” But, as an agnostic liberal Christian who is sick to death of people jumping on the anti-Israel bandwagon and making outrageous, ludicrous comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, I think Tutu should be roundly criticized for making the comparison, and asked to consider using more precise and less inflammatory language.
I don’t agree with every thing Israel has done in defending itself, but I feel it is time for liberals to come down as hard on Hamas as they do on Israel. And, no, I don’t think liberals come down hard on Hamas — they merely, IMO, pay lip service to doing so.



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squeaky

posted October 8, 2007 at 7:04 pm


I think what has been promoted as inflammatory is this statement:
“The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosovic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.”
But nowhere does he actually equate Israel to these regimes. Read the rest of the speech. What is he really saying? Is not his call for peace a call worth hearing? Isn’t this call for peace all the more important to hear when his own nation overcame centuries of injustice to end apartheid? How many of us thought Apartheid would never end? And he was on the front line of seeing it end. I think his perspective is worth hearing, especially for young college students who need to learn that the actions of individuals can make a difference, and especially for the nay-sayers who refuse to give peace a chance. Any questions about perceived anti-semitism can be asked and aired out in these forums, and he can and should be allowed to defend and clarify his statements.



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kevin s.

posted October 8, 2007 at 7:22 pm


Thank you Drew, for the history lesson. Israel is by no means a saintly nation, but to listen to Sojo, you would think the Jews formed an army after Holocaust and invaded Palestine by ship.



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Matt

posted October 8, 2007 at 7:37 pm


Allison, your blog post really gets at a critical issue for Catholic colleges. Will they continue to be places where students are allowed to develop and hone their God-given gifts of reason, inquiry, intellectual challenge, and rigorous debate, or are they simply going to close down the conversation because they don’t think students can handle it?
They need only look at what students at Columbia did when Iran’s leader spoke there recently. Their cutting questions did more than just about anything to undermine the world leader.
And why would St. Thomas allow Anne Coultier to speak, but not Desmond Tutu? Keep asking the question from DC. We’ll keep asking it right here in the 612 (and the 651!).



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kevin s.

posted October 8, 2007 at 8:05 pm


Squeaky,
“But nowhere does he actually equate Israel to these regimes”
Um, the full quote is this…
“”People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.””
To be fair, he officially compared the “Jewish lobby” to Hitler, only later changing it to “pro-Israel” lobby.
“What is he really saying?”
That pro-Israeli groups are like Hiter and will die as such. Unless you interpret “bite the dust” to refer to some sort of reference to unleavened bread. This is in precisely the same vein as the “dark Jewish cabal” canard. If course he’s not simply going to come out and say he opposes the Jewish people. If we wait until that point, it will be far too late to save Israel.
“Is not his call for peace a call worth hearing? ”
No.
“Isn’t this call for peace all the more important to hear when his own nation overcame centuries of injustice to end apartheid?”
Not if he fails to learn the lesson correctly, or misapplies it as he clearly does here.
“Any questions about perceived anti-semitism can be asked and aired out in these forums, and he can and should be allowed to defend and clarify his statements.”
The remarks are five years old. He has had ample opportunity to do so, but has not to date. At a certain point, we have to believe that he meant what he said. Maybe there is no clarification.
Isn’t it possible, just possible, that when the President of Iran says he wants to wipe Israel off the map, that it is precisely what he means. Isn’t it possible that when Desmond Tutu compares Israel to Hitler, that is precisely what he intends to do? The guy isn’t a shock jock. He doesn’t get paid to be inflammatory.
Isn’t it possible, just possible, that when a political group maginifies the offenses of a Israel while manifestly downplaying the atrocities committed by Palestinian terrorists (to say nothing of the profound anti-Semitism registered throughout the Arab world) that there might be a bit of, gasp, anti-Semitism at play?
Of course not. It is impossible. Everything must be explained away. People must be allowed to speak against the Jewish people in code, and we must continue to be purposefully obtuse in the face of rising anti-Semtitism.
And if people like me raise their voice in opposition, you can just shove Tim LaHaye and his band of morons down my throat. Because I lack the exegetical savvy to discern between the Biblical nation of Israel and the secular nation of Israel.
I’m just an eschatologically obsessed nutjob who wears a tinfoil hat and keeps a countdown clock in his basement, waiving his hands in the air and praying for the rapture so I can say “I told you so,” at that exquisite moment when the naysayers are condemned to hell. That must be it.



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bren

posted October 8, 2007 at 8:33 pm


Kevin, it’s your personal choice to be an eschatologically obsessed nutjob, if you wish. I hope, tho, that you will pay attention to the Christian Zionists’ political power as well as their interpretation of the Bible. Alex Awad, the Palestinian pastor of the East Jerusalem Baptist Church, tells this story:
“On a pleasant Sunday afternoon in July 2000, members and pastors belonging to local Palestinian Evangelical congregations from the Palestinian territories gathered at the Bethlehem Hotel to celebrate the formation of their council. An American woman who was present at the meeting approached one of the pastors and asked him if she could say a few words to the assembly…When the lady took the microphone, I couldn’t believe the words that came out of her mouth. She professed to the Palestinian Evangelical Christians assembled there that she had a word from the Lord for them. ‘God,’ she said, ‘wanted them all to leave Israel and go to other Arab countries.’ She added that they must leave to make room for God’s chosen people, the Jews. She warned the pastors and the audience that if they did not listen to the instructions which God had given her, God would pour his wrath on them. When her agenda was recognized, one of the pastors came and whisked her away from the pulpit, but not before she served the whole assembly a mouthful of what is known today as Christian Zionism.”



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bren

posted October 8, 2007 at 9:02 pm


Writing about Christian Zionism is depressing me so I want to turn the conversation back to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I am extremely troubled by a statement such as Kevin’s above that suggests that “if he fails to learn the lesson appropriately” his call to peace is not worth listening to. I’m not sure what appropriate learning of a lesson is, but I AM sure that no one appointed Kevin, or any one of us, the right to judge others. When I read the Tutu biography called Rabble-Rouser for Peace I learned (among many other things) that Tutu acknowledged the important support that Jews around the world gave to the struggle against apartheid. He also criticized Israel for providing military supplies to the apartheid government. He was a courageous man when faced by well-armed S.A. military and police and was a wonderful leader and preacher to his people. He did have one big flaw: he sometimes was over-extravagant in his language and he didn’t always pay attention to how others might misunderstand his statements (since it was perfectly clear to him!). And he got into trouble more than once for things he said. Sometimes he was wrong; sometimes he was saying the truth. Either way, we can conclude that he was wonderful in many ways AND he wasn’t perfect.
If we are waiting to hear only from people who are perfect, we will wait a long time. If we can accept that his experience in helping Afrikaners and Africans to reconcile with each other can teach us something worth knowing, then we owe it to ourselves to listen to him. Even if we disagree with some of what he did in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we know the value of what he helped accommplish. I think we all have a great deal to learn from him, even while rejecting the things we believe he’s wrong about.



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JamesMartin

posted October 8, 2007 at 11:05 pm


Thank you Canucklehead, Bren, Rick Nowlin and squeaky for your reasoned comments. I too look up to Desmond Tutu as an example of doing the right thing as opposed to the wrong thing. He is a man of principle and certainly a man of God.
I suspect that those on this blog who are ripping into him: 1) like to argue; and 2) disagree with the manner in which this man has stood as a moral force of nonviolent resistance. That is their problem and not mine and certainly not Desmond Tutu’s. Their moral authority is miniscule compared to his and if he does not dignify them with a response it is because they don’t deserve one.
I have traveled to Israel and I have witnessed firsthand the indignities to which Palestinians are subjected.
Yesterday I was invited to a church where they celebrated Israel. Israel is a wonderful country worthy of celebrating. But what broke my heart was that not one single prayer was offered up for the suffering Palestinians. How can these people pray for the peace of Jerusalem and not even bat an eye at what is happening to Palestinians? It boggles my mind! Then I go home last evening and I see on the Bill Moyers Journal none other than John Hagee calling for the U.S. to carry out a preemtive strike on Iran to defend Israel! It is one thing to believe in Dispensationalism but it is an entirely different thing for a purported religious leader to call on our country to start a war. Don’t they realize that innocent civilians would die? Bottom line is that I guess that they don’t care.



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kevin s.

posted October 8, 2007 at 11:10 pm


“I’m not sure what appropriate learning of a lesson is, but I AM sure that no one appointed Kevin, or any one of us, the right to judge others.”
The argument was that, because he was involved in ending apartheid and preaches a message of peace, then we should ignore the rest and list. I say not until he amends his ignorance w/r/t Israel. That isn’t judgment.
“He did have one big flaw: he sometimes was over-extravagant in his language and he didn’t always pay attention to how others might misunderstand his statements (since it was perfectly clear to him!)”
It’s perfectly clear to me as well, and it was crystal clear to the Jewish community. Again, why is everything about misunderstanding when it comes to criticism of Israel. Why does everyone, all of the sudden, utilize hyperbole and say all sorts of things they don’t mean about Israel?
This was a written speech, not an off-the-cuff remark, and it gels with his other statements on the issue.
And since when does the Anti-Defamation league constitute select local Jewish leaders? If anything, that group is far to slow to call out instances of anti-Semitism, and they could hardly be described as conservative.



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kevin s.

posted October 8, 2007 at 11:56 pm


“I suspect that those on this blog who are ripping into him: 1) like to argue; and 2) disagree with the manner in which this man has stood as a moral force of nonviolent resistance.”
Um, nope. It’s pretty much the comparing pro-Israel Jews that I have to quibble with here. Deal with the argument or don’t, but don’t pretend the argument doesn’t exist, or that’s it is something so easily dismissed as the desire to argue.



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jonabark

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:51 am


Kevin your interpretation is nonsense. He is saying wrong is wrong and can be ovecome as it has before. He does not say Israel is like Nazi Germany. He does compare the treatment of Palestinians to South African Apartheid, a comparison he is surely qualified to make.
The injustice toward the Palestinians, thoroughly documented by Carter and other more scholarly voices does indeed have an appalling quality because of the experience of European Jews in WW2. A great many Jews, including Israeli Jews have expressed similar concerns to those expressed by Desmond Tutu.
Tutu is a world treasure . A man of deep compassion, courage and humor. A leader proven in the fires of adversity. The transition South Africa made and is still making is an example of deep change through reconciliation without resort to war. Isn’t it far better to engage a man with such an impressive record in dialogue, to open our concerns to conversation and exchange rather than to treat him with such rudeness. It is really rather pathetic for a college president who will in all probability never again claim the world’s attention to claim that attention now in this show of intolerance, rudeness and mistrust of the spirit of free speech.
Tonight a group of local peace activists from several faiths met at the local synagogue to break a day’s fast for peace. We prayed together and heard an Iranian professor of Middle Eastern Studies talk about the history of Iraq and the prospects for peace. It is possible to have meaningful talk about topics with serious potential disagreement and come away with everyone more informed and more understood. I have seen it before and I saw that tonight.



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mark

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:25 am


I haven’t checked Desmond Tutu’s speech for myself, so I will have to rely on Kevin’s quotation from it, namely:
People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.
Kevin proceeds to claim that Tutu “compared the Jewish lobby to Hitler”. When I read that quote I see no such comparison. All that Tutu is saying is that injustice gets swept away in the end. He isn’t comparing the degree of injustice, and he isn’t comparing the degree of evil behind the injustice, he is just saying that it gets swept away.
Of course, Kevin appears to persist in the belief, against the evidence, that Israel does not commit injustice and is always the victim in any of its dealings with the native people of the middle east. I imagine even he at times realises that this position is difficult to square with the reality of Palestinian life. That is no doubt why he is flailing about so wildly on this one (contrary, I should say, to his usual mode of argument).
I hope that, in the unlikely event that Kevin S were invited to speak at any university that I have a connection with, he would not be censored – even though a case could probably be made that he has made racist slurs against the Palestinian people. But I would need a very good reason to bother to go and listen to him. Desmond Tutu, on the other hand, is a man who has inspired an oppressed people to resist their oppression, and to do so nonviolently and in a spirit of forgiveness. Someone who is worthy of being listened to with care.
But also someone who should be questioned carefully to find out what he is really saying about Israeli policy and the US zionist lobby.
And if the people who are censoring him were really confident of the facts of their case that is precisely what they would do.
Mark



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Robert Alu

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:30 am


“People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.” Bishop Desmond Tutu
Hi all,
English is not even my second language.
But,
To have posts like Kevin S’s which quote Tutu in full and still chooose to misinterpret his words is painful to me – as I can clearly see that there is no misunderstanding.
What there is is a deliberate attempt to label any criticism of the “powerful Jewish lobby” as anti-Semitism.
That is unacceptable.
Why is this kind of nitpicking so common on God’s Politics? It’s enough to make one almost despair!
Tutu (unlike those people he says are afraid to call wrong wrong) has been very articulate indeed. And why not? His credentials precede him. He lives in the public limelight and must choose his words with care – to say what he means and mean what he says.
Apart from Bishop Tutu’s words being VERY QUOTABLE, however, he has not said much that is new, that many others have not said, that books have not been written about; that you may not have heard from some Americans and even Israelis; that you may not read on other websites such as “if Americans Knew” or “We Are Wide Awake” and numerous others.
And what the good Christian man has simply said is – you may fear the powerful, be afraid to criticise them, but, as powerful as they may be, one day they will be no more [even the most fearfully evil ones have their day].
Sounds like a Scripture in Genesis.
Is there a Jewish lobby? Is it powerful – very powerful? Are people in America scared of it? Why? Do you, Kevin, believe that we live in a moral universe? Is it God’s world? Can you call wrong wrong?
Those are the questions.
People’s lives are involved. Let us please stop being petty about these issues – “for goodness sake!”
God bless you!
– Alu
Dar es Salaam



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kevin s.

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:58 am


“He does not say Israel is like Nazi Germany.”
No, he said that the Jewish lobby is like Nazi Germany, and later amended his statement to say that pro-Israeli Jews were like Nazi Germany. What that makes Israel, in his mind, is anyone’s guess, I suppose.
“He does compare the treatment of Palestinians to South African Apartheid, a comparison he is surely qualified to make.”
Why? Are Jews who have lived through the Holocaust qualified to call Tutu a Nazi? One can have both suffered through apartheid and hold Israeli Jews in low esteem at the same time.
“Kevin proceeds to claim that Tutu “compared the Jewish lobby to Hitler”. When I read that quote I see no such comparison.”
He said the Jewish lobby is powerful, then used the same term to describe Hitler et al… Whether you see that comparison or not, it is certainly there.
“All that Tutu is saying is that injustice gets swept away in the end.”
It would be nice if this is what he said, but this is not what he said at all.
“He isn’t comparing the degree of injustice, and he isn’t comparing the degree of evil behind the injustice, he is just saying that it gets swept away.”
Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Stalin, Pinochet and Milosevic were all murderers on a grand scale. If he wanted to disregard questions of magnitude, perhaps he should have chosen better examples.
Those who wish to compare immigration policy or Social Security reform to the policies of the Third Reich may engage in such hyperbole harmlessly. But such a comparison is doubly offensive to Jews, in that it puts them on the same plane as their oppressor.
But, then, everyone gets all tongue-tied and imprecise when talking about Israel for some reason, right?
“Of course, Kevin appears to persist in the belief, against the evidence, that Israel does not commit injustice and is always the victim in any of its dealings with the native people of the middle east. ”
How so? I commend Drew’s post regarding the history of Israel, and acknowledge that Israel has not been perfect.
“That is no doubt why he is flailing about so wildly on this one (contrary, I should say, to his usual mode of argument).”
I’m flailing at nothing. A man made an obvious comparison, stood by it, and now everyone wants to pretend that he said something else.
“a case could probably be made that he has made racist slurs against the Palestinian people”
A nebbish way to level the charge of racism, but you introduce an interesting point. You state that an invitiation to speak at any university with which you are affiliated would be unlikely, but hope that I would not be denied the opportunity on the basis of racist remarks.
Essentially, what you have just said is that prominence outranks virtue. It is not my racism that prevents me from being invited, but my profile. Isn’t that what this is all about? Tutu is a famous peacemaker, whose worldwide acclaim places him beyond reproach. Who cares that a few Jews (a select group, even) might object? I simply prioritize differently.
“But also someone who should be questioned carefully to find out what he is really saying about Israeli policy and the US zionist lobby. ”
Perhaps he should. What makes you think PeaceJam is the proper forum for this questioning, or that the attendees would even think to ask such questions? The event organizers obviously had no interest in discerning his answers, or holding him to account for his (rather non-peaceful statements).
That said, his words were plain as day. What will careful questions reveal that has not been revealed?



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Robert Alu

posted October 9, 2007 at 4:17 am


“Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: What is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment.” Bishop Desmond Tutu
Kevin S,
Your pertinacity is amazing.
In his speech Bishop Desmond Tutu heaped praise on the Jewish people for their support for the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. That was good. But he points out some bad news – that the Israeli government is an oppressive occupier.
Of course, as many here would attest, the State of Israel can justify its actions in the Palestinian territories. Still, this is a valid observation – and he doesn’t ignore Palestinian violence.
Is it not possible to be anti-injustice without being anti-Semitic?
What do you have against the man? It surely cannot be personal, can it? Do you want him to agree with you, to share your worldview? That’s not the way it works now, is it? People like Bishop Desmond Tutu say it as they see it. Period.
Truth is, you may not like it but, as he would say, “so what?” Political correctness is not a minimum requirement for prophets of any age, is it?
Well, for everyone’s benefit, below is Tutu’s 2002 speech IN FULL. I think it presents a dialectically balanced approach, but, hey, what do I know?
God bless you!
– Alu
Dar es Salaam
The following speech was delivered at a conference on “Ending the Occupation” at Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts on April 13, 2002.
Occupation is Oppression
by Desmond Tutu
Thank you for how you cared for us in South Africa during the apartheid regime. You showed so much solidarity with us, supporting us and supporting sanctions against the regime. You know we are free in South Africa because of people like yourselves, people who cared. You cared even when it looked totally impossible. So I want to thank you.
God is omnipotent, all-powerful, but also impotent. God does not dispatch lightning bolts to remove tyrants, as we might have hoped he would. God waits for you, for you to act. You are his partner. God is as weak as the weakest of his partners, or as strong as the morally strongest.
God is weeping over what he sees in the Middle East. God has no one except ourselves, absolutely no one. God is omnipotent, all-powerful, but also impotent. God does not dispatch lightning bolts to remove tyrants, as we might have hoped he would. God waits for you, for you to act. You are his partner. God is as weak as the weakest of his partners, or as strong as the morally strongest.
The title of my talk is “Occupation is Oppression.” I would like to change that to “Give Peace a Chance, for Peace is Possible”; for we are bearers of hope. To God’s people, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, we want to say: our hearts go out to all who have suffered the violence of suicide bombers and of military incursions. I want to say to all: peace is possible. These two peoples are God’s chosen and beloved, with a common ancestor in Abraham.
I give thanks for what the Jews have given us. During apartheid we told our people God has heard their crying. And God will deliver us as God delivered Israel from bondage. God never abandoned us through tribulation and suffering.
Comparison: Apartheid to Occupation
In our struggle against apartheid, the great supporters were the Jews. Jews almost instinctively had to be on the side of the disenfranchised, of the voiceless ones, fighting injustice, oppression and evil. I have continued to feel strongly with the Jews. I am patron of a Holocaust center in South Africa. I believe Israel has a right to secure borders.
What is not so understandable, not justified, is what it did to another people to guarantee its existence. I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visits to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us blacks in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. They seemed to derive so much joy from our humiliation.
Collective punishment.
We know of the horrific attacks on refugee camps, towns, villages, and Palestinian institutions. We don’t know the exact truth because Israelis won’t let the media in. What are they hiding?
Perhaps more sinister is why is there no outcry in the United States about the Israeli siege in the West Bank? You see the harrowing images of what suicide bombers have done, something we all condemn, but we see no scenes of what the tanks are doing to Palestinian homes and people.
On one of my visits to the Holy Land I drove to a church with the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem. I could hear tears in his voice as he pointed to Jewish settlements. I thought of the desire of Israelis for security. But what of the Palestinians who have lost their land and their homes?
I have experienced Palestinians pointing to what were their homes, now occupied by Israeli Jews. I was walking with Canon Naim Ateek (the head of the Sabeel Ecumenical Center) in Jerusalem. He pointed and said: “Our home was over there. We were driven out of our home; it is now occupied by Israeli Jews.”
My heart aches. I say, why are our memories so short? Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions? Have they forgotten that God cares deeply about the downtrodden?
Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won’t let ambulances reach the injured.
The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred.
Israel has three options: revert to the previous stalemated situation; exterminate all Palestinians; or – and I hope this will be the road taken – to strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by side with Israel, both with secure borders.
We in South Africa had a relatively peaceful transition. If our madness could end as it did, it must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. South Africa is a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land.
My brother Naim Ateek has said what we used to say: “I am not pro- this people or that. I am pro-justice, pro-freedom. I am anti-injustice, anti-oppression.”
But you know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the U.S.], and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic, as if the Palestinians were not Semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group. And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the apartheid government on security measures?
People are scared in this country [the U.S.] to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? This is God’s world. For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosovic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.
Injustice and oppression will never prevail. Those who are powerful have to remember the litmus test that God gives to the powerful: What is your treatment of the poor, the hungry, the voiceless? And on the basis of that, God passes judgment.
We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible. We will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God’s dream, and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers.



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I and I

posted October 9, 2007 at 9:02 am


Why did this conversation about Desmond Tutu, and so many other conversations on this blog, get turned into a conversation about Kevin?
Alu, thanks for reprinting the speech.



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squeaky

posted October 9, 2007 at 9:11 am


Sheesh, Kevin.
“And if people like me raise their voice in opposition, you can just shove Tim LaHaye and his band of morons down my throat. Because I lack the exegetical savvy to discern between the Biblical nation of Israel and the secular nation of Israel.
I’m just an eschatologically obsessed nutjob who wears a tinfoil hat and keeps a countdown clock in his basement, waiving his hands in the air and praying for the rapture so I can say “I told you so,” at that exquisite moment when the naysayers are condemned to hell. That must be it.”
You act like I attacked you, and I didn’t. calm down, son, calm down.



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Moderatelad

posted October 9, 2007 at 9:38 am


Tutu is one person that I would really like to go hear. I have several friends from SA that have a lot of respect for him. That is has compaired someone or something to ‘Hitler’ puts him in good company with many who write on this site. I find it laughable that they quote the ‘City Pages’ in this article – talk about a ‘rag’ of a newspaper. They are now known for their indepth reporting. If anything they are one of the most agenda driven rags in the midwest. Good revues on dining.
Blessings –
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:17 am


Let me offer another hypothesis for at least part of the recent flap over Tutu.
As we know, the Reagan Administration was a staunch supporter of the apartheid government in South Africa and deemed anyone who opposed it as “Communist.” Well, now that apartheid is gone — thank God, literally — and the country never spiraled into a haven for Marxism it proved an embarrassment for the political right, which has never mentioned it since. And since Tutu was part of said opposition, I often wonder if some of that residual resentment still exists.



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kevin s.

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:19 am


“You act like I attacked you, and I didn’t. calm down, son, calm down.”
I’m being sarcastic. Dismissing Christians who support Israel as wanting to bring about the apocalypse is a means of dodging the argument.
“Is it not possible to be anti-injustice without being anti-Semitic?”
Yes. He is even entitled to his opinion that Israel is an oppressive occupier, even though that opinion is absurd.
“Still, this is a valid observation – and he doesn’t ignore Palestinian violence.”
Yes, in the process of bashing Israel, he does first add the requisite “while I do not condone Palestinian suicide bombings…” type line. That is about as close to ignoring as one can get without being dismissed entirely, but you are technically correct.
“People like Bishop Desmond Tutu say it as they see it. Period.”
That was actually my point. This wasn’t a misunderstanding or an unintended slight, but a choreographed assault.
“Truth is, you may not like it but, as he would say, “so what?” Political correctness is not a minimum requirement for prophets of any age, is it?”
No it is not. Correctness, however, is absolutely the minimum requirement. If he wants to make these comparisons, he can stand by them, from a prophetic standpoint. History will not be kind to the viewpoint that supporters of Israel are akin to Hitler.
Either way, I don’t see how the denial of an opportunity to speak at a college constitutes an injustice in this scenario. He used “less than sensitive” language about the Jewish people at a time when the Catholic church is trying to heal wounds between itself and the Jewish people. As such, a Catholic University decided not to invite him.



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kevin s.

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:26 am


“As we know, the Reagan Administration was a staunch supporter of the apartheid government in South Africa”
He called for an end to Apartheid, which renders the rest of what you say irrelevant. It certainly has nothing to do with St. Thomas’s reason for not inviting Tutu.



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squeaky

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:47 am


“I’m being sarcastic. Dismissing Christians who support Israel as wanting to bring about the apocalypse is a means of dodging the argument. ”
I never did this, nor did I say it. So why did you bring it up in your response to me? You don’t appreciate it when people put words in your mouth, so don’t do it to me. I don’t appreciate it either.
“He is even entitled to his opinion that Israel is an oppressive occupier, even though that opinion is absurd.”
I guess it is OK to kick people out of their homes so that other people can live in them, then. These actions are on par with the actions of Nazi Germany. I guess it is OK, though, when we agree with the political objective. Tutu is saying it is never OK, no matter who does it.
The Palestinians have done horrible things against Israel. No one is arguing that. However, we have all heard of the injustices committed by the Israeli army against the Palestinian people–injustices that rob them of their dignity, and add fuel to the Palestinian cause. Are you saying all that is OK? Are you saying the Palestinian cause is always wrong and the Israeli cause is always right?



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 11:04 am


He called for an end to Apartheid, which renders the rest of what you say irrelevant.
For all practical purposes, no, he did not. In fact, he did his level best to subvert anti-apartheid activists, calling for the nonsense that was called “constructive engagement” and signed an executive order requiring divestment only because conservative activists in his party who opposed it would have suffered a crushing defeat in Congress otherwise. So don’t even go there.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 11:08 am


History will not be kind to the viewpoint that supporters of Israel are akin to Hitler.
Tutu never said that, however — and you know this.



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neuro_nurse

posted October 9, 2007 at 11:52 am


Slightly off-topic, but not a complete non sequitur:
Rare Iranian Protest Targets Ahmadinejad
ALI AKBAR DAREINI, 10/8/07
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — “An estimated 100 students staged a rare demonstration Monday against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling him a “dictator” and scuffling with hardline students at Tehran University.
“Ahmadinejad, who was giving a speech to a select group at the university to mark the beginning of the academic year, ignored the chants of “death to the dictator” and continued with his speech on the merits of science and the pitfalls of Western-style democracy, witnesses said.
“The president faced a similar outburst during a speech last December when students at Amir Kabir Technical University called Ahmadinejad a dictator and set fire to his picture.
“Hoping to avoid a similar disturbance Monday, organizers imposed tight security measures, checking the identity papers of all students entering the university and allowing only selected students into the hall. But the protesters were somehow able to gain entrance.”



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Jeff

posted October 9, 2007 at 12:31 pm


Allison inaccurately says that St. Thomas refuses to let Tutu speak. In reality they did not offer him an invitation. St. Thomas is a private university and can invite anyone it chooses to speak to their students and staff.
With that being said, I think they should have invited him. If he holds some views that are contrary to the University’s, then openly challenge them.
Jeff



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N.M. Rod

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:08 pm


Most of the people now against Tutu were against him when P.W. Botha still ruled apartheid South Africa.
Israel was the only nation in the end to maintain relations with and sell military equipment to South Africa while the rest of the world adopted sanctions. Perhaps evaluation of the suffering Tutu witnessed because of Israeli support for the apartheid regime should soften some of the evaluations used against him.
I’ve just been reading Ronald Reagan’s presidential diaries, and even he had trouble with the viciousness of Israel’s attacks in Lebanon, and he wrote that Israel constantly misused US military hardware in contravention of agreements that it was only meant for domestic use.
The U.S. Israel Lobby, until recently thoroughly partisan to the Democratic Party, did their utmost to brand Reagan anti-semitic when it pleased them to do so in furtherance of Israel’s policies, and he had to threaten bad US relations to get the Israeli PM of the day to stop bombing Lebanese civilians. When Reagan visited German cemetaries, the “Hitler” card was used against him, too.
This, despite Reagan withholding a visa for Arafat to attend the UN until he accepted Israel’s right to exist.
What motivated Hitler was belief in his own ethnic group’s racial superiority. Hitler was not a monster; he was thoroughly human. The same belief in our own group’s superiority has plagued all of mankind and served as justification for atrocities of all against all over the millenia. How do you think American Indians were removed from the land we occupy? The modern term is ethnic cleansing. How do you think black slavery was justified?
Can Christians participate in these sorts of things? I recently saw videos and photos of Catholic and Protestants in Germany giving the Nazi salute, and most supported their leader at the time. Southern Baptists saw nothing really wrong with slavery until 1995. No restitution has been made to American Indians, either.
What was within Hitler can germinate within ourselves, too, if we aren’t vigilant to following Jesus’ command to love our enemies, for it seems we have so very many of them, and so few neighbors after all.



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mark

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:18 pm


Kevin:
Essentially, what you have just said is that prominence outranks virtue. It is not my racism that prevents me from being invited, but my profile. Isn’t that what this is all about?
Not at all.
Unlike most celebs, Desmond Tutu came by his profile honestly, by putting himself on the line in a very difficult situation. He has shown us (imperfectly but powerfully) what it is to follow Christ when under oppression.
Because of that, he has a right to be heard when he makes observations about the nature of oppression, and gives examples of where it is happening. He may not always be 100% right in his judgment, but his experience – not his profile – means that anything he says on the subject should be weighed carefully. The same would go for – for example – a former BOSS victim that nobody has heard of and who has forgiven his torturers.
You, Kevin, also have a right to be heard – but so far as I know you have not been directly involved in the nonviolent liberation of your people or anyone else’s people from oppression. [If you have, then I change my mind – I would want to go and hear you.] It is for that reason, and not any other, that I would be less interested in what you had to say.
Oh, and as for “nebbish” (whatever that means) accusations of racism, I make no such accusations – I would have to gather evidence to determine whether to do so or not, and I have better things to do with my time. My point is that, by the same sort of twisted logic which designates criticism of an over-powerful rightwing Israeli expansionist lobby in Washington as “antisemitic”, someone who (on grounds of national security or whatever) justifies discriminatory policies against the Palestinian people and offensive military actions against Israel’s neighbours could easily be described as racist. Spin is a dangerous thing, Kevin – it can be used both ways…..
Mark



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N.M. Rod

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:28 pm


In regards to Reagan’s “constructive engagement” policy with apartheid South Africa, it is worth noting that in his diaries he chronicles how he personally lobbied Botha to not execute 6 or 7 protesters who had been sentenced to death for merely participating in an anti-apartheid demonstration in which South African policemen died and who had not participated in violence themselves.
Many others were against this injustice as well, but Reagan did use his personal voice and contact in order to call personally in order to get Botha to stop the executions.



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kevin s.

posted October 9, 2007 at 1:49 pm


“Tutu never said that, however — and you know this.”
I have it in quotes. I know for a fact that he said it.
“For all practical purposes, no, he did not.”
He literally did. But yes, he also opposed communists.
“Oh, and as for “nebbish” (whatever that means)”
Nebbish in this context means weak and ineffectual.
“I never did this, nor did I say it. So why did you bring it up in your response to me?”
I was on a roll.
“Are you saying all that is OK? Are you saying the Palestinian cause is always wrong and the Israeli cause is always right?”
No. However, it is vital to examine who is waging war here. If the Palestinians wanted peace, they would have it. They were offered it more than a decade ago. If Israel wants peace, well, there is no guarantee. Those are two different paradigms. To pretend that we can view conflict through the Israeli lens the same way we view Nazi actions is offensive.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:08 pm


“Tutu never said that, however — and you know this.”
I have it in quotes. I know for a fact that he said it.
Then let’s have it — with the appropriate context. (I know not to trust you with isolated quotations.)
To pretend that we can view conflict through the Israeli lens the same way we view Nazi actions is offensive.
For reasons already mentioned, that may not be the case. The reality is that most Arabs perceive the West collectively as a bully and Israel as its agent, for some good historical reasons.



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Screwtape

posted October 9, 2007 at 2:26 pm


Very nice job, all of you. Keep arguing amongst yourselves (getting puffed-up and acid-tongued in the process) about an issue that is of such eternal insignificance. I like that…don’t steer any of this energy towards anything requiring real action.



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Hali

posted October 9, 2007 at 5:48 pm


Alu, thank you so much for posting Bishop Tutu’s entire speech. From the beginning, I seriously doubted that those who claimed that he compared Israel to Hitler had read the speech. (Kevin S. reads things with a pre-conceived purpose and interprets them accordingly; I believe he means well, but he has trouble seeing.)



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neuro_nurse

posted October 9, 2007 at 6:15 pm


Screwtape,
Have you ever read Mark Twain’s “Letters From The Earth”?



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 9, 2007 at 6:54 pm


For all practical purposes, no, he did not. In fact, he did his level best to subvert anti-apartheid activists, calling for the nonsense that was called “constructive engagement” and signed an executive order requiring divestment only because conservative activists in his party who opposed it would have suffered a crushing defeat in Congress otherwise. So don’t even go there.
Posted by: Rick Nowlin
What you said is all based on a perspective that is based an incoherent ability to make a distinction with reality and your own prejudice . I went there .



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kevin s.

posted October 9, 2007 at 7:15 pm


“(Kevin S. reads things with a pre-conceived purpose and interprets them accordingly; I believe he means well, but he has trouble seeing.)”
Of course. Now I see. When Desmond Tutu said that the Jewish lobby is powerful, but so was Hitler, he simply meant to point out that sometimes powerful things go away. The next time I give a euology, perhaps I should note that the body of the deceased was but a fleshly hull, not unlike Hitler’s. This would be entirely appropriate.
“Then let’s have it — with the appropriate context. (I know not to trust you with isolated quotations.)”
Actually, I provided the the context for Squeaky’s partial evoking of the quote. The whole letter is reprinted. An entire paragraph is sufficient context here.
“For reasons already mentioned, that may not be the case. The reality is that most Arabs perceive the West collectively as a bully and Israel as its agent, for some good historical reasons.”
You leap back and forth between defending the link between Hitler and Israel (sorry, the “Jewish lobby”) and pretending that Tutu made no such link. If Arabs perceive Israel to be akin to the third Reich, it is only because they have been fed propganda by their media and their governments. There is no reasonable comparison.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 9, 2007 at 9:31 pm


(Kevin S. reads things with a pre-conceived purpose and interprets them accordingly
LOL , that made my day coming from you Hali .



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:15 pm


What you said is all based on a perspective that is based an incoherent ability to make a distinction with reality and your own prejudice. I went there.
Nuts — what you just said represents complete denial. The actual facts are as I gave them, and if you can’t handle them … well, I can’t help you. It wasn’t for no reason that Tutu once said, “The West can go to hell.”



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:27 pm


If Arabs perceive Israel to be akin to the third Reich, it is only because they have been fed propaganda by their media and their governments. There is no reasonable comparison.
There’s nice little river in northeast Africa that succintly describes that last statement. Perhaps you should talk to Palestinian Christians sometime, to learn a part of the story you just won’t admit to.



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Krist

posted October 9, 2007 at 10:42 pm


Oh boy, Kevin—where do I start with you? First of all, it does not matter one whit what Reagan SAID in order to get his sound bites, but what he DID behind the scenes in order to support an apartheid government. If you think that those claiming that he was are in error, then please come up with some facts to that affect, rather than more rhetoric.
And I must reiterate what everyone ELSE has been saying on this blog—Bishop Tutu was attempting to illustrate the fact that all oppressive regimes will eventually have to answer to God—he juxtaposed the Nazis against the government of Israel to emphasize the fact that accountability is universal, and not limited only to governments that most people no longer agree with. You are using this one simple statement as a launching pad to go on one of your screaming neemies about something you don’t agree with. Claiming that a man who has striven tirelessly to combat injustice and to work for peace has such a small agenda as to bash Israel is ludicrous.
I agree with whoever said that I would wish that if you were speaking at a college that you would not be censored, as you have as much right to voice your opinion as anyone, but I have just as much right to point out where I believe you are in error and repeating the same tiresome statements over and over again. Wake up!



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neuro_nurse

posted October 9, 2007 at 11:56 pm


Rick Nowlin,
Denial is not a river in Africa!



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canucklehead

posted October 10, 2007 at 12:22 pm


I ain’t lovin’ Neuro_Nurse until he acknowledges that for God so loved the world, He waited until the 16th century to fully reveal the truth once for all delivered to the saints.



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kevin s.

posted October 10, 2007 at 1:21 pm


“There’s nice little river in northeast Africa that succintly describes that last statement. Perhaps you should talk to Palestinian Christians sometime, to learn a part of the story you just won’t admit to.”
There are two sides to this story. There is no doubt about that. Comparing Israel to the Third Reich is insane.
“Oh boy, Kevin—where do I start with you?”
With a healthy dose of condescenscion, apparently.
“First of all, it does not matter one whit what Reagan SAID in order to get his sound bites, but what he DID behind the scenes in order to support an apartheid government.”
It absolutely matters what he said if you are making the case the conservatives in general dislike Tutu because Tutu opposed Apartheid. Reagan did not advocate apartheid at all, but (as I mentioned above) it was also necessary to formulate a policy that battled the communist threat.
“And I must reiterate what everyone ELSE has been saying on this blog”
It’s not everyone else. There are plenty of people who recognized the comparison. Even Allison concedes that his words were “less than sensitive”. Why do you suppose they were less than sensitive? Maybe because they compared the “Jewish lobby” to Hitler?
“Bishop Tutu was attempting to illustrate the fact that all oppressive regimes will eventually have to answer to God”
And used Hitler as an example of such a regime. This is how you make a comparison. You say what something is like, and then find something else with similar attributes. That’s what comparing is.
“he juxtaposed the Nazis against the government of Israel to emphasize the fact that accountability is universal”
Do you know what juxtaposition is, and why it is used?
“You are using this one simple statement as a launching pad to go on one of your screaming neemies about something you don’t agree with.”
Apparently, the statement is incredibly complicated, with juxtapositions that somehow aren’t utilized to comparative ends, broad commentaries on the nature of evil, and what it means to oppress. Incidentally, your post is a bit screamy as well.
“Claiming that a man who has striven tirelessly to combat injustice and to work for peace has such a small agenda as to bash Israel is ludicrous.”
Why is it ludicrous? He fought apartheid, which was noble. He has some disturbing views as it relates to Israel. That is less noble. Many people have done amazing things while adhering to strange philosphies, worldviews, and opinions.
“Wake up!”
I’m wide awake on this one.



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Rick Nowlin

posted October 10, 2007 at 2:39 pm


There are two sides to this story. There is no doubt about that. Comparing Israel to the Third Reich is insane.
The other posters’ comments stand.
It absolutely matters what he said if you are making the case the conservatives in general dislike Tutu because Tutu opposed Apartheid. Reagan did not advocate apartheid at all, but (as I mentioned above) it was also necessary to formulate a policy that battled the communist threat.
There would have been no communist threat if they had done the right thing beforehand, so I consider that an excuse — and a poor one at that. Even Jerry Falwell said that apartheid was preferable to communism, which made him a lot of critics.



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neuro_nurse

posted October 10, 2007 at 4:41 pm


Hey canucklehead,
I still love you anyway.
We can’t put you up, but the next time you get to New Orleans, we’ll have dinner waiting for you.



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Hali

posted October 10, 2007 at 8:12 pm


Good News!
From Jewish Voice for Peace:
“We have just learned that the president of the University of St. Thomas acknowledged he made the wrong decision and invited Archbishop Tutu to campus!
Your letters worked! Thanks to you, we generated over 2,700 letters of protest. Please support our work.
With your help, we kept the issue on the news and the editorial pages of a number of local, national, and international newspapers (see a partial list below), including an op-ed published today by JVP’s Cecilie Surasky and Mitchell Plitnick. This op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune finally demolishes the myth that Tutu compared Israel to Hitler, putting the libel to rest in an American paper for the first time.
The Anti-Defamation League came out with a statement yesterday in support of Archbishop Tutu. After an exchange of letters between JVP and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), which mistakenly attributed the false quote to Tutu, the JTA reported today that the Zionist Organization of America incorrectly quoted Archbishop Desmond Tutu as comparing Israel to Hitler and apartheid, despite the ZOA’s protests to the contrary.
At the same time, eighteen member’s of the university’s law faculty released a letter urging the university to reissue the invitation.
Help us to continue doing our work.
With your help, Jewish Voice for Peace spearheaded a true voice of reason—a voice of Jews and allies that oppose censorship and will not stand idle when people of conscience are falsely called anti-Semitic simply for opposing the policies of the Israeli occupation. Help us to continue doing our work.
Thanks!”



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canucklehead

posted October 10, 2007 at 9:36 pm


Hey Moderator – put Neuro_Nurse’s insult of me back up, wouldja? Here in Canada, we have this thing called freedom of speech that we borrowed from some other country – Azerbajahoohoo, I think.
So, cooperate, ok, or we’ll send the Canuck army to take D.C., just like we took North Dakota last weekend.



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Moderatelad

posted October 11, 2007 at 8:49 am


Posted by: canucklehead | October 10, 2007 9:36 PM
You don’t want DC – take South Dakota, it has more to offer. (tee hee)
Blessings –
.
ps. I love it when neuro_nurse takes me to task – he keeps me honest and causes me to think from another perspective.



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Moderatelad

posted October 11, 2007 at 8:56 am


Rumor has it that Tutu will be in St Paul to speek. I am hoping to free up the time and go hear him. I might even see if my SA friend wants to go with me.
Blessings –
.



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neuro_nurse

posted October 11, 2007 at 3:52 pm


canucklehead,
It wasn’t an insult – and I see that my comment about removing my response was removed too.
Moderatelad, you kevin s., wolverine, and even Donny have your disagreements with me, but in general, I have found our dialog to be respectful and enjoyable – and yes, even you canucklehead.
Donny may post things I find offensive, but he has never attacked me as an individual.
The tone on this blog these last few days has turned nasty (for which I feel none of you are at fault), and the moderator has gotten too free and easy with removing rather inoccuous posts, while leaving some of the more vicious attacks up (pardon me, I’m working without a spell-checker).
I think I’m going to take a little time out until it’s safe to go back in the blog.
Peace!



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N.M. Rod

posted October 11, 2007 at 7:18 pm


If someone has a post that violates the rules of conduct, rather than demanding it be reposted, why not just revise it to remove the insults, and repost it?
Demanding there be no rules of conduct apparently virtually guarantees that any forum will become debased and dominated to the extent that it becomes worthless.
Demanding special dispensation for some to violate these rules, while not for others, isn’t the answer.
Those who simply want to spew or vent hatred are free, after all, to spend the time, effort and money to create their own forum.



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