The media mostly omits the late Desmond Tutu's anti-Semitism

Gianluigi Guercia / AFP via Getty Images Desmond Tutu , the eminent archbishop, passed away sunday at the age of 90. While his legac...


Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and South African Icon

Gianluigi Guercia / AFP via Getty Images

Desmond Tutu, the eminent archbishop, passed away sunday at the age of 90. While his legacy in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa has been rightly publicized in media coverage of his death, his story of disturbing comments about Jews has been mostly overlooked.

Points of sale including The Associated Press, NBC News, the bbc, NPR, and CBS News omitted any mention of Tutu’s comments. These and other outlets also failed to mention that the Support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS against Israel. BDS is anti-Semitic, according to the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee.

Tutu also downplayed and distorted the memory of the Holocaust. He said once that the “gas chambers” during the Holocaust caused “a sharper death” than South Africa’s apartheid policies. Such rhetoric is anti-Semitic, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, whose working definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted by dozens of countries, including the United States.

In 1984, Tutu compared Israel to Nazi Germany by accuse the Jewish state of “collaboration” with the apartheid government of South Africa, which “implements policies so reminiscent of Hitler’s Aryan madness.” While Israel unfortunately had links with the apartheid regime, what was happening in South Africa, while immoral, was nothing close to the Holocaust, which, unlike apartheid South Africa, had camps of concentration and death. According to IHRA, “Making comparisons between contemporary Israeli policy and that of the Nazis” is an example of anti-Semitism.

In the same speech, Tutu double on remarks decried as anti-Semitic.

“I was immediately accused of being anti-Semitic,” he said. “I’m sad because I think it’s a sensitivity in this case that comes from an arrogance – the arrogance of power because the Jews are a powerful lobby in this country and all kinds of people are looking for their support.” To allege that there is, to paraphrase, “a Jewish lobby” echoes the anti-Semitic trope of Jews controlling institutions and the people.

He did similar comments in 2002.

” People are scared [America] to say that evil is evil, because the Jewish lobby is powerful, very powerful. Well, so what? Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin were all-powerful, but in the end they bit the dust, ”he said.

In 1989, at the Israel Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, Tutu noted that the Nazis should be forgiven for the Holocaust. “We pray for those who have done it, help us forgive them and help us so that we do not, in turn, make others suffer,” he said.

This Nobel Peace Prize laureate, rightly furious Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, who responded, “For anyone in Jerusalem, in Yad Vashem, to speak of forgiveness, in my opinion, would be a disturbing lack of sensitivity towards Jewish victims and their survivors. I hope this was not Bishop Tutu’s intention.

Yes, Tutu must be remembered as a central figure in the struggle against South African apartheid. However, his history of anti-Semitism should not be forgotten.

This is an opinion piece. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone.



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