JTA Misrepresents ZOA Statements On Tutu
October 10, 2007

New York – On April 29, 2002, the Zionist Organization of America issued a press release protesting South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s constant condemnation of Israel and Jews in every imaginable way, while ignoring the calls to murder and hatred against Jews and Israel by the Palestinian Authority’s TV, radio, textbooks, children’s camps and sermons by leading Muslim sheikhs.

In this press release, we listed a number of exact Tutu quotes from Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, Simon Wiesenthal Center, American Jewish Yearbook, South African Zionist Record, and even the JTA. We prefaced each exact Tutu quote with an encapsulation of the quote (summarizing the theme of the quote) followed by a colon, followed by the exact quote.

In addition to putting quotes around the Tutu quote, we inadvertently and mistakenly and unintentionally placed our encapsulated summary phrase in quotes. It may even have been a typo. We will immediately make corrections on our ZOA web site (zoa.org).

In an article on October 10, 2007, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) claimed that ZOA “defended…incorrect quotes” of “Archbishop Desmond Tutu” and further stated that certain Tutu “quotes” didn’t “appear in the report from Ha’aretz.” But, in fact, the quotes we cited from Ha’aretz did appear there — only our encapsulated summary quote didn’t appear there. But the JTA never said that.

The following are the Tutu quotes section of the press release. The only change is the deletion of quote notations from the encapsulated phrase:

The Israeli daily Ha’aretz (April 29, 2002), reporting Tutu’s remarks at a recent conference in Boston, quoted him as saying:


  • Israel is like Hitler and apartheid: “I’ve been deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people 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 … “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? … The Apartheid government was very powerful, but we said to them: Watch it! If you flout the laws of this universe, you’re going to bite the dust! (applause) Hitler was powerful. Mussolini was powerful. Stalin was powerful. Idi Amin was powerful. Pinochet was powerful. The Apartheid government were powerful. Milosevic was powerful. But, this is God’s world. A lie, injustice, oppression, those will never prevail in the world of this God. That is what we told our people. And we used to say: those ones, they have already lost, they are, they are going to bite the dust one day. We may not be around. An unjust Israeli government, however, powerful will fall in the world of this kind of God.”

  • The Jewish lobby is very powerful: “People are scared in this country [the U.S.], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful–very powerful.”

  • Critics of Israel are being smeared: “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 Palestinians were not Semitic.”

The ZOA points out that Tutu’s latest anti-Jewish and anti-Israel outburst is consistent with his other comments about Jews and Israel over the years, including:


  • Jewish Arrogance: Tutu accused Jews of exhibiting “an arrogance–the arrogance of power because Jews are a powerful lobby in this land and all kinds of people woo their support,”(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Daily News Bulletin, Nov. 29, 1984)

  • Jewish Monopoly of the Holocaust: Tutu complained about “the Jewish monopoly of the Holocaust.” (Jerusalem Post, July 26, 1985)

  • Forgive the Nazis: During his 1989 visit to Israel, Tutu “urged Israelis to forgive the Nazis for the Holocaust” (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 31, 1989), a statement which the Simon Wiesenthal Center called “a gratuitous insult to Jews and victims of Nazism everywhere.” (Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Response magazine, January 1990)

  • During the 1989 visit to Israel, Tutu remarked “If I’m accused of being antisemitic, tough luck,” and in response to questions about his anti-Jewish bias, Tutu replied, “My dentist’s name is Dr. Cohen.” (Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Response magazine, January 1990)

  • Zionism Is Racism: Tutu has claimed that Zionism has “very many parallels with racism.” (American Jewish Year Book 1988, p.50)

  • Jews Thought They Had a Monopoly on G-d: Speaking in a Connecticut church in 1984, Tutu said that “the Jews thought they had a monopoly on God; Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings.” In the same speech, he compared the features of the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem to the features of the apartheid system in South Africa. (Hartford Courant, Oct. 29, 1984)

  • Palestine, Not Israel: In conversations during the 1980s with the Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Eliahu Lankin, Tutu “refused to call Israel by its name, he kept referring to it as Palestine.” (Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Response magazine, January 1990)

  • Jews Cause Refugees: Asked about the Zionism-is-racism resolution, Tutu complained that “the Jewish people with their traditions, religion and long history of persecution sometimes appear to have caused a refugee problem among others.” (South African Zionist Record, July 26, 1985)

ZOA president Klein urged all Jewish leaders and organizations that supported Archbishop Tutu’s fight against apartheid to speak out publicly against Tutu’s anti-Jewish and anti-Israel slurs.


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