New York Various newspapers have criticized the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) for having falsely accused former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu of having compared Israel to the worst evil regimes on Earth, including that of Hitler, Stalin and Apartheid, in a 2002 speech. These criticisms are incorrect. On April 13, 2002, Tutu delivered an address at the Old South Church, Boston, to the Friends of Sabeel North Americas conference, (a body whose leaders say that Israelis are crucifying Arabs like the Jews did Jesus). The complete, unabridged transcript of Tutus speech, (which can be viewed here) demonstrates that Tutu did compare Israel to these most evil regimes.
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 … The Apartheid government was very powerful, but we said to them: Watch it! If you flout the laws of this universe, youre 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 Gods 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 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.
Yet, in an editorial, the Forward newspaper (10/12) claimed that an examination of Tutus actual remarks showed that Tutu did not compare “Israel to Hitler and that therefore the ZOA misrepresented Tutus speech by falsely claiming that he made a comparison between Israel and Hitler. The Forward concluded that Tutus speech was not even remotely anti-Semitic and unexceptionable. In fact, however, the Forward based its editorial on an incomplete, abridged transcript of his speech from the British Guardian (to which it provided a link) that omits key passages, including the underlined one that specifically refers to Israel in the context of the worst evil regimes on Earth.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, It is clear, if one peruses the full text of Tutus 2002 speech, that he very explicitly was making a comparison between Israel and Hitler, Stalin and Apartheid. The Forward has based its comments on incomplete knowledge and research into what Tutu actually said and criticized the ZOA on that basis. We respectfully urge the Forward to retract its mistaken statement and set the record straight.
The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897, is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, educates the American public and Congress about the dangers that Israel faces, and combats anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses. Its past presidents have included Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver.