The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has opposed Anti-Defamation League National Director, Abraham Foxman, advocating extending a platform to former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has compared Israel to the worst evil regimes on Earth, including that of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Apartheid and called Zionism racism.
In a 2002 speech in Boston, Tutu stated, according to the complete, unabridged transcript of his speech (which can viewed here) that
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, 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.
In the same speech, Tutu also explicitly compared Israel to apartheid — Ive 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.
Tutu also used the anti-Semitic canard of asserting that the pro-Israeli lobby, because it is very powerful exerts an undue, malign influence that stifles debate — People are scared in this country [the U.S.], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful–very powerful.
Tutu accused Jews of smearing critics of Israel as being anti-Semites — 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.
Other statements by Tutu on Israel and Jews:
- Zionism Is Racism: Tutu has claimed that Zionism has very many parallels with racism. (American Jewish Year Book 1988, p.50)
- Jewish Arrogance: Tutu accused Jews of exhibiting an arrogancethe 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 Centers Response magazine, January 1990).
- During the 1989 visit to Israel, Tutu remarked If Im accused of being antisemitic, tough luck, and in response to questions about his anti-Jewish bias, Tutu replied, My dentists name is Dr. Cohen. (Simon Wiesenthal Centers Response magazine, January 1990)
- 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 G-d; 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 Centers 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)
Recently, Tutu was invited to speak at the Minnesotas University of St Thomas but its President, Father Dennis Dease, rescinded the invitation when Tutus record of virulent anti-Israel words and actions were brought to his attention. At this point, the Anti-Defamation Leagues Abraham Foxman urged Dease to reinstate the invitation to Tutu. Foxman wrote to Dease that, While Archbishop Tutu is not a friend of Israel, we do not believe he is an anti-Semite. As you rightly point out in your letter, his words have often stung the Jewish community. However, while he may at times have crossed the line, we believe that he should have been permitted to speak on your campus.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We are disappointed at Abraham Foxmans action in urging Father Dease to reconsider reinviting Desmond Tutu, someone who, as the record recounted above clearly shows, has relentlessly demonized and defamed Israel and American Jewish supporters of Israel and who has made offensive statements about Jews and Judaism. Mr. Foxman himself says that Tutu has crossed the line. Clearly this means that he crossed into either anti-Semitism or venal hatred of Israel and Jews? Why come to Tutus aid?
It is remarkable that when I publicly criticized the appointment of John Roth to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and criticized New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman for their harsh and hostile writings about Israel, Mr. Foxman called me the attack dog of the Jewish thought police. Here, however, where Tutu has made truly ugly attacks on Israel and its supporters, not on Israels defamers as I had, I dont see him describing Tutu as the attack dog of the Palestinian thought police. He ratchets it down several notches by referring to Tutu as having stung the Jewish community. As head of the Anti-Defamation League, Mr. Foxman is supposed to be fighting those who defame Israel and Jews, not helping them retain speaking engagements.
Free speech and First Amendment rights do not require that a platform be given by a university, church, synagogue or any organization to anyone to express their views. Free speech under the Constitution allows people to express their views by distributing leaflets or posters or magazines or writing newsletters or newspapers, or by speaking at street corners or in a park. It does not confer an obligation on everyone to provide a platform to anyone else. If a newspaper, for example, refuses to publish a piece by Abe Foxman on its opinion page, is that a denial of his right to free speech? If the University of St Thomas would refuse to give a platform to Abe Foxman, is that denial of his free speech? The answer is no in both cases.
This being the case, it was certainly inappropriate and mystifying that Mr. Foxman of all people urged the University of St Thomas in Minnesota to reinstate its invitation to Tutu. Mr. Foxman should not be advocating that a platform be given to any individual who compares Israel to evil regimes; who uses anti-Semitic canards about undue Jewish power; who compares Israel to Apartheid and Zionism to racism; or who claims that Jews monopolize the Holocaust, the unique Nazi attempt to physically eliminate an entire people, the Jewish people. Having been an opponent of apartheid does not confer immunity on Tutu to make bigoted and offensive remarks about other racial and religious groups.
Put simply, the Anti-Defamation League should not be helping Tutu to potentially spread his venom. Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League should be fighting those who defame Israel, not helping them in any way.
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.