TUTU, Desmond. Anti-Apartheid Nobel Laureate slams Israeli Apartheid policies

Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born 7 October 1931) is a South African activist who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of Apartheid.  In 1984, Tutu became the second South African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Tutu was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town  and primate of the Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa.  Tutu chaired the post-Apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  Tutu is vocal in his defence of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. Tutu also campaigns to fight disease, poverty and racism. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Tutu ).

1. Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Occupation, Apartheid and Divestment from Apartheid Israel (2002): “The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure-- in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.

Divestment from apartheid South Africa was fought by ordinary people at the grassroots. Faith-based leaders informed their followers, union members pressured their companies' stockholders and consumers questioned their store owners. Students played an especially important role by compelling universities to change their portfolios. Eventually, institutions pulled the financial plug, and the South African government thought twice about its policies.

Similar moral and financial pressures on Israel are being mustered one person at a time. Students on more than forty campuses in the U.S. are demanding a review of university investments in Israeli companies as well as in firms doing major business in Israel. From Berkeley to Ann Arbor, city councils have debated municipal divestment measures.

These tactics are not the only parallels to the struggle against apartheid. Yesterday's South African township dwellers can tell you about today's life in the Occupied Territories. To travel only blocks in his own homeland, a grandfather waits on the whim of a teenage soldier. More than an emergency is needed to get to a hospital; less than a crime earns a trip to jail. The lucky ones have a permit to leave their squalor to work in Israel's cities, but their luck runs out when security closes all checkpoints, paralyzing an entire people. The indignities, dependence and anger are all too familiar.

Many South Africans are beginning to recognize the parallels to what we went through. Ronnie Kasrils and Max Ozinsky, two Jewish heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle, recently published a letter titled "Not in My Name." Signed by several hundred other prominent Jewish South Africans, the letter drew an explicit analogy between apartheid and current Israeli policies. Mark Mathabane and Nelson Mandela have also pointed out the relevance of the South African experience.” [1].

2. South African Nobel Laureate and celebrated anti-apartheid activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Apartheid Israeli occupation and anti-Apartheid Israel divestment (2002): “the end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure– in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s…a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation…if apartheid ended, so can this occupation, but the moral force and international pressure will have to be just as determined. The current divestment effort is the first, though certainly not the only, necessary move in that direction.” [1, 2].

3. Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu  advocating Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against an Apartheid Israel (2012): “The Jewish Holocaust, engineered and implemented primarily by Europeans, gave some ideologues within the Jewish and Christian community an excuse to implement plans that were in the making for at least 50 years, under the rubric of exceptional Jewish security. In this way began the immense oppression of the Palestinian people, who were not at all involved in the Holocaust. Not only is this group of people being oppressed more than the apartheid ideologues could ever dream about in South Africa, their very identity and history are being denied and obfuscated. What is worse, is that Europe and the USA are refusing to take responsibility for their actions with regard to both the Holocaust and the over-empowering of the Israelis, their disregard for the international conventions and regulatory framework of the nuclear industry and their continued oppression of the Palestinian people. But God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, neither slumbers nor sleeps. Prophetic voices have been calling this empowered people who were once oppressed and killed, to their deepest values of justice and compassion, but they have refused to listen even to the most reasonable voices. The human community cannot be silent in the face of the gross injustice being meted out to the people of Palestine. If international courts and governments refuse to deal with this matter, we in the churches and in the rest of civil society really have no choice but to act in small ways and big ways. God is busy doing a new thing. And God is using all of us to be partners with him. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians have to be liberated, but at this stage the greater onus is on the Israelis since they are the ones who are in power, economically, politically and militarily. We have to think about ways that will allow them to reflect deeply on what it is that they are doing and bring them back from the brink, not out of spite or revenge, but because we love them deeply. I therefore wholeheartedly support your action to disinvest from companies who benefit from the Occupation of Palestine. This is a moral position that I have no choice but to support, especially since I know of the effect that Boycotts, Disinvestment and Sanctions had on the apartheid regime in South Africa. May God bless your conference as you deliberate on this matter, and I pray that your decision will reflect the best values of the human family as we stand in solidarity with the oppressed. God bless you. Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu Cape Town, South Africa.” [3].

4. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in support of  BDS against Apartheid Israel (2012): “ Black South Africans and others around the world have seen the 2010 Human Rights Watch report which "describes the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians." This, in my book, is apartheid. It is untenable. And we are in desperate need of more rabbis joining the brave rabbis of Jewish Voice for Peace in speaking forthrightly about the corrupting decadeslong Israeli domination over Palestinians.

These are among the hardest words I have ever written. But they are vitally important. Not only is Israel harming Palestinians, but it is harming itself. The 1,200 rabbis may not like what I have to say, but it is long past time for them to remove the blinders from their eyes and grapple with the reality that Israel becoming an apartheid state or like South Africa in its denial of equal rights is not a future danger, as three former Israeli prime ministers — Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and David Ben Gurion — have warned, but a present-day reality. This harsh reality endured by millions of Palestinians requires people and organizations of conscience to divest from those companies — in this instance, from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard — profiting from the occupation and subjugation of Palestinians.

Such action made an enormous difference in apartheid South Africa. It can make an enormous difference in creating a future of justice and equality for Palestinians and Jews in the Holy Land.” [4].


[1]. Desmond Tutu, “Of Occupation and Apartheid. Do I divest?”, Counterpunch, 17 October 2002:



[2]. Archbishop Desmond Tutu quoted by the Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACB), “Open letter to Bono : entertaining Apartheid Israel… U2 Bono?”, International Solidarity Movement, 13 January 2010: http://palsolidarity.org/2010/01/10627 .

[3]. Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Letter to “Sear Friends of the United Methodist Church”, 26 April 2012, quoted by Friends of Palestinian and Israelis (FPI): http://friendsofpalestiniansandisraelis.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/christians-get-their-story-out-to-world.html .

[4]. Desmond Tutu, “Justice requires action to stop subjugation of Palestinians”, Tehran Times, 5 May 2012: http://www.tehrantimes.com/component/content/article/84-perspectives/97555-justice-requires-action-to-stop-subjugation-of-palestinians- .