Jewish Voices for a Just Peace condemns Archbishop Desmond Tutu being compared to Hitler
17 September 2014
We, South African Jewish Voices for a Just Peace (JVJP) refer to the op-ed article in the South African Jewish Report (SAJR) online dated 10 September 2014 in which chairperson of Likud SA, Leon Reich, compares Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, to Hitler and Stalin.
Given Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s history, international standing, Nobel peace prize and character as a struggle stalwart and one of the great and unwavering contemporary moral voices in this country and the world, as South African Jews we cannot emphasise enough how strongly we condemn the article and the position of its author.
We utterly reject the assumption that dissent from Zionism is equivalent to anti-Semitism. We also take issue with the article’s distorted and dishonest representation of the Palestinian solidarity movement as a movement invested in the ‘destruction of Jews’. This is an age-old myth that is perpetuated by the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and some Jews in order to maintain a siege mentality amongst Jews in South Africa. We are also offended by the tone of the so-called apology published by SAJR online. The apology is more concerned with the way in which the article may have offended some Jews with its reference to the Holocaust than it is with making amends to Tutu by offering a sincere and unequivocal apology, as would be fitting under the circumstances.
The reason that we speak out as Jews against this offensive article is that this attack on Tutu’s character was launched by a Jewish organisation, speaks to a Jewish audience, and frequently invokes the collective ‘we’ which assumes that the Jewish community is homogenous in its views. For this very reason, we feel that it is important to state that we will not sit in silence while hateful utterances such as these are said in the name of all South African Jews. As proud South African Jews, we reject the comparison of Archbishop Tutu to Hitler. This comparison is hate-speech, libelous and morally offensive. We also reject the petulant apology and call on the SAJR to immediately issue a sincere statement unequivocally apologizing to Tutu for the verbal and visual comparison to Hitler.
We are of the view that charges should be laid against Reich and that he should be prosecuted for libel.
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South African Jewish Voices for a Just Peace (JVJP) is a group of Jewish South Africans who recognise that the South African Jewish community is not homogenous in its thinking and that there are many different views on Israel. Many Jews in our country are deeply troubled by the actions of Israel and the human rights abuses which are inflicted on Palestinians. Many Jews are afraid to speak about these abuses for fear of being ostracized. As such, JVJP aims to facilitate respectful dialogue and discussion amongst South African Jews.