Tutu’s “moral equivalencies”

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Many of those who heard or saw Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the last few days may have recalled that in the October 5, 2007 letter to his students, faculty and staff, University of St. Thomas President Dennis Dease said in part:

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Last spring, a representative of our Justice and Peace Studies program advised my office of an opportunity to invite Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at St. Thomas during the PeaceJam conference. I discussed the matter with my staff and decided not to take advantage of this opportunity. . . .

We became aware of concerns about some of Archbishop Tutu’s widely publicized statements that have been hurtful to members of the Jewish community. I spoke with Jews for whom I have great respect. What stung these individuals was not that Archbishop Tutu criticized Israel but how he did so, and the MORAL EQUIVALENCIES that they felt he drew between Israel’s policies and those of Nazi Germany, and between Zionism and racism.(1) [Emphasis added.]

ll Gaza, South Africa and Argentina

However, on February 29, 2008 The Guardian of London reported that:

Israel’s deputy defence minister yesterday warned his country was close to launching a huge military operation in Gaza and said Palestinians would bring on themselves a “bigger shoah,” using the Hebrew word
usually reserved for the HOLOCAUST.

The choice of vocabulary from Matan Vilnai, an often outspoken former army general, was unusually grave – the word is normally not used for anything other than the Nazi HOLOCAUST of the Jews. . . . His spokesman later tried to play down the force of his language. . . . “He did not mean to make any allusion to the genocide. . . .”

In Gaza, Hamas leaders said they too now believed a big Israeli operation was coming. . . . “They want the world to condemn what they call the HOLOCAUST and now they are threatening our people with a HOLOCAUST.”(2) [Emphases added.]

But even before this threat was made, Father Dease could have confirmed that Israel provided military, economic and diplomatic support to South Africa’s apartheid regime, and that a large majority of South Africa’s Jews supported the regime–even though it included pro-Nazi leaders who supported Hitler during WWII.(3-5).

And Father Dease could have confirmed that Israel provided military, economic and diplomatic support to the Argentine junta that waged the 1976-1983 “Dirty War”–even though many of its leaders were former Nazis, and even though they imprisoned, tortured and “disappeared” Jews who opposed or were suspected of opposing their regime. Many of them were chained and thrown from aircraft into the Rio Plata.(6-9)

They, the dead of South Africa, and the dead of Gaza are “moral equivalencies” that can’t be ignored or denied.
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(1) Father Dease writes letter on Tutu controversy http://www.stthomas.edu/bulletin/news/200740/Friday/Dease10_5_07.cfm

(2) Israeli minister warns of Holocaust for Gaza if violence continues
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/01/israelandthepalestinians1

(3) aangirfan: South Africa and Israel and Hitler
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com/2006/02/south-africa-and-israel-and-hitler.html

(4) Party that built apartheid and ruled for 50 years votes itself into history
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/04/11/wsaf11.xml

(5) Brothers in arms – Israel’s secret pact with Pretoria
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/feb/07/southafrica.israel

(6) Israel’s Latin American trail of terror
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Israel/Israel_LAmer_TrailTerror.html

(7) Remembering a Hero (Jacobo Timerman)
http://www.sdjewishjournal.com/stories/nov03_5.html

(8) Argentina’s Dirty War – excerpted from the book State Terrorism and the United States From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Terrorism/Argentina_STATUS.html>. See especially p97 and p107.

(9) Between a Jewish and an Israeli Foreign Policy: Israel-Argentina Relations and the Issue of Jewish Disappeared Persons and Detainees under the Military Junta, 1976-1983
http://www.jcpa.org/jpsr/jpsr-mualem-s04.htm