Desmond Tutu is wrong to back Freedom for Palestine song


“Music helped beat apartheid and can end occupation.”

From Cranmer

Well, the UN, the EU and successive America presidents have consistently failed, so why not give music a chance?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African human rights activist, has pledged his support for the new single ‘Freedom for Palestine’.

The song (which, in His Grace’s humble opinion, is rubbish) is performed by the musicians OneWorld, who include members of dance act Faithless and the Durban Gospel Choir. It has been viewed online by more than 250,000 people, which isn’t so difficult to achieve when it is supported by pro-Palestine charities who have ensured its ‘viral’ attraction. The single is backed by inter alia War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, A Just Peace for Palestine, Friends of Al Aqsa, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK, Stop the War Coalition and Trust Greenbelt. Proceeds from the single will go to War on Want to support ‘projects’ in Palestine.

Archbishop Desmond, who officially retired from public life last year, kindly came out of retirement to endorse ‘Freedom for Palestine’ on World Refugee Day (today, apparently). His Grace is informed by War on Want that some seven million Palestinians remain refugees or internally displaced, many since 1948.

This is a curious number, which appears to include the entire population of Jordan.

In his video message, Archbishop Desmond says: “I have visited the occupied Palestinian territories and have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinians at Israeli military checkpoints. I have seen the inhumanity that won’t let ambulances reach the injured, farmers tend their land or children attend school.”

Well, His Grace has visited Israeli territories and has witnessed nothing but compassion and concern for religious and racial minorities; healing for thousands of Palestinian Arabs being treated in Israeli hospitals; and outstanding education for thousands of Palestinian children in Israeli schools. He met no farmers but he did have meetings with Arabs in the Israeli parliament.

The Archbishop continues: “This treatment is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and harassed by the security forces of the apartheid government.”

It is a curious apartheid which permits an Arab to become President. There are many countries, including several in the Arab-Muslim world, that practise and promote discrimination against particular religious or ethnic communities. There are no songs composed about these to attract the magic Tutu support. In South Africa, there was a legally enshrined system for discrimination, but in Israel the precise opposite obtains. Its constitution enshrines equality before the law for all its citizens regardless of religion or ethnicity, and any discrimination which does occur can be challenged in the courts, which was certainly not the case in South Africa.

And what of those areas of social cohesion evidenced in many hospitals and schools, where Jews and Arabs work peacefully side by side to the mutual benefit of both? The black people of South Africa were strictly separated from the white, and the black people invariably got the least and the worst. The black people had no votes, yet in Israel Arabs not only have full democratic rights, there are Arab members of parliament, Arabs in government, and Arabs in the judiciary. Majallie Whbee’s appointment as President clearly exposes the lie that the Jewish state is an apartheid country. He said that his ascent to the position proved that those who draw such a parallel with the former South African regime were ‘ignoring the facts on the ground’. None of this was possible in South Africa, so there is absolutely no comparison.

Discrimination is a social ill that is manifest in Israel just as it is in every nation on earth. It is legitimate to criticise Israel for its failings, but the charge of ‘apartheid’ is a malicious libel designed to delegitimise the Jewish State and stir up anti-Semitic sentiment.

The Archbishop explains: “In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom without the help of people around the world and musicians were central to our struggle. Through music and art we speak to a common humanity, one which transcends political and economic interests.”

That’s nice. Frankly, His Grace couldn’t achieve much at all without Beethoven, who is central to his struggle. Music does indeed transcend political and economic interests. And so does football. But supporting Iran against the US soccer team does not change the minds of Iranians towards the ‘Great Satan’, and neither does it bring freedom to to the people of Iran: it simply perpetuates evil and suffering.

The Archbishop adds: “For this reason I am proud to support ‘Freedom for Palestine’ by OneWorld. I urge everyone to buy the single and spread its message. Let’s send a message to governments that a critical mass of people want to see an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people.”

His Grace urges you not to download or buy this single, because to do so will only prolong the suffering of the Palestinians and exacerbate the wrongs on both sides. A song which conveys the message that Israel does not care about humanity and possesses no conscience is evil. To equate the only democracy in the region with apartheid South Africa is evil.

His Grace wasn’t going to post this article, not least because it is giving the song even more exposure. But its lies need to be countered, and no-one will be producing a song entitled ‘Freedom for Israel’ any time soon (and not just because there isn’t much the rhymes with Hamas or Fatah).

With respect to the Archbishop, he has naïvely permitted himself to be used in an odious piece of blatant anti-Israeli propaganda. This song calls for the security wall to come down (despite it having reduced suicide bombings and saved thousands of lives). It refers throughout to ‘Israeli occupation’, which is becoming the dominant narrative in all discussions about the region: Israel ought not to exist; its land has been stolen and the Zionist State sustains its existence only by oppression. It is a lie. This song isn’t concerned with a new beginning for Palestine; it is about the end of Israel, neatly packaged and presented as a hummable (just) piece of soft rock (kind of) which people will absorb subliminally into their consciences and make the lyric truth.

The fact remains that Israel is surrounded by nations intent on her destruction. Over recent months, an entire Jewish family had their throats cut while sleeping; Hamas launched an anti-tank missile at a school bus carrying 30 children; random missiles continue to rain down indiscriminately upon Jewish towns and villages; there have been suicide attacks on kindergartens, schools, pizza parlours, a student cafeteria, shopping malls, a bus station…

But when Israel fights back, there is criticism, outrage and universal condemnation.

Perhaps Israel should release a single instead:

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