frgavin on September 3rd, 2012

Thanks to the Telegraph London

By World

Archbishop Tutu: selective indignation (Photo: EPA)

If you are an elderly religious leader enjoying iconic cultural status, a girlish giggle goes a long way – especially when you’re on shaky moral ground. This, arguably, is true of the Dalai Lama; and it is certainly true of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

This week the retired Archbishop – undoubtedly with a giggle – pulled out of a leadership summit in Johannesburg because of the presence of Tony Blair. In a statement, his office explained that “Mr Blair’s decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq . . . was morally indefensible. . . it would be inappropriate and untenable for the Archbishop to share a platform with Mr Blair.”

My colleague the Rev Peter Mullen has already drawn attention to the Archbishop’s sanctimony. I’d add that Tutu is displaying hypocrisy of Pharisian proportions. Since March, Tutu has happily been associated with members of Hamas, which has long been regarded by Britain and the USA as a terrorist organisation. The Archbishop is on the Advisory Board for a controversial group called the Global March to Jerusalem (GM2J), which aims to stage civilian marches on Israel’s capital. The group’s advisers also include two members of Hamas, Zaher Birawi and Ahmad Abo Halabiya.

Let’s bring this into sharper relief. In a sermon given at a mosque in Gaza and broadcast live on Palestinian TV, Ahmad Abo Halabiya allegedly said: “Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them . . . and those Americans who are like them, and those who stand by them.” The Archbishop is apparently willing to share a platform with men like these, but not with Tony Blair.

Archbishop Tutu has a history of morally questionable positions on Israel. On several occasions, he has drawn the comparison between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa. Memorably, in 1988 he alleged that Zionism had “very many parallels with racism”. His support for GM2J shows that his position has not changed; one wonders what he would say if asked to explain his views to Ghaleb Majadlah, the Arab-Israeli government minister? Or to Khaled Abu Toameh, the Arab-Israeli journalist who writes that “Arab citizens can go to the same beaches, restaurants and shopping malls as Jews in this ‘apartheid’ state”? But the Archbishop probably wouldn’t bother to explain. He’d just giggle.

Some years ago, in a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s foremost Holocaust museum, Archbishop Tutu delivered a notoriously patronising speech. “Our Lord would say that in the end the positive thing that can come [from the Holocaust] is the spirit of forgiving,” he said. If he blithely assumes that Jews can, and should, assume this magnanimous attitude towards the perpetrators of mechanised and systematic genocide, surely it would not be beyond the Archbishop to apply the same sentiment to Tony Blair?

Time and again, Archbishop Tutu demonstrates a skewed moral compass, particularly when it comes to the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the conflicts between the West and the Arab world. But wait – it’s OK. He’s giving us a giggle.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.