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In Theory: An interview with Desmond Tutu

July 28, 2010

Anglican Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu has announced that, after his 79th birthday in October, he is to resign from nearly all of his official commitments and withdraw from public life, the United Kingdom's Guardian newspaper reported last week. He wishes to spend more time in reflection and prayer. Tutu is best remembered for his fight against apartheid and leadership of the Anglican Church in South Africa. If you had a chance to sit down with the archbishop, what would you say to him? What issues would you discuss?

First, I would sincerely congratulate Archbishop Tutu on his many accomplishments — especially the crucial role he played in dismantling apartheid in South Africa. I would say that he is a remarkable and inspirational figure for people around the globe. His historic struggle for freedom, equality and liberty is admirable and should be emulated by us all.

Since I am a proud supporter of Israel, I would also raise an issue that is very close to my heart: namely, the archbishop's troubling stance on the Jewish state and the various erroneous statements he's made over the years. While acknowledging the significant role Jews played in the anti-apartheid struggle, Tutu nevertheless was a prominent supporter of the bigoted "Zionism equals racism" idea. He even went so far as to label Israel's necessary protective measures on its borders as a form of apartheid.

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The fallacy in this claim is obvious, since Israeli Arabs have more freedoms and civil liberties than any Arab throughout the Middle East.

They enjoy equal rights and identical citizenship as Israeli Jews. They participate fully in every facet of society, including exercising their right to vote; there are currently 14 Arab members in Israel's Parliament, the Knesset. So I would respectfully ask Tutu whether this really sounds like apartheid.

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