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Yes, Cape Town Opera should boycott Israel!

It appears it is an open season for launching cowardly attacks on Archbishop Desmond Tutu. One thing that we have come to learn about Tutu is his unwavering resolve in the pursuit of justice, equality, peace and freedom of the downtrodden, persecuted and oppressed. He has never been intimidated into silence by those who wield influence and power; nor has he been predisposed to populist rhetoric in order to ingratiate himself to the powers that be. Tutu was unapologetic in his stance against apartheid; and continues to mount fierce resistance against the injustices visited upon the voiceless and powerless.

Tutu went to Boston, Massachusetts, in 2002 to address the conference on “Ending the Occupation”. He compared the situation in Palestine to what happened to black people in South Africa during apartheid. He asked: “Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions?”

The archbishop urged Israel to “strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by side with Israel, both with secure borders”.

Tutu’s views on the conflict between Israeli and Palestinians are nothing new. It was with no surprise to learn that he had encouraged the Cape Town Opera to cancel their visit and intention to perform Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the Tel Aviv Opera House, before an audience that would exclude Palestinian residents of the “occupied West Bank”, while including people from illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

During apartheid, musicians and others in the entertainment industry actively raised the consciousness of the world to the atrocities and violation of human rights by the apartheid regime against the defenceless black people in South Africa. Musicians such as Miriam Makeba and others established themselves as powerful voices in the fight against apartheid. Musicians and performers of the arts had during the fight for liberation from the shackles of apartheid raised the level of activism in recognition of the influence their contribution can make.

It is therefore preposterous to hear the managing director of the Cape Town Opera, Michael Williams, say that they are “first and foremost an arts company” and “are accordingly reluctant to adopt the essentially political position of disengagement from cultural ties with Israel or Palestine”.

Hanna Munitz, Israeli Opera’s general director, repeated absurd sentiments expressed by Williams by claiming that “the agenda is culture and art, and definitely not politics”. The fact that Palestinians would not be allowed to attend such performances is in itself discriminatory and political.

Comments by the archbishop unleashed a flurry of attacks from Israel’s embassy in South Africa, including apologist groups such as the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the South African Zionist Federation. The Israeli embassy went so far as accusing Tutu of hate speech. They claim the archbishop’s call for the boycott of Israel would do nothing but increase the intense hatred between Israelis and Palestinians. Defenders of Israel’s apartheid regime continue to portray the Jewish state as victim of some campaign to demonise them. However it is the continual oppression of the people of Palestine and enforcement of apartheid laws that isolate and limit the freedoms of Palestinians that demonise Israel.

It is now common knowledge that Israel was in bed with the apartheid government and was assisting them with the development of nuclear weapons. The end of apartheid in South Africa did not translate into the freedom of Palestinians, but rather over the years saw the intensification of the violation of their human rights and their subjection to war-crimes by Israel.

The claptrap by Israel’s embassy and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies in response to Tutu’s comments is laughable. It is important that they be reminded that Tutu has spent his life fighting for peace and justice. It was in recognition of such commitment that the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 1984 awarded Tutu the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel committee encouraged the rest of the world to use peaceful methods to stand in the vanguard of the campaign for racial equality as a human right. It is unfortunate that Israel continues to pass apartheid laws such as a Bill that allow communities of fewer than 500 people to appoint admissions boards, which will be able to reject Israeli-Arabs from settling there. The Bill stipulates that acceptance committees will be capable of denying the application of anyone who does not suit the residents’ cultural and social perspectives, or who does not have sufficient funds to build a home there.

If SA Jewish Board of Deputies is committed to racial equality and human rights, it should be directing its energies in condemning such racist laws by the government of Israel, and stop barking incessantly at anyone who has enough balls to stand against the war-crimes perpetrators.

Williams is perhaps ignorant of the fact that it was because of people like Tutu that the Cape Town Opera is today able to move freely outside the country and perform where it pleases. It is a reasonable expectation that at least those who once were subjected to a repressive regime — though perhaps not Williams — support similar struggles. Solidarity with the oppressed and taking a principled stance against racial exclusivity and violation of human rights should take precedence over the lavishness and ceremony of red-carpet events.

To accuse Tutu of hatred, anti-Semitism and bigotry is just plainly stupid!



  1. Israel Muse Israel Muse 2 November 2010

    @Crazy88s: You almost brought a tear to my eye with your sad story of being held up at the most obvious airport you will get held up in besides USA but I ask you when you went into Israel after being questioned did you get beaten and lynched by the Israeli Nazi officers? Oh wait this is not Nazi Germany, sorry I was dreaming there for a moment.

    Now seriously, did anything BAD happen to you in Israel because you have a Muslim middle name? ie: punched, kicked, shot, cursed at, stoned, etc…

    If none of the above happened to you then this sounds about right to me because none of this happens to Israeli Arabs also unless they are the one’s doing it themselves

    Why not tell us your good story of Israel that you had here? else why would you come here?

    Why not tell about the good people you met, and the beautiful county you saw and the amazing food and culture you experienced? surely all this is more realistic as this is everyday life for everyone here – how about the night life and beaches? the beautiful Old City of Jerusalem and all other ancient sites?

  2. Larry Lachman Larry Lachman 2 November 2010

    @ Derek

    You admit that Hamas and the Islamic jihad groups are terrorists but you believe that they don’t shield themselves with their own civilian population.
    Who do you think the terrorist leaders use as their human bombs? – their own children of course. Brainwashed or coerced to commit suicide and murder other innocents in the process; – as an act of holy worship to Allah.

    Israel does not set forth with the intention to murder children. Anyone who believes that they do, are warped.

    The reality is that Israel finds itself in the most insidious position of fighting a war with religious fundamentalist terrorists, who seek civilians as targets and whose non-conventional weaponry is living bombs, using their own children as carriers to kill themselves and other children.

    How do you fight this? Targets are identified, through intensive military intelligence and they are invariably within homes full of children, whether terror leaders or bomb factories. This is perfidy and cowardice. If Israel acts to defend its civilian population, then it finds itself harming innocents due to its enemy’s tactic of creating an intentional perfidy. Hamas seeks safety not from hiding under their womens skirts, but by relying on Israeli decency and compassion for innocents.

    The kind of support that Palestinians need, is that which encourages peace as a solution to their problems, and not support for the spiritual battle against the existence of Jews in Islamic lands, which the terrorists take as comforting and an encouragement for further terror.

  3. frosty frosty 2 November 2010

    Why does no one on this blog cry for human rights and dignity for the 1 million plus jews that were kicked out of Morrocco, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Tunisia, Iran and Jordan?? They had there houses confiscated , business looted and were forced to flee to Israel. No one here would like to mention this little uncomfortable truth??

  4. Crazy88s Crazy88s 2 November 2010

    @ Israel Muse
    I have been to the US post 9/11, twice actually and once to Canada. I was pulled out and questioned, the biggest differnce being that they treated me with RESPECT and made sure the process was seamless.

    I was not shouted at, asked silly questions, interogated in the open, humiliated in front of other tourists.

    You see they questioned me for security reasons unlike the intimidation tactics under the guise of security that Israel employs.

  5. Michael Liermann Michael Liermann 2 November 2010

    There will be no peace in the Middle East until the people of Palestine finally cease hitting Israeli fists with their faces.

  6. Goitman Goitman 2 November 2010

    The ironies and examples are too numerousd to write down. Where is his boycott of Zimbabwe, of China, of Myanmar, of bla, blah, blah.

    Some idiot at some point tried to popularise the analogy of apartheid applied to Israel and Palestine. Now anyone who suffered under apartheid is overly sympathetic to Palestinians, sees them as brothers and wants to boycott the Israelis without any knowledge of the greater issues and politics of the region.

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of insoluble geography, demographics and not one of racial apartheid. The people involved would never be able to live under a government of the other as there is no balancing factor such as there is in SA. There is no meeting of minds, no common religion and massive interference from regional powers, none of which we had in SA.

    Therefore, when the world’s experts and the antagonists are looking at either a two-state solution or oblivion of the other, you need to release your angry inner attachment to apartheid and understand that this is different. Applying, therefore, the same techniques as you did under apartheid only shows that you have not understood the deeper problem in its complexity and are not qualified to solve it. The devil is in the detail here and links to apartheid SA are inconsequential now.

    Arch, stick to Zim where you know whats going down, have not boycotted anything and the situation is far more clear cut.

  7. Israel Muse Israel Muse 2 November 2010

    @Sitoliquido You equate anger with simple truth and understanding of what really goes on here versus you lot who are clueless as to what really goes on and rely on your corrupt anti-Israel media (which South African media is) – do not confuse what I say with what you think I am saying when we are the one’s faced with the ignorant who think they know something just because they “heard it somewhere”…

    I have every right to defend the people I know as much as we have every right to defend ourselves and our country when it is under attack.

    I think you like most people have wiped out history of this land or didn’t know it in the first place and only recently jumped on the “anti-Israel bandwagon” – I deal with this all day everyday and its always the same comments and the same ignorant responses – You like others are not willing to learn anything, you only pretend to actually know something…

    Do you know anything about Israel besides what you have been told and what you see in the media?

    Please feel free to share with us!

  8. Israel Muse Israel Muse 2 November 2010

    @Derek: I dare you to take one good hard look at the history of your religion and your families background, assuming you are white and possibly Afrikaans (i may be wrong) as well as the history of every other country in the world and history of Islam and Christianity and you let me know how many civilian deaths occurred in this history then compare it to the civilian deaths that occur here – once you have seen the difference then come with your argument here…

    Israel has caused less civilian deaths in all wars we have fought than any other country in history – this is also not a game of who killed more and who killed less though…

    War is war, in case you didnt know, innocent civilians die, IN EVERY WAR, I say that loud and clear so you get it…

    The difference is that we do not deliberately target civilians and cancel many missions due to too many civilians being in the area at the time… Once a strike takes place then any civilian casualty is due to us not being aware that they are there in the first place as we have already pre-warned them before an attack – We notify via sms, phone calls and drop leaflets, they are very well aware when we are coming – do you think that Hamas and Hezbollah let us know when they are about to attack our civilians deliberately?

  9. Israel Muse Israel Muse 2 November 2010

    @frosty: I agree but more so why does no one cry for the real humanitarian crisis going on in most of Africa and China – the UN and the bleeding hearts society focus all attention and energy on the not so bad off Palestinians purely because the media have brainwashed you to think the worst yet you act like hypocrites and ignore the REAL problems in the world…

    I personally know Arabs living here and have met Palestinians and they do not have a bad life like you think they do – surely they would all complain as to how bad it is – they dont because its not true for all – extremists choose to put themselves in harms way, the same goes for Jews that are extremists in Israel, they choose to put themselves in harms way, so if you dont care for the Jews doing this then why care for the extreme Palestinians doing it…

    Did you know that 49% of Palestinians are not against Israel and are for peace talks and a 2 state solution – thats a huge amount of people that you are ignoring deliberately!!

    If you think you know what Gaza looks like, I do not believe you for a second, take a look at what it really looks like then compare it to the repeated images they show of Gaza in the media only –

  10. Israel Muse Israel Muse 2 November 2010

    @crazy88s: I don’t get your point buddy! Israel is not Disney Land, this is the real deal, we don’t play games and pretend to be nice like Americans do… Is that a crime? Is that against your human rights? Is that enough for you to wish the deaths of all of us?

  11. Larry Lachman Larry Lachman 2 November 2010

    Exactly @ Frosty, – those Arab Jews now live in the West Bank. What is wrong with Jews living in Palestine, or Iran for that matter?

    The standard of human rights in Israel is a shining beacon in the Middle East, whereas in Islamic countries in the region, edicts are being passed denying women the right to work as cashiers in supermarkets. They are not concerning themselves over visiting opera troupes from other countries.

  12. Israel Muse Israel Muse 3 November 2010

    @crazy88s: Why do you think 9/11 took place so easily? Because USA has the terrible intelligence and terrible airport security and they still do – Israel has never had a single attack at an airport or on any airplane in the history of it’s existence and this is due to having the best real intelligence and security measures…

    Do not try compare how you are treated in USA versus Israel, we are not the same country and not the same mentality either… Jewish Israeli’s will also be “humiliated” (as you call it) in front of everyone, not just Muslim looking people… this is the part you don’t get about Israel and Israeli’s… We are more real than you will ever imagine, we have no need to be “nice” all the time, after all look where being “nice” got USA…

    It is far safer to live inside Israel than inside USA for the reason that we have such a high level of security and don’t care about how “nice” we are – We would rather stay alive and protect our own people than be “nice” – where did “nice” ever get anyone when faced against real threats that you will never have to face…

    I still want to hear about your good experience you had in Israel, the sites you saw, the wonderful people you met who didn’t do anything bad to you.

  13. MoBear MoBear 3 November 2010

    “The excuse that these terrorists hide behind civilians has long worn thin – just too hard to believe anymore given the HUGE and disproportionate numbers of civilian casualties on the Palestinian side”.
    Wrong Sunshine. The more kids and women that Hamas can put in front of themselves the more good PR they get. They couldn’t care less about their women and kids. As long as they can get anti-Israeli propaganda from it they are more than happy to sacrifice them. The more the better to them.

  14. Larry Lachman Larry Lachman 4 November 2010

    The only thing ‘wearing thin’ here is the scarcity of convincing argument from the pro-Palestinian side of the room.
    Logic, common sense, truth, and decency wins the day every time; – for Israel and her defenders.

  15. Israel Muse Israel Muse 4 November 2010

    @Derek: “The excuse that these terrorists hide behind civilians has long worn thin…”

    While it may seem like an excuse to you, Israel is not as pathetic as you think it is, we are far smarter than every country in the Middle East and in most of the world, hence our accomplishments in 62 years of existence, so do you think we would resort to “excuses” as you put it in order to win our battles and arguments, forget it!!

    In 2008 a Hamas leader publicly admitted live on TV that they use the civilian population (women, children & old people) as HUMAN SHIELDS to fight their war against Israel – I am guessing your lame one sided media does not get to see any of this, well lucky for the internet and lucky for me I have the video where Hamas admitted this – use this link to watch him publicly admit to this…

    Israel has known this since they started doing this and has told the world but you all refuse to listen, instead you choose to listen to a lying deceptive organization that has never done a damn good thing for the world or for their people EVER!! Israel has done more good for Palestinians than Hamas has or any other like them, don’t get me started on this because you will lose this argument every step of the way.

    Watch the video above!

  16. Tops Tops 5 November 2010

    Quote”This includes the the West-Eastern Divan youth orchestra, which trains young Palestinians, the Barenboim-Said Foundation, and a Palestinian circus school. Young people from the school will be flown into Israel, taught African dancing and would be included in the performance.

    “Hamma Mumitz, the managing director of the Tel Aviv Opera, is arranging their tickets,” said Williams. “She said to me: ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to use the tour to Israel to break down the wall between Palestine and Israel and build a bridge’?”Unquote.

    Well there you go…who said Palestinians were not welcome at/by the Tel Aviv Opera House management.

    Tuts and Mo did… in a brotherly act of solidarity with those who would prefer that Israel did not exist.

    That’s some egg you have on your face, china…

  17. Larry Lachman Larry Lachman 5 November 2010

    The non-Palestinian anti-Israel lobby, have managed to convince themselves without applying the basic requirements of objectivity, introspection, fairness, justice, etc; – and will not listen to the other side.

    When these facts and arguments are laid bare for them, to which they cannot dispute, they clam up and disappear. Yet they remain convinced and stew in it. Shameful.

  18. MoBear MoBear 7 November 2010

    @Larry Lachman
    Agree 100%. Fact is in SA, muslims are going to suppport “Palestine” ie Hamas, Hisbollah and the PLO, right or wrong. They support the worldwide Ummah. The rest of the Palestinian supporters are a bunch of Left Wingers who will disagree with the West. Whatever cause they see fit will be anti-West. Anything seen to be anti-West they will support.

  19. Castortroye Castortroye 9 November 2010

    Diakanyo, you gravely have underestimated the whole situation. Israel, its theatres, parks and country is open to millions of people, from all walks of life. Many of them are Jewish refugees from Arab lands, some are even African refugees. They, including, muslim arabs are welcome to use all of Israel’s public amenities.

    Palestinians, like Namibians are to South Africans, are not citizens of israel (and dont want to be). Like any non-South African citizen, they need passports and authorised access to visit another country. Same for Pakistanis and Indians, Israeli’s and Palestinians.

    Tutu is taking his authority and influence in world affairs and diluting it with anti-Israel sentiment which seems to be as fashionable as a “Che” t-shirt. The man should just retire before his name gets too messed up with those anti-zionist groups in south africa who spread the exact opposite of what tutu (supposedly) advocates – hatred, bigotry and targetting one specific group of people.

  20. Shadi Zmorrod Shadi Zmorrod 13 November 2010

    We at the Palestinian Circus School are very sad of being abused by the Cape Town Opera trying to show the international community how they are not only wanting to work with Israel but also ‘engaging’ with ‘Palestinian partners’.
    Shadi Zmorrod Founder and general manager of the Palestinian circus school

  21. Nick Curran Nick Curran 6 May 2011

    I won’t accuse Desmond Tuttu of being anti-semetic, he’s just misinformed on the issue. I’d accuse YOU however of being anti-semetic.

  22. Cross Cross 11 May 2011

    @Israel Muse

    You would be crazy to bite the very same hand that feeds you don’t you think?

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