Moral icon aims missiles at Israel

Desmond Tutu uses familiar rhetoric to build support for anti-Israel movement.

Desmond Tutu 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Desmond Tutu 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A steady stream of anti-Israel maneuvering has emerged from South African activist Desmond Tutu, lobbying the United Methodist Church to punish Israel being among his more recent tactics: 
“The harsh reality endured by millions of Palestinians requires people and organizations of conscience to divest from those companies …profiting from the occupation and subjugation of Palestinians,” Tutu wrote in the Tampa Bay Times earlier this month.
The article makes four times in eight months that Tutu has thrown his moral halo into the anti-Israel ring: The Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Cape Town; Israel-Apartheid Week; the Global March on Jerusalem; and now the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement. It deserves more than a passing nod that the radiance of Tutu's halo dimmed with each event's failure. But this acknowledgment skirts the overriding and larger riddle: why would an octogenarian guru expend his rare fervor fighting Jews and their country?
Classics like Animal Farm or Moby Dick are easy books, when read only as children's stories. Tutu is also easy to understand at a cursory glance. But when we find a prophetic resonance in these cultural icons, they grow difficult, and more important. Spiritual themes, such as battles against evil, warping revenge and subjugation, emerge and create an aura beyond the components of the story.
Tutu's battles are symbolic of larger themes. Even when they flop and Tutu moves on to his next fight, one senses a prophetic voice. It’s not the voice of a cleric or of a liberationist. It seems to call for endurance, without hope of reward.
The story of Tutu, and all pro-Palestinian clergymen, begins long before Israel was born, when missionaries developed close ties with Arab communities. Some even went native, joining forces with Arabs to embrace an anti-Zionist narrative.
Clerics like Rev. Stephen Sizer believe that Christianity supersedes the covenant between God and the Jewish people, and according to him, "New Israel" is the church. Without a valid faith, the Jewish people’s claim to a biblical homeland has no merit. With Sizer's stance in the background, Tutu can then launch a double missile attack on Judaism and on Israel, which, Tutu claims, occupies land that belongs to another people.
“The Jews thought they had a monopoly of God," Tutu said in 1984. “Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings."
Tutu has also embraced modern liberation theology. This line of thinking defines the conflict between Jews and Palestinians as a struggle between oppressor and oppressed. Tutu claims that his God sides with Palestinians, whom he likens to the Israelites under Pharaoh’s bondage. 
These layers explain Tutu’s four attacks on Israel in eight months.  In his recent campaign, Tutu displays the traits that are indelible to Israel haters, among them, delegating Israel-cursing to Jews.
“…I cannot ignore the …voices of those courageous Jews troubled by Israel’s discriminatory course,” Tutu wrote in the Tampa Bay Times.
Let us ignore Tutu's implication that Jews risk their lives when they take his side, and instead focus on the strategic value of having Jews on his platform. For one thing, they insulate Tutu from claims of anti-Semitism. For another, Jews lend his canards weight.
And here’s another trait common among anti-Zionists: Only expressing concern for one victim. Palestinian victimhood is a precious patent, and Israeli terror victims deserve no such sympathy. This way, Tutu can fulminate at Israel for delaying victims at checkpoints, while an atrocity on the Jewish Vogler children leaves him cold.
Reasonable critics of Israel demand that the country adopt different policies, or change the way it implements them. Tutu, on the other hand, demands that Israel concede to Palestinian demands, even if, or precisely because, such moves equal Jewish death and Israel’s destruction. As the Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions guru, he demands the full house: the end of "occupation," the right of return, and equal rights for Arabs in Israel. He makes all these requirements knowing perfectly well that fulfilling them would mean no more Israel.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate also employs role reversal: For every crime my Palestinian victims commit, I will make the Jews guilty of it. When Palestinians kill Israeli children, I will accuse Israelis of killing children. When rockets from Gaza are launched at Israeli cities, I will condemn Israel for attacking Gaza. And when I want to gag pro-Israel supporters, I’ll accuse them of trying to gag me.
“The government of Israel is placed on a pedestal, and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic.” Tutu said at a conference in 2002.
Tutu plays the gagging card by ridiculing Israel-supporters and making Jewish leaders think twice about joining forces against him.
Open up every Israel-hater and you’ll discover enough anomaly and paradox to fill a book. Hatred and rationality never sit well, and inconsistency follows. Tutu for instance has every reason to support Israel, the only place in the Middle East where Christians have their holy sites protected and can pray openly and face no pressure to convert. On the Palestinian side of the barrier none of those freedoms are found. Yet Tutu aims his missiles where?
The writer is the author of Hadrian's Echo: The Whys and Wherefore's of Israel's Critics.