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Biship Tutu Disinvited by University that Hosted Ann Coulter
Sunday, 07 October 2007 22:43
by William Fisher

Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu has been disinvited to speak at a St. Paul, Minnesota, university because of allegations that he made "hurtful" comments about Israel that might offend local Jews.

Tutu, widely revered for his opposition to South Africa's apartheid system, was proposed to the University of St. Thomas administration as a speaker for a spring 2008 event planned by the local chapter of a youth group known as Peace Jam International.
According to a university official, Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations, "basic background research" about Tutu turned up "some red flags" concerning "some things that (Tutu) had said about Israel."

Hennes told a St. Paul newspaper he made some inquiries, including one to a spokeswoman for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. The organization's representative called Hennes' attention to a speech Tutu made in Boston in 2002 that was reportedly critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

She also said that Tutu's speech referred to a "powerful" Jewish lobby in the US, which she said invoked a stereotype of Jewish power, and another where he asked aloud if Jews had forgotten that God cares about the downtrodden.

Hennes said it was a "judgment call" made by St. Thomas' president, the Rev. Dennis Dease. "The basic response we got was that (Tutu) had said some things in the past that have been hurtful to the Jewish community," Hennes said. "When we looked at that, we just decided we're not going to invite him."

Tutu's 2002 speech was reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), an international news agency serving Jewish community newspapers and media around the world. But JTA critics, including Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, claim the news agency's reporting was distorted.

A transcript of Tutu's speech reveals he said:
"The Israeli government is placed on a pedestal (in the US), and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic, as if the Palestinians were not Semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group. And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the apartheid government on security measures? People are scared in (the US) to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful - very powerful. Well, so what? This is God's world. For goodness sake, this is God's world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosovic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust."

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Tutu added:
"We should put out a clarion call to the government of the people of Israel, to the Palestinian people and say: peace is possible, peace based on justice is possible. We will do all we can to assist you to achieve this peace, because it is God's dream, and you will be able to live amicably together as sisters and brothers."
Many other Americans who are critical of Israeli government policies have been similarly criticized. These include former President Jimmy Carter, whose recent book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," was immediately attacked as being anti-Semitic.

Ironically, unquestioning acceptance of Israeli government policies is virtually unknown in Israel, where political debate tends to be ubiquitous, fractious and highly charged. Many in Israel are far more critical than either Carter or Tutu regarding Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

At the university in St. Paul, the Tutu controversy triggered heated pushback from some faculty members. A professor was stripped of her leadership post at the school's Justice and Peace Studies Program for the way she challenged the administration's decision.

And Marv Davidov, an adjunct professor, who said he was incensed by the Tutu decision, said, "I think the Israeli lobby in our country has been attempting to silence criticisms of Israel in the academic world. That does a disservice to the state of Israel and all Jews," said Davidov, 76, who said he experienced anti-Semitism as a child in Detroit.

He said anyone who criticizes Israel for treatment of Palestinians ends up labeled as anti-Semitic.

Two years ago, St. Thomas - a Catholic diocesan institution founded in 1885 and now the largest private university in Minnesota - hosted an appearance by incendiary  right-wing pundit Ann Coulter. Coulter once said of Muslims, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Coulter spoke at the school to promote her book, "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right." Her appearance required extra security.

Bishop Tutu's most recent US appearance was as a guest panelist at an event sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative, an organization formed by former President Bill Clinton to bring together leaders from the private and public sectors, religion, science and technology, medicine, and many other specialties, to promote peace, healthcare, educational and other essential services to underdeveloped countries.

Meanwhile, the youth group that proposed Tutu to St. Thomas has moved its conference to another venue -- Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, where the Nobel laureate will speak on April 11.
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Comments (6)add comment

a guest said:

poor little Israel
I am totally disgusted with hearing, yet again, that someone offended Israel - with Tutu's apparent offense occurring five years ago. C'mon! This is ridiculous and utterly juvenile, but then, since Israel's creation we seem to have been monitoring and soothsaying a country with the personality of a terminal child. Mommy America cannot possibly have a University guest speaker that refers to Israel in any way that might be interpreted as criticism. In Israel's case the blatant "truth" is deemed criticism if it shines a bright light on their atrocities. No other country in the history of U.S. Foreign Policy has ever garnered as much protection as Israel, and this continuing action will be the pivotal seed in our destruction.
October 08, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

Tutu is anti-Semitic
Ranting about a "Jewish lobby" is usually what one hears from the likes of David Duke.

Of course the university was wrong to ban him, but that doesn't mean we can't call Tutu on his bigotry.
October 08, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

Ann Coulter is a hate monger
but thats okay, she promotes division with her comments. Israel gets treated with kid gloves because the politicians want to buy the Jewish vote. Where is the balance here? The university supports hate, by inviting Coulter but silents other critics. The leadership of this institution is lacking any morals in its decision.
October 08, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

AN COULTER IS EXCELLENT. She exposes liberal frauds in a breathtakingly funny way.
using the left's tactics to expose their hypocrisy

the libs and their media minions are too dumb to figure out ...the 'joke's on them'


They want conservatives to give up Ann’s long blonde lock’s with her scalp attached. But if we allow Ann Coulter to be taken down for having done nothing wrong other than exposing their foolishness, then we will have allowed one of our conservative icons to fall for no other reason than a misguided notion that by dumping Ann somehow the liberal media will treat conservatives more kindly.
October 08, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

Minnesota-based discussion
Ann Coulter is a demagogue and an idiot and her comments when she spoke at St. Thomas were disgraceful. She's an embarrassment.

Refusing to host Tutu is similarly disgraceful. It's truly sad that somebody can't even question Israel's policy without being branded "hurtful" or "not a friend" of Israel. That's ridiculous. There's no black and white in this world. There's plenty of blame to go around in the Middle East, and Tutu acknowledges this simple truth.

The only reason the American right wing supports Israel is because they're clinging to their misguided fantasy about fostering "democracy" in the Middle East and because having an ally there has strategic implications. There's nothing altruistic about their motives.
»» Submitted by Trumpy at 10:05 AM on October 4

large reaction here
October 08, 2007
Votes: +0

Gnarly Erik said:

Fascists in all but name
Isn't it odd that the Jewish lobby has become nearly as Fascist as their persecutors of 70 years ago?

So that's 'freedom of speech'? Next to Josef Goebbels and Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter is one of the worst hate-mongers in history. She wishes 'war and death' to any she defines as enemies - so much for the Christian ethic and live and let live. Coulter defines as 'traitors' anyone she disagrees with, which amount now to a vast majority of her own countrymen. Coulter believes Joseph McCarthy had it right and has been harshly maligned by history.

Conversely, Tutu is a gentle man who has always taken the road to peace. Too bad a 'Christian' university makes the opposite choice.
October 10, 2007
Votes: +0

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