In his heart, Palestine has a special place . He comes out of retirement in December 2017 to say: “God is weeping over President Trump’s inflammatory and discriminatory recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Those who claim divine rights..to physical property..are false prophets….” (from here).
He complains about Jewry’s ‘monopoly of the Holocaust’, and tells them that they aren’t being sufficiently forgiving to those who did it to them (Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Response magazine, January 1990, and here.
He says “The Jews thought they had a monopoly on God; Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings.” (Jerusalem Post, July 26, 1985). OK, so this is a fundamental Christian criticism of the Jews which isn’t said anymore for fear of incorrectness. I am not sure whether in the same speech he compared features of the Holy Temple to apartheid (Hartford Courant, Oct. 29, 1984).
He says that Zionism has parallels with racism, the effect being the same, because it excludes people on ethnic or other grounds over which they have no control. (American Jewish Year Book1988, p.50). (He seems to think that Zionism should mean that settling in Israel should be open to everyone. Oh no, he actually thinks it ought to be abolished.)
He says that Jews in the US are an arrogant and powerful lobby whom people need to stay on the right side of (from here). (He later replaced “Jewish lobby” with “pro-Israel lobby”.)
So, he seems to have a thread of thinking that what Jews call their own really belongs to all God’s children.
And he keeps saying in effect that, because of what the Jews have suffered, they mustn’t henceforward do anything the slightest naughty in their own interests. ‘We live in a moral universe. If you (meaning Israel) commit injustice, God will bring about your fall just as he did to Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Pinochet, Idi Amin and Milosevic,’ and to apartheid.
He is the loudest campaigner outside the Muslim world against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.– It is just about the worst thing in the whole world! Israel’s behaviour there, and perhaps within Israel itself, is like apartheid or even worse. He calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions, even against non-Israeli companies doing business with Israeli settlements.
He sees no need for the check-points and road-blocks etc. — it is all entirely unnecessary. To cheering crowds in the streets, he says that this is arguably the largest outcry in the history of the world! “My plea to the people of Israel: liberate yourself by liberating Palestine”. There should now be two states living ‘amicably together as sisters and brothers’.
Is he a little bonkers about Jews? Yes, it’s not a regular kind of anti-Jew-ism, but it’s fair to recall that decades ago I heard him use the term ‘the influential Jewish community’ which is Olde British code for ‘the money power of the Jews’.
And it seems he did try to evade suspicion of anti-Jewism by saying ‘my dentist is a Dr. Cohen’ – which sounds like Olde British code for ‘Don’t Jews do funny jobs’ and ‘Some of my best friends are Jews’. He studied theology in the UK in the sixties, under Anglican elders of that period.
He’s got the jolly religion of an old-fashioned British Anglican, and the relatively mild and ancient anti-Judaism that goes with it. And his anti-Zionism is also contributed to by the same basic world-view as his Socialism.
Also, he simplifies all world conflicts, including Israel-Palestine, to something that can be solved like the South African one was. The Israelis are like the Boers you see, and the Palestinians are like the blacks, you see.
‘If the South African madness could end as it did, it must be possible to do the same everywhere else in the world. If peace could come to South Africa, surely it can come to the Holy Land?’
Tutu seems to see all the differences between different peoples as boiling down to the same set of differences as between South African blacks and South African whites. This set consists of such things as physical appearance, ‘civilization’ and technology. As Jews and the Arabs aren’t so different in these things as are South African blacks and South African whites, then their problem can be solved too!
You see: all peoples in the world are on the same axis with a terminus at either end represented by South African blacks and whites. No two peoples are more different than they are. Everyone else fits in-between; so their problems can be solved too!
If you still can’t solve your problems, The Elders (consisting of people like Tutu, Mandela, Richard Branson, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson, Kofi Annan, Graca Machel, and an ex-Premier of Norway (from here) are available to come and help you!
If he has a screw a little loose about Jews, he seems to have a screw loose in the opposite direction about Arabs. He has blamed the horrors of Iraq and Syria on George W. Bush and Tony Blair. They should be tried for war crimes! The Iraq war they started has “destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history“! (This latter is a flip statement of history, and an uncharacteristically conservative one – don’t overthrow ghastly regimes because you may get something worse.)
He actually went on stage to act in a play about Guantanamo. He also stated in a speech that Guantanamo was a stain on the United States, and that the British 28-day detention law without charge was similar. On Tony Blair’s attempt to make it 90 days, he said it was like South Africa during apartheid. (He seems to think that people suspected of driving planes into the Twin Towers in the belief they will get eternal life, can be treated like ordinary members of the criminal classes.)
He said that the “war on terror” cannot be won, because there is too much global inequality. (Terror by jihadists is due to poverty, you see.)
He urged Saudi Arabia not to execute 14 young people for protesting.
If the Arch makes you cringe, then remember there are Princes of the Church even worse. But there are ones much better. I heard one once in Ely Cathedral, a cleric of middling rank, standing at a lectern in the middle of the afternoon with sightseers milling about, and giving a little talk of tough realism. Where can one find them today?
He is a socialist and pacifist. In 1986 he said: “All my experiences with capitalism…have indicated that it encourages some of the worst features in people. Eat or be eaten…the survival of the fittest. I can’t buy that. “ “Apartheid has given free enterprise a bad name”.
It is not only his Christian belief in the Holy Land as the site of God’s acts and of His message, but also his humanistic-optimistic Socialism that gives the clue to how he thinks.