Monday, October 04, 2010

Ummm? Actually no ...

I'm sure Desmond Tutu is a good man. He has worked tirelessly for the cause of freedom and human rights, and for that he deserves to commended. However, when it comes to Israel he has proven himself to be profoundly ignorant.

He recently supported a call for a South African university to sever ties with an Israeli university. Here is the justification he provided.
"Israeli universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice," Tutu wrote in an essay that appeared in a South African newspaper Sunday. "While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation."
I'm sorry, but anyone who knows even the slightest bit about Israeli universities knows that they are the sources of the most vocal criticism of Israeli society, of the Israeli government, and of Israel's policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians.

To suggest that Israeli universities "are an intimate part of the Israeli regime," whatever that means, shows a total failure to form even a rudimentary understanding of Israeli society. It shows a perspective that is based on the propaganda and distortions of Israel's most hateful critics, rather anything related to truth or fact.

Like most universities, Israel's institutions of higher learning are bastions for Israel's most liberal and progressive thinkers. They serve Jews and Arabs alike and provide a vital forum for the free flow of ideas and democratic values. Israel's universities have recently come under attack by more radical right-wing elements in Israeli society for the often biting criticisms and viewpoints that are produced there.

Anyone who attacks these institutions merely sets back those members of Israeli society seeking to promote dialogue and reconciliation, and ultimately harms the chances for peace.

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