Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

Arcbishop Tutu's address to the Russell Tribunal

HOME
MISCELLANEOUS ARTICLES
INTERNATIONAL LAW
THE SAN REMO CONFEERENCE IN CONTEXT
THE GOLDSTONE MISSION TO GAZA 2009
THE OCCUPATION
GAZA and HAMAS
1948 ARAB-ISRAEL WAR
THE SIX-DAY WAR & RESOLUTION 242
BEHAVIOR OF ISRAELI SOLDIERS
DEIR YASSIN - startling evidence
1967 & ITS CONSEQUENCES
PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
WHAT SOME ARAB COMMENTATORS SAY
APARTHEID,ISRAEL & SOUTH AFRICA
LEBANON & HEZBOLLAH
HUMAN RIGHTS
ISLAMIC EXTREMISM
MEDIA DISTORTIONS
BOYCOTTS & DIVESTMENT
INCITEMENT
MEMORANDA TO UK PARLIAMENT
DOCUMENTS & ARTICLES
RECOMMENDED LINKS
THE ICJ & THE WALL
ACADEMIC FREEDOM
About Maurice Ostroff

TUTU TO THE RUSSELL TRIBUNAL ON PALESTINE ON 5 NOVEMBER 2011 IN CAPE TOWN

 

I feel very honoured to have been invited to address such an eminent gathering in my home town. Thank you. Please allow me to who’s-who here.

If you will indulge me I’d like to single out just one of your extraordinary number. Not just because he is my elder – a rare find these days – but because of his contribution to humanity. What a privilege to welcome Ambassador Stephane Hessel to Cape Town, concentration camp survivor, soldier of the French resistance, member of the team that drafted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

1 The Holy Land: My sadness and the two-state solution

I am very sad.

This piece if land we are here to talk about is not just some arbitrary tract of real estate. For quite a number of people – Jews, Muslims and Christians – it is the promised land, the land God in some way has been personally involved with more significantly, as it were, than in other parts of the world.

It is also linked with the Holocaust, and what the west did and did not do at the time of that particular abominable occurrence in human history.

And, for the past 60 years this land has been a strategically important location for the Western world.

Very few people therefore approach the Holy Land indifferently. And, as a result, what has been happening there is placed under a magnifying glass.

Unfortunately, for many of us in South Africa, what we see in the Holy Land has a sense of replay of things we experienced in our part of the world. Thus you get people speaking about the wall that has been built as the “apartheid wall” and people invoke the struggle against apartheid when they speak about the importance of boycotting Israel, and when they witness the security checkpoints.

My deepest sense of sadness is over what the Israeli Jews are doing to themselves. I have watched these young soldiers and how they treat the Palestinians and I see a replay of what used to happen in South Africa when a slip of a white boy in uniform would stop us and ask for our pass. We know, as South Africans, that such actions cause deep and long-term pain and anxiety to victims as well as those who do the victimizing.

Israel has the right to an independent sovereign existence with borders that are recognized and guaranteed by the international community. So equally must the Palestinians have the right to a contiguous state that is viable, not a Bantustan kind of thing, but one that can exist peacefully, side by side with Israel.

2 God favours the underdog

What I am here to say today is coming from my heart and my heart is heavy because there is a great deal of suffering. A people one loves very deeply from a faith perspective, whose scriptures have influenced who and what one has become, that they could whether directly or indirectly be the cause of so much pain and anguish to others.

There is a great deal of preventable human suffering caused by people who themselves have suffered so deeply.

They have forgotten what their prophets have said about our God who is notoriously biased in favour of the one who is suffering, however that suffering may come about.

Do you remember the story of Naboth’s little vineyard that was so desired by the King of Israel, Ahab? This modest plot was all Naboth had, but Ahab’s wife, Jezebel plotted to king Naboth by mock trial so that her husband could grab it. Apparently the King wanted to plant herbs – not houses, as they do on the West Bank. As punishment for this action, the prophet Elijah visited Ahab, pronouncing doom on him.

When God sent the prophet Nathan to hold King David to account over his killing of Batsheeba’s husband, Nathan related a parable about a rich man with many sheep and a poor man with just one little lamb. When a traveler came by and asked the rich man to feed him, the rich man instead took the poor man’s lamb and prepared a meal. King David responded that the rich man deserved to die. But you are that man, Nathan said.

The prophet Isaiah said, “If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking of wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones. You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places. You shall raise up the foundations of many Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”

Consider God’s choice of a rabble of slaves – aliens – to be the chosen people when He could have chosen a powerful Pharaoh.

We invoked this bias of God’s when we struggled against apartheid. We said that the Jews were vindicated after the Holocaust through the triumph of goodness in the establishment of Israel. Always, in the end, the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized will be vindicated because God is on their side. Always. We are seeing this principle working now in the so-called Arab Spring.

In the Holy Land it is the Palestinians who are suffering t

3 Forgiveness

A woman, seriously injured in a hand -grenade attack by members of one of the liberation movements, appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A number of her friends died in the attack and she had to undergo open-heart surgery. For a long period her children had to bathe, clothe and feed her and until today the shrapnel she carries in her body sets off every alarm in sight a airport checkpoints.

Did I mention the woman happens to be white? So, she comes to the commission and what does she say? She says of the experience, “It has enriched my life.” She says “I’d like to meet the perpetrator, I’d like to meet him in a spirit of forgiveness. I would like to forgive him.” Which is extraordinary. And then she goes on to say, “I hope he forgives me.”

If our experience in South Africa contains lessons for other regions experiencing seemingly intractable conflicts, lesson number one must be our collective willingness to reconcile – our willingness to say sorry, to accept the apology, to forgive.

Now imagine if all the people of Libya could follow our example, and the people of Egypt and Zimbabwe. How different would the world be today if Al Qaeda aplogised for 9/11 and America accepted the apology? Or if instead of responding militarily, America had responded to 9/11 with introspection and humility?

Forgiveness is much more than attributing blame or winning arguments.

This is not just spiritual gobbledygook: it is realpolitik. Think of what happens when you quarrel with your spouse. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, or your culture. The most difficult words you have to say are “I’m sorry. Forgive me.” Otherwise there is no future in the relationship.

There can be no future without forgiveness, whether in your domestic relationships or in the Holy Land.

My charge to the Russell Tribunal is thus: Please ensure that your deliberations contribute to peace and reconciliation in Israel and Palestine. Please be careful to leave the door open for forgiveness, for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians. Please remember you are dealing with your brothers and sisters here. For no matter where you come from or what you wear on your head – even if you wear no headdress at all – we are members of one family, the human family, God’s family.

Ends…..

Enter supporting content here

Please enter your comments here. Thank you
Full name:
Email address:
Subject: