Archbishop Desmond Tutu used his moral stature to call out and oppose Israeli apartheid, but the New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR are leaving it out.
ARCHBISHOP TUTU AND JIMMY CARTER VISIT PALESTINE WITH “THE ELDERS,” A GROUP OF EMINENT GLOBAL LEADERS. THEY STAND IN FRONT OF THE ISRAELI BARRIER DURING A VISIT TO THE WEST BANK VILLAGE OF BILIN NEAR RAMALLAH, AUGUST 27, 2009. (ISSAM RIMAWI, (C) APA IMAGES)
The Guardian has published an important eulogy to the late Desmond Tutu by Chris McGreal, saying what so many in the Palestinian solidarity community are saying: After fighting apartheid in South Africa, Tutu used his stature to call out apartheid in Israel and Palestine, and he paid a large price for doing so.
Indeed, opposing apartheid in Palestine was one of Tutu’s salient achievements. And yet the American media are — no surprise — playing that angle down in memorializing Tutu as a great moral leader. They seem embarrassed by this aspect of Tutu’s legacy.
The PBS News Hour gave the Anglican archbishop’s work on Palestine one line in a lengthy obit, between his visiting Rwanda after the genocide and his opposition to the Iraq war. “He weighed in on the Israeli Palestinian conflict, at times likening Israeli actions to apartheid era South Africa,” the News Hour said simply.
National Public Radio repeatedly failed to mention Tutu’s stand on Palestine in coverage here, here and here — even as its correspondents discussed the ways that Tutu “used his reputation” since the fall of apartheid by speaking “truth to power.”
The New York Times also scanted Tutu’s courage on Palestine in its obit, titled, “Desmond Tutu, whose voice helped slay apartheid, dies at 90.” This paragraph came near the very end, and it slights Tutu’s direct accusation of apartheid against Israel.