PRETORIA, South Africa (JTA) – Archbishop Desmond Tutu responded to the outrage of a Jewish journalist in Cape Town over Israel’s policy toward African immigrants.
Tutu responded to a public letter by Cape Town Jewish journalist Moira Levy, who had condemned Israel’s move to deport illegal African migrants. Levy had said publicly that she will turn on her Jewish roots and cut off her past because of Israel’s intention to deport African immigrants and its intention to create ”deportation camps” in the south of the country.
”Israel has declared that the threat they allegedly pose is to the racial purity of the Jewish state. As a Jew and a white South African I have to ask myself if I can continue to be associated with people who’ve learnt from history only the ability to repeat the same horrific mistakes,” Levy wrote in her letter, which was published last week in the daily Cape Times.
Tutu wrote that he was moved by Levy’s "anguish" but urged her not to abandon her belief, and not to blame her faith over ”policies of people in power.” The Nobel Peace Prize winner also wrote that ”when our family behaved wrongly, we did not turn our backs on them, but tried to convince them to steer a fairer course.” He emphasized that some of the most outspoken critics of apartheid and of Israel were Jewish, saying that ”these compatriots have a unique understanding of discrimination.”
A spokesman for the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said the board defends the fundamental right of people to express their opinions. He added that it was difficult to accept the arguments of a person who would choose to alienate herself from a 3,000-year-old tradition over her dissatisfaction with a specific issue.