South African Nobel Peace laureate and Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu has never been one to back out of a fight over human rights and justice. He has always been outspoken, even when it meant certain death for him, like during the time his country was under the rule of Apartheid.
One topic he has always seen as a wrong that needed to be righted was the case of Israeli rule over Palestinians. Almost 12 years ago, in a speech that he made in the United States, Archbishop Tutu said that he saw the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks and compared it to the suffering that South Africans had to go through during apartheid.
Now, over a decade later, the Archbishop has on the occasion of 2014 general assembly of the Presbyterian Church, issued a call on delegates to vote for divestment from companies that assist “apartheid” Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people.
“I reach out in prayer and solidarity that the Assembly will make a strong witness for reconciliation, justice and peace,” Tutu said. “I am aware that the Assembly will consider eight overtures on the confounding and intractable conflict in Israel and Palestine, however I am especially urging the Assembly to adopt the overture naming Israel as an apartheid state through its domestic policies and maintenance of the occupation, and the overture calling for divestment of certain companies that contribute to the occupation of the Palestinian people.”
He also added, “The sustainability of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people has always been dependent on its ability to deliver justice to the Palestinians. I know firsthand that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation. The parallels to my own beloved South Africa are painfully stark indeed.”
Tutu’s stance against Israeli oppression of the Palestinians is quite unique, given that most other international leaders are afraid of speaking out. Only former US President Jimmy Carter has been vocal on the matter, and it has led to him being isolated by President Barack Obama and other US presidents since that time.
The assembly is being held in Detroit from 14th to 21st of June. You can read the full statement here.