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Home arrow Blog arrow October 2007 arrow October 5, 2007

October 5, 2007
WAWA Blog  October 5, 2007
Catholic University Censors Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu



Desmond Tutu barred from speaking at a Minnesota University



http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org

A peace and justice group at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota has been forced by the university president to cancel an appearance by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The cancellation was accompanied by the removal of the chair of the Justice and Peace Studies program, Prof. Cris Toffolo from her position as chair. She has tenure, but no longer heads the department.

The university president, Father Dennis Dease, decided against Tutu's appearance after consulting one representative from the local Jewish Community Relations Council and several rabbis affiliated with the university. This, apparently, amounted to a Jewish "consensus" in Father Dease's mind.

The rumor of Tutu's alleged "anti-Semitism" is based entirely on a propaganda campaign waged by the extremist group, the Zionist Organization of America. Though he is outspoken in his criticism of Israel's occupation regime, sometimes even bellicose, Tutu has never displayed anything other than deep concern for all peoples and his sympathy for Palestinians suffering under the yoke of occupation.

_______________________________________________

 

 

http://articles.citypages.com/2007-10-03/news/banning-desmond-tutu/


 
Put off by his controversial words on Israel, the University of St. Thomas snubs a Nobel Laureate Banning Desmond Tutu

By Matt Snyders

 

Back in April, when University of St. Thomas staffer Mike Klein informed his colleagues in the Justice and Peace Studies program that he'd succeeded in booking Archbishop Desmond Tutu for a campus appearance, the faculty buzzed in anticipation. For a program dedicated to fostering social change and nonviolence, there were few figures who embodied that vision more aptly than the world-renowned civil rights activist and Nobel Laureate.

Tutu's appearance—slated for the spring of '08—was made possible by the university's partnership with PeaceJam International, a youth-centered project that taps Nobel Laureates to teach young adults about peace and justice. For four straight years, the Catholic university's St. Paul campus had played host to PeaceJam festivities featuring Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Rigoberta Menchú Tum and Shirin Ebadi.

 

But in a move that still has faculty members shaking their heads in disbelief, St. Thomas administrators—concerned that Tutu's appearance might offend local Jews—told organizers that a visit from the archbishop was out of the question.

 

"We had heard some things he said that some people judged to be anti-Semitic and against Israeli policy," says Doug Hennes, St. Thomas's vice president for university and government relations. "We're not saying he's anti-Semitic. But he's compared the state of Israel to Hitler and our feeling was that making moral equivalencies like that are hurtful to some members of the Jewish community."

 

St. Thomas officials made this inference after Hennes talked to Julie Swiler, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

"I told him that I'd run across some statements that were of concern to me," says Swiler. "In a 2002 speech in Boston, he made some comments that were especially hurtful."

 

During that speech, titled "Occupation Is Oppression," Tutu lambasted the Israeli government for its treatment of Palestinians in occupied territories. While a transcription clearly suggests his criticism was aimed at the Israeli government ("We don't criticize the Jewish people," he said during the speech. "We criticize, we will criticize when they need to be criticized, the government of Israel"), pro-Israeli organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America went on the offensive and protested campus appearances by Tutu, accusing him of anti-Semitism.

 

Hennes says the input officials received from "the Jewish community" in this case was confined to Swiler and a few rabbis teaching within St. Thomas's Center for Jewish-Christian Learning. "I think there's a consensus in the Jewish community that his words were offensive," Swiler reiterates.

 

That was news to Marv Davidov, an adjunct professor within the Justice and Peace Studies program.

 

"As a Jew who experienced real anti-Semitism as a child, I'm deeply disturbed that a man like Tutu could be labeled anti-Semitic and silenced like this," he says. "I deeply resent the Israeli lobby trying to silence any criticism of its policy. It does a great disservice to Israel and to all Jews."

 

The controversy didn't end there. Incensed at the administration's decision, Professor Cris Toffolo—chair of the Justice and Peace Studies program at the time—sent Tutu a letter on May 24 informing him of the administration's decision. She also indicated her disagreement with the move and warned Tutu that he might be in for a smear campaign.

 

University brass caught wind of the letter, and on August 1, Tom Rochon, executive vice president of academic affairs, sent a letter of his own to Toffolo informing her that St. Thomas administrators had decided to revoke her position as chair of the Justice and Peace Studies program.

 

Asked about the reasoning behind the demotion, Rochon and Hennes decline to comment. Toffolo herself is hesitant to offer any statements about it due to the sensitivity of her situation, though she did confirm that her letter to Tutu was the catalyst for her demotion.

 

"This is pure bullshit," says Davidov. "As far as fighting for civil rights, I consider Tutu to be my brother. And I consider Cris Toffolo to be my sister. They're messing with my family here. If Columbia permits a Holocaust denier [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] to speak at their university, why are St. Thomas officials refusing to let Tutu, an apostle of nonviolence, speak at ours?"

 

Davidov and other professors maintain that the situation at St. Thomas is emblematic of a larger issue.

 

"What happened at the University of St. Thomas is not an isolated event," says Toffolo. "Until we have an honest debate about U.S. policy related to Israel, and about Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, the spiral of violence will continue."

__________________________________________________


University of St. Thomas stones Nobel peace prophet Desmond Tutu

PLEASE TAKE ACTION!

 The facts:

University of St. Thomas' president Father Dennis Dease, after pressure from a few local Jewish leaders, cancelled a scheduled presentation by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  The head of the Justice and Peace Studies program was also removed (apparently for having invited Tutu).  The Zionist Organization of America, an extremist pro-Israel group, has initiated a smear campaign against Bishop Tutu (and others, such as Jimmy Carter and Norman Finkelstein)-anyone of stature who dares to criticize the policies of the state of Israel.  The ZOA cited a speech given by Bishop Tutu at a Sabeel conference in Boston in April 2002.  They took some language from that speech, twisted it around, and accused Tutu of hate-speech and anti-Semitism.  A link to the full transcript of the actual speech is provided below.

 

PLEASE WRITE A LETTER or EMAIL protesting this blantant example of censorship to the University of St. Thomas.

 

MORE INFORMATION:
 

Muzzlewatch
Oct. 3 article, "Archbishop Tutu barred by U. of St. Thomas because of criticism of Israel":  http://www.muzzlewatch.com/?p=257

 

Transcript of Bishop Tutu's keynote address at the April 2002 Sabeel conference in Boston (the first page are the opening remarks of Friends of SABEEL North America, President Bishop Edmond Browning:

http://fosna.org/conferences_and_trips/
documents/2002_boston_tutu_keynote.pdf

 

Boston Globe interview with Desmond Tutu, April 20, 2002

http://fosna.org/conferences_and_trips/
BostonGlobeTutuInterviewApr20-2002.htm

 
Jewish Voice for Peace page where you can send an email message to Father Deace, president of the University of St. Thomas: 

http://www.democracyinaction.org/
dia/organizationsORG/jvfp/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=14061

 


You can also send a letter by snail mail by writing to:

 

Father Dennis Dease
President
University of St. Thomas

2115 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, Minnesota  55105

Phone: 1-651-962-5000
 
It would also help to send copies of your letters or emails to the highest Catholic policy makers in the U.S., the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Here is the office of justice and peace:
 
Dr. Stephen M. Colecchi
Director
Office of International Justice and Peace
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street NE
Washington DC 20017-1194
Tel:  202-541-3196
Fax:  202-541-3339
Email: 

Copies of your letters and emails would be appreciated. Send to or to
FOSNA, PO Box 9186, Portland, OR 97207

 

Finally, join Archbishop Tutu and an impressive list of other speakers at a Sabeel conference in Boston this October 26 & 27: "The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine/Israel: Issues of Justice and Peace"
 http://www.fosna.org/BostonConferenceOct2007.htm

 
THANK YOU! for defending Archbishop Tutu's right to speak. 

   
 
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