A Light Unto his Nation – a Dark Side to Jews
By David E. Kaplan
The recent passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa presents a conundrum – how could someone deservedly so loved and respected, referred to as “a moral compass” and the “conscience of the nation” be an antisemite?
It would seem unthinkable!
Tutu is only another in a long lineup of outstanding personalities who having contributed superlatively to making the world a better place but nevertheless expose this “other side”, this “dark side” – of antisemitism.
So how should Jews come to terms and relate to the legacies of legends?
To this day, Israelis have a problem with the “genius” German composer Richard Wagner, who while revolutionising the course of music in the 19th century, remains controversial in the Jewish state not only because of his virulent antisemitism but the suggested impact of that hatred. Hitler’s favourite composer, the Fuhrer found Wagner’s music and world view – his antisemitism – inspirational, begging the question:
What role did Wagner play in the cultural evolution towards the genocidal ‘Final solution’?
Jews are left with the question:
Can we separate the man from his art?
What of the Impressionists, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Edward Degas, who were both vocal about their antisemitism and at the time of the Dreyfus affair, were proud to stand and be counted in the anti-Dreyfus camp? Less nuanced than Renoir, Degas’ hatred was so deep-rooted that that he once threw a model out of his studio, screaming at her that she was Jewish – she was in fact Protestant! During the Dreyfus affair, Degas ended relationships with Jewish friends, including Ludovich Halevy, who had been like family to him.
The works of Renoir and Degas are wondrous; their impact on pushing the boundaries of late 19th century French art incomparable.
Should Jews boycott appreciating their art?
Platform of Popularity
Is there a more iconic American motor car than the Ford and yet its fonder was a notorious antisemite. Has it stopped anyone from buying a Ford vehicle?
Sitting around a campfire in 1919, a friend of Henry Ford records him addressing their group of fellow campers raging that:
“all evil to Jews or to the Jewish capitalists…The Jews caused the war, the Jews caused the outbreak of thieving and robbery all over the country, the Jews caused the inefficiency of the navy…”
In other words, the Jews are responsible for all the country’s ills.
That same year, Ford began publishing a series of articles that claimed of “a vast Jewish conspiracy” that “was infecting America”. The famed industrialist would then then go on to bound the articles into four volumes titled “The International Jew” and distributed half a million copies. As passionate a car-maker, he was as passionate in his hate for Jews.
As one of the most famous men in America, Henry Ford legitimised ideas that otherwise may have been given little authority.
Archbishop Tutu joins this list of impressive influencers in the impact they can have in creating negative mindsets against Jews. The reverence Tutu justly deserved in his struggle against Apartheid and his subsequent role in facilitating national reconciliation through his adept chairmanship of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, provided him a platform and a protection when it came to his vocal attacks on Jews.
This is what made him dangerous in life and no less today in death. In paying tribute to the celebrated esteemed icon, eulogies in the media and online, spared no effort to exploit this ‘heavenly’ masqueraded opportunity to convey the Archbishop’s animus towards the ‘collective Jew’ – Jewish state of Israel.
Cognisant of the danger of a Tutu protected by his international acclaim and popularity, Jay Nordlinger – a senior editor of National Review and author of a ‘Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize’ – wrote in 2014:
“The most harmful of them [Nobel Laureates] is Desmond Tutu: because he is a South African hero who for decades has peddled the lie that Israel is an “apartheid state”. Coming from him, it is more harmful than from (the countless) others.”
The accusation of being an antisemite did nor seem to bother the Archbishop. Whenever so questioned, Tutu would flippantly respond with his two preferred stock answers:
- “Tough luck”
- “My dentist’s name is Dr. Cohen”
There is however one major difference between the mindset of a Wagner, Renoir, Degas and Ford and that of Archbishop Tutu – the intervening Shoah!
It is doubtful that the nineteenth and early twenty century antisemites could have foreseen the Holocaust or predicted the impact of their animus in contributing to what was to follow. Tutu, on the other hand, had the benefit of hindsight and still could be so insensitive that on a visit in 1989 to Israel’s Holocaust memorial – Yad Vashem – to say that the Nazis ought to be forgiven for their crimes to the Jewish people. Two thirds of European Jewry were wiped out in a methodic mass murder and at the memorial to their memory all the Archbishop could say was:
“We pray for those who made it happen, forgive them and help us to forgive them, and help us so that we, in our turn, will not make others suffer.”
This, he said, was his “message” to the Israeli children and grandchildren of the murdered!
Where were the archbishop’s prayers for the six million victims, including 1.5 million murdered children?
Tutu’s behaviour baffled no less a fellow Nobel Peace Laurette, Elie Wiesel who said:
“For anyone in Jerusalem, at Yad Vashem, to speak about forgiveness would be, in my view, a disturbing lack of sensitivity toward the Jewish victims and their survivors. I hope that was not the intention of Bishop Tutu.”
Clearly it was “the intention” otherwise how else do you explain Tutu saying that “The gas chambers made for a neater death” than Apartheid’s resettlement policies?
And for those who rush to ‘explain’ Tutu’s fulminations against Jews as ‘a perfectly understandable’ default position of viewing all perceived problems in the world through a South African lens, how do you excuse Tutu declaring back in 1984,that:
“The Jews thought they had a monopoly on G-d” or his other insensitive observations:
- “Jews … think they have cornered the market on suffering”
- that Jews are “quick to yell ‘antisemitism”
- that Jews display “an arrogance of power – because Jews have such a strong lobby in the United States.”
Tutu draws close to the antisemitic thinking of Henry Ford when he expressed in April 2002 that:
“People are scared in [America] to say wrong is wrong, because the Jewish lobby is powerful, very powerful. Well, so what? Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin were all powerful, but, in the end, they bit the dust.”
Tutu did not talk here of an Israeli but a “Jewish” lobby and longingly predicts that in the end, the implied devious and “powerful, very powerful, ” Jewish power brokers will be crushed like their kindred spirits – Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. In the age-old tradition of antisemitic diatribe, what a despicable construct from the Archbishop designed to sow suspicion and foster hatred of Jews. All the worse in that the ‘voice’ behind this venom enjoyed the ‘moral’ authority of the South African Anglican church.
Whichever way one tries to decipher these disturbing words, Tutu comes out “in his own words” an antisemite.
Beneath the beloved veneer of South Africa’s archbishop resided an unabashed enemy of the Jews and there lies the conundrum:
When famous personages, who contribute to mankind are acclaimed by an appreciative populace and then use their platform of popularity to turn on the Jews, are they to be revered or reviled?
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