We are posting the following open letter to the Guardian from Tony Greenstein. It is addressed to Kath Viner, and The Guardian‘s Zionist gatekeeper, Jonathon Freedland, following the paper’s dedication to Archbishop Desmond Tutu following his death on 26.12.21.
OPEN LETTER FROM TONY GREENSTEIN AFTER ITS COVERAGE OF DESMOND TUTU’S DEATH
Do You Not Have a Shred of Decency? Why did the Guardian remove from its coverage of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s death any reference to the Palestinians?
Dear Kath and Jonathon,
Yesterday’s Guardian has 4 pages dedicated to the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. 60% of the front page was also devoted to his death. As someone whose first political activity, as a 16 year old schoolboy, was demonstrating against the 1970 Springbok Rugby tour, I am the last person to quarrel with the extent of your coverage.
What I find amazing though is that there wasn’t even a passing mention of Tutu’s support for the Palestinians or his description of Israel as worse than its South African counterpart:
“Your struggle will be harder than ours, as Israel’s apartheid is even worse than South Africa’s. We never had F-16s bomb our bantustans killing hundreds of our children. Remember that.”
Tutu never lost an opportunity to criticise what he termed an apartheid state. This was well before B’Tselem’s Report describing Israel as ‘A regime of Jewish supremacy’ and Human Rights Watch’s Report ‘A Threshold Crossed – Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution’.
Perhaps I can make a more general observation? When people pay a tribute to someone and deliberately, for unspoken political reasons, excise a part of their life, they end up saying more about themselves than their subject. Your coverage of Desmond Tutu’s death says more about the Guardian than it does about him.
To do all these things and distort someone’s life, because it’s politically inconvenient to tell the truth, and is at variance with the Guardian’s editorial line, is not merely dishonest but politically odious. It suggests that the tribute you paid to Archbishop Tutu’s struggle against Apartheid is just hot air. Pious and empty words aimed at convincing your readers that you retain some integrity.
We all know the reasons for the Guardian’s dilemmas. You spent five years demonising Jeremy Corbyn and the Left as ‘anti-Semites’. You lost no opportunity to portray people who were opposed to apartheid as racists. Even worse you did it in the company of genuine racists and anti-Semites.
People like Boris Johnson, who in his 2004 novel ‘72 Virgins’ depicted Jews as controlling the media and being able to “fiddle” elections. Not forgetting Jacob Rees-Mogg who, apart from tweeting in support of the neo-Nazi AfD in Germany, described fellow Jewish MPs John Bercow and Oliver Letwin as “Illuminati who are taking the powers to themselves.” A comment described as ‘expressly anti-Semitic’ by Professor Michael Berkowitz of UCL.
“I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”
What is there in this that you or your fellow scribes at the Guardian don’t understand? Either your opposition to what happened in South Africa, the subjugation of people according to the doctrines of racial supremacy, is a principle or it is a narrow political calculus dependent on the circumstances of the time.
The omission of any mention of Desmond Tutu’s longstanding support for the Palestinians was not accidental, an unfortunate oversight but a deliberate editorial decision. We know this because a critical comment from Professor David Mond, who pointed this out, was deleted by the Guardian. It did not accord with your ‘community standards.’ Likewise two comments from Mark Seddon, the former Editor of Tribune, were also deleted.
Desmond Tutu was a strong supporter of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, just as he supported sanctions against South Africa. That was the real reason for your selective editing.
Of course you did not want to mention Tutu’s position on Palestine. Tutu’s opposition to Israeli apartheid routinely attracted cries of ‘anti-Semitism’ from those who refuse to understand that opposing the Israeli state for what it does is not the same as hostility to Jew.
I fully understand your dilemma. The Guardian has spent so much of its time making false accusations of anti-Semitism that you don’t know how to handle the legacy of someone who, according to your definition, was anti-Semitic. Desmond Tutu was an opponent of apartheid in all its forms, including its Jewish equivalent, Zionism.
Just one final thing. The Guardian seems to have gone quiet on Labour ‘anti-Semitism’. I presume that you are satisfied with the fact that in order to eradicate ‘anti-Semitism’, Starmer is expelling dozens of Jewish members? If you are Jewish in the Labour Party today you are 5 times more likely to be expelled as non-Jews. It seems a strange way to oppose anti-Semitism which is presumably why the Guardian says nothing?
Is it too much for you now to come clean and admit that the campaign against Labour ‘anti-Semitism’ was never about Jews and always about Israel and its apartheid practices?
This letter was was first posted at:-
1. A Jewish socialist responds to Guardian article on the holocaust – Jeff Lever, Republican Socialist Alliance
2. Gaslighting the public- serial deceptions by the state-corporate media – Media Lens
3. The Guardian -: a liberal defender of the imperialist world order – Media Lens
4. The growing recognition that Israel is an apartheid state – Tony Greenstein