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The Late Bishop Desmond Tutu, Antisemite

His harsh criticism of Israel often shaded into, and seems to have been partially motivated by, antisemitic tropes.

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The late Bishop Desmond Tutu was a heroic anti-apartheid activist. He was also an extremely harsh critic of Israel. Anti-Israel activists have seized on his death to emphasize his anti-Israel views, in particular his claim that Israeli policies toward the Palestinians amount to apartheid. (Links above are just two examples of many.)

Tutu would seem to have a certain moral authority because of his anti-apartheid credentials. But a person who takes a heroic stance on one issue of racial justice can be awful on another. To take an example from American constitutional history, Justice John Marshall Harlan heroically stood up for the rights of African Americans in a series of famous dissents, most prominently in Plessy v. Ferguson. He was also the single most hostile Justice on the Court to the rights of Chinese Americans, and expressed that opposition in overtly racist terms—including in Plessy v. Ferguson! President Woodrow Wilson, easily the most racist president of the twentieth century regarding African Americans, appointed Jewish Justice Louis Brandeis and tried to intervene with Russian authorities on behalf of Russia's oppressed Jewish population.

There are many other examples throughout history of individuals who heroically supported their own or another people, but were hostile to others. Perhaps most famously, Ghandi was a racist.

Which brings us back to Tutu. His expressed hostility not just to Israel, but to Jews, seems to have had theological roots in traditional Christian antisemitism. Edward Alexander gives a summary:

His speeches against apartheid returned obsessively to gross, licentious equations between the former South African system and Jewish practices, biblical and modern. "the Jews," Tutu declared in 1984, "thought they had a monopoly on G-d" and "Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings."

Tutu has been an avid supporter of the Goebbels-like equation of Zionism with racism .[Bernstein: In fact, this calumny has its roots in Soviet antisemitic propaganda.] He has alleged that "Jews … think they have cornered the market on suffering" and that Jews are "quick to yell 'anti-Semitism,'" because of "an arrogance of power – because Jews have such a strong lobby in the United States."

Jewish power in America is, in fact, a favorite Tutu theme. In late April 2002, he praised his own courage in resisting it. "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 repeatedly has declared that (as he once told a Jewish Theological Seminary audience) "whether Jews like it or not, they are a peculiar people. They can't ever hope to be judged by the same standards which are used for other people."

Certainly, Tutu has never judged Jews by the standards he uses for other people. Although South African and American Jews were more, not less, critical of apartheid than the majority of their countrymen, Tutu, in 1987, threatened that "in the future, South African Jews will be punished if Israel continues dealing with South Africa." Israel's trade with South Africa was about 7 percent of America's, less than a 10th of Japan's, Germany's or England's. But, Tutu never threatened South African or American citizens of Japanese, German or English extraction with punishment.

In a recent essay for the Times of Israel I noted that anti-Israel hostility is typically rooted in repugnance to the idea of Jews having sovereignty and military power. One source of that repugnance is the notion Jews' role in the world is ironically, to serve as exemplars of Christian ideology:

More liberal Christian theologies, meanwhile, remain wedded to the notion that martyrdom, as suffered by Jesus, is the highest form of virtue. These liberals acknowledge and regret the unjust suffering endured by Jews in the Christian world for centuries. However, they see this suffering as uplifting Jews, with Jews being the martyrs to Christian sin just as Jesus was for the world's sins.

In the wake of the horrors of the Holocaust, Jews' role was to use their martyrdom to be a prophetic voice for peace, indeed pacifism, and to work for humankind's redemption. It was emphatically their role not to build a powerful state with a powerful military capable of inflicting military horrors of its own. Jews refusing to be victims is, ironically, seen as a betrayal of Christian ideals. This is why Christian critics of Israel so often accuse Jews of not learning anything from the Holocaust; in their mind, the Holocaust is a story about Christian sin and possible redemption via the actions of the victims; the fate of the Jewish people as a people is at best irrelevant.

In that light, here is Alexander again:

Tutu's insistence on applying a double standard to Jews may explain an otherwise mysterious feature of his anti-Israel rhetoric. He once asked Israel's ambassador to South Africa, Eliahu Lankin, "how it was possible that the Jews, who had suffered so much persecution, could oppress other people."

On another occasion, he expressed dismay "that Israel, with the kind of history … her people have experienced, should make refugees [actually, she didn't] of others."

In other words, Jews, according to Tutu, have a duty to behave particularly well, because Jews have suffered so much persecution. The mad corollary of this proposition is that the descendants of those who have not been persecuted do not have a special duty to behave well, and the descendants of the persecutors can be excused.

More generally, suggesting that Jews in Israel in the 21st century must behave a certain way because completely different Jews suffered persecution generations earlier, is a bizarre proposition, sufficiently bizarre that one never sees it applied to any other group that has suffered in the past. When is the last time you heard that Irish people should lead the fight against world hunger because such a high percentage of the Irish died in the potato famine? A standard that's applied only to Jews is inherently antisemitic.

The case against Bishop Tutu is not ambiguous; singling out Israel, a minor player, for preserving South African apartheid, suggesting that Jews are all-powerful and arrogant, arguing in favor of applying double standards to Jews, repeating traditional Christian antisemitic (and false, given actual Jewish theology) notions that Jews did not want anyone else to have a relationship with God, analogizing the "Jewish lobby" in the U.S. to Hitler and Stalin …. Tutu was publicly and unabashedly antisemitic.

This does not detract from his heroic anti-apartheid activism. But again, that heroism does not preclude him from being an antisemite. And as for those who hold up Tutu as a moral exemplar for his hostility to Israel … rather than bolstering their case against Israel, are instead reinforcing the fact that fanatical hostility to Israel is generally rooted in antisemitism.

UPDATE: The question I posed in the linked-to Times of Israel post was not "what do liberal Christians believe" but "if you read what liberal Christians who are hostile to Israel's existence write about Israel (and Jews), what can you surmise motivates that hostility?" And by "liberal Christians" I mean theologically liberal, the folks I'm talking about are generally not within the broad confines of "liberalism" in their political views, but are on the revulationary/Marxist/etc. far left.

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  1. Over Under on the (very Wrong Reverand) Kirtland posting something, bonus if he uses "Clingers" "Betters" , I'm guessing Under, 11, with the Clinger/Better Teaser...

    Frank "Et Tu, Tutu?"

    1. HAHAHA! That’s awesome.

    2. Why is this in a legal blog? Strange. I wonder what is the financial relationship with the Volokh site and Reason? Is there some investor who is paying Reason to host Volokh? Is Volokh paying Reason?

      1. The Elders of Zion control it, obviously. But seriously, no, this isn't a legal blog, it's a law professors' blog, to write about what we want to write about. It's right in the "about the Volokh Conspiracy link." Or maybe it really is a Jewish conspiracy. Which is more likely?

        1. Maybe it's an AIPAC conspiracy to continue pushing the myth that any criticism of the Israeli government is antisemitic.

  2. Tutu was as much of an antisemite as every other communist, and had he a freaking clue he would know that communist countries like the Soviet Union or China are racist to the core - but understand the value of useful idiots.

    1. Sure, he was an anti-semite, but why was his anti-apartheid activities any more virtuous? In each case, he was just advocating for his own kind of people. There was no virtue in any of it, except self-interest.

      1. Lol. By your reasoning there was no virtue in the American Revolution, WW2 or the Cold War either. Washington, Churchill, Reagan... all just self-interested fucks. smdh

        1. Washington was very much interested in creating a nation for his people. Churchill and Reagan were also looking out for their constituents.

          1. What's the difference between "creating a nation for his people" and "looking out for their constituents?" Which is supposed to be better?

            Mandella didn't aspire to a black ethno-state. He fought for a multi-racial democracy with equal rights for all. How is that less virtuous than what any of Washington, Churchill or Reagan did?

            1. Oops, I mean Tutu (though obvs Mandella too).

            2. Mandela and Tutu certainly did work towards a black ethno-state. What do you think South Africa has today? They vote, but the voting is all racialized with blacks voting for black interests and maintaining power.

              1. Sorry, but that's not what ethnostate means. South African whites have the same citizenship rights as blacks. There are just more blacks. What you're describing is how democracy works.

                You still haven't explained how Tutu's cause was any less virtuous than those of Washington, Churchill or Reagan.

                1. South Africa is a one-party state. Not my idea of a healthy government. Tutu's lack of virtue is demonstrated in Bernstein's post.

                  1. One-party state is quite the backpedal from black ethno-state.

                    1. That one party is the Black Marxist party.

                    2. One-party state is quite the backpedal from black ethno-state.

                      And even the backpedal is false, FWIW. The ANC has been the dominant political party in South Africa since apartheid ended, but South Africa is not Venezuela. There is robust political competition and the ANC's parliamentary majority has been in slow decline for decades.

                  2. Now you're just trolling. Bernstein's post recognizes Tutu's virtuous anti-apartheid activism, his unvirtuous anti-Semitism, and that neither negates the other.

                    Nobody claims there's virtue in Tutu's anti-Semitism. Until now you weren't discussing it because that was a given. What you've been disputing is the virtue of Tutu's fight against apartheid. Having finally abandoned that ill-conceived effort, you're backpeddling into an argument nobody is disputing.

                    1. So you think it was virtuous to promote his ethnic group against the interests of Whites, but not against the interests of Jews? Your answer depends on what your favored ethnic groups are.

                      I am just saying that Tutu was doing the same in both cases -- sticking up for his own kind at the expense of others.

      2. My desire to be free and your desire to force me to serve you are not two equally arbitrary, and, therefore, equally valid viewpoints.

    2. Tutu was as much of an antisemite as every other communist

      Maybe not officially a "communist," but close enough:
      (from his Wikipedia page)
      Tutu has described himself as a socialist. In 1986, he related that "[a]ll my experiences with capitalism, I'm afraid, have indicated that it encourages some of the worst features in people. Eat or be eaten. It is underlined by the survival of the fittest. I can't buy that. I mean, maybe it's the awful face of capitalism, but I haven't seen the other face."

  3. In a recent essay for the Times of Israel I noted that anti-Israel hostility is typically rooted in repugnance to the idea of Jews having sovereignty and military power. One source of that repugnance is the notion Jews' role in the world is ironically, to serve as exemplars of Christian ideology:

    More liberal Christian theologies, meanwhile, remain wedded to the notion that martyrdom, as suffered by Jesus, is the highest form of virtue. These liberals acknowledge and regret the unjust suffering endured by Jews in the Christian world for centuries. However, they see this suffering as uplifting Jews, with Jews being the martyrs to Christian sin just as Jesus was for the world's sins.

    This is a pretty gross generalization about the beliefs of liberal Christians, which is pretty funny coming in a post properly critiquing a man who made gross generalizations about the beliefs of Jews.

    Seriously, EVERYONE needs to stop it. And that includes Prof. Bernstein generalizing about what liberal Christians believe, as well as those who generalize about what Jews supposedly believe. It also includes people who look at a few verses in the Koran and make a bunch of gross generalizations about Muslims.

    Religions contain multitudes.

    1. Hey now, you know as well as I do, that a three year degree from Yale in reading the excerpts of things judges write, makes someone an expert on Christian theology. That’s just how it works.

    2. Perhaps I could have made this clearer, but I am of course only talking about the subset of liberal Christians who interpret things this way, which leads them to "anti-Zionism," i.e., strong hostility to the existence of Israel. This, of course, is only a subset of liberal Christians, but a not unimportant subset, especially in Europe.

      1. How did you identify this subset, it’s members, their quantity, and their thinking? What primary and secondary sources on “liberal Christian” thought did you use to get to this assertion? Did you break it out amongst Roman Catholic, Eastern Rite Catholic, Orthodox (by National Church), mainline Protestant, and other traditions? Did you interview leading Christian thinkers on this topic? Did you conduct surveys?

          1. I can state confidently that some VC commenters write posts that amount to silly, obnoxious non-sequiturs without doing a PhD thesis on the subject. Same principle.

            1. Comments are not on the same level as posts. With great power comes great responsibility.

              1. Or op-eds in the Times of Israel.

            2. Lol. I expected this answer. But you see I am a commenter on a blog. I have no audience or authoritative position. Nor am I using any authority I do have to get my broad claims published in widely read news outlets.

              By contrast, you are using your authority as an academic to lend weight to your assertions that you publish in mainstream publications to influence wide audiences.

              It is neither obnoxious, nor a “non sequitur” to ask a person with such authority how they came to their conclusions. In fact you’d think as an academic, you’d be happy to share your research on your assertions with the rest of us. If you made this claim at a conference where you took
              questions, everyone would think it was you who were being obnoxious and silly if you couldn’t provide an actual answer.

              Because you did not answer my question, I have to assume you didn’t actually didn’t do any research whatsoever on what liberal Christians (whoever those might be) think about Jews and just made something up. Then you used your credentials to get that published in the Times.

              P.S. It’s generally called a dissertation when it’s a doctoral candidate.

              1. Strike the second “didn’t”

                My kingdom for an Edit button.

            3. So the standard of your "professional" writing is that of a random internet comment section?

              Somehow, you just made Blackman look slightly better than he deserves, at your own expense.

              Bravo.

              1. You need some reading comprehension lessons.

                1. So you have time for insults but not time to provide the empirical basis for your generalizations.

      2. Perhaps I could have made this clearer,

        Perhaps.

        Instead of writing,

        More liberal Christian theologies, meanwhile, remain wedded to the notion that..., you could have said,

        Some liberal Christians, meanwhile, believe that...

        Of course those aren't really the same thing at all, and I don't suppose you are interested in discussing what "some conservative Christians" believe about Israel.

        1. It was in the context of a lengthy blog post about people who are hostile to Israel, so in original context, it's rather obvious, the "perhaps" is because I was quoting the article in a related, but not quite the same, context.

      3. This doesn’t strike me as very responsive to dilan’s point

      4. " but I am of course only talking about the subset of liberal Christians "

        That you, or any other Conspirator, aims the cherry-picked ankle-biting solely at liberals goes without saying, Professor.

      5. Professor Bernstein, I am anti-Zionism as are many Israeli Jews. I am also anti-Isreali state AS IT FUNCTIONS TODAY. Doesn't mean I'm anti-Jew... there's a difference

        1. Exactly.

    3. It's not his fault he doesn't know Christian beliefs about martyrdom in Europe, where it is rather important, if not often central. It's not as if there are many Christians there to question.

    4. Yeah, 'liberal Christian theologies' hits as getting into the American Christian partisan conflict.

      I know conservative Christians have been really into Israel lately, but this is not a fight it's a good idea to pick a side with. It's too petty and negatively oriented.

      And I say that as a liberal Christian - partisanship makes for brief and instrumentalist bedfellows. I do my best to stay out of that part of my Church's business.

      1. The Quakers and the Presbyterian Church, USA, are the prime offenders in the US. Here's one Presbyterian church criticizing the national body for "antisemitism" in how it approaches Israel-Palestinian issues. https://www.fpcfortmyers.org/our-statement-concerning-israel/. Why a Jewish person cannot take sides on a dispute between antisemites and their opponents within Christian circles is a bit beyond me.

        1. This has nothing to do with the assertion that liberal Christians perceive Jews as martyrs for their own sins. It makes no sense because Jesus took care of all that and martyrs need to be persecuted for their Christian faith.

          1. Modern theology present in liberal churches does not cleanly match traditionalist Christian perspective. Consider, as an extreme but relevant example, the annual tweets around Christmas time about how Mary and Joseph were "Palestinian refugees." Try matching that to the Gospel accounts of them going from Nazarteh to Bethelhem either for tax or census reasons, and in the latter case because Joseph was a Judean descendant of King David. Not refugees, not Palestinians...

            1. I notice that they weren't "Palestinian martyrs" so I still wonder how that's related.

              1. Because they "translate" traditional theology into modern concepts. So you can be agnostic on the Divinity of Jesus, and still believe that his death was to compensate for the sins of humanity and that he was, at the least, of towering morality. So one lesson one can draw for Jesus is that to suffer for the sins of others is a high calling. And of course, to then forgive the sinners, as Bishop Tutu said Jews are obligated to do re Nazis (not quoted above, but he said it). So... Jews, in suffering and dying, served a high calling. Their mission, collectively, was then to forgive sin and work for peace, love, and so forth. Instead, in Tutu's (and others') views, they chose an aggressive path of sovereignty and self-defense by forming their own state, their lack of humility in failing to forgive others being sinful and resulting in arrogantly oppressing others. In short, Jews, having suffered like Jesus, should have both emulated Jesus and more generally learned that the lesson of the Holocaust was... to act like good (and left-wing) Christians. This comes up over and over when you see "liberal" people complaining that Jews didn't learn the right lesson from the Holocaust. Now, this is all collectivist claptrap, but to the extent Jews, collectively, learned a lesson, it was to stop being stateless and defenseless. That is not, in fact, a good liberal Christian lesson, but I would posit that liberal Christians have no standing post-Holocaust to demand specific behavior from Jews, much less "Christian" behavior. Let the Christians behave like Christians first, then we'll talk.

                1. " So you can be agnostic on the Divinity of Jesus, and still believe that his death was to compensate for the sins of humanity "

                  Even in the world that flatters superstition that would seem daft. In the reason-based world, it would need to improve substantially to qualify as daft.

                2. " Now, this is all collectivist claptrap, but to the extent Jews, collectively, learned a lesson, it was to stop being stateless and defenseless. "

                  The way some American and Israeli Jews seem willing (or eager) to threaten that statehood and defense -- to benefit right-wing politics, and with reprehensible conduct that seems destined to cost Israel the American political, military, and economic skirts behind which it operates -- generates substantial question with respect to whether any such lesson has been learned.

            2. David,
              I've never heard that story the Joseph and Mary as Palestinian refugees. Not once, not ever. You must hang out with some real crazies

                1. Somehow it's 2022, and people like you still think that an opinion piece is sponsored and supported by the author's employer?

                  1. That was sarcasm, which sailed over your head.
                    The point being, far from being a "never heard" story, which one has to search for in some dark corner of the internet, it a position held by Ivy league professors holding endowed chairs, and propagated by media sources like Al Jazeera, as well as elected officials in the anglosphere.

                    1. Clearly it wasn't sarcasm, since you've doubled-down on your argument.

                      Keep reaching and maybe you'll find a legitimate point somewhere. Until then, it's an odd story that an extremely small subset of people bother to even pay attention to, and an even smaller number actually believe.

                      Add that to the complaint bag of a "War on Christmas" and being prohibited from saying "Merry Christmas."

                      It's bullshit.

                2. Yup.
                  One never has to make anything up. No matter how craziy there are always some loonies out there who think, say or do that.

              1. You need to get out more. People routinely call even Jesus himself a "Palestinian refugee," though there is no basis in the Gospels for descriving him as either. https://twitter.com/search?q=jesus%20%22Palestinian%20refugee%22&src=typed_query&f=live

                1. A Twitter.com search will find any kind of nut you want.

                  As I said, there is no need to go there. Don't generalize about what liberal Christians or conservative Christians believe. It's too reductive to have much truth value, and it acts as a spurious attack on them by a large enough number of people that it will distract from any other thesis you might have.

                  1. I am generalizing not about liberal Christians or conservative Christians, but about why some liberal and some conservative Christians (as noted in the linked Times of Israel post) are obsessively hostile to Israel. I am open to better explanations than the ones I provide. So the question isn't, e.g., "what to liberal Christians believe" but "if you read what liberal Christians who are obsessively hostile to Israel write about Israel (and Jews), what can you surmise motivates that hostility?" And by "liberal Christians" I mean theologically liberal, the folks I'm talking about are generally not within the broad shema of liberalism in their political views.

                    1. You didn’t write that in the Times piece. You wrote this:

                      “ More liberal Christian theologies, meanwhile, remain wedded to the notion that martyrdom, as suffered by Jesus, is the highest form of virtue. These liberals acknowledge and regret the unjust suffering endured by Jews in the Christian world for centuries. However, they see this suffering as uplifting Jews, with Jews being the martyrs to Christian sin just as Jesus was for the world's sins.”

                      You provided a definitive generalization about liberal Christian theologies. And then you have 1) refused to provide empirical backing to your broad assertions. 2) moved the goal posts when challenged.

                      Professor, I think you owe the Times and this blog a correction and a retraction.

                    2. All proceeded by "Many more people, however, are repulsed by Israel’s sovereignty and strength.

                      On the repulsion front..." You also need some reading comprehension. If you read the TOI piece and believe that I was referring to all (theologically) liberal Christians, you'd have to think I believe that all liberal Christians are extremely hostile to Israel, which obviously isn't true.

              2. What you have or haven't read or heard depends, of course, who you listen to and/or read. It is of exceedingly little consequence, really none, as far as a contribution here or anywhere.

                But if you care to educate yourself before returning to comment further, please do a bit to educate yourself.

    5. people who look at a few verses in the Koran and make a bunch of gross generalizations about Muslims

      OK, how about looking at what Muslims do?

  4. "...Tutu, in 1987, threatened that "in the future, South African Jews will be punished if Israel continues dealing with South Africa.""

    Well, the, from 1987's standpoint "the future" has arrived.

    How are South African Jews doing?

    I don't actually know.

    1. In Africa, there are less than 75,000 Jews, about 90% of whom live in the country of South Africa. Most of them are moving to less race-ist lands, like Somalia or Libya.

  5. PS - it's my understanding that the Israeli state (not to be confused with Jews in general) made a decision that apartheid South Africa warranted a pragmatic alliance - an alliance between two countries shunned by the rest of the world as racists and who might have common interests in protecting each other.

    Didn't that actually happen?

    Politics ain't beanbag.

    1. Israeli leaders criticized Apartheid but maintained diplomatic relations with South Africa and cooperated in some security areas, including, most controversially, South Africa's nuclear weapons program. However, Israel was far from unique in this (except for nuclear weapons, which few countries were in a position to help with). Most Arab countries also maintained diplomatic relations with South Africa and continued to trade with South Africa. Ironically, it was the OPEC countries, mostly Arab, that were in the best position to put pressure on the apartheid regime: South Africa was heavily dependent on imported oil. (OPEC did briefly cut oil supplies to South Africa, but as part of its anti-Israel campaign, not out of opposition to apartheid.)

      1. "OPEC did briefly cut oil supplies to South Africa, but as part of its anti-Israel campaign, not out of opposition to apartheid." By being an ally of SA, perhaps Israel helped end apartheid in SA?

    2. Israel had close ties to black African states in the 1960s. The Arab countries presented them with an ultimatum: either cut those ties, or we won't sell you oil and will otherwise go after you. Almost every African country proceeded to cut ties with Israel. It was only after that happened that Israel's ties to South Africa deepened, as Israel was made a pariah by its enemies. To harp on Israel's ties, given its diplomatic isolation and desperation, but not, say, France, which actually built two of S.A.'s three nuclear plants, highly suspicious given both that Israel's ties weren't nearly as important as France, the US, Britain, etc., and also given that those countries didn't have imposed isolation from other countries .

      1. Certainly, but the country of Israel (unlike the Jewish people generally), had a Mideast war/Cold War rationale for an alliance of convenience. When you're fighting for survival, any port in a storm. It's no more sinister than (say) France or what have you.

  6. That Tutu brought his moral authority with him when he visited the Holy Land was a problem for Israel's right wing. Afterward, Tutu offered firsthand witness to what he found there, declaring, and discussing, striking similarities between South African apartheid and Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Tutu's lived experience gave him an incomparable position to judge, and the world recognized that.

    That comparison was a devastating blow to Israeli foreign relations. It was also a moral stain against which no cleanser could prove adequate.

    For those committed to Israel's right-wing policies regarding Palestinians, there really was not much they could do to counter that, except to brand Tutu an anti-Semite. They are still at it, even with Tutu dead. Alan Dershowitz was complaining a few days ago on Fox News, in much the same vein Bernstein uses here.

    There is no reasonable explanation for such post-mortem blasts at Tutu, except for the fairly obvious one that they example a continuation of right-wing Israeli PR in the U.S. To me, it does not feel like very skillful PR.

    I bear no ill will toward Israel. I want it to continue and thrive as a nation, and as a Jewish homeland for those who want it to be one. Advocacy for wiping Israel off the map is abhorrent to me. As a practical matter—absent a two-state solution—I expect conflicts between Israel and Palestinians to continue for centuries, and I want Israel to come out on top. But I want Israel to greatly mitigate its oppression of Palestinians. Bernstein's problem is that Tutu's criticisms were correct when he made them, and still apply today.

    Those sentiments will assuredly survive even Bernstein labeling me an anti-Semite. But doing that will not increase even slightly my support for Israel's right wing. Bernstein can console himself that in my case his screed has done no harm. My regard for right-wing Israeli politics was already too low to sink more. Of course Bernstein cares nothing for what I have to say. I wonder if he gives any thought to whether the views of others might resemble mine.

    1. Mark the day. I actually agrre with Stephen Latrop on something.....

    2. I'm not that familiar with the Israeli right, but if they're turning the screws on the Palestinians that's dirty pool.

      From the BDSM movement, though, I get the idea they're not making subtle distinctions between Labor and Likud. Freeing Palestine from the River to the Sea contradicts both Labor *and* Likud's platforms.

      Maybe sophisticated analysts can delineate the important differences among Israel's factions. To the BDSM crowd, a Jew's a Jew.

      1. BDSM movement? Please explain in detail

          1. :-(,
            And here I was thinking there would be something interesting coming out of a DB post.

            1. DB posts aren't my favorite, but the comment threads are often pretty good.
              Not this one, but generally the subjects he writes about haven't gotten factually partisanized, so the arguments are at least over concepts and not facts.

              1. Israel has become intensely factually partisanized, to a point at which the sound course for those who oppose right-wing belligerence would be to remove the political, military, and economic curtains behind which Israel operated for decades.

                Most Americans oppose right-wing belligerence (especially when laced with bigoted, authoritarian religion) at home -- why should we be expected to continue to subsidize it anywhere else.

                Visit any strong college's campus and consider how U.S.-Israel relations are likely to develop when a bunch of 70- and 80-year-old elected officials leave the stage, and as America becomes less religious, less rural, less backward, less White, and less bigoted.

                For reasons I am unable to apprehend, Prof. Bernstein -- whom I believe to be genuinely interested in Israel's welfare -- is conducting himself in what appears to be a profoundly counterproductive manner in this context.

    3. "Tutu's lived experience gave him an incomparable position to judge, and the world recognized that."

      Personal anecdotes are dull and unpersuasive.

      1. Kleppe, had that been true of Tutu, Bernstein would not be worrying about him today, even with Tutu dead.

        1. People are often persuaded by things that are logically unpersuasive. For example, some pro-Jewish genocide Jews always start their "anti-Zionist" screeds with "as a Jew." Being born as, or even identifying as, a Jew, doesn't mean you have more sense re Israel or anything else than a confused cow, but they obviously think it helps their case.

          1. This is bizarre thinking

  7. What's interesting about your diatribe, Stephen, is that you not only don't explain why the quotations above from Tutu are not sufficient evidence to deem him an antisemite, you don't even deny that they are. You instead seem to be implicitly arguing that if someone is a harsh critic of Israel and has moral authority from some other venture, one should ignore that he expressed himself in antisemitic terms, including about Jews in general, not Israel, because otherwise you are playing into the hands of the "right-wing." Au contraire, it is you who are playing into the hands of the antisemites.

    1. I was thinking of the equation of criticism of China with anti-Chinese racism.

      I was also thinking of the glory days of the Ottoman Empire, which I have been reading about recently. The Sultans were not nice people by any means, having got the job by killing their close relatives who also had a claim to power, but they recognized the value of allowing all three Abrahamic religions to coexist.

      1. How is any of the below, quoted in the post, criticism of *Israel*?

        "Jews … think they have cornered the market on suffering" and that Jews are "quick to yell 'anti-Semitism,'" because of "an arrogance of power – because Jews have such a strong lobby in the United States."
        "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."

  8. Tutu's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a great example of peacemaking that might be used as an example for the Israel Palestine conflict sometime down the road.

    1. The TRC was designed to conciliate highly hostile factions in a time of regime change.

      Even in those terms, I'm not sure that letting lots of political criminals out of prison was, in hindsight, the best idea. Look at the crime wave they're having now.

    2. The trc was to settle scores, nothing else. Like most congressional committees.

  9. "This does not detract from his heroic anti-apartheid activism."

    It does to me. Just like Nelson Mandela's support for Castro's Cubs detracts from his heroic anti-apartheid activism. Mandela's defence for his support for a dictator was that as long as the dictator supported HIS cause, he himself had no moral responsibility towards Castro's victims.

    1. Castro's Cubs?

      I knew Castro played some baseball, but didn't know he had made it to MLB.

  10. I didn't say it doesn't detract from the regard in which one should hold Tutu, just that he could be both an anti-apartheid hero and bad on other things that diminish him.

    1. You're saying he was human?

      1. I'm saying that he was human in general, a hero on apartheid, and a antisemite as well. People act as if the latter two aspects of his life can't both be true, which is silly.

  11. Independent of the role of jews in the discourse note that the whole doctrine of original sin is inherently a doctrine that suggests it's appropriate for some to suffer because of actions they aren't responsible for (even setting aside whole garden of Eden thing it's still a doctrine that newborns in some sense deserve to be born into a suffering filled world despite their total moral innocence).

    More generally, something is deeply fucked up about the attitude that every abrahamic religion (possibly excepting some of the more unusual Jewish mystical beliefs that accept reincarnation) has towards suffering. They believe in a benevolent God who, despite the obvious fact that it's logically possible to imagine a world that offered just as much apparent room for individual choice with much less suffering (no painful diseases affecting young children...surely a OOO God could just not ensoul such sufferers).

    But if a religion has the (incomprehensible imo) belief that suffering is good for us (part of a living OOO God's plan for us) it raises the question of why it's wrong for them to apply that view to Jews but not wrong to hold it generally. (I'd solve this by saying that it's a straight up moral failing to believe this world is one created by a OOO benevolent God in the first place bc of it's implication that suffering is a moral good but few others are willing to bite that bullet).

    1. Sorry "living God" should have been "loving God" ...damn autocorrect!

    2. FWIW, while I believe all Orthodox rabbis would agree that God is benevolent, there are some who believe that He is benevolent from God's perspective, not from humans', and God's perspective is beyond our ability to comprehend, but assumedly is "good" in an objective sense because God is of superior everything to humans.

      1. Ok, fair point. My knowledge of Jewish theology is mostly what I picked up living in Israel but, as I was already an atheist by that point, I didn't pay too much attention (other than to one or two friends who had very unusual interpratations).

    3. I think you misunderstand original sin. It doesn't imply that everybody (except maybe Adam and Eve) deserves to suffer. One sinful act can make a lot of people suffer but the existence of the suffering doesn't mean that they deserve it. In any case, for most Western Christian faiths original sin isn't guilt, it's just a shorthand for "human nature is drawn to sinfulness." Whether or not it's true it doesn't mean that humans deserve to suffer. Eastern Christians don't conceptualize original sin in the same way anyway: it just means humans have to be mortal now.

      "[N]ewborns in some sense deserve to be born into a suffering filled world despite their total moral innocence."
      This sounds like garden-variety anti-natalism. For most people, religious or not, the only necessary rebuttal is that life is filled with more joy than suffering and that all the suffering is worth it. Collectively, we've implicitly made that determination given how many people choose to have children.

      Your understanding of suffering is also wrong, for each of the faiths. I don't think any of them regard suffering itself and generally as good, just as a natural consequence of free will and the existence of evil (human or supernatural). How a person bears suffering can be righteous.

      1. My point is not about classical Christian theology. As I state in my linked blog post at the Times of Israel, some who adhere to that theology have an entirely separate problem with Israel. I'm talking about those who see Jesus mostly in terms of an inspiration/exemplar. Pacificism, forgiveness, dying for others' sins... that's how you become the hero of a story, not by founding a state that depends on military might to survive. That goes a long way to explaining the shift of cerain liberal Christian denominations and individual clergy from being Jews' greatest Western allies before WWII to more recently becoming their enemies--they love dead, martyred, hunted Jews, but not living, aggressive ones. As with the title of a recent book, (some) People Love Dead Jews https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393531565. But if you have a better explanation of why it's Jews and only Jews who are singled out by Christians as having to live up to Christian ideals other than that Jews serve as a Jesus substitute, I'm all ears.

    4. Are you saying that Judaism teaches that suffering is good for us?

      I don't think so. Quite the opposite, in fact.

      1. Are you saying that Judaism teaches that suffering is good for us?

        Yes, it does. See, e.g., Psalm 94:12 ("Happy is the man whom You afflict, God"), and Proverbs 3:12 ("For he whom God loves He disciplines"), as explained in Berachot 5a. (There are many more sources, but those are the first I found.)

        Note the words you used: "good for us". i.e. the suffering is in the sufferer's own true long-term interest. Not that he's suffering for someone else's sake.

    5. Belief in reincarnation is hardly unusual among Orthodox Jews. There was a time when that was true, but for the last four centuries ago it's been the mainstream position, and those who reject it are unusual.

      More generally the Jewish answer to why God acts as He does is that human brains are incapable of understanding the answer so there's no point in trying. We must simply accept that from His perspective it all makes sense and it's all just, and it is the most benevolent solution. That shouldn't stop us from complaining to Him that we can't understand it, and asking Him to act in ways that we can understand to be for our good, while accepting that He will accept those prayers only to the extent that they're compatible with our actual good.

      As for Original Sin, standard Orthodox Judaism teaches that it affects only the body and not the soul. We are mortal and subject to illness and suffering because of the Original Sin, but our souls descend into the world clean, and any guilt they accumulate while here is entirely due to our decisions. After death that guilt must be cleaned off in Purgatory, so the soul can return to its Creator in the same clean state as He sent it out. Some guilt can be held over to be corrected by the soul's next incarnation, but there's no Hell (i.e. eternal punishment), and no guilt for what some other soul did.

  12. Tutu spoke at my university graduation in 1985 and he was greeted as a hero. I didn't follow his various public views on Israel or the Jewish Lobby in the US but perhaps he had an anti Colonial POV. The peoples who inhabited Palestine were occupied by the Ottomans then the Brits. Then other Europeans (Zionists) started to come in and while the various violence on both sides went on for decades until the creation of Israel and beyond. He might have viewed Israel as just another European Colonial Expansion. Or at least that was his perception.

    At the very least you can't justify occupying the west bank since the 67 war without admitting countries can pretty much do what they want in the real world for their security or self-interests. Israel is no better or worse than a typical western "democracy" in terms of its foreign policy. And should be held to the same level of accountability but no more as France, the UK, or the US in foreign policy. Morality is subjective with nation states.

    As for the Christian debate...as a practicing Catholic I've never heard in any Mass any antisemitism in any way or blame for "who killed Jesus." As a libertarian I am often debating Jewish Liberals on monetary policy, DIE/Marxism, the size and scope of govt and foreign policy..the fact that most of the time progressives I'm debating are Jewish. I assume it has more to do with their upbringing/historical background (Eastern Europe) than any inherent religious factors.

    1. As for the Christian debate...as a practicing Catholic I've never heard in any Mass any antisemitism in any way or blame for "who killed Jesus."

      Vatican 2 put an end to it. Before that, Catholic anti-Semitism was virulent.

    2. Tutu spoke at my college commencement in 1984 (I was only a junior then), and I got to meet him and talked briefly with him. He was very nice, and it was apparently fortunate that he didn't realize I'm Jewish.

      1. When accused of antisemitism, Tutu would point out that his dentist was named Cohn. You know that familiar denial, "Some of my best friends are Jewish."

        It is silly, as I expect you realize, to have expected Tutu to abreact to you by way of demonstrating antisemitism

  13. What Eugene Volokh is saying is that organizing an online harassment campaign against a private individual, by doxing them, exposing their private or personal information on webpages or blogs without their consent for malicious, intentional purposes, is actually perfectly legal, should be perfectly legal, and should actually be encouraged as it would add "valuable" insight into the "marketplace of ideas."

    Eugene's "Free Speech" absolutism is dangerous and irresponsible to humanity and the public order. Eugene ignores all semblance of decency and respect for victims' rights. He is paid by Big Tech to shill "Free Speech" so big tech can avoid regulation (Section 230 reform or repeal).

    1. You are not wanted here.

  14. What drivel. It’s embarrassing that Volokh allows this page to be used as a platform for David’s half-baked Zionist screeds. What does this have to do with legal analysis, exactly, except perhaps its tangential relation to the 1A-crushing anti-BDS laws which David also supports?

      1. This post was certainly a flight of fancy.

  15. David, to deny that the formation of the State of Israel involved making many Palestinians refugees should be beneath the contempt of any reasonable person. More and more, you reveal yourself as unreasonable.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Palestinian_exodus

    1. Even that Wikipedia article states that few of the Palestinians left due to actual expulsions. Most left after the war against Israel had begun, making them refugees, yes, but not necessarily made that by Israel.

    2. The creation of the State of Israel resulted there being Palestinian refugees. Who's to blame and how much relative blame they receive for that result is a subject of debate. Now that you see that I acknowledge the basic historical fact that Israel's creation led to (involved suggests inherently involved, which is not true) a Palestinian refugee problem, perhaps you can tell me what that has to do with my post?

    3. The Jews are the indigenous people of Israel from both banks of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Zionism is an indigenous movement.

      The Arabs living in the area are economic migrants and opportunists, nothing more. They don’t have a unifying culture or historical background in the region, having migrated there.

      The only continuously present cultures in the region now called Israel are Bedouin and Druze, having joined the Jews there dozens of centuries ago. But even they are not indigenous. Only the Jews are.

      Get your facts straight.

  16. I don’t know enough about what Bishop Tutu actually said to comment.

    Caricaturizing ones opposition is a common problem in politics. We regularly get people who openly proclaim that anyone who supports any kind of government subsidies tor welfare or social security or health insurance is ipso facto a Stalinist who is proposing these policies solely as fronts for introducing totalitarianism, cults of personality, one-man rule, secret police, and gulags. And this in the face of plenty of evidence that not only do plenty of countries manage to have high taxes and various government subsidies yet maintain democracy and civil liberties stable for decades, but creeping totalitarianism and cults of personality are hardly a vice limited to the political left.

    Here there is frankly a lot of air between the idea that Jews having a country with a strong wrm is anathema, and opposing a number of Israeli government policies. The Israeli left, for example, could hardly be accused of opposing a strong army, yet they thought that a permanent military government over millions of people who don’t want it, not to mention seizing all open public land and whatever private land could be squatted on for settlements, was not only wrong but not in Israel’s long-term self-interest, that it would lead to a state of civil war and increasingly harsh uses of force, that it would lead to eroding Israel’s sympathy with the world as a persecuted small country.

    Feeling one is in a constant state of combat destroys nuance. People are either for you or against you. Criticism becomes treason.

    But there is plenty to criticize about Israel’s behavior following its victory in the 6 day war without claiming that support for any other policy but the one it eventully took - actively settling the newly conquered lands without giving the inhabitants any political rights, and giving them significant civil disabilities in things like land claim disputes, under a permanent fiction of a supposedly temporary military occupation - somehow represents fundamental opposition to Israel’s very existence.

    For example, in matters of property rights, the Ottoman Empire favored absentee landlords andd nobles with documented titles over peasants whose families had actually farmed the land for generations without formal written title. The situation was widespread. When Israel came in, it didn’t have to use that land claim system to its advantage. It didn’t have to take the position that if you aren’t the ones with formal legal title, your land is up for grabs and we can take it. It didn’t have to step itself and its settlers into the place of the now-non-existent absentee landlords and nobles.

    There is a difference between self-defense, even asserting sovereignty over land, and completely disrespecting ordinary peasants and not just maintaining but actively exploiting fundamental injustices in the pre-existing system, not just on matters of political rights, but also on matters of property rights like land claims.

  17. What does "[Jews] thought they had a monopoly on G-d" have to do with criticism of Israeli policies?
    When you start with 'I don’t know enough about what Bishop Tutu actually said to comment', it is probably wise to actually not comment.

    1. Very much appreciate your clear and firm support.

      It’s not just that your irrelevance argument is itself irrelevant. As other commentators have noted, Professor Befnstein chose to cover a number of topics besides what Bishop Tutu said, and much more than the one quoted sentence you claim, out of thin air, to be the only relevant one. Of course Professor Bernstein’s generalisms about general critics of Israel is a legitimate subject for comment.

      Where you really make your support for my position clear is that this is your only argument. If you were able to factually dispute my argument, indeed to contest it in any manner more substantive than an irrelevant irrelevance argument, you would have. The fact that you didn’t, that this is all you could come up with, speaks volumes. It sends a really, really clear signal.

      1. DB's post was directed at one aspect of Tutu's legacy - his blatant anti-Semitism. Your response was a clumsy attempt to change the subject to criticism of Israel. I'd be happy to argue Israeli policy with you (assuming you actually have some knowledge about it, unlike your self professed ignorance of Tutu's antisemitism.), but that has nothing to do with this post, or my very relevant comment about it.

    2. Yes, decidedly not wise for Reader Y to comment about Tutu's record of antisemitism after stating at the outset that he doesn't "know enough about what Bishop Tutu actually said to comment." But unsurprisingly he doesn't get that you have wasted him, or rather he was wasted himself, as effectively as possible for purposes of the conversation here. (Actually, he probably does get some sense of it, since he came back with ridiculous babble of defense.)

  18. I am not surprised that your evidence for Desmond Tutu's anti-semitism is somebody else claiming Tutu is an anti-semite.

    1. My evidence is his own quote, which I provided above, - "[Jews] thought they had a monopoly on G-d"

      1. It’s a standard traditional Christian doctrine that “there is no salvation outside the church.”

        Would pointing this out make one anti-Christian?

        1. Ostensible adults fighting over childish fairy tales . . . and expecting fantasy to be taken seriously in reasoned debate.

          That is one of the points progress and modernity will continue to address to improve our world.

          Carry on, clingers. So far as the reality-based world permits.

        2. No, and similarly, pointing out that Jewish theology holds that Jews are God's chosen people would not be anti- Semitic.

          Conversely, saying "Jews think they have a monopoly on God" or "Jews … think they have cornered the market on suffering"" is antisemitic, and likewise saying "Christians think they have a monopoly on God" or "Christians … think they have cornered the market on suffering" would be anti-Christian.

          Nuance. Look into it sometime,

        3. "It’s a standard traditional Christian doctrine that “there is no salvation outside the church.”
          Would pointing this out make one anti-Christian?"

          In Jewish theology, by contrast, you don't need to be Jewish to be in God's good graces, and indeed it makes it much more difficult. So what's antisemitic about it, beyond attributing the view to Jews rather than Jewish theology, is that it's rooted in anti-Jewish views rather than in actual Judaism. No one who consulted any Jewish source could possibly state that Jews believe or believed that they have a monopoly on God, nor was it true 2,000 years ago. So Tutu was just repeating ignorant anti-Jewish myths, ironically attributing to Judaism an exclusivity that is much more the province of his own Christianity.

          1. According to basic Christian theology can anyone who doesn't accept the divinity of Jesus be saved, that is make it to Heaven rather than be eternally condemned to suffer in Hell? Same question with respect to Islam, can any non-believer in their Allah escape etenal damnation and suffering, that is denial of grapes and dozens of virgins to pleasure them in the after-life. (What rewards do they imagine await deserving Muslim women.)

            Christians and Muslims seem not to get it, but Jews don't believe that only Jews can make it to after-life. What then is their complaint about Jews' conceit that G-d chose them to recieve His law at Sinai? They're perfectly free to accept or reject that for themselves without consequence. It riles antisemites like Tutu, though.

            1. There is some difference in Christianity about what combination of faith and acts are required to get into heaven.

              Some say faith alone, some say acts alone, some say faith and acts are both required.

              Dunno about Islam.

              1. Can you get there if you don't believe Jesus was devine? I don't think one can, but if I am wrong, please quote Scripture or whatever you would to support your answer.

        4. No, as you chose to misunderstand that doctrine

          1. I understand that it is no longer Roman Catholic doctrine, but is it not the belief of some other denominations, especially evangelical ones?

            One does occasionally hear prominent Southern Baptists, for example, proclaim that Jews are going to hell because they don't accept Jesus. Strange thing to believe about an allegedly just and merciful deity.

            1. As I understand it, this is the standard Evangelical Protestant position: Going to Hell is the default status for all humans, including Jews, but there is one escape method: Accepting Jesus. According to this view, it's like the old joke: "I sent you an evacuation bus, I sent you a rescue boat, I sent you a freaking helicopter; what more did you expect Me to do?" Those who refuse to be rescued drown, because rescuing them by force would violate their free will, which is worse than Hell.

              My understanding of the philo-semitic version of this is that since God particularly loves the Jews, He's particularly saddened when a Jew chooses not to be rescued from Hell, and while the ultimate way to bring Him joy is to persuade that Jew to be rescued after all, the next best way is to do all you can to help and comfort him as he is. The fact that he (or indeed any person) is Hell-bound is not a reason to hate him, let alone to kick him while he's down; Hell will be bad enough, why make it worse?

              Not being a Christian I may have got some of this wrong, or missed some nuance.

        5. It’s a standard traditional Christian doctrine that “there is no salvation outside the church.”

          Would pointing this out make one anti-Christian?

          Well, it's my understanding that this is not exactly Catholic doctrine, at least not anymore. But let's assume that you are correct. In that case, it would not be anti-Christian to point that out if it's true. But that is not a true statement about Jewish doctrine, so, yeah, it's anti-semitic.

      2. Wow, such hatred!

        One sentence critical of Judaism makes someone an anti-Semite?

        Not a very compelling argument.

        1. There were at least 6 such examples quoted above, and they are representatives, rather than an exhaustive list.
          What's the quota on racist statements, before one can be called a racist?

        2. Subsitute "blacks" and tell me you would not consider the speaker to be racist.
          If you want to agree with Tutu, fine. Just stop the cheap apologetics.

          1. That's odd, I don't recall saying that I agree with the alleged quote.

            Perhaps you have a reading disorder and see words which aren't actually there.

  19. And by "liberal Christians" I mean theologically liberal, the folks I'm talking about are generally not within the broad confines of "liberalism" in their political views, but are on the revulationary/Marxist/etc. far left.

    Once again, the group Bernstein appears to be addressing is actually a much smaller group on the fringe.

    If you meant revolutionary Marxist Christians, you should say that - though then the statement becomes almost tautological.

    Fringy jerks also fringy jerks in this other way is the song of the Internet.

    1. If you had bothered to click on the link, you'd see it was obvious that I was talking about the subset of theologically liberal Christians who are extremely hostile to Israel (those these are not all revolutionary types, nor are all revolutionary types extremely hostile to Israel, but there is a strong correlation). But instead of being apologetic for not clicking on the link and clarifying in a few seconds... Also, these "fringy jerks" basically drive anti-Israel sentiment in the West, along with Islamist allies of convenience.

      1. No, I didn't click on the link. Mostly because I agreed with your general thesis. (And your 'this tarnishes but does not destroy his legacy' take. Such nuance should be normal, but it is rare, and noted).

        But a post where you get the wrong impression unless you click on the link is bad communication.

    2. Educate yourself about the "peace churches" (UCC, Presbyterians, Methodists, Quackers) by reading some of Dexter Van Ziles's informative articles on the subject. [https://www.heritagefl.com/story/2019/03/22/opinions/the-ucc-is-not-a-just-peace-church/11288.html]

      Then read about Sabeel, and come back afterwards to tell us whether DB is talking about only "finge" liberal Christians or "crazies" as Don Nico styles them. [http://www.think-israel.org/vanzile.sabeel.html]

      1. In particular, the denomination’s General Synod has not said a word about the anti-Semitic incitement broadcast by Imams in Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Such incitement, which takes place under the custodianship of the Jordanian government and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, is a violation of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, but the UCC’s General Synod has said nothing about this violation of international law.

        Forgive me if I do not trust this rant's take on Christian theology.

        Nor does your Sabeel link say anything like what DB says about liberal Christians believing there is virtue in Jewish suffering.

        1. I called attention to Sabeel because it is a decidedly antisemitic expression of Christianity (e.g., holds Jews guilty of deicide). [http://www.think-israel.org/vanzile.sabeel.html] It shouldn't be hard for you to confirm that, if you are interested.

          [BTW, I meant to write "Quakers" above, not "Quackers."]

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