Guardian obituary's misrepresentation of Desmond Tutu

Guardian obituary's misrepresentation of Desmond Tutu

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Tom Hickey started this petition to Katharine Viner and The Guardian's editorial team

The misrepresentation of Archbishop Tutu's support for Palestine needs to be corrected, and an apology offered
 
Your newspaper’s obituary of Archbishop Desmond Tutu (‘The Most Rev Desmond Tutu obituary’, The Guardian, 26/12/2021) documents the Archbishop’s tireless struggle against oppression and racism of all kinds, and against the practice of apartheid in particular. Yet Tutu’s repeated criticism of Israeli apartheid policies, and his commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people, are all simply omitted. 
 
Astonishingly, your editorial team has now demonstrated that this was not an oversight but deliberate policy. We have been told by the authors of a series of posts to your obituary page, which pointed out this glaring omission, that the posts were systematically deleted by your staff within minutes because they “didn’t abide by our community standards”. We can only assume that The Guardian is now saying that any reference to the apartheid character of Israeli policies is antisemitic. The logic is inescapable: the editorial view of The Guardian newspaper is now that Desmond Tutu, who held that Israeli oppression of the Palestinians was worse than South African Apartheid (as he wrote for your newspaper in 2002), was an antisemite.
 
This aligns The Guardian, of course, with the Government and its attempt to force universities and public bodies to adopt the discredited IHRA definition of antisemitism which conflates criticism of Zionism and of Israel with antisemitism. It positions The Guardian as a future supporter of the Government’s anti-BDS legislation banning public bodies from boycotting oppressive regimes unless the Government approves of the boycott. It is consistent with the views of those who seek to deny Palestinians the right to name the racist character of their oppression, and to narrate the story of that oppression.
 
This extraordinary stance exemplifies The Guardian’s consistent pro-Israel bias. It aligns the paper, moreover, with the current leadership of the Labour Party which is selecting out Jewish members for disciplinary action on grounds of antisemitism if they are critics of Israel.
 
If The Guardian cares for its reputation there are steps available to it which could repair this damage. It can and should issue and post up a revised version of the obituary of Desmond Tutu giving appropriate weight to his consistent and ardent support for the rights of Palestinians. It should issue an appropriate apology to the family of Desmond Tutu for implicitly characterising his views on Israel as antisemitic. It can reverse its censorship of the posts of readers who share Tutu’s views on Israel, and restore their posts to your site.
 
In the interests of dispassionate and accurate journalism, will you do those things?
 
Tom Hickey
Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead
Prof. Penny Green
Prof. Richard Seaford
Prof. David Mond
Prof. Colin Green
Saira Weiner
Prof. Ilan Pappe
Anita Rupprecht
Prof. Sol Picciotto
Sally Davies
Prof. Raf Salkie
Les Levidow
Prof. Bob Brecher
Andrew Smith
Prof. David Epstein
Prof. Haim Bresheeth
Saladin Meckled-Garcia
Prof. James Dickins
Prof. Bill Spence
Prof. Alex Callinicos
Prof. Robert Boyce
Bernard Davies
Clive Darling
Denise Fowler
Ümit Kemal Yıldız
Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky
Toby Lovat
Dave Baker
Christian Hogsbjerg

 

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