SA Jewish publication apologizes for Op-Ed comparing Tutu to Hitler

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A Jewish publication in South Africa apologized for an Op-Ed that compared Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Adolf Hitler.

The on-line publication South African Jewish Report posted the apology Friday on its website and removed the opinion piece, written by Leon Reich, chairman of Likud South Africa.

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According to the Mail & Guardian newspaper, Reich in his Op-Ed calls Tutu “the latest self-appointed midget of history” who wants to destroy the Jewish people, and said Tutu would “kill Jews before protecting Christians”. Reich also accuses Tutu of “preying” on Israel, together with Hamas, and says the two are working towards the destruction of the Jewish state.

The opinion piece was published with a photo showing Tutu wearing a Hitler moustache superimposed on Hitler’s body.

The apology posted on Friday reads: “The unfortunate and mistaken placement on the website of the South African Jewish Report of an op-ed piece by Leon Reich that compares Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to Hitler and Stalin, has caused serious upset among its readers and others. It is not the policy of the paper to carry material which makes these kind of statements and the paper apologizes unconditionally to the Archbishop.”

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies condemned the Op-Ed. Board Chairwoman Mary Kluk in a statement called the use of Hitler imagery “a misuse of our history, and serves in the end to undermine the work of those who seek to convey the truth of what occurred during the Holocaust and what humanity at large should learn from this.”

“It is one thing to take strong issue with someone’s views on Israel and if desired to express this in a robust manner. This, however, does not constitute a license to be crudely insulting, nor to make demeaning comparisons that are so obviously exaggerated as to constitute outright falsehoods,” Kluk said in the statement.

Tutu, a supporter of the Palestinian cause, led a demonstration in August in Cape Town calling for a global boycott of Israel.

The South African Jewish Report told local media that it “offer(s) a broad platform from the most left-wing to the most right-wing” and called the Op-Ed “free speech.”

On Sunday, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, condemned Israel as “a state founded on the basis of apartheid, which according to international law and several UN conventions is a crime against humanity.”

The party also endorsed the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel and called on dock workers and airport workers to refuse to handle products traveling to Israel.