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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Jewish Social Justice Coalition on Tutu

From: Steve Miller
Sent: Tuesday, October 09, 2007 11:56 AM
Subject: Archbishop Tutu's visit

Dear Father Dease,

I have had my attention drawn to the unpleasant situation regarding Archbishop Tutu's proposed visit to your university.

I am writing in my capacity as chair of the Jewish Social Justice Coalition in the UK (a broad coalition of national synagogue organisations, youth and student movements and specialist social justice agencies) and also as co-Chair of the Jubilee Debt Campaign in the UK, one of the original campaigning organisations focusing on global debt issues.

It is not clear whether you have actually rescinded Archbishop Tutu's invitation or simply expressed a personal opinion opposing the visit.

Either way it seems that your motivation is guided by sensitivity to Jewish perspectives.

I should make it very clear that, although Archbishop Tutu may be a trenchant critic of Israel, that is not enough, in my view, to obscure all of the other important and valuable work he has undertaken over several decades.

Of course those of us in the Jewish community are sensitive to criticism of Israel. But that did not stop us becoming active partners in the Ant-Apartheid Movement in the 1980s even when we knew that the African National Congress and the Palestine Liberation Organisation were such close allies. Our differences of opinion regarding the Middle East never stopped us affirming our strong support for South African progressive organisations, many of whom shared a critical perspective on Israel. This included inviting Archbishop Tutu to London in 1986 to speak at one of the main Orthodox Jewish educational insitutions.

So, while I appreciate your sensitivity to the Jewish community, I fear that your conclusion on this occasion is misguided. Archbishop Tutu is a fearless campaigner on behalf of the poor and oppressed and we should all be willing to hear his views and to facilitate opportunities for students - tomorrows leaders - also to hear his views and be insipred by his work.

I do hope you will re-consider your opinion on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Steve Miller
Chair, Jewish Social Justice Coalition (formerly Make Poverty History Jewish Coalition)
Co-chair, Jubilee Debt Campaign
Trustee, Tzedek-Jewish Action for a Just World
Advisory Board, ResponsAbility
Joint Founder, Faith-based Regeneration Network
Fellow, Faiths & Civil Society Unit, Anglia Ruskin University



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