Desmond Tutu, Liberation Theology, and Anti-Semitism

March 31 2015

The South African clergyman Desmond Tutu has made himself the patron of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, a Christian organization whose goal is to encourage churches to boycott Israel. Christine Williams explains the theological roots of this particular form of hatred for the Jewish state:

Liberation theology is a radical movement that originally developed in South America before making its way to South Africa. The movement was apparently created in response to poverty and ill-treatment of ordinary people. It was caricatured in the phrase, “If Jesus Christ were on earth today, he would be a Marxist revolutionary.”

Liberation theology subsequently became influential in the churches under South African apartheid. Black theologians, to answer the religious questions of the poor and oppressed, confronted the theology of the Christian status quo, which tended to align with the prevailing institutions of power. . . . To [these] theologians, [liberation theology] was a challenge to the church to rise up against apartheid. [However,] what was once crafted as a just challenge to the Church in 1985 . . . became warped into [anti-Israel] propaganda in 2009. . . .

As the patron of Sabeel Center, Tutu . . . disregards the countless Christians being slaughtered in Muslim states, the black slaves still being held in Muslim states such as Mauritania, the forcible taking of “infidel” slaves and sex slaves by Boko Haram and Islamic State, the racist genocide in Darfur, and the millions of Muslims slaughtered by other Muslims since 1948.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, Jewish-Christian relations, Liberation theology, Middle East Christianity, South Africa


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount