Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has asked the Cape Town Opera to cancel a planned trip to Israel, saying it would be inappropriate and unconscionable.
“Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong for Cape Town Opera to perform in Israel,” Tutu said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Cape Town Opera should postpone its proposed tour next month until both Israeli and Palestinian opera lovers of the region have equal opportunity and unfettered access to attend performances.
“Only the thickest-skinned South Africans would be comfortable performing before an audience that excluded residents living, for example, in an occupied West Bank village 30 minutes from Tel Aviv, who would not be allowed to travel to Tel Aviv, while including his Jewish neighbours from an illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian territory.”
Tutu said the Tel Aviv Opera House was state sponsored, and by “luring” international artists to perform there, “ it advances Israel's fallacious claim to being a civilised democracy”.
He said millions of people were denied the rights to educational and cultural opportunities in Israel every day.
“In South Africa, people opposed apartheid in many different ways. Those of us who believed in peaceful means of forcing change, received enormous assistance from our friends abroad in isolating the apartheid state: economically, politically, socially and culturally.
“Please, fine singers of the Cape Town Opera: Much as it offers you opportunities to travel abroad and show the world what we can do, listen to your conscience. God loves Jews and Muslims equally. To perform Porgy and Bess, with its universal message of non-discrimination, in the present state of Israel, is unconscionable,” said Tutu. - Sapa