An open response to Archbishop Tutu’s oped in Haaaretz

August 21, 2014

Dear Archbishop Tutu


I am to writing to you as a Nobel Prize winner who chaired South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a man of great influence internationally. However, with great respect to your eminence and achievements, I confess that I most often associate you with a very moving story you related about the late Father Huddleston (Makhalipile) who I had the honor of meeting when he was at the mission in Rosettenville. I admired and respected him as a man who lived his belief in the equality of all human beings created in God’s image

I can’t remember where you related the story but I recall your telling that in the days of apartheid you couldn’t believe your eyes when, one day standing in the street with your mother, a White man, Father Huddleston, doffed his hat to her; a black working class woman.

Truth, False Teaching and the media
And sir, since I know that as a devout Christian you are devoted to TRUTH I trust you will forgive me for expressing some concerns about TRUTH and False Teaching which I hope you will accept in the constructive spirit I intend

I expect you may agree that important as it is to maintain a free press, the influence of the media is not always positive. According to a Pew study, 82 percent of Americans agree that there is at least some bias in news coverage as you, yourself have experienced. As long ago as 1986 AP reported how you were misquoted as saying that you supported an armed revolution against the white-led government, whereas you had actually said that you supported the aims of black guerrillas who seek to establish black majority rule, but not their methods. In response you said

 ”it is mischievous in the extreme for newspapers to exacerbate racial tensions when we seek to work together as a family.”

I suggest that press distortions are equivalent to False Teaching, one of the major enemies of God’s people.  And with deference I suggest too, that while your attitude to Israel, as reflected in your August 6 oped in Haaretz, is motivated by a sincere humanitarian concern, it results from the False Teaching  of distorted media reports. I do not say this lightly and in the paragraphs below I will substantiate every claim that I make.

I urge you Sir, in your devotion to TRUTH please take the trouble to view the video clip below:

And please do examine the evidence below no matter where it leads and reconsider your opinion in the light of information previously denied to you by distorted media reports.

The importance of context and “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor”

In your Haaretz oped you wisely stated

“Ultimately, events in Gaza over the past month or so are going to test who believes in the worth of human beings”.

May I suggest that if the “test” is to have any real value it is imperative to seek the TRUTH beyond sensational headlines and news reports. The purpose of the test would be defeated if we fail to delve into context, bearing in mind that misinformation often results more from what is omitted than what is stated. For example, when four children were tragically killed on a Gaza beach in July you were no doubt justifiably horrified by screaming reports that the shells were aimed deliberately at the innocent kids and that there was no reason to fire on that beach, close to a hotel occupied by journalists.

But the context reveals something very different. In all the reports I have read, only William Booth in his July 16 report in the Washington Post revealed why that location was targeted. He wrote what others ignored, namely that the location near his hotel where the shells fell was commonly used for launching rockets – a legitimate military target as graphically confirmed in the video clip above. And he could have added that in all probability the children could not be seen from the vessel that fired the shells.

The TRUTH is slowly emerging but too late to rectify the irreparable damage irresponsible media have done, borrowing your words, in “exacerbating racial tensions when we seek to work together as a family.” Surely sir, you cannot condone the kind of hate that has been generated by bad reporting – people expressing disappointment that Hitler didn’t finish the job, rioters looting and burning Jewish shops as they did in France and people murdered on the street outside the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

Several brave journalists who have returned admit that their reports from Gaza which influenced you and me were slanted because of threats by Hamas. In fact these threats have reached such proportions that the Foreign Press Association (FPA) numbering some 480 international members issued a strong official protest.

 At last, the TRUTH is belatedly supported by indisputable evidence even by Hamas leaders that the large number of casualties is a result of intentionally placing rockets and ammunition in private homes, hospitals, mosques and even in schools (including UNRWA schools). A Hamas training manual actually discusses the benefits for Hamas when civilian homes are destroyed. It says that this increases the hatred of the citizens towards Israel and increases their support of Hamas. Moreover it has been reliably disclosed that many of the casualties were caused by Hamas mortars and rockets.

Can we ignore the intention to kill as many civilians as possible behind the firing of thousands of rockets from populated areas into population centers in Israel? Is Israel culpable because it spent money and initiative in creating the Iron Dome whereas Hamas spent equal amounts building sophisticated tunnels from which it was planned that terrorists would emerge in large numbers in a surprise attack on civilians killing as many as possible and kidnapping hostages?

And in response to the complaint that unlike Israel, Gaza has no bomb shelters, we must ask why the air conditioned tunnels are not made available as shelters for the populace? And why have the media ignored the fact that, as in operation Cast Lead, Israel established a field hospital on the border with Gaza to help wounded Palestinians. Unfortunately few patients arrived because Hamas prevents them from doing so.

Gaza population density and open spaces
The UNTRUTHS that the reason Hamas cannot avoid launching missiles from civilian areas because Gaza is the most densely populated area in the world and that there are no open areas have been repeated so often that they have been accepted into conventional wisdom without question. But what is the TRUTH?

According to a CIA projection the population density in Gaza was 4,270 people per sq km in 2008. Compare this with Mumbai’s  27,209, Tel Aviv  7,445,  Hong Kong  6,352, Singapore  6,252 and London  5,100 people per sq km

And with regard to open spaces, Gaza’s ministry of agriculture reports that there are more than 35,000 farmers in Gaza and 196,000 square kilometers of land suitable for farming in addition to non-agricultural open spaces.

The uncomfortable questions are why does Hamas not use these open areas for firing rockets and why have the media hidden from the world the fact that alternative launching spaces away from populated areas do exist?

Which came first the rockets or the Gaza blockade?
It is commonly believed that the rocket attacks were initiated by Hamas in order to force a lifting of the blockade by Egypt and Israel. The TRUTH is the reverse. When Israel left Gaza in 2005, the intention was to establish good relations with the people of Gaza, encourage free trade and movement of goods and people and promote economic growth to the extent that it was believed that Gaza could become the Singapore of the ME.

It was not until 2007 when Hamas took control of Gaza and initiated its violent attacks on Israel that the blockade was imposed in an attempt to restrict the flow of rockets and other weaponry into Gaza

Please refer to this link for substantiating details.

Boycotts and BDS
I don’t doubt that in your support of the BDS movement, you sincerely believe that it aims for the two state solution which you advocate. But this too results from misinformation and I am sure it will surprise and shock you to learn that the leaders of BDS strongly oppose this peaceful solution and that they regard the PA as traitors. For substantiation of these claims please see and don’t miss the embedded video clip in the article.

Israelis join you in your grief at the loss of so many lives. The tragic scenes in Gaza are heart wrenching and it is with respect that I ask you to please re-consider where responsibility lies, not just to apportion blame but to realistically seek solutions that will enable all sides to realize your plea to see beyond the anger at feeling perpetually under siege, to see a world in which Israel and Palestine can coexist – a world in which mutual dignity and respect reign.

This letter is being publicized as will the considered response I hope to receive from you.

About the Author
Maurice Ostroff is a founder member of the international Coalition of Hasbara Volunteers, better known by its acronym CoHaV, (star in Hebrew), a world-wide umbrella organization of volunteers active in combating anti-Israel media and political bias and in promoting the positive side of Israel His web site is at