By DAVE ITZKOFF
Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, has urged an opera company there not to perform in Israel, invoking South Africa’s long struggle against apartheid in criticizing Israel’s policy toward Palestinians, The Associated Press reported.
The Cape Town Opera is scheduled to perform “Porgy and Bess” at the Tel Aviv Opera House beginning on Nov. 12. But Archbishop Tutu, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who retired from his official duties earlier this month, said in a statement that the tour should be postponed “until both Israeli and Palestinian opera lovers of the region have equal opportunity and unfettered access to attend performances.”
“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,” Archbishop Tutu said in his statement. He added that it would be “unconscionable” for the opera company to perform “Porgy and Bess,” which he said has a “universal message of nondiscrimination.”
Hanna Munitz, general director of the Israeli Opera, said in a statement that the intent of the collaboration between the companies “is culture and art, and definitely not politics,” adding: “Both houses relate to culture as a bridge, the aim of which is to be above any political dispute. Furthermore, the fact of the matter is that very big performance companies arrive in Israel from abroad all the time.”