Desmond Tutu: Target of Planned Protests Against APA Keynote Speaker

January 31, 2011

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, invited Convocation speaker at the American Psychiatric Association’s upcoming annual meeting, last year called for academic and cultural boycotts of Israel. Now, he is the target of planned protests by APA members who view him as making anti-Semitic statements.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, invited Convocation speaker at the American Psychiatric Association’s upcoming annual meeting, last year called for academic and cultural boycotts of Israel.  Now, he is the target of planned protests by APA members who view him as making anti-Semitic statements and promoting inaccurate and inflammatory statements about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the February 2011 issue of Psychiatric Times (page 23), 27 APA members have signed a paid advertisement ad in which they explain why they will not be attending APA’s May meeting in Hawaii -- and why others members are planning protests at the meeting. 
 
The ad condemns Tutu for repeatedly calling Zionism racism and Israel an apartheid state and for directly attacking the Jewish supporters of Israel as being, in effect, “traitors to America, controlling US foreign policy for the benefit of Israel and to the detriment of America.” 

Carol Bernstein, MD, said she exercised her prerogative as APA president and invited Tutu to speak after hearing his presentation about South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the American College of Psychiatrists annual meeting in Florida last year.

She described Tutu as a “great man,” who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1984) and Gandhi Peace Prize (2005).“ I found his talk personally uplifting and inspiring. I don’t know if the minority of APA members who are upset about his speaking at APA have ever heard him speak.” 

Bernstein acknowledged that the controversy over Tutu’s speaking is important and has evoked strong feelings on the part of those with whom she disagrees, and “I’m Jewish, too.” 

[An expanded story on this issue will appear in the March issue of Psychiatric Times.]