The Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu has penned a letter of praise to Marrickville Council over its support for a boycott of Israel, almost two months after the policy was abandoned amid an angry political backlash.
The Nobel peace prize recipient and critic of Israel wrote that he wanted to extend his respects to the mayor, Fiona Byrne, and her fellow councillors ”for taking a stand to isolate the Israeli state”.
”We in South Africa, who both suffered apartheid and defeated it, have the moral right and responsibility to name and shame institutionalised separation, exclusion, and domination by one ethnic group over others,” Archbishop Tutu said in the letter, which will be formally presented to Cr Byrne tonight.
”Sometimes taking a public stand for what is ethical and right brings costs, but social justice on a local or global scale requires faith and courage.”
Ten Marrickville councillors – five Greens, four Labor and one independent – voted to support the boycott campaign against Israel last December, provoking condemnation from federal and state politicians, Jewish groups and media commentators.
The motion was overturned in April, when all the Labor and two Green councillors withdrew their support.
Cr Byrne, who narrowly lost her bid to unseat Carmel Tebbutt at the state election in March, welcomed the archbishop’s support.
”I am proud that Marrickville Council was able to support and highlight the human rights violations suffered by many Palestinian people,” she said.