South Africa Opera Rejects Archbishop Tutu's Call to Boycott Israel

The retired Nobel laureate has become sharp critic of Israel, saying the country tries to lure artists to keep up appearance of democracy.

Cape Town's renowned opera troupe is rejecting a call from retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to cancel a performance in Israel scheduled next month.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

The opera's managing director Michael Williams said in a statement Wednesday that the opera would not take a political position and cut cultural ties with Israel or the Palestinian territory.

Tutu, who earned a Nobel for his peaceful opposition to apartheid, on Tuesday compared Cape Town Opera's planned visit to international artists performing in apartheid South Africa. He said Israel is "luring" international artists to the Tel Aviv Opera House to advance its "fallacious claim to being a 'civilized democracy.'"

Tutu said it would be "unconscionable" to perform "Porgy and Bess," in Israel, which he said has a "universal message of nondiscrimination."

Tutu has emerged as a sharp critic of Israel. Last month, he backed calls for a South African academic boycott of Israel.