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S.African opera rejects call to cancel Israel tour

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) - 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.

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

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