Op-Ed: Mandela Was an Enemy of Israel
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly...
In 1990, Mandela likened Israel to a “terrorist state” and declared that “we do not regard the PLO as a terrorist organization.
Nelson Mandela has already been mourned by many Jews around the world. And for good reasons. When Mandela was released from prison by de Klerk, he showed statesmanship and reconciliation rather than revenge.
But his biography reveals that he was an enemy of the Israeli people.
A post-apartheid Pretoria that joins in boycotting Jerusalem is one of the more powerful victories for the boycott and divestment campaign. And it’s Nelson Mandela’s legacy.
Historically, black leaders in South Africa such as Desmond Tutu viewed the Jews as a part of the “capitalist camp”, and therefore exploitative of the blacks. Neo Mnumzama, chief representative of the ANC (Mandela’s party) at the United Nations, called Zionism an “ally of apartheid” and “an accomplice in the perpetuation of the crimes of Pretoria against the South African people”.
In Mandela’s twisted version, Israel and South Africa - both, in his view, under apartheid rule - were small bastions of Western interests surrounded by a larger and non-Western people; both governed hostile majorities, using force and denying rights to subjugate them; both were run by nationalistic, racist governments unwilling to grant rights to these people but anxious to exploit labor.
Mandela always made it clear that those who are the enemies of the Jews are not necessarily his enemies.
In 2000, the American Jewish Committee canceled a Washington luncheon scheduled to honor Mandela after he said that 13 Jews tried for “espionage” in Iran were receiving a “fair trial”.
Mandela laid a wreath on the grave of Ayatollah Khomeini, the father of the Iranian revolution, warmly greeting his successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “We are indebted to the Islamic Revolution”, Mandela proclaimed. It is the same Mandela who claimed that Communist Cuba had achieved the “systematic eradication of racism”.
In 1990, Mandela likened Israel to a “terrorist state” and declared that “we do not regard the PLO as a terrorist organization. If one has to refer to any parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government because they are the people who are slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories”.
Mandela should have raised Jewish eyebrows when in 1990 he embraced Arafat in Lusaka, Zambia, likening the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to the struggle against South African apartheid. “If the truth alienates the powerful Jewish community in South Africa, that’s too bad”, said Mandela.
During a trip to Libya, Mandela declared that “we consider ourselves to be comrades in arms to the Palestinian Arabs in their struggle for the liberation of Palestine. There is not a single citizen in South Africa who is not ready to stand by his Palestinian brothers in their legitimate fight against the Zionist racists”.
In September 1990, addressing the Reform congregation of Johannesburg, Mandela said: “If Zionism means the right of the Jewish people to seize territory and deny the Palestinian people the right to self-determination, we condemn it”.
In 1999 Mandela supported the Palestinian Arab use of violence. With Arafat seated next to him in Gaza, Mandela declared: “All men and women with vision choose peace rather than confrontation, except in cases where we cannot proceed, where we cannot move forward. Then if the only alternative is violence, we will use violence”.
A few weeks later, the Palestinian Arabs began the Second Intifada. 2,000 Jewish civilians have since been killed in suicide attacks and shootings. When the terrorist Arafat died, Mandela called him “outstanding freedom fighter”.
Then Israel’s President Ezer Weizmann said of Mandela: "He calls Arafat by his first name, Yasser. They embraced, and he said he and Arafat were brothers. I said: ‘Then, Mr. President, we are cousins’”.
Nelson Mandela might be a symbol of goodness for many, but for Israel’s Jews he has been an enabler of anti-Semitism.