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What did the late Nelson Mandela say about Israel and Apartheid? Even before Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to attend the memorial service for Mandela, the Internet was abloom with information planted on the shifting sands of incompetent fact-checking.

Now, I hasten to add that attempting to correct misinformation, disinformation, and just plain old lies on the Internet is akin to trying to delete a glacier with an icepick. But Mandela was a man of integrity, so he deserves a brief attempt to correct the record—if for no other reason that he hoped for the day that Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace. Antisemitism and Islamophobia always spread faster than the truth can put on its boots, to paraphrase an often misattributed quote.

Let’s start with Netanyahu’s decision and work from there.

Over at Haaretz Bradley Burston opined that there was a special place in Hell for Netanyahu, who is widely known as “Bibi” by friends and foe alike. According to Burston, by cancelling his planned trip to the “Mandela funeral as too costly, Bibi shows world what he's truly made of.” Burston added that “Israel's prime minister proves he is not the smug, petty, vindictive, waffling, in-your-face insulting man he seems. He's something worse.”

According to Burston, Netanyahu’s snub shows that Netanyahu “does not consider a man like Nelson Mandela, or a nation like South Africa, or the sentiment of an entire world, worth the price of a plane flight.”

Burston continued:

In sending this message, Benjamin Netanyahu has treated the passing of Nelson Mandela as he does every challenge in statecraft: He has addressed one problem by creating another.
His message is clear: My Israel, which spends untold tens of millions on such matters as bolstering and protecting settlement construction during peace negotiations with the Palestinians, or erecting detention facilities for African asylum seekers rather than formulating coherent and just refugee policies, has nothing left over for this man Mandela.

But that's only the beginning. With a wink and a nod to the settler right, the academic rabid right, and the KKK-esque far right, Netanyahu is sending an even stronger message:

This is where I stand on this Palestinian-lover, Mandela. And this is where I stand on his Palestinian-lover heirs.
OK. Harsh. But a fair (if blistering) commentary. Note that essayist Burston is putting sentiments into Netanyahu’s mouth, so please, please do not repost this text as if it was actually said by Netanyahu. More on that sort of problem soon.
Now let’s address what Mandela actually had to say about Israel and apartheid. There are numerous post across the web where Mandella is quoted as calling Israel an apartheid state just like South Africa under White rule. Except, that quote is a hoax. Hold that thought; and before you post comments that I am a lying tool favoring the oppression of the Palestinians (which I am not) please read the rest of this post.

Mandela’s actual words in 1993:

The ANC`s relations with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation have been a matter of concern for many Jews, not only here but also in other parts of the world. It was an issue we discussed when I recently met the American Jewish Committee.

As a movement we recognise the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism just as we recognise the legitimacy of the Zionism as a Jewish nationalism. We insist on the right of the state of Israel to exist within secure borders but with equal vigour support the Palestinian right to national self-determination. We are gratified to see that new possibilities of resolving the issue through negotiation have arisen since the election of a new government in Israel. We would wish to encourage that process, and if we have the opportunity, to assist.

The ANC, in common with the international community, was extremely unhappy about the military cooperation between the State of Israel and the apartheid regime in South Africa. The refusal of Israel, over many years, to honour its international obligations to isolate the apartheid regime did influence our attitude towards that government.

However, as my distinguished predecessor and colleague, the late Oliver Tambo, stated in Lusaka in 1989, we ask you, in your relationship with the ANC, to focus on our shared goals in South Africa. As South Africans we should avoid being drawn into conflicts and tensions arising from the agendas of others beyond our shores.

Address by ANC President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, at the opening of the 37th Congress of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies 21 August 1993, Carlton Hotel, Saturday

Please read the rest of this post.

I know there is a quote on the Internet attributed to Mandela stating:

Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its apartheid policies.

It is a hoax quote. Mandela never wrote it and he never said it. And the person who wrote it apparently did not intend it to be be mistaken for real.

Where does the quote come from? Let's pick one explanation for the story:

Fake Mandela Quote...
Dexter Van Zile
July 2, 2012
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is currently holding its biannual General Assembly (GA) in Pittsburgh, Penn. The GA committee charged with dealing with issues related to the Middle East is faced with 14 proposals, most of them dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict. Violence against Christians in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria does not feature prominently in the resolutions before this committee. A list of the resolutions before this committee can be found here. (Click on “Committees” and then click on Committee 15 – “Middle East and Peacemaking Issues” and you will see links to all the overtures before the committee.)

One overture (15-01) before this committee accuses Israel of practicing apartheid. This resolution, introduced by the Presbytery of Muskingum Valley in Ohio includes a damning quote attributed to former President of South Africa, Nobel-prize winning Nelson Mandela....

There's just one problem. Mandela never said it. The quote was in fact written by Arjan El Fassed, an activist affiliated with Al Awda, which the ADL describes as a “grass roots organization that opposes Israel's right to exist.” The original article in which the quote appears can be seen here. For more background about how this quote falsely attributed to Mandela, has been used by anti-Israel activists, see this brief report by Richard Landes.

The article by Dexter Van Zile appears on the website of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. The name of the group is unintentionally irionic, since the Committee has a well-deserved reputation for fanatical pro-Israel bias.

There is another problem. While I am not a big fan of Arjan El Fassed, it needs to be mentioned that his “Mandela’s First Memo to Thomas Friedman” was sent around at a time when Friedman was writing sardonic columns containing similar concocted conversational bits. To not mention that Arjan El Fassed has repeatedly explained how the Mandela quote escaped into Internet truthiness is just not fair.

Here is the editor’s note currently posted on the Electronic Intifada website:
Editor’s note, 28 June 2013: This article was written by Arjan El Fassed in 2001 in the satirical style then being employed by Thomas Friedman, of writing mock letters from one world leader to another. Although it carries El Fassed’s byline, it has been repeatedly mistaken for an actual letter from Mandela. It is not. It is a piece of satire and has never been presented by EI as anything other than satire. El Fassed has written this history of the piece and how it subsequently was mistaken for a real letter, on his personal blog.
According to the website, “Arjan El Fassed is a Dutch-Palestinian political scientist, human rights activist and is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.”

As for the Presbyterian Church (USA), it deserves the criticism for the use of the hoax quote, but in recent years the national church leadership has revisited its stand on the Mideast and developed a more sophisticated approach that seeks to bolster efforts for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

So Dexter Van Zile’s post has truthiness but not completeness. In addition, Van Zile passes the reader onto a post by my colleague Richard Landes, whose work on apocalypticism is as brilliant as his bigotry toward Islam and the Palestinians tarnishes his reputation. Richard and I don’t talk about the Middle East anymore.  

That’s part of the problem.

Almost every conversation we have about Israelis and Palestinians and conflict in the Mideast rapidly descends into flame wars including personal attacks and threats and even a few physical attacks. This is true even on college campuses, where civil discourse should be the norm. I am not naïve about the problems in the Middle East, but shutting down debate only makes matters worse.

A few years ago Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and Cary Nelson of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) issued a joint letter warning about the chilling of free speech on college campus where debates over US policies in the Middle East should be welcomed. Stern and Nelson primarily were directing their concerns at government agencies that claimed authority to sanction incidents of antisemitism on U.S. college campuses.

What happened? The letter by Stern and Nelson was repudiated and retracted by the American Jewish Committee, and the original page containing the letter on the American Association of University Professors was deleted. Ken Stern was silenced by the American Jewish Committee. This is shameful, as is the lack of meaningful and appropriate action to support open discussion about the Middle East, Islamophobia, and antisemitism by the US Civil Rights Commission and the US Department of Education.  

Tough issues need courage not cowardice.

Go back and read what Mandela had to say in 1991. Here is a man of integrity choosing his words carefully, not avoiding controversy, being firm and yet seeking a peaceful resolution as the clear priority. There is a reason Mandela is being mourned around the world.

 - - -
A study coordinated by Chip Berlet, Constructing Campus Conflict, Antisemitism and Islamophobia on Campuses in the United States, is currently slated to be published by Political Research Associates in 2014.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Let's see if we can be civil... (7+ / 0-)

    Please avoid flame wars and personal is worth a try.

  •  No flames from me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, Larsstephens

    today and yes there is a reason why Madiba is mourned and celebrated around the world and Bibi is not and never will be.

    It's nice of you for trying to set the record straight, but there will always be haters and they will believe the lies no matter the facts.

    El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

    by mint julep on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 04:30:03 PM PST

  •  I've seen far too many palestinian supporters (6+ / 0-)

    unquestioningly repeating the misattributed quote. It's gotten to the point where his actual words have been drowned out in the discussion of what he did and didn't say. Thank you for the clarification and the real quotes from him on the subject.

    Bibi's skipping the funeral is outrageous. Given that he was in the foreign office toward the end of Apartheid in South Africa when Israel was one of the regime's last defenders, along with the US toward the end, it isn't too surprising. The right wing is horrid everywhere.

    If knowledge is power and power corrupts, does that mean that knowledge corrupts?

    by AoT on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 04:30:08 PM PST

  •  Context is important (6+ / 0-)

    By 1993, Rabin was Prime Minister. He actually did work for peace. And had an agreement with Egypt to show for it. He also wound up assassinated for it later.

    But when Mandela said the above statement, it was at a time when Israel's leaders were working towards peace (and not the U.S. "Peace through Strength" way).

    Prior to that, Mandela did have harsh things to say about Israel. As well as strong support to both the PLO and the Algerians fighting against the French.

    Here is another Bibi bashing article. It has actual quotes of Mandela saying things like:

    And in a 1990 interview with Australian media, he said, “We agree with the United Nations that international disputes should be settled by peaceful means. The belligerent attitude which is adopted by the Israeli government is to us unacceptable,” also explaining that his organization, the ANC, does not consider the PLO a terrorist group.

    He added, “If one has to refer to any of the 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, and we don’t regard that as acceptable.”

    So in memory of Mandela and Rabin, people who did have integrity and fought for peace while at the same time fighting for their people, I wish you take this diary down. Bibi doesn't deserve it. He deserves all the mocking the Left can bring. You build a strawman (a fake quote), tear it down, then pretend all the other real quotes don't exist.
    •  Check the dates for the Mandela quotes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maggid, kirrix, Smoh

      You post a 1990 quote from an interview and suggest it contradicts a 1993 address that represents the official position of the ANC?

      Did you see the part about having a real dialogue and condemning attempts at silencing debate?

      What was not clear?

      I should take the post down?  How would that help solve anything?

      •  That's not even close to what MikT said. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Rather, a statement directed toward an Israel that had expressed a desire to pursue a two state solution cannot be treated as transferable to a "They can call it fried chicken" Bibi government, or Pre-Oslo Israel.

        "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 02:42:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  context is so very important (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      svboston, wilywascal, JesseCW

      That is the reason the age of the quotes struck me.  Also, I noted the audiences Mandela was addressing, which does affect and effect content.  No doubt there are as many fake Mandela quotes around as there are fake Lincoln and Washington quotes which is why the historical context is so very important.

      Now if someone could come up with a quotation from Mandela made in the past decade supporting the current Israeli's administration policies, we would have something to discuss in detail.  As it is, pointing out fake quotes, while useful, does little to inform as to if Mandela's view of Israeli policies changed as those same Israeli policies themselves evolved.

      •  Thanks, yes, I agree, but... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...I think my main point is that ultimately Mandela favored peaceful struggle over violent; while accepting that at some points violence was legitimate in the face of oppression.

        He was a complicated man, and he deserves a complicated conversation.

        So what you suggest would very much add to the conversation.

      •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo, entlord

        I have attempted to provide more context here. And I think this diary does fall short in helping us understand Mandela's views towards Israel.

    •  I have similar problems with this, too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, JesseCW

      I was going to make that same point about a strawman, but didn't want to offend. Didn't help, though. Apparently I ended up offending, anyway.

  •  Israel was one of apartheid South Africa's (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    svboston, protectspice, Johnny Q, Lepanto

    strongest supporters.

    The two military's held reciprocal "anti-terrorist training" together (we know who the South Africans considered "terrorists"). They also had a number of joint military-hardware development projects, such as South African fighter jets, and the development and use of Israeli drones by South African troops in Namibia and Angola. Israel was one of apartheid South Africa's largest weapons suppliers.

    And there were persistent rumors that Israel was helping South Africa with its nuclear weapons program.

    Israel was also a major economic partner of apartheid, including a 1975 trade agreement (signed at the same time as the joint military cooperation agreement). Israel didn't impose any major economic sanctions on the apartheid regime until 1987--one of the last nations to do so.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 05:27:54 PM PST

  •  BIBI (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny Q, Smoh

    Is a thug. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  •  Shrug. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maggid, Johnny Q, Smoh, wilywascal

    I'd never heard or read the fake quote until now.  The real excerpt seems as carefully worded as any polished political statement, while still noting several key points - that the Israeli government was supportive of apartheid and that Palestinians deserve statehood and self-rule (ie, not occupation).

    As to what "Bibi" did - if he actually did claim he was skipping the ceremony for cost reasons, that seems rather blatantly a snub.  If he felt attending might be dangerous, he could have easily just said that.

    •  Cost reasons? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Smoh, cberlet, maggid, wilywascal, JesseCW

      Yeah, sure...

      According to the Israeli media:

      Israelis were outraged several months ago when it was revealed that the budget of the Prime Minister’s Residence, which stood at 3 million shekels in 2009, jumped to 5.4 million shekels by 2012 - an increase of 80%.

      The numbers showed an increase of tens of percentages in expenses in areas such as official hosting and food, cleaning and household, and purchases of furnishings and house wares, among others.

      That report came several days after Netanyahu came under criticism from the Israeli public because it was reported that he ordered a double bed installed on jet that took him to Britain for Margaret Thatcher's funeral, at a cost of about 500,000 shekels. The bed served Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah.

      Several months earlier, the Hebrew-language financial daily Calcalist reported that Netanyahu’s staff had allocated an annual budget of 9,714 shekels for ice cream for the Netanyahu family. The ice cream was purchased from a local Jerusalem ice cream parlor which the Prime Minister had a particular fondness for.

      * $1 US = 3 Israeli Shekels (approx.)

      Bibi's happy to spend $140 grand for a double-bed on a plane to attend Thatcher's funeral (Thatcher, FFS) but a few thousand to attend Mandela's funeral is an expense too far. OK.

      Netanyahu is and has been a  catastrophe for Israel.

      Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill

      by Retroactive Genius on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 01:39:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Same here, kind of. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I saw the original satire piece, and when I google the quote, there is countless examples of it far and wide, but in all my time on Pal/Israel discussion boards, I'd never seen anyone use it. I constantly do see a great deal of misinformation coming from the pro-Israel side, however.

  •  Good diary. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maggid, MBNYC, JNEREBEL
  •  Thank you for this excellent piece (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    livosh1, cberlet, MBNYC, hester

    which not only clarifies Mandela's legacy and evolving attitude toward Israel, but also takes apart how a piece of untruth makes its way into discourse, taking on a life of its own, and resisting even efforts of its originator to retract it.

    I have never had a high opinion of Netanyahu, but I wish people would stop equating Netanyahu, his Likud party and politics, and his government with Israel as a whole.  The Israeli public is bigger and more complex than that.  Netanyahu no more represents the average Israeli citizen than GWB represented you (Bush v Gore, 2000) when he went to war in Iraq and the thousand other abominations he committed.

    •  but Bush DID represent the majority of Americans (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We elected him. Twice.

      Just as Israel keeps electing Bibi.

      If the electorate isn't responsible for the governments they elect, then who is?

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 09:38:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In the Mr. Rogers world (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        where enormous political contributions don't tip the scales,

        where massive rightwing media outlets don't brainwash the gullible,

        where Supreme Courts don't make convoluted and indefensible decisions to put their guy in office,

        where anomalies (the nicest word) happen with the voting tallies on all-electronic voting machines with no verifiable paper trail,

        maybe, just maybe the electorate would have been responsible for Shrub's misdeeds.

        But not in this world, Lenny.

        The same applies to Israel.  Netanyahu has only managed to stay in the ruling coalition by triangulating other parties against each other.  Likud never ha gotten a majority vote.

        •  nonsense (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OrganicChemist, wilywascal

          If Dubya and Bibi and the Goppers and the Likud were really that crushingly unpopular and unelectable, the election would never have been that close, the Supreme Court would never have ruled on anything, and neither Bush nor Bibi would be in office today.

          "The evil corporations made us do it !!!" may be a good excuse to salve our hearts with after we lose elections, but it is just that, an excuse.

          We lose elections because more people vote for the other guy than for us. Period. Get used to it.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 08:05:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The majority of Americans did not vote for (0+ / 0-)

        Bush the first time.

        Not even a plurality did.

        Not even in Florida.

        Not even after massive voter supression  efforts.

        "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 02:45:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Reminds me of the treatment of Native Americans (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, wilywascal

    A lot of talk. A lot of concern. A lot of treaties and agreements.

    Didn't stop or even slow their ethnic cleansing a bit.

  •  What I get out of your diary is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilywascal, JesseCW

    that whatever Mandela actually did say, it was obviously unsatisfactory in the eyes of Bibi and the majority of the Israeli voting public.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 07:29:12 AM PST

    •  Voting Public... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      livosh1, JNEREBEL

      ...absent any factual data, your suppositions do not support your relentless pessimism

      •  Seeing as Netanyahu is actually (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        one of the least Palestine-inimical members of his own coalition, I beg to differ.  Votes are votes; facts are facts.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 12:17:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  guess you don't care for polls then. (0+ / 0-)

        I cited one; you chose not to take note of it.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 02:50:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Diary a disservice to Mandela? Part I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Having seen it in its original form when first published, I'm familiar with both misquote and source. But I believe this diary, through selective quotes and lack of nuance, inadvertently does a disservice to Mandela's views on Israel. Bibi was wrong to do so, and he unwisely further ostracized Israel, but to his thinking, there was good reason for not attending Mandela's memorial.

    Mandela did speak out against Israel, but it appears he became more diplomatic in doing so. It isn't surprising that he would soon adopt a strategy of taking care not to overly offend in working towards peaceful reconciliation--both between S.A. and Israel, and between Israelis and Palestinians--lest he find himself marginalized. As we see from the 1993 speech quoted in the diary above in which he takes a stance against entanglement, Mandela also sought good relations with S.A.'s Jewish citizens, many of whom had joined the fight there against apartheid. Some had become apprehensive of Mandela's words and deeds. Not only his support for Palestinians, but his continued ties with pariahs such as Muammar Gaddafi and Fidel Castro, who had been steadfast supporters of the ANC. Through his ties to the Jewish community in S.A., Mandela would have known this, and 1993 was a pivotal year in S.A. politics, with violent protests against open elections. Seen in this light, the 1993 speech offers reassurances.

    Missing from this diary is the fact this wasn't the first instance of misattributing the word 'apartheid' to Mandela, and it may well be crucial toward understanding why he might have chosen to refrain from using it publicly. This wrongly attributed quote appeared in newspapers and later two books. Keep in mind this misattribution predates the one given here by some eleven years, and occurred shortly after his release from prison. Here is the quote:

    "We are in the same trench, struggling against the same enemies, against apartheid, racism, colonialism and neocolonialism."
    Published in:
    Wall Street Journal on June 20, 1990 (editorial)
    NY Post on June 20, 1990 (Pat Buchanan)
    Chicago Tribune on June 25, 1990 (Mona Charen)
    Jerusalem Post on June 24, 1990 (Sidney Zion)
    The Jewish Wars: Reflections by One of the Belligerents by Edward Alexander, 1996 (pg. 76)
    The Scientifization of Culture: Thoughts of a Physicist on the Techno-scientific Revolution and the Laws of Progress by Willem Cornelis, 1994 (pg. 258)

    If the two subsequent books sourcing their reference to the first two above are discounted, what is revealed are right-wing publications and/or polemic authors staunchly pro-Israel, whose intent was clearly to malign Mandela. Presumably, Mandela would have become aware of these, as there would have been some backlash. Further backlash over a decade later from the 2001 satirical letter wrongly attributed to him would have provided further impetus to refrain from using such an inflammatory and divisive word. Another component to consider is that Mandela also may have been reluctant to unnecessarily antagonize to the point of endangering vital trade ties to Israel, or ANC ties to the S.A. Jewish community.

    The actual quote was made by Arafat, as reported in Newsday by Les Payne on March 1, 1990, four months prior to what in all likelihood were deliberate misattributions (African Summit Rallies to Mandela). Here is the quote and the context:

    Most of the discussions held to regional concerns African states are facing in a rapidly changing world. However, one diversion arose Tuesday when, during a news conference, Mandela was asked if he was "frightened" that his statement comparing his fight with that of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat would "alienate the powerful Jewish community in South Africa."

    "If the truth alienates the Jewish community in South Africa, too bad," Mandela said. "I sincerely believe that there are many similarities between our situation and that of the PLO."

    He also said, "We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel and a lot flows from that fact."

    Asked about Mandela's remark, Arafat said, "We are in the same trench, struggling against the same enemies, against apartheid, racism, colonialism and neocolonialism."

    The question is, even if he didn't use the actual word in any recorded public speech, did he perceive Israel guilty of a form of apartheid? I think he did.

    Before getting into the justification, please indulge me in changing tack for a moment. Whether Mandela did or didn't say the word really isn't what's important. When you look at conditions on the ground in the West Bank and the treatment of Palestinians within Israel, what do you see? Do you see a form of apartheid? Because I sure do--I don't need Nelson Mandela to tell me that, and I didn't need former President Jimmy Carter to make up my mind, either, gratifying as those reinforcements may be. If it looks, acts, sounds, feels, smells and tastes like a duck--it's a duck. Whether Mandela called it apartheid is irrelevant to the fact that Israel has created and presides over a form of it. Now, I don't know if Mandela ever accused Israel of ethnic cleansing, either. But, once again, that's irrelevant. The fact stands. There should be no disputing (although there still is) that Israel has engaged in the deliberate ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, beginning with some 750,000 in the Nakba under Ben-Gurion's Plan Dalat, which also methodically destroyed over 500 Palestinian villages, including those non-hostile and those having good relations with the European Jews. Even if one denies the history, Israel's refusal to allow those Palestinians displaced by war their legal rights to return to their homes and properties for 65 years is nevertheless de facto ethnic cleansing. When we see the settlement expansions and other odious Israeli policies still enacted to this day, it should not be mistaken for anything other than a more insidious form of ethnic cleansing. But in the end, whatever Mandela spoke or omitted about Israel is just an interesting bit of triviality, a sideshow that should not be allowed to distract from the long suffering persecution and oppression of Palestinians at the hands of colonizing European Jews, aided and abetted by continuing U.S. complicity, and the activism needed to end it.

  •  Diary a disservice to Mandela? Part II (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, JesseCW

    It is commonly recognized that Mandela and the ANC identified themselves with the Palestinian cause. Ironically, the same year Israel unilaterally and arbitrarily declared statehood, South Africa formally adopted the apartheid regime. Let's take a look at some quotes from Mandela, his close associates, and his contemporaries, in an effort to determine how he most likely viewed the situation in Israel. You be the judge.

    Sixteen days after Mandela's release from prison, he met with Arafat in Lusaka, Zambia:

    Mandela embraced Arafat and reiterated his support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian struggle telling the media that Arafat was “fighting against a unique form of colonialism and we wish him success in his struggle”.  He went on to say, “I believe that there are many similarities between our struggle and that of the PLO” stating “We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel, and a lot flows from that.”
    Eight months later, during his three day visit to Australia in October 1990 Mandela reiterated his support for the Palestinian struggle and the PLO:
    “We identify with them because we do not believe it is right for the Israeli government to suppress basic human rights in the conquered territories.”

    Mandela told the Australian media, “We agree with the United Nations that international disputes should be settled by peaceful means. The belligerent attitude which is adopted by the Israeli government is to us unacceptable.”  

    He went on to tell the Australian media that the ANC did not consider the PLO a terrorist group, stating “If one has to refer to any of the 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, and we don’t regard that as acceptable.”

    On December 4, 1997, in a speech on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Mandela once again spoke in support of the Palestinian struggle:
    “It behooves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice”. It was important, said Mandela, for South Africans “to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood" "The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians..."
    Winnie Mandela, his former wife:
    "Apartheid Israel can be defeated, just as apartheid in South Africa was defeated"
    Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in support of BDS against Apartheid Israel (2012):
    "Black South Africans and others around the world have seen the 2010 Human Rights Watch report which describes the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians. This, in my book, is apartheid. It is untenable. And we are in desperate need of more rabbis joining the brave rabbis of Jewish Voice for Peace in speaking forthrightly about the corrupting decades long Israeli domination over Palestinians. These are among the hardest words I have ever written. But they are vitally important. Not only is Israel harming Palestinians, but it is harming itself. The 1,200 rabbis may not like what I have to say, but it is long past time for them to remove the blinders from their eyes and grapple with the reality that Israel becoming an apartheid state or like South Africa in its denial of equal rights is not a future danger, as three former Israeli prime ministers — Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and David Ben Gurion — have warned, but a present-day reality. This harsh reality endured by millions of Palestinians requires people and organizations of conscience to divest from those companies — in this instance, from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard — profiting from the occupation and subjugation of Palestinians. Such action made an enormous difference in apartheid South Africa. It can make an enormous difference in creating a future of justice and equality for Palestinians and Jews in the Holy Land.”
    Ronald (Ronnie) Kasrils (South African Jewish hero in the fight against Apartheid, a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) (1987- 2007), member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party (SACP) (1986-2007) and Minister for Intelligence (2004-2008):
    “Travelling into Palestine's West Bank and Gaza Strip, which I visited recently, is like a surreal trip back into an apartheid state of emergency. It is chilling to pass through the myriad checkpoints -- more than 500 in the West Bank. They are controlled by heavily armed soldiers, youthful but grim, tensely watching every movement, fingers on the trigger… The West Bank, once 22% of historic Palestine, has shrunk to perhaps 10% to 12% of living space for its inhabitants, and is split into several fragments, including the fertile Jordan Valley, which is a security preserve for Jewish settlers and the Israeli Defence Force. Like the Gaza Strip, the West Bank is effectively a hermetically sealed prison. It is shocking to discover that certain roads are barred to Palestinians and reserved for Jewish settlers. I try in vain to recall anything quite as obscene in apartheid South Africa.”
    In November 2011, the Reverend Allan Aubrey Boesak, a veteran of the South African anti-apartheid struggle, reiterated the assertion that Israeli apartheid is far worse than South African apartheid. In an interview with Middle East Monitor, Boesak explained:
    “It is worse, not in the sense that apartheid was not an absolutely terrifying system in South Africa, but in the ways in which the Israelis have taken the apartheid system and perfected it, so to speak; sharpened it.

    For instance, we had the Bantustans and we had the Group Areas Act and we had the separate schools and all of that but I don’t think it ever even entered the mind of any apartheid planner to design a town in such a way that there is a physical wall that separates people and that that wall denotes your freedom of movement, your freedom of economic gain, of employment, and at the same time is a tool of intimidation and dehumanisation. We carried passes as the Palestinians have their ID documents but that did not mean that we could not go from one place in the city to another place in the city. The judicial system was absolutely skewed of course, all the judges in their judgments sought to protect white privilege and power and so forth, and we had a series of what they called “hanging judges” in those days, but they did not go far as to openly, blatantly have two separate justice systems as they do for Palestinians [who are tried in Israeli military courts] and Israelis [who are tried in civil, not military courts]. So in many ways the Israeli system is worse.”

    In 2008 veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigners visited the Occupied West Bank:
    Mondli Makhanya, the editor-in-chief of the Sunday Times of South Africa: "When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. In a certain sense, it is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of the apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid."

    "The apartheid regime viewed the blacks as inferior; I do not think the Israelis see the Palestinians as human beings at all. How can a human brain engineer this total separation, the separate roads, the checkpoints? What we went through was terrible, terrible, terrible - and yet there is no comparison. Here it is more terrible. We also knew that it would end one day; here there is no end in sight. The end of the tunnel is blacker than black.”

    "Under apartheid, whites and blacks met in certain places. The Israelis and the Palestinians do not meet any longer at all. The separation is total. It seems to me that the Israelis would like the Palestinians to disappear. There was never anything like that in our case. The whites did not want the blacks to disappear. I saw the settlers in Silwan [in East Jerusalem] - people who want to expel other people from their place."

    Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, a member of the South African parliament, deputy defense minister 1999-2004, who had been imprisoned in 1987 during the apartheid era for her opposition to the regime: "It is hard for me to describe what I am feeling. What I see here is worse than what we experienced." Asked why she thought it was worse than South African apartheid: "The absolute control of people's lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw." Madlala-Routledge thinks that the struggle against the occupation is not succeeding here because of U.S. support for Israel - not the case with apartheid, which international sanctions helped destroy. Here, the racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa. "Talk about the 'promised land' and the 'chosen people' adds a religious dimension to racism which we did not have."

    Edwin Cameron, a judge on the Supreme Court of Appeal, tells his hosts: "We came here lacking in knowledge and are thirsty to know. We are shocked by what we have seen until now. It is very clear to us that the situation here is intolerable." A poster pasted on an outside wall has a photograph of a man who spent 34 years in an Israeli prison. Mandela was incarcerated seven years less than that. One of the Jewish members of the delegation is prepared to say, though not for attribution, that the comparison with apartheid is very relevant and that the Israelis are even more efficient in implementing the separation-of-races regime than the South Africans were. If he were to say this publicly, he would be attacked by the members of the Jewish community, he says.

    In 2012, Mandela's party, the African National Congress (ANC) which is also the ruling party of South Africa, formally endorsed and adopted as part of its official policy, the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

    Johannesburg, S.A. graffiti artist promoting the annual Israel Apartheid Week:

    •  Lots of words--no proof of what Mandela thought... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Seriously, how arrogant for you to claim to speak for Mandela on Israel. Shameful, really. We know what Mandela said. You do not know what Mandela thought. What the ANC said, or his wife, or his next door neighbor is totally irrelevant to to point of my post, which was that Mandela, while critical of the actions of Israel, chose his words carefully.

      •  Let's allow the readers to make up their own mind. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo, JesseCW

        I've already responded above to your ridiculous allegation about speaking for Mandela. Your repeating the allegation doesn't make it true.

        Choosing his words carefully is one point also made in my comments here. We are in agreement there. However, there were a number of points in your diary, the central premise of which was advertised as setting the record straight about Mandela, Israel and apartheid. What Bradley Burston thought about Bibi's snub after Mandela's death had to do with any of that, I never could quite figure out. Provocative, interesting--but unrelated. You debunk a hoax based on a satirical piece that had already previously been debunked some time ago, but the pertinent question of whether or not Mandela felt Israel was practicing apartheid you never actually addressed.

        What associates and contemporaries of Mandela have to say about Israel and apartheid is relevant; it gives us a window into what he might have thought. Unlike Mandela, they may not feel constrained in their use of words. Also provided is context and quotes from Mandela that are highly relevant, yet you chose to omit.

        What really leaves me flabbergasted is that anyone could realistically think that Mandela could look at Israel without being reminded of apartheid. Do you see apartheid in Israel? If so, how could you not imagine Mandela also did, given his intimate acquaintance with that depravity?

        Last, several times you have reiterated a call to be civil in these comments, to refrain from flaming. Yet, you have made personal attacks against me, calling me arrogant and falsely accusing me of both speaking for another and engaging in shameful behavior. I have been civil, and will remain so, despite your transgressions.

        •  We do not share the same reality base... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JNEREBEL, livosh1

 there is no point in dragging this out. I was flabbergasted by what you wrote. I am sorry that you feel that a strong criticism of what you did stepped over the line.

          •  Translation: lacking any good counterarguments, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and unwilling to concede error, I will portray you as unrealistic. It strikes me as just a cop out and another thinly disguised insult from you. Strong criticism is one thing, insults another. And let's not forget it was your own line you stepped over.

            What I "did" was to express my opinions about your diary and the subject matter contained. You can disagree, criticize, or find fault with the opinions, but one shouldn't be criticized for expressing them, which is, in effect, what you've done.

            Your allegation that I claim to speak for Mandela is not only blatantly false, it is incendiary. You present no logical rationale or proof as basis for that false allegation. I merely stated that "I think he did (recognize Israel engaging in apartheid)." That is not a claim, it isn't speaking for anyone but myself, it is but an opinion, a profession of my own belief.

            I have been civil in my discourse, while you have ignored your own call to do so. I have been reasonable. I remain open to having a civil and hopefully fruitful discussion about this. Apparently, you do not, which I find both puzzling and revealing.

        •  And please stop spamming the thread (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          livosh1, JNEREBEL
          •  Arguing directly with your central premise is not (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:


            Unless you're new to the internet and have no clue at all what that word means, it's a pretty pathetic attempt to call a foul where none exists.

            "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

            by JesseCW on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 02:49:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks, JesseCW, I couldn't have put it better. (0+ / 0-)

              I was just about to respond to this after finishing my response to the previous. You saved me the trouble. Funny you mention that; I felt as if the author of this diary was pathetically "attempting to call a foul where none exists" on my original posts.

        •  And you can't even recognize the serving. n/t (0+ / 0-)

          "Stay close to the candles....the staircase can be treacherous" (-8.38,-8.51)

          by JNEREBEL on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 08:10:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Mandela's own words are no proof of what he (0+ / 0-)


        "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 02:47:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    So unfortunate that some continue to try the subterfuge.

    "Stay close to the candles....the staircase can be treacherous" (-8.38,-8.51)

    by JNEREBEL on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 08:11:26 PM PST

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