Mandela and Palestine

Mandela on Palestinians

Nelson Mandela was a strong supporter of Palestinians, and equated Israel’s apartheid policies in the occupied Palestinian territories with the former apartheid regime in South Africa. I wonder if Netanyahu will attend Mandela’s memorial service.

Searching for Mandela’s statements about Palestine, I found the following snippets.

Mandela’s memo to Thomas Friedman About Israel & Palestine – March 28, 2001

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.

Thomas, I’m not abandoning Mideast diplomacy. But I’m not going to indulge you the way your supporters do. If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you.

When you figure out what you’re about, give me a call.


Palestinians remember Mandela as the “most courageous who supported us.” – Dec. 6, 2013

“In South Africa, it was not the economic boycott that brought apartheid down. It was the fear of this movement that made white elites reflect and begin to change, and I see the same pattern developing in Israel,” said Mazin Qumsiyeh, a writer and activists in Bethlehem who promotes such non-violent measures against Israel.

But missing from this equation is a unifying figure such as Mandela, said Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist from Hebron.

“There’s just not the level of support internationally and inside Israel for Palestinian human-rights defenders like there was in South Africa.”

Israel and apartheid: A fair comparison? – March 2, 2010

The much revered leader of the struggle against racism and apartheid in South Africa, and the first President of the non-racist Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, had the following to say on the issue of the Palestinians, according to journalist John Pilger. “To Nelson Mandela,” he wrote, justice for the Palestinians is “the greatest moral issue of our time.”

John Pilger’s critical piece about Mandela was published in July 2013.

John Pilger

John Pilger

Address by President Nelson Mandela at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People – Dec. 4, 1997

But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians; without the resolution of conflicts in East Timor, the Sudan and other parts of the world.

We are proud as a government, and as the overwhelming majority of South Africans to be part of an international consensus taking root that the time has come to resolve the problems of Palestine.

Mandela gave Palestinians hope – Dec. 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom inspired Palestinians to believe that their own liberation was “possible,” jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghuti said on Friday.

Mandela and Arafat

Mandela and Arafat

United States, Israel opposed Mandela, supported Apartheid – Juan Cole – Dec. 6, 2013

The African National Congress had attempted nonviolent protest in the 1950s, but the white Afrikaaner government outlawed all those techniques and replied with deadly force. In the early 1960s when Nelson Mandela turned to sabotage, the United States was a nakedly capitalist country engaged in an attempt to ensure that peasants and workers did not come to power. It was a deeply racist society that practiced Apartheid, a.k.a. Jim Crow in its own South.

The US considered the African National Congress to be a form of Communism, and sided with the racist Prime Ministers Hendrik Verwoerd and P.W. Botha against Mandela.

Decades later, in the 1980s, the United States was still supporting the white Apartheid government of South Africa, where a tiny minority of Afrikaaners dominated the economy and refused to allow black Africans to shop in their shops or fraternize with them, though they were happy to employ them in the mines. Ronald Reagan declared Nelson Mandela, then still in jail, a terrorist, and the US did not get around to removing him from the list until 2008! Reagan, while delivering pro forma denunciations of Apartheid or enforced black separation and subjugation, nevertheless opposed sanctions with teeth on Pretoria. Reagan let the racist authoritarian P.W. Botha come to Washington and met with him.


Filed under People

4 responses to “Mandela and Palestine

  1. Sallie Shawl

    For sure, that supposed letter from Mandela to Friedman was a hoax (tongue in cheek, not intended to fool anyone), and because some people would never read all the way down the page to these comments to find that out, I would suggest that you either delete the post or make an editor’s note at the top so that people see it right off. The person who did the hoax talks about it here:

  2. I am a big fan of Mandela. But I think if you check carefully, you will find that the supposed letter from Mandela to Friedman is a hoax that was meant to be a tongue in cheek piece of humour.

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