web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Mandela: Close Ties With South African Jews But Also With Arafat

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – In the early 1940s, at a time when it was virtually impossible for a South African of color to secure a professional apprenticeship, the Jewish law firm Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman gave a young black man a job as a clerk.

It was among the first encounters in what would become a lifelong relationship between Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s tiny Jewish community, impacting the statesman’s life at several defining moments, from his arrival in Johannesburg from the rural Transkei region as a young man to his years of struggle, imprisonment and ascension to the presidency.

Mandela, who died last Thursday at 95, wrote of the early job in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, and acknowledged the disproportionate role that Jews played in the struggle against apartheid.

“I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice,” Mandela wrote. South Africa’s Jews remembered Mandela, the country’s first democratically elected president, as a close friend, one with deep ties to prominent community figures and a partner in the decades-long effort to end apartheid.

“I was extremely privileged to lead the community during his presidency,” said Mervyn Smith, who was chairman and later president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the community’s representative body. “We met with him on many occasions and the talk was direct and open.”

For Mandela, who rose to prominence as a leading opponent of the discriminatory racial regime known as apartheid, Jews were vital allies. Jewish lawyers represented him in multiple trials, and Jewish activists and political figures played leading roles in the fight.

But Mandela’s ties to prominent South African Jews were personal as well as political. The former president’s second marriage, to Winnie Madikizela in 1958, took place at the home of Ray Harmel, a Jewish anti-apartheid activist. When Mandela married again, in 1998, he invited Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris to offer a private blessing on the nuptials.

On Israel, Mandela’s relationship with the Jewish community was not free of controversy. His African National Congress cultivated close ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization and Mandela warmly embraced its leader, Yasir Arafat.

Confronted with Jewish protests, Mandela was dismissive, insisting that his relations with other countries would be determined by their attitudes toward the liberation movement.

“If the truth alienates the powerful Jewish community in South Africa, that’s too bad,” Mandela was reported to have said, according to Gideon Shimoni, author of Community and Conscience: The Jews in Apartheid South Africa.

David Saks, author of Jewish Memories of Mandela, noted that Mandela stressed his respect for Israel’s right to exist even as he defended his relationships with Palestinian leaders. It was perhaps illustrative of his policy of inclusivity that Mandela accepted an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 1997 when many in his party remained opposed to any ties with Israel.

Mandela was born in 1918 in the village of Mvezo, in the southeastern part of the country. As a young lawyer he was active in the African National Congress, which was beginning to challenge laws it considered unjust and discriminatory.

In the 1950s, Mandela was tried for treason. He was acquitted with the help of a defense team led by Israel Maisels. Several years later, when he was accused of attempting to overthrow the apartheid regime during the Rivonia Trial, Mandela was defended by several Jewish lawyers.

Mandela was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 1964. He served most of his sentence on Robben Island, a former leper colony off the coast of Cape Town. The legendary, feisty Jewish parliamentarian Helen Suzman visited him there. Another prison visitor was the journalist Benjamin Pogrund, who worked frequently with Mandela in the 1960s.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

2 Responses to “Mandela: Close Ties With South African Jews But Also With Arafat”

  1. Yechiel Baum says:

    Mandela close with Arafat and they both burn in hell!
    The alleged radiation from Arafat is help and not radiation poison

  2. Yechiel Baum says:

    close with South African Jewish money which he extoled from them to keep the blacks from squatting in their homes. Look how many Jews left when he came out. Even his wife Winnie divorced him. What does that tell you about the man?

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
U.S. President Barack Obama
FAA Ban on Flights to Israel ‘Worse than BDS’
Latest News Stories
U.S. President Barack Obama

Why is the ban on Israel’s airport different from all other FAA bans?

The new peace partners; Hams leader Khaleed Meshaal (L) and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas adopts Hamas as peace partner, big brave Kerry scurries out of Israel despite FAA ban and Mashaal goes off his rocker.

Non-anti-Semitic flag in Auckland, New Zealand

Yet again, non-anti-Semitic ‘pro-Palestinian’ demonstrators can’t quite seem to break free of anti-Semitic jargon.

Tomer Sargon of Netivot heard that IDF soldiers haven’t been able to bath in days, for lack of water and showering facilities out in the field. So he took it upon himself to help, by driving down to the Gaza border with a truck filled with huge water containers, just so the soldiers could have […]

Hundreds of Arabs gathered near Kever Rachel (Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem) Wednesday to attack IDF soldiers with stones and firebombs. Riots were also reported in Beit Omar, near Hebron.

Shots were fired outside the Hadar Mall in Talpiot, Jerusalem Wednesday. One individuals opened fire from a moped outside the mall this evening. No injuries or property damage was reported. Police said Wednesday night that a man suspected of having staged the attack was arrested in the Gilo section of south Jerusalem. Police have determined […]

Hamas terrorists fired mortar rounds Wednesday at an IDF field hospital on the Israeli side of the Gaza border, according to a report on Israel Radio. The Israeli army set up the hospital last week to treat Palestinian victims of Hamas’ “human shields” policy, but the report indicated that the terror gang has prevented wounded […]

The Al-Wafa hospital located near Shajuayia in Gaza City was a Hamas military compound.

US extends ban on flights to Israel despite lack of such precaution in similar or worse situations.

Hamas terrorists took over Waffa hospital in Gaza and were using it as a terror base. The IDF communicated with the medical staff to ensure no patients or staff were inside before blowing it up.

Hamas lunched a new massive barrage or rockets and missiles at southern Israel and as far north as Kiryat Malachi, near the southern edge of metropolitan Tel Aviv, shortly after 6 p.m. (11 a.m. EDT) Wednesday. The Iron Dome shot down two rockets aimed at Kiryat Malachi, which has a large industrial area. Sirens also […]

Did El Al intentionally spike prices, or was the sudden jump in air fares the normal function of airline economics?

Military spokesman: We’ve been trying for years to deal with tunnels, with no success.

Chicago 18-year-old to enlist in IDF; New Jersey woman to marry IDF Paratrooper fiance

More Articles from Meira Schneider
Nelson Mandela

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – In the early 1940s, at a time when it was virtually impossible for a South African of color to secure a professional apprenticeship, the Jewish law firm Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman gave a young black man a job as a clerk.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/mandela-close-ties-with-south-african-jews-but-also-with-arafat/2013/12/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: