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The world lost a great man last week. Of all the things he said, this quote spoke loudest to me. I don’t think this idea is limited to one’s actual sworn enemies. We often encounter conflict in our lives. It can be something big or something small. The best way to solve conflict is to work together with the opposing party. That’s what this quote means to me.

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Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D. is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at Connect with Rabbi Fink on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Here are some of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes:

    * "Those who are irritated by our friendship with Brother Leader Qaddafi can jump in a pool."

    * "It is our duty to give support to the Brother Leader [Qaddafi]… especially in regards to [opposing] the sanctions [against Libya]."

    * I shall therefore take the liberty to invite our guests to rise and raise their glasses with me in salute to Muamar Qaddafi, our Brother Leader of the Revolution of the Libyan Jamahariya."

    * "Yasser Arafat [is] our friend and comrade… like us, fighting against a unique form of colonialism… If the truth alienates the Jewish community in South Africa, too bad."

    * "From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has also been a source of
    inspiration to all freedom-loving people… Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro."

    * "If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace."

    * "If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings."

    * One of my very favorite Mandela quotes of all is the one in which he called for punishing people who failed to participate in strikes called by the ANC by apprehending them and "cutting their noses off".

  2. Excerpts from an article titled "Nelson Mandela and the Israel-Palestinian Conflict" written by Robert K. Lifton, president of The American Jewish Congress from 1988-94; President of the Israel Policy Forum and co-chair of the International Board of the Middle East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations.

    " Through an approach to Henry Siegman, Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress, African American activists Harry Belafonte, Roger Wilkins and Randall Robinson, together with Lindiwe Mabuzza, the African National Congress' chief representative in Washington, helped arrange a meeting (1990) between Mandela and Jewish representatives led by AJCongress, in Geneva, Switzerland. The aim was to discuss the Israel-Palestinian conflict …

    "He (Mandela) told us that he had learned much from the way David Ben Gurion fought the British and won a homeland for Jews and from Menachem Begin, whom he admired for his toughness in leading the Irgun. He was grateful, too, to Golda Meir for her early denunciation of apartheid. …

    "With respect to Israel and the Palestinians, he (Mandela) noted that he unequivocally recognized Israel, not only as a de facto entity but its de jure right to exist as a state behind secure borders. …"

    Rosalind Whitesides
    Let me be the person that my dog thinks I am

  3. I remember that meeting in Geneva with Henry Siegman very well. It was arranged at Siegman's and Lifton's request. There is little credibility, if any, to the allegations (note that there are no actual quotes at all) of the statements supposedly made to Siegman and Lifton by Mandela about his purported admiration for Ben Gurion and Begin. A few days later, when questioned during an interview with Ted Koppel about those alleged statements, Mandela refused to confirm them, and then he immediately went on to condemn Israel as a racist, colonialist state just as criminal as the apartheid regime in South Africa.

  4. Nelson Mandela was an outspoken supporter of bloodthirsty tyrants and terrorists. By his own repeated, enthusiastic declarations, his closest friends and allies in the world were Muammar Gaddafi, Yasser Arafat, and Fidel Castro, whom he called his "brothers".

  5. Nelson and Winnie Mandela used to advocate torture and murder as a means of dealing with blacks who disagreed with him politically, or who didn't obey ANC dictates. He called for punishing followers of Mangosuthu Buthelezi (KwaZulu chief and president of the Inkatha Freedom Party), and blacks who failed to observe strikes called by the ANC, by "cutting their noses off" [that's a direct quote, made by Mandela in writing], and by executing them with "necklacing". (Look up the term if you're unfamiliar with it). These atrocities were committed not only upon adults, but also upon children. Here's a photo:

  6. Also: Are we supposed to be appreciative and grateful for the fact that Mandela deigned to accept that Israel "has a right to exist"?? What other country in the world views such a thing as an expression of friendship or support? Are countries considered to be pro-American on the basis of their acceptance that the United States has "a right to exist"?

  7. Moshe Z. Matitya Mr. Mandela was one of the most historic and righteous people of the twentieth century. Through his efforts and influence, there was no slaughter of anybody when when the white minority rule ended. I am aware of no evidence that he promoted or condoned bigotry directed at anybody. Your ignorance in maligning this most wonderful man says noting about him, but a lot about you.

  8. @Michael D Blum: My compliments on your most astute, well-thought-out, and rational refutation of the documented and undisputed facts and quotes that I presented. The "logic" of your argument speaks for itself. Loudly.

    Oh, and the ad hominem attack on me was an especially nice touch. When there's nothing much you can do to make pesky facts that you'd rather not know go away, personal insults are a really good way of diverting attention, aren't they?

    I especially appreciate the pointed irony in your charge of "ignorance" — of all things — against someone else for committing the crime of exposing you to documented facts that you'd much rather remain ignorant of yourself.

    Keep drinking that Kool-Aid, Michael…

  9. Moshe Z. Matitya "there's nothing much you can do to make pesky facts that you'd rather not know go away"

    Pesky facts like Mandela visiting Israel just two days after his term as President of South Africa and expressing in no uncertain terms its right to exist within secure borders.

    Or pesky facts like the entire Mandela hates Israel nonsense is a lie perpetrated by anti-Semites:

    The pesky fact is that Jews like you have fallen for anti-Semitic propaganda.

    Or more pesky facts like the warm relationship that he had with the Jews of South Africa, as reported right here in the Jewish Press:

    Yes, those pesky facts.

  10. Charlie Hall – Welcome back to these pages, Charlie, you've been missed.

    Having lived through the 1970s, I recall vividly being citizen of a pariah state–Israel, and the sense that a vicious and hypocritical world was focusing on South Africa and Israel and ignoring much worse places, true hell holes like Maoist China, the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia and much of post-colonial Africa. It was the time when the UN declared Zionism to be the equal of Nazism, in effect.

    I believe Israel believed it was engaged in a fight for its life and could not afford "luxuries" such as paying attention to the plight of the blacks in South Africa. So while Israelis, like all other Westerners, empathized with the suffering blacks, Israel, like all other western countries, did business with their tormentors.

    The world, including Israel, owes South Africa an apology, especially for supporting the creation of a post-Apartheid system that is so inadequate and dysfunctional. They deserved better, but I'm not sure how it was to be done.


  12. @Charlie Hall: "…the entire Mandela hates Israel nonsense is a lie perpetrated by anti-Semites"

    Oh, really? It this quote a "lie" too?

    "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."

    Or perhaps you'd now like to argue that calling Israel a "terrorist state" and accusing them of "slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs" — while at the very same time embracing and singing the praises of monsters who target and murder Israelis — is a sign of friendship with Israel?

    How about his warm support, friendship, and advocacy for some of the most brutal, bloody, murderous tyrants and terrorists in the world — Muamar Qaddafi, Yasser Arafat, Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, and Ali Khamenei? (See the quotes above for a few choice examples.) Are you going to tell me that those quotes are all "lies" too? How about the statements recorded on video (examples above)? Are those also phonies?

    The only lies are the ones you're telling yourself.

  13. @Charlie Hall: "Only an ignoramus can think that Mandela was a Communist in any real sense."

    Oh, really?

    Nelson Mandela was a senior member of the governing Central Committee of the South African Communist Party.

    One doesn't have to try any harder than just looking at the Wikipedia page on Mandela to find information about Mandela's Communist affiliation, which is public information and was never denied by anyone.

    Here are a few direct quotes from Mandela on the subject of Communism:

    * "Under a Communist Party government, South Africa will become a land of milk and honey."

    * "The cause of Communism is the greatest cause in the history of mankind."

    * "Communists everywhere fight to destroy capitalist society and to replace it with socialism, where the masses of the common people, irrespective of race or color, will live in complete equality, freedom and happiness."

    * "In our own country, the struggles of the oppressed people are guided by the South African Communist Party and inspired by its policies."

    So who is the "ignoramus", Charlie?

    As Alan Dershowitz likes to say, "I can put up with arrogance, and I can put up with ignorance, but I cannot abide the arrogance of ignorance".

    You really ought to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the most basic, fundamental facts regarding the subject at hand before you start blindly accusing other people of "ignorance".

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