By Giulio Meotti.. The South African government instructed that products made in Judea and Samaria not be labeled as “products of Israel.” Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, vehemently declared that South Africa “remains an apartheid state,” which is now turning its discrimination against Israel. A post-apartheid Pretoria boycotting Jerusalem is one of the more powerful victories for the boycott and divestment campaign. And it’s Nelson Mandela’s legacy.
On March 30, 2001, the anti-apartheid icon Mandela sent a letter to the American journalist Thomas Friedman. Israel, said Mandela, is “not a country that was established normally.”
Rather, it had “occupied another country.” He accused Israelis of indulging in “a vulgar racism.” And then came the peak of his anti-Jewish hatred: “Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality.” This is “an apartheid system.”
Since then, the definition of the Jewish State as an “apartheid state” has become the code word for evil. The labeling of Israel as an “apartheid state” is the embodiment of the new anti-Semitism.
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.”
Mandela fabricated the comparison between Israel and South Africa. In his twisted version: both are small bastions of Western values and interests surrounded by a larger and non-Western people; both govern hostile majorities, using force and denying rights to subjugate them; both are run by nationalistic, racist governments unwilling to grant rights to these people but anxious to exploit labor. However, Mandela concealed the truth: in South Africa’s apartheid, there were 26 million blacks and 6 million whites, while in Israel there is a Jewish majority and a minority of Arabs who attack the Jews.
The special relationship between Israel and South Africa, according to Mandela, was an unholy alliance between pariah states (during the apartheid era, most of the black African states broke relations with Israel). The truth was another thing, however: like blacks in America before the civil rights movement, or in South Africa under apartheid, Israeli Jews and their connection to the holy land have been erased from the environment by the Arabs. It’s Palestinian anti-Semitism, not Israel’s Jewish democracy, which must be compared to apartheid’s Aryanism.
In 2000, the American Jewish Committee canceled a Washington luncheon scheduled to honor Mandela after he said that 13 Jews tried for “espionage” (read: Judaism and Zionism) in Iran were receiving a “fair trial.” While Jews — including community leaders and a rabbi — were presented as agents of Israel and the US, Mandela was laying a wreath on the grave of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the father of the Iranian revolution, and warmly greeting his successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
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.”
In 1999 Mandela supported the Palestinian use of violence. With Yasser Arafat seated next to him at a Palestinian Legislative Council session in Gaza City, Mandela said: “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.” “Arafat and Mandela – Freedom and Victory,” read one of the Palestinian Authority banners hoisted in Gaza for the visit. A few weeks later, the Palestinians began the Second Intifada. Fifteen hundred Jewish civilians have since been killed in suicide attacks and shootings; 10,000 have been wounded.
We should also mention Mandela’s friendship with Colonel Gaddafi (“my brother leader”) and his endorsement of Gaddafi’s long refusal to surrender for trial those accused of the Lockerbie atrocity.
Under Mandela’s apartheid analogy, the World Conference against Racism, held by the United Nations in Durban in 2001, was transformed into a racist conference against Israel. In the same city where President Mbeki held his festival of victory against real apartheid, another death sentence was passed for the Jews. Many black leaders were involved in the Durban proto-Nazi saga.
Nelson Mandela might be a symbol of goodness for many, but as the recent boycott has proven, for Israel’s Jews, Mandela has been an enabler of anti-Semitism.