World leaders, masses gather to pay homage to Mandela

Tens of thousands of people gather at Johannesburg soccer stadium to pay homage to anti-apartheid hero, former S. African president; Knesset Speaker Edelstein heads Israeli delegation at memorial.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
December 10, 2013 10:40
1 minute read.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela's national memorial service in Johannesburg.

Mandela funeral in South Africa crowds 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Yves Herman)



Tens of thousands of people arrived at a soccer stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning for a mass memorial service honoring anti-apartheid hero and former South African president Nelson Mandela.

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World leaders will pay homage to Mandela at the memorial that will recall his gift for bringing enemies together across political and racial divides.

The US sent its president and three former presidents to the memorial service. The UK and France sent its prime ministers, as did another nearly 90 countries. Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama were set to attend. Israel, however, came close to sending no one, in a near diplomatic fiasco that started Sunday and developed throughout Monday.

In the end, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein flew Monday night to the memorial service, along with the first female Ethiopian MK Pnina Tamnu-Shata (Yesh Atid), as well as MKs Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), Gila Gamliel (Likud Beytenu) and Hilik Bar (Labor).

Edelstein, a former prisoner of Zion in the USSR, said he’s “happy that in the end Israel has representation at this important event. As a former prisoner of conscience, I had the privilege of meeting Mandela as a minister in 1996, and we shared experiences from prison and the fight for our rights. This is a sort of closure for me.”

Before leaving for South Africa, Edelstein said that Mandela was a freedom fighter but that "more than that he was a man that knew that you do not correct an injustice with another injustice and violence with more violence.

He added that the State of Israel will remember Mandela as a man who "abandoned the path of violence in his just struggle for equality between black and white people." 

"I hope that the leaders in our region will abandon terror like Mandela and will choose dialogue as a way to live in peace with Israel," the Speaker of the Knesset added.


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