Israeli-South African who hid Mandela dies at 82

Arthur Goldreich, who took part in struggle to end Apartheid, was jailed for life in S. Africa but managed to escape to Israel.

May 26, 2011 18:24
1 minute read.
Arthur Goldreich.

Arthur Goldreich 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Prof. Arthur Goldreich, an Israeli-South African painter and architect who took part in the struggle against Apartheid and at one point hid Nelson Mandela, has died aged 82.

Born in Pietersburg, Goldreich made aliya at the age of 19 and joined the Palmah.

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Hijacking apartheid
South Africa: Mandela marks 20 years of freedom

He returned to South Africa at age 33 where he became a successful abstract painter, winning national awards while clandestinely taking part in the struggle to end Apartheid. During those years Goldreich owned Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia outside Johannesburg that functioned as a sanctuary for African National Congress operatives including the movement’s leader, Mandela.

“Goldreich was a flamboyant person, who gave the farm a buoyant atmosphere,” Mandela wrote in his autobiography.

When Goldreich’s activities were discovered, he was thrown into jail and sentenced to life in prison.

However, he managed to escape disguised as a priest, eventually making his way back to Israel.

He returned to Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, where he opened the Industrial and Environmental Design Department, and rarely spoke about his time in South Africa. He lobbied Israel to sever its ties with Apartheid South Africa and in 1994 returned for a visit, after the racist regime had fallen.

In his later years he became a fierce critic of the Israeli government, saying the Jewish state had strayed from the ideals of Zionism and begun to resemble South African white-minority rule.

“Don’t you find it horrendous that this people and this state, which only came into existence because of the defeat of fascism and Nazism in Europe, and in the conflict six million Jews paid with their lives for no other reason than that they were Jews?” he told The Guardian in 2006. “Is it not abhorrent that in this place there are people who can say these things and do these things?”

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