Original thinking: How Mandela’s legacy has faded

Some perceive Shimon Peres as the Israeli Nelson Mandela.

Peres Mandela 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Peres Mandela 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
An event celebrating the legacy of Nelson Mandela was recently held at the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Academic College. The event was an attempt to make Mandela’s legacy relevant to Israel, however, many in the audience were probably unaware of the contents of a recent statement issued by Mandela’s ANC party.
I was given a copy. The statement is truly shocking.
Written by Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary-general of the ANC, it says: “The state of Israel has turned the occupied territories of Palestine into permanent death camps.”
She goes on to write that the ANC is “reminded of the atrocities of Nazi Germany.” She asks the people of Israel if the term “lest we forget” has lost its meaning. The statement condemns what it calls “the barbaric attacks on the defenseless Palestinian people of Gaza.”
I read this statement on a day when 150 Palestinian rockets were fired at Israeli civilian areas. Six million Israelis were under rockets-fire from “the defenseless people of Gaza.” Does that number ring a bell, ANC? This didn’t appear in the offensive ANC statement.
How far has Mandela’s party fallen? One of the panelists, Nic Wolpe, is a proud ANC member.
He told of an incident at Yad Vashem in which he was accused of being an anti-Semite. His joking question of whether it’s possible for a Jew to be an anti-Semite fell flat.
One can only imagine what offensive words he uttered, in the Holocaust memorial located in the ancient capital of the Jewish people, to draw such a response. Such is the abusive and insensitive nature of ANC, as witnessed by Wolpe’s words and Duarte’s official document.
Wolpe may desire to wallow in the glory of Mandela but as a South African Jew and member of ANC, if he puts his hand on his heart and reads the awful things his party has written about Israel, words deeply offensive to any Jew, he must hang his head in shame. If he doesn’t, he deserves to be called an anti-Semite, Jewish or not.
Wolpe discussed the period when Mandela’s ANC became militant. Mandela is not celebrated for this dark period of South African history but rather for the pragmatic and charismatic leader and masterful politician he later became. But for many of his admirers, the armed struggle was an essential element of the black march to freedom. As such, the ANC and many others view Hamas and Palestinian violence in a similar light. For them, it is part of the process.
But when Mandela and the ANC turned to “armed resistance” in 1961, they avoided the killing of white civilians.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, deliberately target civilians. This point is lost on the ANC. It airbrushes out Palestinian terrorism with bogus claims such as Hamas being “the defenseless Palestinian people of Gaza.”
Wolpe is a member of a party that endorsed the infamous “Israel Apartheid Week” in 2014. Even fellow panelist Benjamin Pogrund, a close friend and adviser to Nelson Mandela, accused anyone supporting IAW as promoting “nothing more than slander designed to harm Israel” (The Jewish Press, March 6, 2013). How can Wolpe remain a member of a party that defames Israel as a cornerstone of its policy? It’s a party that endorses the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign against Israel. How much worse can it get? Well, it is a party that lies without shame. It is the party that perpetrated the lie that Israel was the last major country that aided the Apartheid regime in South Africa, when it is perfectly aware that the white regime’s industry and military operated due to the $2 billion oil supplies from Arab nations, mainly Saudi Arabia, while Israeli business with South Africa was miniscule by comparison. Yet the ANC supports the Arabs and boycotts Israel.
It needs reminding that Mandela said, in October 1999, that “I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel within secure borders.” This has not happened, not under Yasser Arafat nor rejectionist Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and certainly not under Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It won’t happen for two profound reasons, explained by Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid, a Mandela Legacy panelist.
Eid admitted that the Palestinians had failed to produce a Mandela. Abbas, who speaks the same twisted language as Duarte, referring to the Holocaust to describe Israel’s forced response to incessant Palestinian rocket attacks against its citizens, is certainly no Mandela. We are reminded that Abbas literally has a PhD in Holocaust denial. Eid accused Arafat and Abbas of failing to adopt unity and reconciliation when it comes to Israel. This equally applies to ANC.
Some perceive Shimon Peres as the Israeli Nelson Mandela.
Even if this were so, the Palestinians have failed to produce a De Klerk. Without De Klerk even Mandela’s road to peace would have failed.
Pogrund assumes that he has to support the Palestinian cause because it’s good for Israel, and good for his Jewish soul. He is reliving his past and imposing it on the Palestinian conflict and Israel, even as both Fatah and Hamas reject the notion of a Jewish state.
His view is shared by many. They do nothing to hone Hamas into a pragmatic party seeking true democracy, a la Mandela. They do nothing about finding a Mandela figure among the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders. (Mission impossible, I suspect.) The ANC thinks the Palestinian cause reflects its old struggle for freedom and liberty, and as such, is in denial as to the real aim of the Islamic terrorist arm of Palestinian society.
Proof of this aim can be seen in the Palestinian rocket fire. The Palestinians are targeting Israel not for Israel’s presence in the Gaza Strip, but for its presence anywhere.
The Palestinians aren’t targeting a West Bank settlement, they’re targeting central and southern Israel. Doesn’t it occur to the ANC that this reflects the ultimate aim of both Fatah and Hamas, and that everything else is a distraction aimed at weakening Israel in advance of the final fatal blow? No matter, they say. Just give them victory, a la the ANC, and they will share Mandela’s peaceful legacy. Such is the political absurdity driving the ANC-type dreamers, all blinded by Mandela’s unique example.
If the ANC supports the notion of a nation that respects all its citizens then Israel is their shining Rainbow Nation. A “Judenrein” Palestinian state would be an apartheid state. It would be a state where even the Christians flee as they have from Bethlehem under Palestinian control.
All this they fail to see. They are so blinded that the Palestinian cause, no matter how evil, is to them a blessed one. For them, it’s Israel that’s preventing it from coming to fruition. So they demand that Israel get out of the way, or curse it forever.
It’s this at the heart of the ANC statement. It’s a dangerous concept, which the ANC accepts none of the consequences of. Nelson Mandela was a unique figure at a unique moment in history. You can’t cut and paste Mandela onto the Palestinian conflict. Any apparent similarities are mere desert mirages. No matter how thirsty you are, a mirage will not keep you alive.
The problem of the ANC, without Nelson Mandela, is that is has sunk to become the failing, divisive, corrupt party it is. It was so under Winnie Mandela. It is so today.
Remove Nelson Mandela from the ANC and you have Fatah, and even worse, Hamas.
The author is a special consultant to the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is the founder of the Netanya Terror Victims Organization, and also the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ www.israelnarrative.com