Rabbibrian's Blog

A Voice for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine

Goldstone on Mandela and some comments

Posted by rabbibrian on December 6, 2013

Judge Richard Goldstone has written a moving reflection on Nelson Mandela’s relationship to the Jews of South Africa.  You can read it here.

I want to highlight that while Madiba had a close relationship with the activist Jews who were such an important part of the anti-Apartheid struggle, the overwhelming majority of South African Jews and our communal institutions were shamefully silent about Apartheid. We benefited from the privileges we enjoyed as whites and implicitly supported the brutality of Apartheid by our silence.  This is a deeply troubling aspect of the history of the Jews in South Africa that must be acknowledged along with the recognition of the profound role individual Jews – for the most part disconnected from mainstream Jewish institutions – played in the struggle against Apartheid.

Mandela was deeply grateful to everyone who supported the A.N.C. in its struggle, including Yasser Arafat and the P.L.O.  When Western countries expressed their displeasure with his relationship to Arafat, he steadfastly expressed  his deep gratitude to Arafat and all those who supported the anti – Apartheid movement.   Another important piece of this puzzle is that in the 1970’s and 80’s Israel became the main supplier of arms and military training to the South African military as they brutally suppressed the struggle of the black majority for justice, equality and human rights.  This is another profoundly shameful and troubling aspect of the relationship of Jews to Apartheid.

It is in the face of the implicit support of Apartheid by the overwhelming majority of South African Jews and Jewish institutions and the massive Israeli military assistance to the Apartheid regime, that we highlight the courage and moral vision of those individual Jews who supported Mandela and the struggle.


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