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Netanyahu ducks Mandela memorial

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Earlier this year Netanyahu was criticized for spending $127,000 of Israeli taxpayers' money on a "resting chamber" for a five-hour flight to London. Above, Netanyahu and his wife Sara flying to London, in 2011. (Photo: GPO)

Earlier this year Netanyahu was criticized for spending $127,000 of Israeli taxpayers’ money on a “resting chamber” for a five-hour flight to London. Above, Netanyahu and his wife Sara flying to London, in 2011. (Photo: GPO)

One of Israel’s national moral compasses, Gideon Levy, says Israel is a ‘twin’ of Apartheid South Africa, while Netanyahu has reversed course and will skip Nelson Mandela’s memorial, ducking the opportunity to begin a journey toward becoming an Israeli De Klerk.

Twenty-three years after Yasir Arafat called Israel a ‘twin’ of apartheid South Africa, Gideon Levy says the same in Haaretz:

Neither Peres nor Netanyahu have any right to eulogize Mandela; both are responsible, more than any other statesmen in the free world, for undermining his legacy and establishing the (nonidentical) twin of the regime he battled.

Meanwhile, Roy Isacowitz in Haaretz challenges hypocritical Netanyahu to follow in the footsteps of Mandela’s partner, F.W. De Klerk:

If the South African analogy is applied to Israel, Netanyahu plays the De Klerk role. He can continue being the bloody ethnic warlord with a powerful army at his disposal or he can overcome the atavistic tribalism of his background and undergo what De Klerk described in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech as “a process of introspection, of soul searching; of repentance; of realization of the futility of ongoing conflict, of acknowledgement of failed policies and the injustice it brought with it.”

As De Klerk said in the same speech: “The question that we must ask is whether we are making progress toward the goal of universal peace, or are we caught up on a treadmill of history, turning forever on the axle of mindless aggression and self-destruction?”

“Repression, injustice and exploitation are inimical with peace. Peace is gravely threatened by inter-group fear and envy and by the unleashing of unrealistic expectations. Racial, class and religious intolerance and prejudice are its mortal enemies.”

The choice is Netanyahu’s.

Apparently, Netanyahu has made his choice: he’d rather squander public Israeli funds on multiple private homes, scented candles, flowers, and ice cream than attend the memorial service of arguably the most important world leader to die in the past four decades, canceling his trip at the last moment.

Last week, it was revealed that taxpayers dished out 3.3 million shekels ($940,000) in 2012 to maintain Netanyahu’s three residences – 1.2 million shekels (about $340,000) above budget.

Or maybe Netanyahu canceled the trip because the only leader of a contemporary, U.S.-supported Apartheid state appreciates the unprecedented level of hypocrisy involved in attending such an event while he continues to oversee the oppression of the very people whose lack of freedom caused Mandela to die with his own freedom ‘incomplete’?

If only Netanyahu would heed the words of Gideon Levy, who rightly says that the transition from apartheid to equality is realistic, and not only in South Africa:

An unjust state becomes a just state; discrimination and dispossession are replaced by equality and democracy. The scowling faces tell of South Africa’s backwardness and rising crime, which are serious problems. But they don’t reduce the enormity of the historic achievement and its lesson for Israel: When a country turns from unjust to just, everything else is dwarfed in comparison.

Mandela proved that the dream is realistic, that what seemed like a fantasy only 20 years ago is achievable, and without much bloodshed. He showed that enemies of the past can live together in one country and even have equality; that a new chapter can be opened against all odds.

Mandela said he was not liberated as long as the Palestinians were not free. Those in Israel who seek to eulogize him can’t continue to ignore this.


Matthew Taylor
About Matthew Taylor

Matthew A. Taylor is co-founder of PeacePower magazine, and author of "The Road to Nonviolent Coexistence in Palestine/Israel," a chapter in the book Nonviolent Coexistence.

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14 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    December 9, 2013, 10:00 am

    Shows the lack of character of the man, and definitely demonstrates that Netanyahu represents everything that Mandela fought against during his life. But it’s probably better that the event isn’t poisoned by the head zionist’s presence.

  2. US Citizen
    US Citizen
    December 9, 2013, 10:35 am

    Marwan Hasib Ibrahim Barghouti is the next Mandela and Israel is petrified over this. Netanyahoo is past his prime and out of step with history.

    • hophmi
      December 9, 2013, 12:52 pm

      “Marwan Hasib Ibrahim Barghouti is the next Mandela and Israel is petrified over this”

      Mandela didn’t go around killing innocent civilians liek Barghouti did. He tried to avoid it. Barghouti is a murderer who did not.

      • amigo
        December 9, 2013, 1:26 pm

        “Mandela didn’t go around killing innocent civilians liek Barghouti did. He tried to avoid it. Barghouti is a murderer who did not.”hopmee

        Says who?.The lying land stealing zionist entity.

      • Justpassingby
        December 9, 2013, 1:35 pm


        “Mandela didn’t go around killing innocent civilians”

        Right and thats why Israel couldnt relate to him.

  3. JeffB
    December 9, 2013, 10:52 am

    Mandela was a great leader for South Africa and a good humanitarian. Israel was strongly on the side of the Afrikaners and mostly dislikes the ANC government that Mandela brought to power. This sort of thing happens all the time to countries. The USA liked the Shah and allowed him to die here. The new government has hostile so the USA didn’t attend Khomeini’s funeral.

    Speaking of Khomeini, if I were going to pick most important world leader to die in the last 4 decades Mandela wouldn’t make the top 20: Mao, Khomeini, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Leonid Brezhnev, Osama bin Laden… are far more likely candidates. World leaders command global forces, and have broad effects for decades or centuries after their death. Mandela was mostly symbolic even in South Africa. Mandela is a really spectacular human being, a secular saint, but putting him at number one for the last 4 decades is a gross exaggeration.

    Anyway, Netanyahu doesn’t want to be De Klerk. De Klerk at the end of the day was the leader who worked out reasonable terms of surrender. He protected his people but lost his country. I suspect if there is an analogy Netanyahu wants to be more like Scipio the Great who ensured the Republic would thrive for generations. Israel is secure but still has many powerful enemies in the region.

    • bilal a
      bilal a
      December 9, 2013, 11:34 am

      There’s a reason Netanyahu does not want to be DeKlerk

      Are whites really being killed ‘like flies’?
      Comments on SA’s murder rate and the quality of life of white South Africans have been grossly exaggerated. Nechama Brodie tells us why.

      • seafoid
        December 9, 2013, 1:24 pm

        Netanyahu prolly blew the budget on Pol Pot’s funeral. More to his mindset than Mandela.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      December 9, 2013, 3:27 pm

      ”The USA liked the Shah and allowed him to die here. ”

      They certainly did not – Pahlavi died in Egypt. The US didn’t know what to do with the dying Shah once he had been kicked out of Iran, and pretty much all of his one-time ‘friends’ washed their hands of him. Whatever one thinks of Pahlavi, it was a sad story on the human level. Read ”The Shah’s Last Ride” by William Shawcross.

  4. Citizen
    December 9, 2013, 12:12 pm

    Kerry is now on CSPAN at noon, today; he spoke on Saturday re US-Israel relations. He says he’s doesn’t like to be beat up, but has most of his time on Israel’s security concerns, which is a litmus test for US politicians.

  5. amigo
    December 9, 2013, 1:06 pm

    I think it would be an insult to Nelson Mandela if this Apartheid manager were to be anywhere his sacred remains.

    Mandela would turn in his grave.

    One man is peaceful brave and brilliant and the other is a cowardly land stealing murdering oppressor who has thousands of war crimes to his credit.

  6. Erasmus
    December 9, 2013, 1:57 pm

    Netanyahoo knows very well what a reception he would get in South Africa by the South Africans. He would be the absolute pariah anong the mourners.

    And that – transmitted by countless TV-stations – before the open eyes of the entire world.

    That is why he shuns going there. He never really intended to attend.

  7. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    Maximus Decimus Meridius
    December 9, 2013, 3:23 pm

    I don’t think there could be a more searing symbol of Israel’s isolation and irrelevance in the world today. It’s a good thing Bibi isn’t going, not least because his odious presence would be an insult to Mandela’s memory.

    But not going ‘because it’s too expensive’? FFS can’t the hasbara bots come up with something better than that? I reckon they actually want to insult Mandela. Putting aside Bib’s well known extravagance (with taxpayers’ cash) what world leader doesn’t attend a memorial for the most revered man on earth because it’s ”too expensive”? Lame.

  8. MRW
    December 9, 2013, 3:28 pm

    Nah, he cancelled his trip because Bush and Carter, in addition to Obama and Clinton, are showing up. Four Prezzies? (1) They would upstage him. (2) And probably ignore him. And. Rouhani is going to be there. There’s going to be a lot of back-channeling in the ‘ole town tonight.

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