The world lost a great leader who changed the course of history. On behalf of the citizens of Israel we mourn alongside the nations of the world and the people of South Africa, who lost an exceptional leader. Nelson Mandela was a fighter for human rights who left an indelible mark on the struggle against racism and discrimination. He was a passionate advocate for democracy, a respected mediator, a Nobel peace prize laureate and above all a builder of bridges of peace and dialogue who paid a heavy personal price for his struggle in the years he spent in prison and fighting for his people. Nelson Mandela’s legacy for his people and for the world will forever remain engraved in the pages of history and the hearts of all those who were touched by him. He will be remembered forever.
In November 1974, Shimon Peres came to Pretoria to meet secretly with South African leaders. After the trip he wrote to his hosts thanking them for helping to establish a “vitally important” link between the two governments. Peres — who routinely denounced apartheid in public — went on to stress that “this cooperation is based not only on common interests and on the determination to resist equally our enemies, but also on the unshakeable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and out refusal to submit to it.” Peres predicted that “the new links which you have helped to forge between our two countries will develop into a close identity of aspirations and interests which will turn out to be of longstanding benefit to our countries.” Over the next two decades Peres’s prediction would prove to be remarkably accurate.
He met South African defense minister P.W. Botha the following year in Switzerland, and it was there that the two ministers laid the foundation for an enduring military relationship.