Mandela's Legacy Shines on Palestine

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By Greg Hom
Dec 11, 2013

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres decided to forgo being challenged on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and its comparison to apartheid, by not attending the funeral ceremony of Nelson Mandela. Whatever the merits or utility of comparing South Africa’s apartheid system to the oppression of Palestinians by Israel, there can be no doubt that any comparison of the systems of exclusion was a pressure on the officials. Their absence from the ceremony should be seen as a win for Palestinians whose struggles for freedom should be honored while Mandela’s legacy is discussed by the world.

In 1997, Mandela himself said “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

The Israeli media has even acknowledged the quote, quoting the Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti who wrote an open letter to Mandela the day after Mandela’s passing: “You said: 'We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians," ... And from within my prison cell, I tell you our freedom seems possible because you reached yours." This powerful statement speaks much louder than the tepid statements by Israeli officials praising Mandela for not engaging in armed struggle until the end his days.

While world officials are attempting to co-opt Mandela's legacy and to look at the passing of apartheid as simply a peaceful transition that is over and done with, movements all over the world know that there is still liberation work to be done from South Africa to Palestine and beyond.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project

Greg has written book reviews for Left Turn Magazine, and volunteered with Prison Radio.

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