|Robben Island South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|English: Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, Johannesburg at night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Nelson Mandela (Photo credit: Festival Karsh Ottawa)|
|English: Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|English: Young Nelson Mandela. This photo dates from 1937. South Africa protect the copyright of photographs for 50 years from their first publication. See . Since this image would have been PD in South Africa in 1996, when the URAA took effect, this image is PD in the U.S. Image source: http://www.anc.org.za/people/mandela/index.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|English: Pile of rocks started by Nelson Mandela and added to by former prisoners of Robben Island Prison, South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Cover of Nelson Mandela|
We have no leaders in Israel with the vision and motivation of Nelson Mandela, who could end the painful conflict between Israel and Palestine.
My memories of the apartheid regime goes back a long way. My family in South Africa was opposed to apartheid and the values that our parents gave us were against race discrimination in all its forms. Those, who were in opposition to apartheid in the 1950s, 60's and 70's, were hounded. This was really a dark period in South Africa's history. The evil white National Party took power in 1948 and even before that, while not official, there was always discrimination towards the black people based only on the colour of their skins. This was really so abhorrent to my family and like most white people, Jews were scared to express opposition to this evil system that was taking over the institutions of South Africa. Those who opposed apartheid were Jews who were non religious or atheists.
Schools and universities were for whites only and the blacks had inferior education. Even political parties were declared white's only parties and blacks were not allowed to be part of the white political scene. Brutal and evil acts were declared by the white government such as the evil Immorality Act, Group Areas Act, impoverished homelands or Bantustans for the black population where"they could develop according to their own traditional customs and where they would have equal rights". It was a cruel divide and rule situation.
Nelson Mandela showed incredible leadership qualities during this period and was detained and imprisoned numerous times. The notorious Treason Trial from 1956 until 1961 in which many of my parents friends were placed on trial with Nelson Mandela only to be acquitted in 1961. This did not prevent the evil white government from hounding Nelson Mandela and his numerous supporters outstanding of whom were Oliver Tambo, Govan Mbeki (the father of Thabo Mbeki who was South Africa's president after Nelson Mandela in 1999), Walter Sisulu and a host of other names of people who had served sentences in Robben Island with Nelson Mandela.
I had already left South Africa in 1974 for Israel where I felt a certain déjà vu , especially during the right wing coalitions of the last decade.
We are all saddened by the death of this great human being whose feelings of forgiveness towards those who oppressed his people is a shining example of all that a leader of a country should be. He prevented a revolution and racial strife between whites and blacks in South Africa and succeeded in uniting a country torn by racial strife for generations. His spirit teaches us that no conflict lacks a solution that is peaceful and all embracing. It would be a great tribute to Nelson Mandela if we, in Israel and Palestine, can follow his shining and unique example of reconciliation as human beings making peace that is the interests of every human soul in the Middle East.