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In video: Mandela speaks of support for Palestine during 1990 US visit

Ma'an news

December 22, 2013

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Rare video footage has emerged of late anti-apartheid leader and former South African president Nelson Mandela speaking of his "identification" with the Palestinian struggle during a visit to the United States in 1990.

The video was released by BDS South Africa, a local organization of supporters of the international movement for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions of the State of Israel.

The video shows Mandela, who passed away on December 5, speaking in a "town hall meeting" in New York City in 1990 moderated by Ted Koppel of ABC Network, a major US broadcasting company.

In the video, Mandela is questioned on his support for the Palestinian cause, which is said to disappoint "Jewish leaders" in the United States who otherwise support his struggle against the system of racial discrimination in South Africa.

Mandela's response, however, is unequivocal, saying that "We identify with the PLO, because just like ourselves, they are fighting for the right to self-determination."

"(Jewish leaders in US and South Africa) must know what our stand is," he continues, stressing, "Arafat is a comrade in arms, and we treat him as such."

Video of town hall meeting with excerpts focusing on Palestine:

The interview took place soon after Mandela's release from prison earlier in 1990, amid a growing movement around the world and in the United States in support of the anti-apartheid struggle against the undemocratic minority-White regime over South Africa.

At the same time that this consensus was forming, however, United States public opinion continued to be staunchly pro-Israel, especially amid the Palestinian First Intifada, which was ongoing at the time of the interview.

"We have many members of the Jewish community in our struggle, and they have occupied very top positions, but that does not mean to say that the enemies of Israel are our enemies."

"We refuse to take that position," he adds.

"Any man who changes his principles based on upon who he is dealing with -- that is not a man who can lead a nation."

His comments drew widespread applause in the majority African-American audience, although white audience members are shown in the video appearing to be unmoved by the comments.

Full video of town hall meeting:

Nelson Mandela was a frequent advocate of the Palestinian cause throughout his struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa, where he was a major leader of the movement to dismantle the racist apartheid system.

Israel, meanwhile, was a close military and economic ally of the apartheid regime from 1973 onwards.

Mandela famously said, "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."

On December 6, following Mandela's death, Palestinians commemorated his legacy with protests in a number of West Bank cities that were violently dispersed by Israeli authorities, leading to dozens of injuries.

Many Palestinian activists argue that the system of racial segregation in South Africa that existed until 1994 resembles the Israel treatment of Palestinians, referring to the current situation as "Israeli apartheid."


:: Article nr. 103571 sent on 23-dec-2013 04:33 ECT


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