Jews Pay Emotional Tribute to Nelson Mandela, 'Joseph' of South Africa

Thousands Pack Johannesburg Shul as Nation Mourns

Miora Rajaonary

By Dave Goldiner

Published December 08, 2013.
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His 12-year-old son Gabriel said he had learned a potent lesson from Mandela, who served as the country’s president after sweeping to victory in the 1994 democratic elections that ended apartheid.

“The power to forgive,” the boy said.

Goldstein ticked off a list of Jewish South Africans who played prominent roles in the freedom struggle, including Bram Fischer, a lawyer who defended Mandela during his infamous treason trial and Joe Slovo, the famed leader of the African National Congress and South African Communist Party.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki also praised Jews for standing with Mandela in the struggle.

The soft-spoken leader, wearing a black yarmulke, warned the crowd that Mandela’s mission would not be completed until South Africa achieves more economic and social equality.

“How loyal are we to his beliefs, the beliefs that guided his struggle?” Mbeki asked the packed crowd.

The Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, paid tribute to Mandela and read a message of condolence from Israeli President Shimon Peres.

He pointedly admitted that Israel and South Africa have had a rocky diplomatic relationship at times, but said the Jewish State has nothing but respect for the Mandela’s commitment to democracy and reconciliation.

Lenk said the lesson of Mandela for the Middle East is that enemies must set aside hatreds and make difficult compromises for peace.

“We are still looking for our own internal Mandela,” the ambassador said. “The message of South Africa is that even the most seemingly intractable differences can be overcome.”


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