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Mandela's Alleged Memo to Friedman About Israel & Palestine


By Nelson Mandela, in Jefferson Corner - America's Speaker's Corner, 28 March 2001


"If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you."


Dear Thomas,

I know that you and I long for peace in the Middle East, but before you continue to talk about necessary conditions from an Israeli perspective, you need to know what’s on my mind. Where to begin? How about 1964.Let me quote my own words during my trial. They are true today as they were then: “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Today the world, black and white, recognize that Apartheid has no future. In South Africa it has been ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. That mass campaign of defiance and other actions could only culminate in the establishment of Democracy.

Perhaps it is strange for you to observe the situation in Palestine or more specifically, the structure of political and cultural relationships between Palestinians and Israelis, as an Apartheid system. This is because you incorrectly think that the problem of Palestine began in 1967. This was demonstrated in your recent column “Bush’s First Memo” in the New York Times on March 27, 2001.

You seem to be surprised to hear that there are still problems of 1948 to be solved, the most important component of which is the right to return of Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not just an issue of military occupation and Israel is not a country that was established “normally” and happened to occupy another country in 1967. Palestinians are not struggling for a “state” but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.

In the last few years, and especially during the reign of the Labour Party, Israel showed that it was not even willing to return what it occupied in 1967; that Settlements remain, Jerusalem would be under exclusive Israeli sovereignty, and Palestinians would not have an independent state, but would be under Israeli economic domination with Israeli control of borders, land, air, water and sea.

Israel was not thinking of a “state” but of “separation”. The value of separation is measured in terms of the ability of Israel to keep the Jewish state Jewish, and not to have a Palestinian minority that could have the opportunity to become a majority at some time in the future. If this takes place, it would force Israel to either become a secular democratic or bi-national state, or to turn into a state of Apartheid not only de facto, but also de jure.

Thomas, if you follow the polls in Israel for the last 30 or 40 years, you clearly find a vulgar racism that includes a third of the population who openly declare themselves to be racist. This racism is of the nature of “I hate Arabs” and “I wish Arabs would be dead”.

If you also follow the judicial system in Israel you will see there is discrimination against Palestinians, and if you further consider the 1967 Occupied Territories you will find there are already two judicial systems in operation that represent two different approaches to human life: one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life. Additionally there are two different approaches to property and to land. Palestinian property is not recognized as private property because it can be confiscated.

As to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, there is an additional factor. The so-called “Palestinian autonomous areas” are Bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli Apartheid system.

The Palestinian state cannot be the by-product of the Jewish state, just in order to keep the Jewish purity of Israel. Israel’s racial discrimination is daily life of most Palestinians. Since Israel is a Jewish state, Israeli Jews are able to accrue special rights which non-Jews cannot do. Palestinian Arabs have no place in a “Jewish” state.

Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and Apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its Apartheid policies.

Thomas, I’m not abandoning Mideast diplomacy. But I’m not going to indulge you the way your supporters do. If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you.

When you figure out what you’re about, give me a call.

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Mandela's Alleged Memo to Friedman

The little that I know about Mandela, I know he would not write like that. He was a man who understood the depth of the words mediate and reconcile. Only a shallow minded person would believe such nonsense written above. Mandela never showed his feelings towards a particular party where conflict was concerned, he would not have pandered or make one feel more justified than the other. 

It's a shame that whoever wrote this would try and degrade a man of Madiba's stature in this way.

Which further raises the question, who's a Blackman's friend really. Or we're just a race to be manipulated for our softness.

Rght to Return

About the right to return of the Jews... If we take the Bible as a historical document. The Jews must have lived in Palestine some 2,000 years ago before they were exiled by the Romans. But are the Jews today directly linked to the Jews of two millennia ago? If you compare a Moroccan to a European Jew you'll see the Moroccan Jew looks like an Arab and the European Jews' skin and hair are sometimes light. If you compare those two with an Ethiopian Jew you'll see that the latter is black.

Conclusion? As a result of their exile, Jews have mixed with locals. What percentage can you actually call Jewish? If these people, who claim a few percentage of Jewish blood, have the right to return then why do the Palestinians who have lived there more than a thousand years have no right to return?

Mandela was Right

Israel is just like South Africa was...racist.

Not Written by Mandela

This letter was not written by Nelson Mandela. It is a mock letter written by Arjan El Fassad from the electronic Intifada. Deceiving readers that it's written by Mandela mars the memory of the great man that he was.

Not Written by Mandela

Written or not written by Mandela, it's all bull....

Thoughts on the letter and the comments

Mandela's letter seems to be relatively in line with what he always advocated. However the responses to it range from amusing to the outright stupid.

Let me clear something up first, Zionism was and still is a nationalist ideology. Jewish Nationalism is belief that the Jews constitute a "nation", because of Jewish history it was a rather far-fetched idea that the Jews could act on that nationalism and create a nation. This is because the Jews historically were stateless.

History is fairly consistent; peoples without land tend to vanish from history rather quickly and while Jews preserved their identity for two thousand years it became increasingly clear these past two centuries that the ethnic nationalists and religious bigots of Europe were not going to tolerate minorities.

Zionism is the belief that grew out of Jewish nationalism which addresses this problem by moving Jews into Palestine. Zionism is essentially the idea that the Jews must have an independent homeland in Palestine. The reason it came to pass after the Holocaust specifically is because it finally dawned on the surviving Ashkenazi Jews in Europe that the only possible way to guarantee the survival of Jews as a nation was to create an independent Jewish state.

I view demands for a two state solution and the Palestinian right of return as being fundamentally dishonest since the Palestinians who return will subsequently vote a one state solution into existence. So what is wrong with a one state solutions? A Palestinian-American Journalist Ray Hanania wrote a piece for the right wing Israeli news website Ynet (despite the fact that he is by no means a right wing Zionist) titled "One State Solution a Pipe Dream: Despite Peace process failure, two state solution still the only viable answer" basically outlining why a One State solution advocated by many Palestinians and left wing westerners is flawed not just because Israelis would never let it happen (they would go all "hermit kingdom" on the west if it ever changed its mind) but because Palestinians would not practice it.

The theory of a one state solution is for Jews, Christians, and Muslims to live together in harmony in a democratic Palestinian State. As Ray Hanania points out, there is hardly anywhere in the Arab world where this is actually a reality, he doesn't mention it but the only place I can think of that comes even close to that wildly utopian (and in my view completely crazy) ideal is Lebanon, an Ethnocracy and hardly a shining beacon of peace and stability.

The Pew Research forum in this poll titled The World Muslims Religion Politics Society beliefs about sharia date April 30, 2013 finds that 89 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian Territories favor making Sharia the "law of the land" as it were. Almost half of those who believed that want it to be applied to non-Muslims as well. This is just one reason why a one state solution is crazy, it was invented to appeal to westerners.

When you look at the logistics of how it would come about you realize that the one state solution ends up looking less like a multi-ethnic utopia and more like Bosnia, Lebanon, Iraq, or worse: Rwanda. I'll put my trust into statistics (though maybe that's just because I am an American) and if those statistics reflect the actual feelings of the Palestinian population then a one state solution made into a reality here and now is madness and its advocates are either evil, naive, or apathetic.   

Desert to Garden

Zionists and pro-Zionists have, for decades, claimed that they converted the desert (Palestine) into garden (Israel). While this is a falsehood (long before the European Zionists showed up, Palestinian Arabs had industries and even exported fruits to Europe: the iconic Jaffa orange was an Arab export), I would like to address the desert/garden metaphor.

To claim that Zionists turned the desert into a garden thus Zionism is a good idea is like saying that a stranger has the right to grab your house because he can decorate your house more elegantly than you can.  

There are numerous other myths ("Palestine was promised by God to the Jews", the Israeli fight against the Arabs is a "David and Goliath" encounter, etc.) which Zionists have peddled to the world and especially to the West. Unfortunately, their propaganda has been successful, although people everywhere are finally waking up to the Zionist lies.

One big satisfaction: Thanks to US support, Israel has been able to vanquish the Palestinians on the battlefield. However, Israel will lose the demographic battle as Palestinians become the majority soon not only in the West Bank but in all of occupied Palestine. Unlike 1948 and 1967, Palestinians will stay on the ground no matter the Israeli provocation. All the Israeli nuclear bombs will not make a difference in this silent battle. The revenge of the womb.

Israel History

I am not sure what planet some of you are living on but on earth there was an ancient Jewish homeland where Israel stands today. Zionism is not a dirty word but the Jewish "Jihad" for thousands of years to return to our ancestral home. Jewish kingdoms ruled this homeland for almost a thousand years and if you are religious you believe that God gave this land to the Jews. I do not necessarily agree with that but I cannot deny the fact that this land is where my ancestors are from. This is what makes Israel different from South Africa where a bunch of Dutch people settled and displaced the locals. Jews have returned to their ancestral home where there were no Arabs at all. Ironically, the current Palestinians may be related to these Jews of old. No person with a conscience can deny Palestinian rights but no person aware if history can deny Jewish rights to this land. We need to start the conversation by understanding Zionism and its historical evolution.

Speaking of ancestors

My ancestors (including my immediate grandfather) lived in Palestine. Not fictitious ancestors that I can't prove they existed thousands of years ago.

In Response

In response to what you said ("If you are religious you believe that God gave this land to the Jews"), the Zionist slogan: "A land without a people for a people without a land" states that they view Palestine as a land without people and identified themselves as people without a land. Therefore, according to the Zionist movement quote, you cannot say that Palestine belongs to the Jews because they don't have a land. 

Israel History


First of all God does not 'give' land. You are born into it. Secondly, the Jewish Kingdoms that ruled for thousand years took the land by force after wandering in the desert for 40 years (Exodus). It is sad but the truth is that the Israelites are a Homeless people due to their enslavement in Egypt where their whole Nation was born after Joseph invited his father and his brothers to come and live with him in Egypt. They multiplied exponentially, but when a cruel Pharaoh enslaved them, they eventually broke free with the guidance of Moses. They were promised a land, a land which was already inhabited. George how would it feel if God promised another family your house? I do not take sides in this matter, I am from Africa and we have a mountain of problems of our own. But facts are just facts. The Israelis have a right to Palestine just as the Palestinians, it just so happens that the Israelis left after the split (Abraham's two sons Ishmael and Isaac). Jacob who later became Israel after wrestling an angel  is from the line of Isaac. But any how all I am saying is that it is wrong how Isaac is treating Ishmael. They can coexist, but sadly, one brother wants to dominate.

Israel an Apartheid and Terrorist State

India, which used to be called Bharat according to Biblical times, used to comprise Afghanistan, Burma (Mynmar) Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Tibet (China). So according to butcher Zionists occupying Palestine, Hindus of India around the world must reclaim these countries to make one Bharat. Hindus must butcher all those who do not agree with them.

Shame on America and all those brain paralyzed racists around the world who call Jews the Chosen People of God. How come the enemy of humanity can be the chosen people of world? These so-called chosen people of God have converted America into a Zionist colony which is much bigger than Palestine. What more do they need now?

Mahatma Gandhi (Nov. 1938) rejected the claims of Zionist for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Gandhi asserted: "My sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and in the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after their return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?"

Gandhi thus questioned the very foundational logic of political Zionism. He  rejected the idea of a Jewish State in the Promised Land by pointing out that the "Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract."

Jews Never Left

Just to get some historical facts right: Jews never left the geographical area called Palestine where borders have shifted, including areas of Syria and Jordan. They've been a minority during Arab empires, as well as during British rule.

Regarding archeological evidence, Jews did not mysteriously appear from Egypt. They have been in Palestine always. There is evidence that Judaism evolved slowly on the grounds of other area religions. There has not been a sudden massive influx of people, but pretty much the same groups thousands of years ago. There is not a single archeological evidence to back up the Biblical story, but there is evidence of Jewish kingdoms.

There has never been an independent state called Palestine. No one has talked of a group of people as Palestinians before the 20th century. The name is derived from Philistine, preceding Judaism and Islam. During the first half of the 20th century, there was Mandate of Palestine under British rule in which both Arabs and Jews lived.

Children of Abraham, Isaac and Yaakov

Dear George, My name is Hagop. The Hebrew word for it is Yaakov. That is, before Adonai changed the name of my forefathers to Israel. I strongly believe I have exact resemblance to the Israelites who settled in the Armenian Highlands some 2,000 years ago to spread a movement started by Yeshua Ha-Mashiach. However, most modern Ashkenazi Jews who settled in the land of our King David do not have any resemblance to my features, neither do Sephardic Jews who have been living on the land for over 3,000 years peacefully. Our father Abraham left his father's southern Iraqi home (now located in Kuwait). Is it worth exploring it further? If you read the Torah carefully, you will see that God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Likewise God asked Moses to destroy the disobedient nations which were grudgingly following him to the Promised Land.

If you were religious, it is worth taking the complete texts written in the Torah and not just one or the other. Interestingly, in Genesis 49:10, the rule of Judah would end when Shiloh arrives. This clearly means that the land no longer will be ruled by Judah after the arrival of Messiah. We, the new Israelites (or Christians), do not believe in physical kingdom anymore, because the promised Messiah, the son of David, the Redeemer made it clear that his kingdom is not of this earth. We, the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the heirs of David, who believes in the kingdom of God, have been promised a heavenly kingdom and not on earth. I find it ironic when the Ashkenazis, who have no genetic link to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, have claims to land that was not promised to them. Respectfully, Hagop (Yaakov)


Lol. If you read the Torah you see that God forbade the Jewish people having their own state 



Misread the Post

I think you misread the above post. It was an argument against the the justification of an Israeli state.


I'm English, which means I'm Anglo Saxon. So there's a good chance I come from Saxony in Germany at some point in my past. This was, though, maybe 1,200 years ago. Now this is more recent than when the Jews left Israel of course. So... maybe I can go back to Germany, kick out Germans and make them refugees, imprison and torture some more and call all who resist terrorists.

Assuming you are actually of Anglo Saxon ancestry

Assuming you are actually of Anglo Saxon ancestry, you would then be doing to the Germans exactly what your ancestors did to the native inhabitants of the British Isles.

The Point is...

While we're at this silly discussion about reclaiming land and kicking out the current occupants, maybe we should move on to the American Indians. They have a perfectly legitimate claim on the Western Hemisphere, don't they? If the Jews can reclaim their homeland then maybe the indigenous people of the Americas should be allowed to deport all of us non-Indians back to wherever we came from.

Really, the point is that oppression is not okay no matter who's doing it. The world has become mixed and densely populated. The issues are emotional and complicated but we need to grow up, make the necessary compromises, and learn to live together.

Jewish Ancestral Land

What are you talking about? The Jews had no ancestral home or land. From the time of Moses, when God promised Jews the land, they sat back and told Moses: "You go fight this battle with your Lord," and that land is what you now call Israel. That is when the Jews were banished to the desert for 40 years. So what land are you talking about? Israel is an apartheid state and the Israelis commit gross crimes against the Palestinians every day. You sit in your home, in the so-called mighty USA...what do you know of the Middle East other than the propaganda that you read and watch on TV.

Read Some Books

Omar, I suggest that instead of making absurd statements you study the history of Palestine. You will then find that for almost one thousand years--which is not a short time--generations of Jewish tribes and Jewish kingdoms lived in ancient Israel--from Judea to Samaria. These are not inventions; these are historical facts, and not even your anger or hatred can erase history. I am sure you would not want me to deny the historical rights of Palestinian Arabs to this land, would you? We must all embrace each other's right to this land. It's only after that can we begin to negotiate a just solution.

Wrong Ideas

This land belonged to the Canaanites until the Israelites invaded and ironically committed genocide, occupying this foreign land for a short period. It's even in the Torah!

So, you're wrong. Jews are not natives of this region and never were. 

Israel History

Does this then give my people the right, George, to return to our ancestral home in Denmark and expel the Danes?


Memo is a fake!

This memo is an admitted fake - stop trying to get mileage out of something that was completely contrary to Mandela's beliefs.

Jews Against Apartheid

OK, so this letter is false and Mandela was not against Zionism. So lets heave things in the other direction and look at something real: the extensive and disproportionate role of people of Jewish extract towards change in South Africa. As an example: all five of the white defendants in Mandela's trial were Jewish!

Here are some who contributed significantly towards change in South Africa: Lazar Sidelsky, Helen Suzman, Arthur Goldreich, Albie Sachs, Ruth First, Joe Slovo, Ronnie Kasrils, Harry Schwarz, James Kantor, Nadine Gordimer, Rowley Arenstein, Percy Amoils, Harold Wolpe, Ronald Segal, Denis Goldberg, Bob Hepple, Hilliard Festenstein, Isie Maisels, Wolfie Kodesh, Tony Bloom, Mendel Kaplan, Norman Bernhard, Rusty Bernstein, Solly Sachs, Ray Alexander, Ron Shapiro, Lionel Phillips, Donna Wurtzel, Arnold Beasserabie, Jock Isacowitz, Sailor Malan, Kane Berman, Abner Weiss, Bertha Beinashowitz, Bertha Egnos, Cyril Green, Alf Herbert, Fonda Dubb, Rabbi Duchinsky, Rabbi Rabinowitz, Rabbi Kossowsky, Rabbi Bernard, Ian Bernhardt, Raymond Suttner, Ady Assabi, Ray Simons, Sydney Kentridge, Phillip Tobias, Jules Browde, Selma Browde, Bernard Friedman, Harold Hanson, Richard Goldstone, Robin Cranko, Gaby Shapiro, Gill Marcus, Andrew Feinstein, Saul Solomon, Wolfie Kodish, Nat Levy, Hilda Bernstein, Dennis Gamsy, Max Gluckman, Lee Harris, Hermann Kallenbach, Felicia Geffen, Jane Alexander, Tony Leon, Helen Zille, Barney Simon, Jonathan Shapiro, Nik Rabinowitz, Harold Rubin, Manfred Mann, Joel Joffe, Arthur Chaskalson, Benjamin Pogrund, Ray Simons, Harry Bloom, Abraham Adelstein, Tikvah Alper, Max Sterne, Louis Babrow, Esther Barsel, Hymie Barsel, Ina Perlman, Harry Oppenheimer, Oxford Synagogue, Temple Israel, Dan Heymann, Bright Blue, Johnny Clegg, Pieter Dirk-Uys.

Jews comprised 0.6% of the total population of South Africa.

Right of Return

What the "right of return" really means is the slaughter of the Jews. Mandela's comments show he does not understand the Israeli situation. Returning to the 1948 or 1967 borders means planes flying into Israeli high rises, causing thousands of deaths, and starting a huge war. What a shame when leaders make claims without really getting the situation.

Victim Consciousness vs. Conscious Victims

The Right of Return is about millions of peaceful indigenous people (the Palestinians) that were massacred and/or terrorized of their native lands by the world's original terrorists of Ashkenazi origin, i.e. Ben Gurion and Begin leading their murderous gangs, Irgun or the Stern Gang. It's ironic that a fascist Israeli regime justifies its genocidal apartheid system  via its collective victim consciousness. Its pathetic that Israeli shills perpetuate the Zionist false flags such as 911 aka the "war on terror" hoax to mislead or insult our intelligence with lies and deceit. Nelson Mandela's succinct and bold letter above clearly demonstrates his grasp of the long term Israeli strategy of apartheid and genocide against the Palestinian people. It's amazing that while so many countries (and their leaders) honor Mandela as a great humanitarian leader, Israel's arrogant and paranoid leader, "Bibi" can't "afford" the trip to honor him. What a symbolically arrogant statement on behalf of the Israeli apartheid government and state. The apartheid Israeli state should be sanctioned and exposed, just as apartheid South Africa was.

Mandela's Memo

There is a problem right in your first sentence: "The right of return is about MILLIONS of PEACEFUL people...". Only a few hundred thousand murderous people leaving the country because they were promised by their Arab "brothers" that they can leave, and their brothers would come and slaughter the Israelis for them. Yes, there were some atrocities by the Israeli Defense Forces against some villages, but it was a war which Israel did not ask for: they accepted the partition plans, the Arabs didn't. 

At the same time that 700,0000 Arabs left Israel, about 800,0000 Jews were expelled from the Arab countries. Israel embraced these homeless Jews, and integrated them into society. The Arabs, on the other hand, left their "brother" Arabs in camps with no rights, no land and no hope.

The Arabs are neither peaceful nor innocent. They only have oil dollars to fund their propaganda machines to which you are a victim. Go, do your homework.


Fear and siege mentality

It is this kind of fear and siege mentality, not based on reality--that the Israeli government uses--among other fabrications to keep people supporting injustice, apartheid and racism. I just returned from Palestine. What they want is simply to be able to live in peace and not under occupation which is terror, humiliation and economic strangulation. They don't, for the most part, even hate the Jews; they just want peace, real peace with justice for everyone - all human beings. Israel is literally, but relatively slowly, driving Palestinians off their own land by making life intolerable. 

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