Nelson Mandela was an icon of resistance and one of the most influential figures in modern history, but what was his relationship with the Jewish community like?

Here at jewishnews.co.uk we’re running 50 facts about Nelson Mandela and the Jewish community that you may not know. 10 facts a day, all week long!

Click here for facts 1-10

Click here for facts 21 -30

Click here for facts 31 -40 [divider]

11. The Jewish 1986 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Eli Wiesel, refers to the imprisonment of Mandela as a ‘disgrace’ in his acceptance spee ch of the award.[divider]
12. February 1990 – the South African Jewish Board of Deputies hails Mandela’s release from prison, a sentiment echoed by the international Jewish community.[divider]
13. February 1990 – Mandela meets and publically embraces Yasser Arafat.[divider]
14. February 1990 – Mandela slams the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, describing it as akin to Apartheid in South Africa and states that: “If the truth alienates the powerful Jewish community in South Africa, that’s too bad”.[divider]
15. 1990 – Israel Maisels scolded Mandela saying “I did not save your life at the Treason Trial so that you could associate with Israel’s enemies”.[divider]
16. June 1990 – Prior to his visit to the U.S, Mandela repairs relations with American Jewish leaders, apologising for past comments that may have caused offence in a meeting described as “warm, friendly and cordial”.[divider]
17. June 1990 – During his U.S visit, Mandela calls Arafat a “comrade in arms”.[divider]
18. June 1990 – During his U.S visit, Mandela and Sharansky finally meet in California though the latter fails to sway Mandela’s opinion on the PLO.[divider]
19. August 1990 – Mandela is questioned by a South African Jewish student about ties between the ANC and the PLO, he replied: “Your enemies are not my enemies…We will continue to determine our attitudes to any country, toward anyone, on the basis of their attitude toward our own struggle”.[divider]
20. September 1990 – Mandela, wearing a kippah, speaks at a Reform synagogue in Johannesburg saying: “If Zionism means the right of the Jewish people to seize territory and deny the Palestinian people the right to self-determination, we condemn it”[divider]

 

Be sure to check back tomorrow for more facts about Nelson Mandela and his relationship with the Jewish community!