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We Remember Nelson Mandela, Who Identified With the Palestinian Struggle for Freedom

By Hanna Kawas

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 10, 2013

Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver and the Voice of Palestine, Canada received the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing with great sadness and extend our deepest condolences to his family, the South African people and all of humanity. We have lost a unique and selfless leader who never wavered from his principles and never bowed to expediency in the most critical moments of the anti-Apartheid and anti-Colonialist struggles.

The Palestinian people have lost a solid supporter and outspoken advocate for Palestinian human rights and self-determination. He once said “The temptation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine … yet we would be less than human if we did so.” And surely Madiba never spoke “in muffled tones” about human rights and freedom for oppressed peoples all over the world. We will be forever grateful for his solidarity and unequivocal stand in support of liberation movements all over the world.

Some of Madiba’s words that you will not find quoted by international officials in their hypocritical rush to exploit his historic and profound legacy, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

1. “But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” (Address by President Nelson Mandela at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, December 4, 1997, Pretoria)

2. At a news conference, Mandela said “We expect everybody who is exploring the possibility of lasting solutions to be able to face the truth squarely. I believe that there are many similarities between our struggle and that of the PLO. We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel, and a lot flows from that.” (From an article in JTA, March 2, 1990 South African and U.S. Leaders Dismayed over Mandela’s Remarks)

3. “We identify with the PLO because, just like ourselves, they are fighting for the right of self determination.”…”Arafat is a comrade in arms.” (Mandela answers criticism on ABC by Ted Koppel and American Zionists in attendance regarding his support for the Palestinian cause.)

4. “He told the Australian news media, ‘We agree with the United Nations that international disputes should be settled by peaceful means. The belligerent attitude which is adopted by the Israeli government is to us unacceptable’. Mandela said the ANC does not consider the PLO a terrorist group, adding: ‘If one has to refer to any of the parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government, because they are the people who are slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories, and we don’t regard that as acceptable’.” (JTA article October 25, 1990 Mandela Angers Australian Jews with Fresh Anti-Israel Rhetoric)

5. And see also: 12 Mandela Quotes That Won’t Be In the Corporate Media Obituaries (December 6, 2013 by Common Dreams)

Madiba lives forever!
Hanna Kawas, Chair, Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver
Cohost, Voice of Palestine


12 Mandela Quotes That Won't Be In the Corporate Media Obituaries


On "sanitizing" the legacy of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela

- Common Dreams staff

Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday at age 95, was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary who served as President of South Africa from 1994-1999.

During the 1950's, while working as an anti-apartheid lawyer, Mandela was repeatedly arrested for 'seditious activities' and 'treason.' In 1963 he was convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela served 27 years in prison before an international lobbying campaign finally won his release in 1990.

In 1994, Mandela was elected President and formed a Government of National Unity in an attempt to defuse ethnic tensions. As President, he established a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses and to uncover the truth about crimes of the South African government, using amnesty as a mechanism.

Nelson Mandela was a powerful and inspirational leader who eloquently and forcefully spoke truth to power. As tributes are published over the coming days, the corporate media will paint a sanitized portrait of Mandela that leaves out much of who he was. We expect to see 'safe' Mandela quotes such as "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" or "after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb."

We wanted to share some Nelson Mandela quotes which we don't expect to read in the corporate media's obituaries:

  1. "A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens."
  2. "If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care for human beings."
  3. "The current world financial crisis also starkly reminds us that many of the concepts that guided our sense of how the world and its affairs are best ordered, have suddenly been shown to be wanting.”
  4. "Gandhi rejects the Adam Smith notion of human nature as motivated by self-interest and brute needs and returns us to our spiritual dimension with its impulses for nonviolence, justice and equality. He exposes the fallacy of the claim that everyone can be rich and successful provided they work hard. He points to the millions who work themselves to the bone and still remain hungry."
  5. "There is no doubt that the United States now feels that they are the only superpower in the world and they can do what they like."
  6. “It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”
  7. “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
  8. “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
  9. “No single person can liberate a country. You can only liberate a country if you act as a collective.”
  10. "If the United States of America or Britain is having elections, they don't ask for observers from Africa or from Asia. But when we have elections, they want observers."
  11. “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”
  12. On Gandhi: "From his understanding of wealth and poverty came his understanding of labor and capital, which led him to the solution of trusteeship based on the belief that there is no private ownership of capital; it is given in trust for redistribution and equalization. Similarly, while recognizing differential aptitudes and talents, he holds that these are gifts from God to be used for the collective good."


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