Re: Netanyahu and Mandela


This past week added fuel to the fire that lovers of Israel the world over are hard pressed to extinguish.

(Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu’s decision to not attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela was supposedly based on financial and security considerations.

Whether those flimsy excuses hold water or not, or if his decision was really based on more substantial political matters, it is not the issue at hand.Certainly, the relationship between South Africa and Israel has been shaky, and Mandela was not at times on the same page as the leaders of Israel (but then, who is?).

But what was on the table was the opportunity for Netanyahu to honor the life of a world leader of peaceful, nonviolent protest, a man who stood for racial equality and who dedicated his life to the defeat of prejudice and racism.

Mandela was a Moses for our times. Here was Netanyahu’s opportunity to join the rest of the world in mourning his passing by attending the service that honored the life of this great man.

And, of course, he did not go.

It seems as if Bibi’s main objective is to drive the wedge between world opinion and Israel deeper each week.  The boycotts grow more substantial. Impatience with the continued building in the occupied territories becomes more urgent.

Netanyahu could have been not only the Prime Minister of Israel, but also a leader of the Jewish people, in honoring the life of Nelson Mandela.

He chose not to.

And I continue to be stuck with him as one of the more visible representatives of my people to the rest of the world.

Louis D. Gitlin