Jonathan Zausmer

Madiba, we need you

As a friend simply put it “It’s been a terrible week”.

No doubt there have been worse. Just three years ago we were shocked and stunned by the heinous crimes committed in the name of Palestinian freedom by students who slaughtered five family members in their beds including a three month old infant.

But there was something about this last week that has brought the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock to the lowest point. An entire country reeled in revulsion at the execution of three innocent boys and a wake-up call resonated here and around the world regarding the deep ethos of violence emanating from the extreme side of the Palestinian liberation movement. While Abu Mazen courageously stood his ground and condemned the kidnapping we also witnessed the glee and ugliness evident in parts of the Palestinian public in the misfortune and the yet unknown fate of the three victims.

But what creates a stark contrast to many terrible weeks that came before and in the case of the second intifada – terrible years – is the brutalization and moral corruption now evident deep within Israeli society. Whether it is a counter-reaction to the unending string of suicide attacks between 2001 and 2005, or whether our quest for land, power and biblical entitlement has driven us to this place, or whether we are witnessing the birth of a monstrous hate-movement amongst us that has moved from mosque burning to lynching, it is cause for alarm and concern.

All this comes against the backdrop of a failed peace process, with an America burdened by financial crisis that has placed its focus on self-sustaining energy sourced from outside this region. It seems there is a clear lack of patience whether it be with Israel, Palestine, Iraq or Syria. Israel’s moral high ground – and there is a moral high ground compared to the abuses now evident within parts of the Middle East – doesn’t count for much in a cynical world if the maintenance required is neither cost effective or simply does not produce results especially if we consistently block out any justified moral argument with the dark shadow we ourselves create by perpetual occupation and settlement.

We are running out of hope and we are forging ahead into the sunset without vision. At this low point in the history of the Jewish State and in the crisis of where to go and how to get there we could do with a Mandela.

Madiba, we need you.

But, as in the words of Shalom Hanoch, the Messiah will not come. Nor will he call. And neither will Madiba.

What we do have though, is Madiba’s legacy. It is an embodiment of values, ethics, determination, vision and compassion that all signify one of the greatest leaders in modern history. Many forget that the peace process in South Africa was all but lost, that we could be witnessing a very different reality there today. In April 1993, during peace negotiations an assassination of a revered black leader took South Africa to the brink of chaos beyond proportions we can imagine here today. Mandela brought that crisis to a safe end and with all its faults and distortions, peace and coexistence, respect and dignity, form the basis of a new life for all in that country.

We shall be discussing the Mandela Legacy at a gathering to which the public is invited on Thursday the 10th July. A unique collaboration of South Africans in Israel with completely different outlooks and political leanings together with members of the general public and with the support and participation of the South African ambassador will be looking at Mandela the man, the peace process in South Africa and its relevance to Israel. It will be held in English. All are invited. Details can be found in this link:

Maybe the simple act of moving from the sofa and the television screen, being a part of something positive and taking a humble step towards change can be a part of a butterfly effect to a greater and peaceful future. And if all you take home is a piece of the Mandela legacy, you may find it is something to nourish the soul after this terrible week.

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.