Mandela’s secret and why Pretoria’s IJC court case

AI Generated Nelson Mandela

Unveiling the hidden chapter: Nelson Mandela’s journey with the Israeli Secret Service and the reasons behind Pretoria’s International Justice Court case.

In the annals of history, there are often clandestine narratives, obscured from the public eye, waiting to be unearthed. One such riveting story is the clandestine rendezvous between Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African leader, and the enigmatic operatives of the Israeli Secret Service, famously known as Haganah, where he received training and weapons from the Mossad as narrated by a news article on The Guardian, December the 20th, 2013. This clandestine extended meeting shrouded in secrecy, bears witness to an intriguing intersection of political maneuvering, strategic alliances, and the pursuit of freedom.

Based on a Haaretz article published on the 20th of Dec, 2013, and from a historical perspective, Nelson Mandela’s encounter with the Israeli Secret Service occurred during a pivotal moment in his life in Ethiopia – a period of intense struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa. It was in the early 1960s when Mandela, already a prominent figure in the anti-apartheid movement, found himself in need of support and training for the armed struggle against oppression and in a so needed training in sabotage missions. An article on the same date signed by The Times of Israel confirmed the existence of a letter sent from Mossad to the Israeli foreign minister explaining that Mossad operatives attempted to encourage Zionist sympathies in Mandela, this information was corroborated by the Washington Post adding further details about Oct. 11, 1962 memo, labelled “Top Secret,” suggest the Israeli paramilitary trainers though that the man they later discovered was Mandela was from Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe – where many African nationalists at the time were struggling against the colonial rule; Mandela met with officials several months earlier at the Israeli Embassy in Ethiopia to express his interest in the tactics of the Haganah (the pre-Israel resistance movement against the British rulers.)

Israeli history and tradition left an indelible impression on Nelson Mandela during his encounter with the Israeli Secret Service. Witnessing firsthand the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the strategic maneuvering of the Israeli forces left Mandela both impressed and contemplative as described in one of Haganah correspondence: “He greeted our men with ‘Shalom,’ was familiar with the problems of Jewry and Israel and gave the impression of being an intellectual,” the letter says. He received training in judo, sabotage and light weapons, it said, adding that the “Ethiopians” – an apparent code name for Mossad agents there – “tried to make him into a Zionist.”

The encounter between Nelson Mandela and the Israeli Secret Service significantly impacted modern South Africa. Even today, there are animosities against Israel for supporting the Apartheid regime in 1973. The ruling class party, ANC, is facing a crisis as it has failed to address domestic issues such as political endemic corruption, unemployment, economic depression, inflation, and poverty.

Despite the Mandela Foundation’s questioning the factuality of the APNews exhaustive article on Dec. 23rd, 2013 where they claimed that it has not located any evidence in Nelson Mandela’s private archive that he interacted with an Israeli operative during his tour of African countries in that year. Mandela Foundation’s claim was quickly debunked as another Israel’s state archives published a document stating: “It now is clear, through photographs published in the media on the arrest in South Africa of the ‘Black Pimpernel’ that the trainee from Rhodesia introduced himself with an alias and that the two are the same,” the letter says. In handwritten notes scribbled on the letter 13 days later, it says his real name is “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.”

The shift from historical admiration followed by neutrality to hostility

South Africa has full diplomatic and economic ties with Israel and recognizes fully the Jewish state, furthermore, their bilateral trade has been growing for the last two decades amounting to a total of 300 Million US$ in bilateral trade which makes Pretoria the top economic partner of Israel in Subsaharan Africa based on the 2021 World Bank report.

Political analysts overlooked an important piece of information regarding the timing of South Africa’s IJC case building against Israel. Pretoria was also running a month earlier (January 10th) against another African powerhouse to lead the UN human rights body in Geneva, a race they lost to the Moroccan diplomat Omar Zniber by 30 votes against 17 votes for South Africa.

Last month, In a bold move on the international stage, South Africa, led by the African National Congress (ANC), filed a case for alleged genocide accusation against Israel at the International Court of Justice for its treatment of Palestinians in Gaza, an extreme shift from its diplomatic strategy towards this long-standing Middle Eastern issue; this move was perceived as counterproductive by the US administration and the Arab League as they were both working on finding solutions following Hamas multiple terror attacks on October 7th.

While the step towards addressing global human rights issues is significant, it also draws attention to the ANC’s domestic challenges. Although Pretoria had a positive reputation in the 1990s, its association with dictatorial regimes, failure to address its domestic human rights abuses and its selective condemnation of human rights violations globally, and its voiced support for the Russian illegal war on Ukraine, aggravated by record domestic unemployment due to its stagnating economy have dwarfed its influence and reputation. The ANC’s new foreign policy strategy is believed will help shift its public’s attention away from the ruling party’s consecutive domestic failures and corruption scandals.

The 2023 International Monetary Fund report, described South Africa as facing mounting economic and social challenges, including an unprecedented energy crisis, infrastructure bottlenecks, a less favorable external environment, and climate shocks, employment levels and unemployment rates remain a concern. The country is vulnerable to external shocks and capital flow volatility, with elevated public debt limiting the fiscal space available to respond to economic and climate shocks and meet social and developmental needs.

South Africa’s move was aimed at reviving Pretoria’s decline as a regional power, following years of lost diplomatic battles in the African Union AU aimed at securing key leadership positions within the continental organization is angering local European descent economic powerhouses, due to the major geopolitical implications.

Sources :’s%20economic%20and%20social,external%20environment%2C%20and%20climate%20shocks.
About the Author
Dr. Jalal Nali, is a Moroccan author, public diplomacy expert, political program strategist and foreign affairs analyst. Mr. Nali is the founder of The Abraham Peace Gate initiative.
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