Micah Ben David Naziri
Ha'Shem is a Verb.

Nelson Mandela’s Nuanced Support For BOTH Israel and Palestine

Nelson Mandela Billboard in South Africa, Countering Lies That He Opposed the State of Israel. Photo used with permission by the Hashlamah Project Foundation

In general, one can say that among Israeli and Palestinian supporters – even among nationalists for the two nations – there is significantly more love for Nelson Mandela within the the latter than the former. There is no question that Nelson Mandela supported freedom for the Palestinian people, and spoke often of their right to self-determination. But his approach to Israel was a little more complex and nuanced, requiring a more discussion and thought than a single line on a social media meme might provide.

On June 12, 1994, The New York Times published an editorial by Clyde Haberman where Nelson Mandela was asked about his support for the Palestinian struggle. Haberman noted the following, after the election of the African National Congress leader:

South Africa has a black President who once hugged Yasir Arafat, and the white Government that Israel used to work closely with is gone. And Israel itself has come to accept and negotiate with Mr. Arafat, albeit with a correct handshake and not Nelson Mandela’s joyous embrace.

All of which leaves Israeli officials wondering where they stand with the new Government in South Africa and what the implications may be for that country’s Jews, who are leaving for Israel and other destinations in growing numbers.

In the aftermath of Mandela’s death, both supporters of Israel and Palestine alike have, in many cases, been trying to answer that question in a one-dimensional way. But Mandela was not one to issue “correct handshakes”, or to hold alienating grudges against those who the rest of us might not be able to help ourselves from resenting. This was certainly true of his relationship to members of the former Apartheid Regime, and of the white Afrikaner population. Yet, most have imagined when it comes to Israeli and Palestinian relations, Mandela was hardline, unforgiving and bought into notions which he did not embrace in his own nation.

To be specific, Mandela was a vocal supporter of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Haberman quoted a speech given August of 1993, to the Jewish Board of Deputies, a group of South African Jews, addressing the relationship of the Apartheid Regime in South Africa and Israel. Mandela was anything but one-dimensional on the subject, believing that both Israelis and Palestinians could co-exist, with separate borders, and equal rights to self-determination. Regardless of what one concludes about the roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict(s), Mandela was interested in practical solutions over ideological rhetoric.

As a movement, we recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism just as we recognize the legitimacy of Zionism as a Jewish nationalism. We insist on the right of the state of Israel to exist within secure borders, but with equal vigor, support the Palestinian right to national self-determination.

He also noted that white Jews had no reason to fear ANC rule, nor to move to Israel. He further emphasized the role of leading Jewish ANC members, like Joe Slovo and others, who ”have historically been disproportionately represented among our white compatriots in the liberation struggle.”

Revolutions require solutions, not just rhetoric or extreme where one side is fighting for all, against another side who is fighting for all. That may be a feel-good ideologically-polar approach, which tells those on both sides that they alone are fighting for Truth, with a capital T, but such approaches rarely achieve their stated aims.

As someone with his feet planted in both the worlds of Israel and Palestinian hopes, it occurs to me that both sides have been plagued by thinking that is very different than Mandela’s. Had the polarized approaches taken in the Israel-Palestine conflict been embraced by the former ANC leader, and president of South Africa, it is difficult to say how the history of that nation would have unfolded.

While my personal solution for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation and peace involves more than just a Two-State proposal – it proposes a ONE STATE FEDERATION composed of three states, and Jerusalem as a separate political entity, akin to Washington D.C. in the United States.

As we move forward to a solution such as this, Mandela’s comments on the popular proposal should be a sobering reminder to those on both sides, that when peace, justice and reconciliation can exist together, so can former enemies.

Understanding this nuance of Mandela’s views, perhaps the misguided left can abandon their bizarre claims that a state with millions of Palestinian Israeli citizens with equal rights is somehow an “apartheid” state.

More on that topic to come. Stay tuned and help get the word out to those who don’t know any better, but should.

About the Author
Dr. Micah Naziri was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. The son of a multitude of peoples, Micah has Ashkenazi Jewish, German, Native American and Melungeon Sefardic background. Micah has often said he has “one foot in the masjid and the other in shul.” Spiritually, Micah considers his understanding of Judaism to be “Judeo-Sufi,” or “Istislam” as described by Rabbeinu Bachya ibn Paqudah, in his Medieval Judeo-Arabic work “Guide to the Duties of the Hearts” (Al-Hidayat ila Fara`id al-Qulub), which quoted Muhammad and his son-in-law `Ali profusely – reference each as being “a great chasid” – while fully embracing the Torah as the framework of religious practice for the Jewish people. Dr. Naziri is the founder of the Martial Sufi Tariqah alternatively known as the Taliyah al-Mahdi (2001) and the Jamat al-Fitrah (2005), as well as Hashlamah Project Foundation (2012), and the White Rose Society “reboot” (2016). As the founder of the Hashlamah Project Foundation, Micah uses his education in Near Eastern Languages, Religions and historical models of building bridges between Jewish and Muslim communities, to help reconcile and unite Jews and Palestinian Muslims. He is a prolific author who has penned numerous academic articles, donating 100% of the proceeds to charities working towards social justice. He has also authored a science fiction novel fused with history and politics. His Master’s thesis on the religious milieu of Judaism in Muhammad’s life time, in Arabia, has been published by New Dawn Publications and is available on Amazon, with all proceeds similarly going to charity work. He has served as an editor for written works on Martial Arts and Eastern Medicine, transcribing and creating numerous titles for some of his teachers. He has himself authored several martial treatises using the pen name Seng, Hern-Heng – his Taoist lineage name given to him in 2006 by Huang, Chien-Liang. On that front, he is currently working on a new Taoist translation of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) based on the original Mawangdui manuscripts. Micah became well-known for activism confronting an anti-Muslim protester peacefully and reasoning with her outside of a Dublin, Ohio mosque. After nearly 45 minutes of debate and reconciliation, the woman embraced a Muslimah woman from the mosque, and went into the mosque with her and Micah for bagels, coffee and a tour of the house of worship. When she left, the Muslims there gave her a gift bag. Micah became somewhat infamous – loved by some, hated by others – not only for several high-profile, viral protests, but also for teaching free self-defense classes available to all interested parties from historically oppressed communities. Law enforcement, however, have without question been the most hostile to Naziri, as he became a regular protester against police brutality and murder of unarmed African-Americans. Micah has been equally as virally-known as an avowed anti-rape activist, who confronted the Stanford Rapist, Brock Turner at his home in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, after he was released from his mere three-month jail sentence for raping an unconscious woman. Today, Micah continues activism in the areas surrounding Yellow Springs, and abroad, focusing on weekly protests and vigils supporting families of innocent, unarmed African-American youths, gunned down by local police or vigilante citizens attempting to hide behind gun culture and the Second Amendment, such as in the recent case of Victor Santana – who was recently arrested, charged with murder, and convicted after months of pressure put on Montgomery County prosecutor Matt Heck by protests Micah organized in conjunction with Donald Dominique of the New Black Panther Party. Micah is currently coordinating expanded work with international Hashlamah Project chapters and the Jam`at Al-Fitrah, the name used in the Palestinian Territories for the Sufi Martial Tariqah known as the Taliyah al-Mahdi. He is seeking grant-writing partnerships to grow the Hashlamah Project organization’s efforts – particularly in the State of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
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