TEL AVIV – The grandson of late South African president Nelson Mandela, an outspoken BDS advocate who is currently on a visit to Israel, declared the Jewish state to be “the worst apartheid regime.”
Mandla Mandela, who is a member of the South African parliament, was set to meet with several Palestinian leaders but made no plans to meet with any Israeli officials.
“The settlements I saw here [in the West Bank] reminded me of what we had suffered in South Africa because we also were surrounded by many settlements and were not allowed to move from one place to another freely. Palestinians are being subjected to the worst version of apartheid,” Mandla said Monday during a joint press conference with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
He called on South Africa to sever ties with “apartheid Israel.”
Mandela used the smear despite Israel being the only country in the region that grants equal rights to all citizens.
A New York Times oped by author Benjamin Pogrund titled, “Why Israel Is Nothing Like Apartheid South Africa,” explained:
Unlike nonwhite South Africans under apartheid, however, Israeli Arabs have the vote and enjoy full citizen rights. The Supreme Court has an Arab judge, the head of surgery in a leading hospital is Arab, and Arabs head university departments. In hospitals and clinics, Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses, secular and religious, work together, giving care equally to Jewish and Arab patients – unthinkable under apartheid.
Hamdallah told Mandela about Israel’s “violations against the Palestinians, including settlement expansion and displacement projects that constitute a major obstacle to realizing the dream of establishing a Palestinian state.”
“What we have experienced in South Africa is a fraction of what the Palestinians are experiencing,” Mandela said in an interview with South Africa’s Royal News English on Sunday. “We were oppressed in order to serve the white minority. The Palestinians are being eliminated off their land and brought out of their territories, and this is a total human-rights violations. I think it is a total disgrace that the world is able to sit back while such atrocities are being carried out by apartheid Israel.”
During his visit, Mandela is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Prior to his arrival in Israel, he met with BDS founder Omar Barghouti in Amman.
Over the summer, Mandela praised the South Africa parliament’s decision to snub a delegation of Israeli MKs who were visiting the country.
During an anti-Israel march in July, he called for “all ties be cut with Israel … no trade ties, no cultural ties and no travel! We demand that Israel complies with International law and demand the return of six million Palestinian refugees driven from the land of their birth. We demand that all occupied land be returned, and we condemn the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.”
He continued: “Today, we stand to salute the brave and fearless Palestinian people who are facing the brutal might of the Israeli Army to defend al-Aksa with their bare hands. We demand that all occupied land be returned. Madiba [Nelson Mandela’s clan name] reminded us that our freedom is incomplete until Palestine is free.”
Although Nelson Mandela was critical of Israeli policies, he also said he could “not conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel within secure borders.”
In response to the younger Mandela’s critique on Israel, MK Avraham Neguise wrote a blog slamming the South African parliamentarian for becoming a “tool in a hate campaign, a campaign that seeks to suppress the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in our historic, ancestral and indigenous homeland.”
He also blasted Mandela for making “no attempt on this visit to our region to meet with any Israeli official, organization or individual.”
“If you had, you would have found that Israel is actually the opposite of Apartheid, it is a story of liberation, emancipation and anti-colonization,” Neguise wrote.