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Nelson Mandela 1997 Speech: Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Photo by John-Paul Henry / Unsplash

On Dec. 29, 2023, the South African government filed application at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, asking that Israel be investigated for committing crimes of genocide against the people of Palestine. The application concludes by requesting a series of “provisional measures,” including that Israel immediately suspend its military operations in Gaza.

South Africa has the moral authority to halt the slaughter, and clear the way for a two-state solution. In this setting, with the benefit of the LaRouche “Oasis Plan,” the Palestinian state will rapidly develop the physical and cognitive power of its citizens, and the physical economy will flourish.

The South African-Palestinian alliance goes back several decades. South Africa, for almost the entirety of the 20th century, lived under the brutal apartheid, implemented by the British colonialism. Nelson Mandela led a powerful resistance movement to break apartheid’s malignant grip; and, for this, he spent 27 years in prison, serving time in four different prisons. In 1994, through the moral courage of South Africans, assisted by others, the bestial system of apartheid came down (though there remained problems with the economy).

On May 10, 1994, Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first black President.

On Dec. 4, 1997, with the special emissary of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in attendance, President Mandela gave a speech in Pretoria to celebrate the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People. We excerpt portions of the speech:

The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine to a state of their own. We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face.
Yet we would be less than human if we did so.
It behooves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.
Even during the days of negotiations, our own experience taught us that the pursuit of human fraternity and equality—irrespective of race or religion—should stand at the center of our peaceful endeavors….
It is in this spirit that I have come to join you today to add our own voice to the universal call for Palestinian self-determination and statehood.
We would be beneath our own reason for existence as a government and as a nation, if the resolution of the problems of the Middle East did not feature prominently on our agenda.
When in 1977, the United Nations passed the resolution inaugurating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, it was asserting the recognition that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine. In the same period, the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system.
We are proud as a government, and as the overwhelming majority of South Africans, to be part of an international consensus taking root that the time has come to resolve the problems of Palestine.

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