Importing Conflict, Creating Dissent
By Rolene Marks
Fewer names inspire as much respect, recognition and awe as the moniker, ‘Mandela’.
The Mandela family name is iconic. In the annals of history, the name Mandela will be synonymous with human rights, endurance, fortitude and reconciliation. Brand Mandela is universal and inclusive, conciliatory and noble. Nelson Mandela remains one of the world’s greatest human rights advocates and South Africa’s most beloved son.
His grandson, Mandla, is quite different to his legendary grandfather.
A polarizing figure in South Africa, Mandla Mandela is no stranger to controversy and is proof that there is such a thing as bad press.
Grandson Mandela is a frequent flier in the news headlines.
He has been the subject of much derision from his family for his moving his late grandfather’s remains from their peaceful resting place without consulting the family. The family laid criminal charges of tampering with a grave and South African High Court Judge, Judge Lusindiso Phakade, ruled in favour of the complainants and ordered Mandela to exhume and rebury the body.
Criminal allegations were again levelled at the younger Mandela when he was charged with pointing a firearm and assaulting, a man. He was found guilty of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Mandela’s private life could also rival a soap opera. Tales of annulment and affairs, blazing arguments and paternity suits abound and after converting to Islam, Mandela married his fourth wife.
Soap opera shenanigans aside, where Mandela does create concern is his penchant for importing conflict into South Africa.
Mandla Mandela is an extremely divisive figure in South Africa. While his grandfather was a symbol of peace and reconciliation, the younger Mandela has aligned himself with a movement that is at once, anti-dialogue and normalization, anti-peace and flagrantly anti-Semitic – BDS. In short, Mandla Mandela has become a poster child for this movement that advocates terrorism and states the end of the Jewish state as its goal. This is, of course, wrapped up in the seductive language of concern for human rights.
BDS are well aware of the power of “Brand Mandela” and trot him out in order to gain legitimacy. Mandla Mandela is happy to be gaining headlines for something other than his unsavory exploits. And so, it is a match made in heaven.
Nelson Mandela’s position on the Middle East is well documented.
In the spirit of engagement, he spoke to Arafat and while supporting the national aspirations of Palestinians stating that “we cannot be free until the Palestinians are free”, he astutely added that he could not conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states did not recognize Israel within secure borders.
This has not yet happened!
By comparison, Mandla Mandela is not carrying on the family tradition, choosing instead to endorse slap-happy would-be terrorist teenagers like Ahed Tamimi who endorse violence. “Whether it is stabbings or suicide bombings or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine,” said Tamimi on a Facebook live transmission filmed by her mother.
Instead of condemning these calls for violence and murder, Mandla Mandela intends to award her for her “bravery, resistance and being a symbol of hope for millions.”
Purveyor of Lies
Mandela has drunk the BDS Kool-aid and has accused the State of Israel of practicing “the worst version of Apartheid”. He has drawn these conclusions without any engagement with the Jewish state. But he knows where his bread is buttered – and statements like these are useful when it comes to shoring up Muslim votes in areas where South Africa’s ruling ANC party may not enjoy much support.
Instead of standing for justice, he is fanning the flames of hatred and divisiveness in a country where race relations are growing increasingly tense and anti-Semitism is rising. Unlike his grandfather who advocated dialogue, understanding the other side, and who very importantly recognized that Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.
Mandla Mandela steadily advocates for breaking off bilateral ties between Israel and South Africa and backs this up with vicious accusations like the one below:
“Freedom loving people all over the world and activists in the International Solidarity Movement that stood by us in our darkest days of the anti-apartheid struggle are looking to South Africa for leadership in the call to isolate Apartheid Israel for its crimes against humanity and continued pogrom of Palestinians, many of whom have been shot, maimed or killed indiscriminately. They don’t spare the elderly, women or young children.”
By inciting this kind of hatred and importing conflict into South Africa, Mandla Mandela has effectively removed the African state’s ability to try and broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians and is sowing dangerous division at a time when the country desperately needs unity. The elder statesman Mandela would be horrified.