| Israel’s Mileikowski too STINGY to go to Mandela memorial!

Some will dispute the Israeli prime minister’s excuse of ‘cost’ issues.

Given the inspiring example of the man whose memorial service was attended by almost every leader or deputy leader of the world’s more significant powers, it is surely time for Jerry Dammers and the rest of The Special AKA to bury the hatchet. The author of “Free Nelson Mandela” and his bandmates fell out many years ago. But if they would undergo a peace and reconciliation process and reform, you have to imagine that Coventry’s finest would wish to rework Dammers’s gloriously upbeat protest song in the cause of arguably the most glaring, and certainly the most heart-rending, Soccer City absentee of yesterday.

Well, something must be done to liberate Benjamin Netanyahu – who cancelled his trip to South Africa on cost-cutting grounds – from the poverty that imprisoned him at home. The profits from a worldwide hit record would, at the very least, be a useful first step.

Regrettably, if predictably, some will dispute the Israeli prime minister’s explanation, divining other reasons for the 11th-hour refusal to attend. They think that $2m – the alleged price of chartering an El Al jet to Johannesburg and deploying a military plane for his security detail – is not, in these unique circumstances, a huge outlay. In real terms, in fact, factoring in any moral obligation to pay respects to Mandela on behalf of the Israeli people, they calculate that it equates to a little less than thruppence ha’penny.

Such sceptics would further point out that this devotion to penny-pinching represents a startling change of heart. Bibi had become well known for his taste for Cuban cigars – who knows, he might have snaffled a box of Cohibas in the VIP zone from Raul Castro – and venerable French cognacs. Long, long ago, in the April of 2013, under a less punishing financial climate in which he felt entitled to go to such events, he authorised the diversion of £127,000 from public funds to equip a plane with a bespoke sleeping cabin for the marathon five-hour flight to London for Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. Meanwhile, he has lately dipped into the public coffers to find $1,700 for scented candles, $22,000 for a water bill at his holiday home, and $3,000 for ice cream at his favourite gelateria.

Taking such expenditure into account, and unconvinced by his conversion on the runway to Jo’burg, the cynics and sneerers suspect that Bibi, to borrow from Mrs Thatcher’s Lincolnshire dialect, was frit. That he was scared of being booed in the stadium by those who remember that Israel was the apartheid regime’s last and doughtiest friend in the developed world, and by those who detect similarities, however vague, between the maltreatment of black South Africans and the subjugation of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Others may wonder if he took fright at the prospect of bumping into Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, of whose bona fides on the nuclear issue he remains mildly unpersuaded.

Are they so deaf that they cannot hear, in his insistence that the only thing keeping him away was the cost, the authentic ring of plain truth? He is not so blind, after all, that he cannot see the metaphorical message his self-imposed isolation from his leadership brethren sends to the world about Israel’s growing isolationism and quickening journey towards pariah statehood under his muscular stewardship. And even if he is, what brand of maniac would waste possibly the hottest ticket in human history if a feasible way might have been found to raise the cash?

I like to think that he did not waste it entirely, and sold it on e-Bay (it would have raised enough to keep him in vanilla scoops and Monte Cristos for a while). That, or he generously gave it away, perhaps to some lucky tobacconist, ice cream vendor or aircraft carpenter who played the Tommy Cooper role at the Royal Variety show, when he asked the Queen if she was going to the FA Cup final. She said that she had no such plans. “In that case, Ma’am,” said Cooper, “can I have your ticket?”

Anyway, spare a thought for the anti-FW de Klerk of Israel as he stoically endures his church (or synagogue) mouse existence at the head of the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the region. And  now  sing along as we anticipate the Dammers’s reworking of that protest classic, looking ahead to the day he completes his long walk to freedom  from unflinching monetary shackles,  and feels able once again to honour departed figures of planetary importance with his presence.

Free (free) Bibi Nethanyahu,

Free (free) Bibi Nethanyahu

He’s so poor, you would  not believe

He’s so broke that he could not leave

Penniless, stuck in Tel Aviv

Free-eeeeee Bibi  Nethan-yahuuuuu

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NuttyDivorce

| CIA and Mandela: Can the Story Be Told Now?‏

 

CIA and Mandela: Can the Story Be Told Now? ~ FAIR.

Agency’s role in Mandela capture still mostly not news.

Back in 1990, FAIR (Extra!3/90) noted that the media coverage of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison failed to mention there was strong evidence that the CIA had tipped off South African authorities to Mandela’s location in 1962, resulting in his arrest.

So with coverage of Mandela’s death dominating the media now, can the story of the CIA’s role in Mandela’s capture be told?

Mostly not.

The link between the CIA and Mandela’s capture–reported by CBS Evening News (8/5/86) and in a New York Times column by Andrew Cockburn (10/13/86)–was almost entirely unmentioned in media discussions of his death.

There were a few exceptions. MSNBC host Chris Hayes mentioned it on December 5 (“We know there’s reporting that indicates the CIA actually helped the South African police nab Mandela the first time he was captured”). On Melissa Harris-Perry‘s MSNBC show (12/7/13), Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman brought it up:

The US devoted more resources to finding Mandela to hand over to the apartheid forces than the apartheid forces themselves. It was the CIA that actually located Mandela, and he was driving dressed up as a chauffeur when he was stopped, and he was arrested and ultimately serves 27 years in prison.

And on CNN’Outfront (12/6/13), Cornel West told guest host Jake Tapper, “Keep in mind, though, Brother Jake, the CIA colluded with the apartheid regime to find Nelson Mandela when he was disguised as a chauffeur in 1961.”

So the lesson might be that the kinds of guests rarely included in corporate media are the ones more likely to bring up this history.

Nelson Mandela, 1961

Nelson Mandela, 1961

In the New York Times‘ long obituary (12/6/13), Bill Keller presented it as a story that is yet to be confirmed: “There have been allegations, neither substantiated nor dispelled, that a CIA agent had tipped the police officers who arrested Mr. Mandela.” He reiterated that on NPR‘s Morning Edition(12/6/13): “I have not seen utterly convincing confirmation or refutation of it.”

Keller–who was convinced about Iraq’s WMDs–has presumably read the accounts of CIA involvement in Mandela’s capture, including a Cox News Service report (6/10/90) of a retired CIA official admitting that a CIA operative told him of the operation (“We have turned Mandela over to the South African security branch”) the day it happened.

So with Mandela’s death making headlines everywhere, there is still very little coverage of this part of the Mandela story. One place you can find it, though–the New York Times letters to the editor section today (12/10/13), where this appears under the headline “CIA and Mandela’s Arrest”:

To the Editor:

Nelson Mandela’s membership in the South African Communist Party in the early 1960s was acknowledged by the Communist Party itself last week, confirming the findings of my own historical research, reported by Bill Keller (“Nelson Mandela, Communist,” column, Dec. 8).

Perhaps the United States government will now confirm the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in Mr. Mandela’s arrest in August 1962, which is also indicated by my research. It was the height of the Cold War, and it was all a long time ago, but the truth still counts.

STEPHEN ELLIS

Amsterdam, December 9, 2013

 

“The truth still counts” shouldn’t just guide government decisions about what it chooses to reveal about its own history. It’s something journalists should consider too. Much of the coverage of Mandela is focused on his remarkable ability to forgive his opponents. It would be especially useful for US media to spell out which US government actions might have to be forgiven.

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| Hypocrite Peres who traded WMD with apartheid regime now grieves Mandela!

Israeli leader who mourned Mandela’s death helped white regime get missiles ~ Robert Windrem, NBC News.

Among the world leaders who have showered South Africa with condolences since the death of Nelson Mandela, Israel’s Shimon Peres stood out as a peer. Like Mandela, he won a Nobel Peace prize. Like Mandela, he stayed on the world stage long past retirement age. Mandela died at 95. At 90, Peres is still serving as Israel’s president.

Yoav Lemmer / AFP file

Former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) kisses Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in 2002 after a meeting at Mandela’s office in Johannesburg.

“The world has lost a great leader who changed the face of history,” said Peres on behalf of the Israeli nation. “Nelson Mandela was a human rights fighter who made his mark on the war against discrimination and racism.”

But in the 1970s, while Mandela was languishing in a damp prison cell on Robben Island, Peres was making deals with South Africa’s apartheid regime, according to interviews and documents gathered by NBC News, a recent documentary and a book based on Israeli and South African government documents. With the help of an Israeli operative now famed as the Hollywood mogul behind “Pretty Woman” and “Fight Club,” Peres traded missiles for money and the uranium needed for atomic bombs.

At the center of the relationship was a “Joint Secretariate for Political and Psychological Warfare” set up in 1975 to handle various matters, not the least of which was “propaganda and psychological warfare.” It was an outgrowth of a $100 million South African propaganda campaign to fix the country’s tarnished image. Leading the effort was the late Eschel Rhoodie, a brash apparatchik who had convinced the regime’s leaders they needed to sell apartheid to the western media.

Under terms of the agreement, championed by Peres, then Defense Minister, and Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister, Israel would help South Africa burnish its international reputation. South Africa would supply the money, with each country appointing a secretary to look after its interests.

As the relationship grew, the two sides began to cooperate on military, even nuclear development. Peres, the architect of Israel’s nuclear program, had procured the country’s first nuclear reactor in the 1950s, and built a clandestine agency called the Science Liaison Bureau that collected nuclear technology.

In a February 1993 interview, Rhoodie told NBC News he was the chief representative on the South African side. “Arnon Milchan was the chief representative on the Israeli side,” said Rhoodie. “We paid him about 30,000 rand [$40,000] a year.” Milchan is now a Hollywood billionaire who has produced more than 120 movies, including “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “L.A. Confidential.” When he was in his 20s, however, Peres recruited him for the Science Liaison Bureau. Peres designated Milchan to represent  Israel in South Africa.

The cooperation began in 1974 when Rhoodie flew to Tel Aviv. A year later, said Rhoodie, the countries signed an extensive agreement at the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland. The agreement even envisioned a visit to Israel by South African prime minister Johannes Vorster  — a World War II Nazi sympathizer.

Peres was so pleased with the growing bond that he wrote Rhoodie a letter of thanks, dated Nov. 22, 1974, following a secret meeting in Pretoria, the South African capital.

“It is to a very large extent due to your perspicacity, foresight and political imagination that a vitally important cooperation between our two countries has been initiated,” said the letter, which asserted that the relationship rested on “unshakable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and our refusal to submit to it.”

Peres later introduced Rhoodie to Milchan in Tel Aviv, according to Rhoodie. Although the two later had a falling out, they worked closely together.

But the big moves were made at the top. In his 2010 book, “The Unspoken Alliance,” Sasha Polakow-Suransky describes the broad agenda of the two countries’ secret arrangement, as laid out in South African government documents he obtained under the country’s freedom of information laws. Of one meeting between the two sides, in January 1975, Polakow-Suransky writes:

“The group, chaired by [South African] military intelligence chief Hein du Toit, addressed Soviet and Chinese influence in Africa, weapons sales to African and Arab states, Soviet and Arab naval movements in the Indian Ocean, and most importantly, ‘Palestinian terrorist organizations and [their] cooperation with terrorist organizations that operate in southern Africa.'”

As time wore on, the discussions moved from counter-terrorism and intelligence to strategic cooperation, even the provision of nuclear-tipped missiles. Polakow-Suransky writes of another meeting in June 1974 in Zurich between Peres, then Israel’s defense minister, and P.W. Botha, his South African counterpart,

“Now, the discussion turned to warheads. Minutes from the June meeting reveal that Botha expressed interest in the Jerichos (short range missiles) if they came with the ‘correct payload,’ and that “Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes.'”

Polakow-Suransky quotes another memo that makes it clear Botha was talking about nuclear warheads. The nuclear part of the deal was never consummated, writes Polakow-Suransky, now an editor at the New York Times.

Peres has denied ever offering nuclear weapons to the apartheid regime.

But Israel certainly developed its own nuclear weapons, apparently with the help of South Africa. Rhoodie and another high-ranking South African official told NBC of an arrangement between the two countries in the late 1970s in which South Africa supplied 600 tons of uranium to Israel in return for 30 grams of tritium, used to detonate nuclear weapons. The uranium was codenamed “mutton,” the tritium “tea leaves” and the overall exchange was called “Project Mint.”

As part of his procurement role, Milchan has long admitted he bankrolled a California firm that exported nuclear triggers and other missile components to Israel.  The U.S. also had suspicions that the Peres-inspired Joint Secretariate may have been used by Israel to provide triggers (“krytrons”) and other nuclear technology to South Africa in the early 1980s. “We considered the possibility that krytrons had gone to South Africa.  We had no hard evidence,” said a senior U.S. Customs official at the time.

Whether or not Israel supplied triggers to South Africa, it did provide the apartheid regime with Jericho missiles, or at least Jericho technology, by 1989. On July 5 of that year, U.S. spy satellites tracked a missile launch from the Overberg test range east of Cape Town. Computers compared the shape, temperature and other elements of the missile’s heat plume with those of other rockets. The computers said the new South African missile’s exhaust trail bore a striking resemblance to that of the Jericho-I, a short-range missile that Israel had begun developing in 1962. Another satellite took images of the South African missile’s launcher. It was identical to the one Israel used to launch the Jericho I.

The launch dramatically helped the apartheid regime, according to a U.S. Defense intelligence Agency assessment. Once the missiles were operational, the report predicted “Pretoria will have acquired another means with which to intimidate its regional neighbors.”  The same assessment pointed to “substantial Israeli assistance.” The U.S. also found that Israel had used the Overberg site to test its more advanced Jericho II missile six times between May 1987 and January 1990.

It was long after the missile launches that South African President F.W. de Klerk brokered the end of the apartheid regime with Mandela. By 1994, Mandela was president of South Africa, and Israel’s relationship with the new government deteriorated. The ANC’s intelligence wing had kept close tabs on the ties between the Israelis and the white minority government. The ANC’s expert on the relationship became the new head of South African intelligence. By August 1994, the last Israeli military families had left South Africa.

A new Israeli ambassador to South Africa was named. Elazar Granot, an honorary president of the Socialist International, had protested apartheid and Israel’s relationship with the old government. But in a 2004 conversation with Polakow-Suransky, he said that one good thing had come out of the relationship.

In the mid 1990s, during meetings in Norway, Israel negotiated initial agreements with the Palestinians that allowed for limited Palestinian autonomy. “Maybe Rabin and Peres were able to go to the Oslo agreements because Israel was strong enough to defend itself,” said Granot. “Most of the work that was done –I’m talking about the new kinds of weapons — was done in South Africa.”

Peres, through the office of the president, issued a denial of the assertions about nuclear sharing when Polakow-Suransky’s book was published in 2010.

“There exists no basis in reality for the claims [that] Israel negotiated with South Africa the exchange of nuclear weapons,” said the statement.

Milchan, in a documentary that aired on Israeli TV two weeks ago, defended both his procurement of weapons components and his work for South Africa, which he said he did after being recruited by Peres.

“I did it for my country and I’m proud of it,” he said.

But Milchan has said he was appalled by what he saw in apartheid-era South Africa, and notes he is the producer of “12 Years a Slave.”

Robert Windrem produced several stories on “Nightly News” and “Today” between in the late 1980s and early 1990s about the relationship between South Africa and Israel, and wrote about it in his 1994 book, “Critical Mass: The Dangerous Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting World.”He was also a consultant for an episode of the Israeli TV documentary series “Fact” about Milchan’s clandestine activities that aired in November.

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Treason2

| Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Remembering Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it is done.” ~ www.350.org/mandela.

 

Dear friends,

The last great leader of the 20th century — and an inspiration for this new millennium — died here in South Africa yesterday.

Nelson Mandela touched all of us with his courage, his unyielding resistance, and his grace. He knew how to fight, and he knew when to make peace.

Inspired by Mandela’s vision, climate activists made a video last June during the Global Power Shift convergence coordinated by our 350.org crew.

Please do watch and share the video:

www.350.org/mandela

Along the way, Mandela and his colleagues helped pioneer the divestment tactic that many climate campaigners are now emulating.

As a South African, I am filled with an overwhelming appreciation for a man that gave my country so much — freedom, love, compassion, empathy, graciousness and of course, himself. His selfless determination is what we remember this great soul by, and we will continue to keep him very close to our hearts.

I think the tribute Nelson Mandela would like the most is the knowledge that people the world over are carrying on his work.

Onwards,

Lushendrie for the whole 350.org team

The Science of 350

CO2 Data

Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. Learn more about 350—what it means, where it came from, and how to get there. Read More »

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mandela1

| Dissent: Mandela eulogies reinvent his disturbing legacy!

Mandela Eulogies – Reinventing His Disturbing Legacy ~ Stephen Lendman. 

Mainstream praise is virtually unanimous. It ignores reality. It got short shrift. It reinvents Mandela’s disturbing legacy. It turned a Thatcherite into a saint. A previous article discussed it.

Editorials, commentaries, and feature articles read like bad fiction. Tributes are overwhelming. They reflect coverup and denial.

The true measure of Mandela is hidden from sight. It’s willfully ignored. Illusion replaced it.

Obama issued a disingenuous statement. He called Mandela “a man who took history in his hand, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”

“We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.”

They infest world governments. They run America. They inflict enormous harm. Mandela exceeded the worst of South African apartheid injustice. He deserves condemnation, not praise.

White supremacy remains entrenched. Extreme poverty, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, and lack of basic services for black South Africans are at shockingly high levels. They’re much worse than under apartheid.

Mandela embraced the worst of neoliberal harshness. His successors followed the same model. They still do.

They’re stooges for predatory capitalist injustice. They’re figureheads. They enforce white supremacist dominance. They betray their own people in the process.

Black South Africans are some of the world’s most long-suffering deprived people anywhere. They suffer out of sight and mind.

Mandela could have changed things. He never tried. He didn’t care. He sold out to wealth, power and privileged interests. He did so shamelessly. His life ended unapologetically.

South African conditions today remain deplorable. Neoliberal harshness works this way. Business as usual is policy. Disadvantaged millions are ruthlessly exploited.

Privileged interests alone are served. Doing so reflects financial, economic and political terrorism. It’s commonplace globally. It infects Western societies. It plagues South Africa.

Injustice is deep-seated. It’s nightmarish in South Africa. Mandela’s legacy reflects the worst of all possible worlds short of war, mass slaughter and destruction.

Free market mumbo jumbo inflicts enormous pain and suffering. It empowers corporate interests. It benefits privileged elites. It does so at the expense of deprived millions.

Ordinary people don’t matter. They suffer out of sight and mind. They do so horrifically in South Africa. Major media ignore it. Mandela praise continues.

Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller headlined “Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Liberator as Prisoner and President, Dies at 95.”

Mandela was more enslaver than liberator. Not according to Keller. He called him “an international emblem of dignity and forbearance.”

He symbolized injustice. Keller called him “a capable statesman, comfortable with compromise and impatient with the doctrinaire.” He ignored the enormous harm he caused. He turned truth on its head doing so.

Washington Post editors headlined “Nelson Mandela brought the world toward a racial reconciliation.”

They called Gandhi, King and Mandela transformative figures. They “helped create a new ethic through the power of their ideas and the example of their lives,” they said.

Gandhi and King deserve praise. Mandela deserves condemnation. Not according to WaPo editors.

“Mandela,” they said, “dismantl(ed) the strong web of racist ideas, with which certain Western thinkers had sought for more than a century to rationalize the subjugation of others through colonialism, segregation and disenfranchisement.”

Mandela continued the worst of these practices. Black South African suffering deepened on his watch. He did nothing to relieve it.

He’s gone, said WaPo editors. It’s “more important than ever – in a century marked so far by frightening eruptions of terror and religious intolerance – to keep before the world the name and example of Nelson Mandela.”

Doing so requires explaining facts, not fiction. It involves stripping away false illusions. It demands telling it like it is fully, accurately, impartially and dispassionately.

Wall Street Journal editors headlined “Nelson Mandela.” They called him a “would-be Lenin who became Africa’s Vaclav Havel.”

He was no Lenin. He defended capital’s divine right. He did it at the expense of social justice. He’s no candidate for sainthood.

Journal editors perhaps think otherwise. They called him an “all too rare example of a wise revolutionary leader.”

“Age mellowed him…He walked out of jail an African Havel…He opened up (South Africa’s) economy to the world, and a black middle class came to life,” they said.

Fact check

He sold out to powerful white interests. Apartheid didn’t die. It flourishes. Mandela deepened the scourge of injustice.

No black middle class exists. A select few share wealth, power and privilege. The vast majority of black society is much worse off than under apartheid.

Don’t expect Journal editors to explain. They called the “continent and world fortunate to have” Mandela. Neoliberal ideologues think this way.

Chicago Tribune editors headlined “Nelson Mandela, conscience of the world,” saying:

He “was more than just a symbol. His name was a clarion call for people across the globe in their struggles against oppression.”

“He personified the triumph of nearly unimaginable perseverance over nearly unimaginable tribulation.”

“His top priority was to oversee the creation of a new constitution, guaranteeing equality for all.”

“He also brought together disparate elements of the country, black and white, to address the grinding poverty and homelessness that afflicted his country.”

If one person could be called the conscience of the world, it would be Nelson Mandela.”

“The best way for us to truly honor his life, his suffering, and his memory is to uphold the values he embodied and fight the injustices he forced the world to confront. His inspiration is universal, his legacy timeless.”

Fundamental journalistic ethics require truth, full disclosure, integrity, fairness, impartiality, independence and accountability.

Tribune editors ignore these fundamental principles. So do their mainstream counterparts.

Los Angeles Times editors headlined “South Africa after Mandela.” They called him “one of the towering figures of the 20th century.”

“(H)e was revered around the globe for his vision and courage, and for the enormous personal sacrifices he made to right the wrongs that plagued his country,” they said.

LA Times editors reinvented history like their counterparts. It didn’t surprise.

Boston Globe editors headlined “Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013: A rare vision of magnanimity,” saying:

His “remarkable vision of leadership (helped) overturn South Africa’s vicious apartheid regime.”

He “was a pillar of grace, magnanimity, and restraint in victory.”

“His stable hand helped maintain (South Africa’s) status as a top economic engine on the African continent.”

He “proved that progress was possible.”

Privileged whites during his tenure benefitted hugely. Black society suffered horrifically. It still does. Mandela’s no hero. Don’t expect Globe editors to explain.

Major media editors turn truth on its head. They do it consistently. They do it repeatedly. Countless editorials and commentaries praised Mandela. They proliferate like crab grass. They’re still coming.

Headlines below reflect common sentiment:

“Nelson Mandela: a leader above all others”

“Nelson Mandela’s place in history.”

“Nelson Mandela, rest in peace”

“Nelson Mandela: Farewell to a visionary leader”

“Freedom is Nelson Mandela’s legacy”

“Nelson Mandela, historic icon of peaceful equality”

“Mandela, a moral force for the ages”

“Mandela, the transcendent ‘South African Moses’ “

It’s hard choosing which one is worst. Mandela was more pied piper of Hamelin than Moses. He was no patron saint of impoverished, oppressed and deprived South African blacks.

He sold out to power and privilege. His legacy reflects the worst of neoliberal harshness. Conditions during his tenure exceeded apartheid’s dark side.

They’re worse today. Inequality is institutionalized. So is apartheid. Democracy is more illusion than reality.

Black stooges serve white supremacist interests. Fundamental human and civil rights don’t matter. Corporate interests count most.

Government of, by, and for everyone equitably is nowhere in sight. Don’t expect scoundrel media editors to explain.

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MandelaInpPrison1think duhh2

Good_Vs_Evil1

| 6 things about Mandela the mainstream media whitewashes!

Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About ~ AVIVA SHEN and  JUDD LEGUMThinkProgress.

In the desire to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life — an iconic figure who triumphed over South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime — it’s tempting to homogenize his views into something everyone can support. This is not, however, an accurate representation of the man.

Mandela was a political activist and agitator. He did not shy away from controversy and he did not seek — or obtain — universal approval. Before and after his release from prison, he embraced an unabashedly progressive and provocative platform. As one commentator put itshortly after the announcement of the freedom fighter’s death, “Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view.”

As the world remembers Mandela, here are some of the things he believed that many will gloss over.

1. Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism. Mandela called Bush “a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly,” and accused him of “wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust” by going to war in Iraq. “All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil,” he said. Mandela even speculated that then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan was being undermined in the process because he was black. “They never did that when secretary-generals were white,” he said. He saw the Iraq War as a greater problem of American imperialism around the world. “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care,” he said.

2. Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right.” Mandela considered poverty one of the greatest evils in the world, and spoke out against inequality everywhere. “Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils,” he said. He considered ending poverty a basic human duty: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life,” he said. “While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”

3. Mandela criticized the “War on Terror” and the labeling of individuals as terrorists without due process. On the U.S. terrorist watch list until 2008 himself, Mandela was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush’s war on terror. He warned against rushing to label terrorists without due process. While forcefully calling for Osama bin Laden to be brought to justice, Mandela remarked, “The labeling of Osama bin Laden as the terrorist responsible for those acts before he had been tried and convicted could also be seen as undermining some of the basic tenets of the rule of law.”

4. Mandela called out racism in America. On a trip to New York City in 1990, Mandela made a point of visiting Harlem and praising African Americans’ struggles against “the injustices of racist discrimination and economic equality.” He reminded a larger crowd at Yankee Stadium that racism was not exclusively a South African phenomenon. “As we enter the last decade of the 20th century, it is intolerable, unacceptable, that the cancer of racism is still eating away at the fabric of societies in different parts of our planet,” he said. “All of us, black and white, should spare no effort in our struggle against all forms and manifestations of racism, wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.”

5. Mandela embraced some of America’s biggest political enemies. Mandela incited shock and anger in many American communities for refusing to denounce Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who had lent their support to Mandela against South African apartheid. “One of the mistakes the Western world makes is to think that their enemies should be our enemies,” he explained to an American TV audience. “We have our own struggle.” He added that those leaders “are placing resources at our disposal to win the struggle.” He also called the controversial Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat “a comrade in arms.”

6. Mandela was a die-hard supporter of labor unions. Mandela visited the Detroit auto workers union when touring the U.S., immediately claiming kinship with them. “Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades, the man who is speaking is not a stranger here,” he said. “The man who is speaking is a member of the UAW. I am your flesh and blood.”

Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela

CREDIT: AP

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| Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel!

Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Musa Okwonga.

Dear revisionists, Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view. Right now, you are anxiously pacing the corridors of your condos and country estates, looking for the right words, the right tributes, the right-wing tributes. You will say that Mandela was not about race. You will say that Mandela was not about politics. You will say that Mandela was about nothing but one love, you will try to reduce him to a lilting reggae tune. “Let’s get together, and feel alright.” Yes, you will do that.

 
You will make out that apartheid was just some sort of evil mystical space disease that suddenly fell from the heavens and settled on all of us, had us all, black or white, in its thrall, until Mandela appeared from the ether to redeem us. You will try to make Mandela a Magic Negro and you will fail. You will say that Mandela stood above all for forgiveness whilst scuttling swiftly over the details of the perversity that he had the grace to forgive.
 
You will try to make out that apartheid was some horrid spontaneous historical aberration, and not the logical culmination of centuries of imperial arrogance. Yes, you will try that too. You will imply or audaciously state that its evils ended the day Mandela stepped out of jail. You will fold your hands and say the blacks have no-one to blame now but themselves.
 
Well, try hard as you like, and you’ll fail. Because Mandela was about politics and he was about race and he was about freedom and he was even about force, and he did what he felt he had to do and given the current economic inequality in South Africa he might even have died thinking he didn’t do nearly enough of it. And perhaps the greatest tragedy of Mandela’s life isn’t that he spent almost thirty years jailed by well-heeled racists who tried to shatter millions of spirits through breaking his soul, but that there weren’t or aren’t nearly enough people like him.
 
Because that’s South Africa now, a country long ago plunged headfirst so deep into the sewage of racial hatred that, for all Mandela’s efforts, it is still retching by the side of the swamp. Just imagine if Cape Town were London.  Imagine seeing two million white people living in shacks and mud huts along the M25 as you make your way into the city, where most of the biggest houses and biggest jobs are occupied by a small, affluent to wealthy group of black people.  There are no words for the resentment that would still simmer there.
 
Nelson Mandela was not a god, floating elegantly above us and saving us. He was utterly, thoroughly human, and he did all he did in spite of people like you. There is no need to name you because you know who you are, we know who you are, and you know we know that too. You didn’t break him in life, and you won’t shape him in death. You will try, wherever you are, and you will fail.
 

Musa Okwonga is a poet, author, sportswriter, broadcaster, musician, communications adviser and commentator on current affairs, including culture, politics, sport, race and sexuality.  A scholarship student at Eton College, Musa studied law at Oxford University and then trained as a solicitor in the City before leaving the legal profession to pursue a career as a poet. 

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| Dissent: Mandela’s Disturbing Legacy!

Mandela’s Disturbing Legacy ~ Stephen Lendman.

On December 5, Mandela died peacefully at home in Johannesburg. Cause of death was respiratory failure. He was 95.

Supporters called him a dreamer of big dreams. His legacy fell woefully short. More on that below.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and Mandela Rhodes Foundation issued the following statement:

“It is with the deepest regret that we have learned of the passing of our founder, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela – Madiba.”

“The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa will shortly make further official announcements.”

“We want to express our sadness at this time. No words can adequately describe this enormous loss to our nation and to the world.”

“We give thanks for his life, his leadership, his devotion to humanity and humanitarian causes.”

“We salute our friend, colleague and comrade and thank him for his sacrifices for our freedom.”

“The three charitable organisations that he created dedicate ourselves to continue promoting his extraordinary legacy.”

He’ll be buried according to his wishes in Qunu village. It’s where he grew up. In 1943, he joined the African National Congress (ANC). He co-founded its Youth League.

He defended what he later called Thatcherism. On trial for alleged Sabotage Act violations, he said in court:

“The ANC has never at any period of its history advocated a revolutionary change in the economic structure of the country, nor has it, to the best of my recollection, ever condemned capitalist society.”

In 1964, he was sentenced to life in prison. He was mostly incarcerated on Robben Island. It’s in Table Bay. It’s around 7km offshore from Cape Town.

In February 1990, he was released. In 1993, he received the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with South African President FW de Klerk.

Nobel Committee members said it was “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa.”

De Klerk enforced the worst of apartheid ruthlessness. In 1994, Mandela was elected president. He served from May 1994 – June 1999.

He exacerbated longstanding economic unfairness. He deserves condemnation, not praise.

John Pilger’s work exposed South African apartheid harshness. Doing so got him banned. Thirty years later he returned.

He wanted to see firsthand what changed. He interviewed Mandela in retirement. His “Apartheid Did Not Die” documentary followed.

“Behind the modern face of democracy, the scourges of inequality, unemployment and homelessness persist,” he said.

White supremacy remained unchanged. It’s no different today. A few blacks share wealth, power and privilege. The vast majority of black society is worse off than under apartheid.

Mandela embraced the worst of neoliberal harshness. His successors follow the same model.

Pilger posed tough questions. He asked Mandela how ANC freedom fighting ended up embracing Thatcherism.

Mandela responded saying:

“You can put any label on it you like. You can call it Thatcherite but, for this country, privatization is the fundamental policy.”

Pilger discovered that 80% of South African children suffered poor health. One-fourth under age six were ill nourished.

During Mandela’s tenure, more South Africans died from malnutrition and preventable diseases than under apartheid.

Concentrated wealth is more extreme than ever. White farmers control over 80% of agricultural land. They dominate choicest areas.

Pilger said about one-fourth of South Africa’s budget goes for interest on odious debt.

He explained how five major corporations control over three-fourths of business interests. They dominate South African life.

Concentrated wealth and power are extreme. Whites control about 90% of national wealth. A select few black businessmen, politicians and trade union leaders benefit with them.

The dominant Anglo-American Corporation is hugely exploitive. Gold mining exacts an enormous human cost.

Pilger said one death and 12 serious injuries accompany each ton of gold mined. One-third of workers contract deadly lung disease. They’re left on their own to suffer and die.

Post-apartheid democracy reflects the worst of free market capitalism. It’s bereft of freedom. Reform denies it.

Mandela’s “unbreakable promise” was forgotten. In 1990, two weeks before freed from prison, he said:

“The nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industries is the policy of the ANC (and changing) our views…is inconceivable.”

Black economic empowerment is a goal we fully support and encourage, but in our situation state control of certain sectors of the economy is unavoidable.”

In 1955, ANC’s Freedom Charter declared “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.”

“The people shall govern! All national groups shall have equal rights!”

“The people shall share in the country’s wealth!”

“The land shall be shared among those who work it!”

“All shall be equal before the law!”

“All shall enjoy equal human rights!”

“There shall be work and security!”

“The doors of learning and culture shall be opened!”

“There shall be houses, security and comfort!”

“There shall be peace and friendship!”

“Let all people who love their people and their country now say, as we say here:

THESE FREEDOMS WE WILL FIGHT FOR, SIDE BY SIDE, THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES, UNTIL WE HAVE WON OUR LIBERTY”

Liberation was supposed to be economic, social and political. White worker wages were manyfold more than black ones. White mine workers earned 10 times more than blacks.

Post-apartheid promised change never materialized. Mandela embraced the worst of free market orthodoxy.

Before his election, journalist Anthony Sampson said he agreed “to reduce the deficit, to high interest rates and to an open economy, in return for access to an IMF loan of $850 million, if required.”

It comes with strings. Structural adjustments mandate harshness. They require privatization of state enterprises, mass layoffs, deregulation, deep social spending cuts, unrestricted market access for Western corporations, corporate tax cuts, marginalizing trade unionism, and harsh crackdowns on nonbelievers.

Mandela told South African workers to “tighten (their) belts.”

“(A)ccept low wages so that investment would flow.”

“We must rid ourselves of the culture of entitlement that leads to the expectation that the government must promptly deliver whatever it is that we demand.”

“Apartheid never died in South Africa,” said Pilger. “It inspired a world order upheld by force and illusion.”

Mandela stood at the crossroads. He seemed poised to lead a new direction. His popularity and bigger than life persona empowered him.

He had a unique chance to reject neoliberal orthodoxy. ANC candidates swept 1994 elections.

Mandela became president. A peaceful transition was achieved. Privileged white interests maintained real power.

Mandela’s agenda could have been different. He could followed what Chavez successfully instituted in Venezuela.

He chose not to. Black South Africans paid dearly. Mandela’s legacy remains tainted. He relegated his people to horrific post-apartheid conditions.

“Just call me a Thatcherite,” he said. He adopted free market fundamentalist harshness. Neoliberal shock therapy followed. It works the same way wherever it’s introduced.

The toll on black South Africans was devastating. He and other ANC leaders bear full responsibility. People living on less than $1 a day doubled.

From 1991 – 2002, unemployment soared to 48%. It remains disturbingly high. Officially it’s around 26%. It’s much higher.

Youth unemployment exceeds 50%. About 80% of unemployed young people never worked or had jobs longer than a year.

During the first decade of ANC rule, around two million South Africans lost homes. Another one million lost farms. Shack dwelling increased 50%.

One-fourth or more of South Africans have no running water or electricity. Around 40% of schools have no electricity.

About 50% of South Africans have inadequate sanitation. Around 40% have no telephones.

HIV/AIDS remains a major problem. South Africa has the world’s largest number of affected people. Officially it’s over five million. Unofficially it’s higher.

It’s more than in North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia combined.

Post-apartheid, life expectancy declined by 13 years. In 2011, it was 58, according to the World Health Organization. It ranks below Afghanistan at 60 years.

Overall South African conditions remain deplorable. They exceed the worst of apartheid harshness. Neoliberal exploitation exacted a horrific toll.

Mandela could have made a difference. He chose Thatcherism over economic fairness. Betrayal defines his legacy.

He relegated millions of black South Africans to permanent destitution, unemployment, hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, lost futures and early deaths.

His bigger than life persona is undeserved. So are eulogies praising his accomplishments. They reflect figments of historical revisionism.

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| Perspective: Why imperialism mourns Mandela!

Why imperialism mourns Mandela ~ Bill Van Auken, World Socialist Web Site.

The death of Nelson Mandela at the age of 95 has touched off a worldwide exercise in official mourning that is virtually without precedent.

No doubt working people in South Africa and internationally pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice demonstrated by the African National Congress leader—as well as thousands of others who lost their lives and freedom—during his long years of illegality, persecution and imprisonment under the hated Apartheid regime.

Capitalist governments and the corporate-controlled media the world over, however, have rushed to offer condolences for their own reasons. These include heads of states that supported South Africa’s apartheid rule and aided in the capture and imprisonment of Mandela as a “terrorist” half a century ago.

Barack Obama, who presides over the horrors of Guantanamo and a US prison system that holds over 1.5 million behind bars, issued a statement in which he declared himself “one of the countless millions who drew inspiration” from the man who spent 27 years on Robben Island.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, the standard-bearer of the right-wing Tory Party, ordered the flag flown at half-mast outside 10 Downing Street and proclaimed Mandela “a towering figure in our time, a legend in life and now in death—a true global hero.”

Billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, who ordered flags in New York City lowered, and Bill Gates felt compelled to issue their own statements.

What is noteworthy in the sanctimonious blather served up by the media on the occasion of Mandela’s death is the way in which a man whose life is inextricably bound up with the history and politics of South Africa is turned into an entirely apolitical icon, a plaster saint embodying, in the words of Obama, “being guided not by hate, but by love.”

What is it that the capitalist oligarchs in country after country really mourn in the death of Mandela? It is clearly not his will to resist an oppressive system—that is something they are all prepared to punish with imprisonment or drone missile assassination.

Rather, the answer is to be found in the present social and political crisis gripping South Africa, as well as the historic role played by Mandela in preserving capitalist interests in the country under the most explosive conditions.

It is significant that on the day before Mandela’s death, South Africa’s Institute for Justice and Reconciliation issued an annual report showing that those surveyed felt overwhelmingly that class inequality represented the paramount issue in South African society, with twice as many (27.9 percent) citing class as opposed to race (14.6 percent) as the “greatest impediment to national reconciliation.”

Two decades after the ending of the legal racial oppression of Apartheid, the class question has come to the fore in South Africa, embodied in the heroic mass struggles of the miners and other sections of the working class that have come into direct conflict with the African National Congress.

These eruptions found their sharpest expression in the August 16, 2012 massacre of 34 striking miners at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, a mass killing whose bloody images recalled the worst episodes of Apartheid repression at Sharpeville and Soweto. This time, however, the bloodletting was orchestrated by the ANC government and its allies in the official trade union federation, COSATU.

South Africa today ranks as the most socially unequal country on the face of the planet. The gap between wealth and poverty and the number of poor South Africans are both greater than they were when Mandela walked out of prison in 1990. Fully 60 percent of the country’s income goes to the top 10 percent, while the bottom 50 percent lives below the poverty line, collectively receiving less than 8 percent of total earnings. At least 20 million are jobless, including over half of the younger workers.

Meanwhile, under the mantle of programs like “Black Economic Empowerment,” a thin layer of black ex-ANC leaders, trade union officials and small businessmen has become very rich from incorporation onto boards of directors, acquisitions of stock, and contracts with the government. It is under these conditions that ANC governments that have followed Mandela’s, first under Thabo Mbeki and now Jacob Zuma, have come to be seen as the corrupt representatives of a wealthy ruling establishment.

Mandela, who played a less and less active role in the country’s political life, nevertheless served as a facade for the ANC, which traded on his history of sacrifice and his image of humble dignity to hide its own corrupt self-dealing. Behind the facade, of course, Mandela and his family raked in millions, with his children and grandchildren active in some 200 private companies.

The New York Times published an article Friday under the worried headline, “Mandela’s Death Leaves South Africa Without Its Moral Center.” Clearly, there are fears that the passing of Mandela will serve to strip the ANC of what little credibility it has left, opening the way to intensified class struggle.

Concern among capitalist governments and corporate oligarchs over the implications of Mandela’s passing for the current crisis in South Africa is bound up with gratitude for services rendered by the ex-president and ANC leader. In the mid-1980s, when the South African ruling class began its negotiations with Mandela and the ANC on ending Apartheid, the country was in deep economic crisis and teetering on the brink of civil war. The government felt compelled to impose a state of emergency, having lost control of the black working class townships.

The international and South African mining corporations, banks and other firms, together with the most conscious elements within the Apartheid regime, recognized that the ANC—and Mandela in particular—were the only ones capable of quelling a revolutionary upheaval. It was for that purpose he was released from prison 23 years ago.

Utilizing the prestige it had acquired through its association with armed struggle and its socialistic rhetoric, the ANC worked to contain the mass uprising that it neither controlled nor desired and subordinate it to a negotiated settlement that preserved the wealth and property of the international corporations and the country’s white capitalist rulers.

Before taking office, Mandela and the ANC ditched large parts of the movement’s program, particularly those planks relating to public ownership of the banks, mines and major industries. They signed a secret letter of intent with the International Monetary Fund pledging to implement free market policies, including drastic budget cuts, high interest rates and the scrapping of all barriers to the penetration of international capital.

In doing so, Mandela realized a vision he had enunciated nearly four decades earlier, when he wrote that enacting the ANC’s program would mean: “For the first time in the history of this country, the non-European bourgeoisie will have the opportunity to own in their own name and right mills and factories, and trade and private enterprise will boom and flourish as never before.”

However, this “flourishing,” which boosted the profits of the transnational mining firms and banks while creating a layer of black multi-millionaires, has been paid for through the intensified exploitation of South African workers.

The ignominious path trod by the ANC was not unique. During the same period, virtually every one of the so-called national liberation movements, from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the Sandinistas, pursued similar policies, making their peace with imperialism and pursuing wealth and privilege for a narrow layer.

In this context, the death of Mandela underscores the fact that there exists no way forward for the working class in South Africa—and for that matter, worldwide—outside of the class struggle and socialist revolution.

A new party must be built, founded on the Theory of Permanent Revolution elaborated by Leon Trotsky, which established that in countries like South Africa, the national bourgeoisie, dependent upon imperialism and fearful of revolution from below, is incapable of resolving the fundamental democratic and social tasks facing the masses. This can be achieved only by the working class taking power into its own hands and overthrowing capitalism, as part of the international struggle to put an end to imperialism and establish world socialism.

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| Analysis: A dissenting opinion on Nelson Mandela!

A dissenting opinion on Nelson Mandela ~ Jonathan Cook.

6 DECEMBER 2013

What I am going to write here will doubtless make me unpopular with some readers, even if only because they will assume that what follows about Nelson Mandela is disrespectful. It is not.

So let me start by recognising Mandela’s huge achievement in helping to bring down South African apartheid, and make clear my enormous respect for the great personal sacrifices he made, including spending so many years caged up for his part in the struggle to liberate his people. These are things impossible to forget or ignore when assessing someone’s life.

Nonetheless it is important to pause during the general acclamation of his legacy, mostly by people who have never demonstrated a fraction of his integrity, to consider a lesson that most observers want to overlook.

Perhaps the best way to make my point is to highlight a mock memo written in 2001 by Arjan el-Fassed, from Nelson Mandela to the NYT’s columnist Thomas Friedman. It is a wonderful, humane denunciation of Friedman’s hypocrisy and a demand for justice for the Palestinians that Mandela should have written.

Soon afterwards, the memo spread online, stripped of el-Fassed’s closing byline. Many people, including a few senior journalists, assumed it was written by Mandela and published it as such. It seemed they wanted to believe that Mandela had written something as morally clear-sighted as this about another apartheid system, one at least the equal of that imposed for decades on black South Africans.

However, the reality is that it was not written by Mandela, and his staff even went so far as to threaten legal action against the author.

Mandela spent most his adult life treated as a “terrorist”. There was a price to be paid for his long walk to freedom, and the end of South Africa’s system of racial apartheid. Mandela was rehabilitated into an “elder statesman” in return for South Africa being rapidly transformed into an outpost of neoliberalism, prioritising the kind of economic apartheid most of us in the west are getting a strong dose of now.

In my view, Mandela suffered a double tragedy in his post-prison years.

First, he was reinvented as a bloodless icon, one that other leaders could appropriate to legitimise their own claims, as the figureheads of the “democratic west”, to integrity and moral superiority. After finally being allowed to join the western “club”, he could be regularly paraded as proof of the club’s democratic credentials and its ethical sensibility.

Cameron meets Nelson Mandela

Second, and even more tragically, this very status as icon became a trap in which he was forced to act the “responsible” elder statesman, careful in what he said and which causes he was seen to espouse. He was forced to become a kind of Princess Diana, someone we could be allowed to love because he rarely said anything too threatening to the interests of the corporate elite who run the planet.

It is an indication of what Mandela was up against that the man who fought so hard and long against a brutal apartheid regime was so completely defeated when he took power in South Africa. That was because he was no longer struggling against a rogue regime but against the existing order, a global corporate system of power that he had no hope of challenging alone.

It is for that reason, rather than simply to be contrarian, that I raise these failings. Or rather, they were not Mandela’s failings, but ours. Because, as I suspect Mandela realised only too well, one cannot lead a revolution when there are no followers.

For too long we have slumbered through the theft and pillage of our planet and the erosion of our democratic rights, preferring to wake only for the release of the next iPad or smart phone.

The very outpouring of grief from our leaders for Mandela’s loss helps to feed our slumber. Our willingness to suspend our anger this week, to listen respectfully to those leaders who forced Mandela to reform from a fighter into a notable, keeps us in our slumber. Next week there will be another reason not to struggle for our rights and our grandchildren’s rights to a decent life and a sustainable planet. There will always be a reason to worship at the feet of those who have no real power but are there to distract us from what truly matters.

No one, not even a Mandela, can change things by him or herself. There are no Messiahs on their way, but there are many false gods designed to keep us pacified, divided and weak.

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