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Posted on on February 3rd, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (

From Gaylor Montmasson-Clair  gaylor at
January 31, 2018

Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) and the Green Economy Coalition (GEC) invite you to the following Development Dialogue on the theme of ‘Electricity beyond the national grid’.

The event will take place in Pretoria, South Africa on Thursday 22 February 2018 (9:30-13.00). Please see below and attached for more details.

Looking forward to welcoming you at TIPS.

Best regards,



Posted on on July 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

What is the economic potential of the manufacture of transport fuels from CO2?

from: Dimitriou, Ioanna –  dimitri1 at

July 12, 2015

to Energy

Dear all,

Our study, entitled “Carbon dioxide utilisation for production of transport fuels: process and economic analysis” has been recently published by the prestigious Energy and Environmental Science journal. The study aims to support policy makers and businesses in their decision-making by establishing whether the production of liquid transport fuels from CO2 using current technology is economically feasible and identifying the modifications required to improve the economic competitiveness of Carbon Dioxide Utilisation (CDU).

The article is open-access and available through the following link:…


Utilising CO2 as a feedstock for chemicals and fuels could help mitigate climate change and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. For this reason, there is an increasing world-wide interest in carbon capture and utilisation (CCU). As part of a broader project to identify key technical advances required for sustainable CCU, this work considers different process designs, each at a high level of technology readiness and suitable for large-scale conversion of CO2 into liquid hydrocarbon fuels, using biogas from sewage sludge as a source of CO2. The main objective of the paper is to estimate fuel production yields and costs of different CCU process configurations in order to establish whether the production of hydrocarbon fuels from commercially proven technologies is economically viable. Four process concepts are examined, developed and modelled using the process simulation software Aspen Plus? to determine raw materials, energy and utility requirements. Three design cases are based on typical biogas applications: (1) biogas upgrading using a monoethanolamine (MEA) unit to remove CO2, (2) combustion of raw biogas in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant and (3) combustion of upgraded biogas in a CHP plant which represents a combination of the first two options. The fourth case examines a post-combustion CO2 capture and utilisation system where the CO2 removal unit is placed right after the CHP plant to remove the excess air with the aim of improving the energy efficiency of the plant. All four concepts include conversion of CO2 to CO via a reverse water-gas-shift reaction process and subsequent conversion to diesel and gasoline via Fischer–Tropsch synthesis. The studied CCU options are compared in terms of liquid fuel yields, energy requirements, energy efficiencies, capital investment and production costs. The overall plant energy efficiency and production costs range from 12–17% and £15.8–29.6 per litre of liquid fuels, respectively. A sensitivity analysis is also carried out to examine the effect of different economic and technical parameters on the production costs of liquid fuels. The results indicate that the production of liquid hydrocarbon fuels using the existing CCU technology is not economically feasible mainly because of the low CO2 separation and conversion efficiencies as well as the high energy requirements. Therefore, future research in this area should aim at developing novel CCU technologies which should primarily focus on optimising the CO2 conversion rate and minimising the energy consumption of the plant.

Kind regards,

Ioanna Dimitriou


Dr ??anna Dimitriou

Research Associate at Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering

University of Sheffield

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Room C67a, Sir Robert Hadfield Building, Sheffield, S1 3JD

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 7594

Email:  i.dimitriou at



Posted on on April 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

kulturen in bewegung <>

Amadinda Uganda meets Uni Percussion Vienna

Außergewöhnliche Klänge – musikalische Dialoge
19. April 2015 um 19:30 im MuTh Wien

Einführung: Gerhard Kubik (Universität Wien, Musikwissenschaft)
Moderation: Albert Hosp (ORF, Ö1)

„Viele haben bereits über die Amadinda geschrieben, sie dokumentiert und erforscht – für mich persönlich ist es wichtiger, diese Kunstform erlebbar zu machen“, meint Lawrence Okello, musikalischer Leiter von Amadinda Uganda.
Einzigartige Klangerlebnisse und Dialoge verspricht das Zusammentreffen zweier Musikkulturen. Improvisationen aus dem ehemaligen Königreich der Buganda treten in Beziehung zu zeitgenössischen Kompositionen
von Philipp Tröstl, Miguel Kertsman und Julian Garmisch, die im Rahmen des Konzertes uraufgeführt werden.

Erstmals ist hier auch die Akadinda zu hören, ein drei Meter langes Xylophon, das von sechs Personen gleichzeitig gespielt wird.

Das Ensemble AMADINDA UGANDA versteht sich als Übermittler von Kompositionen aus der Zeit des vorkolonialen Königreichs Buganda, die trotz Verbot unter der Herrschaft von Idi Amin im Untergrund überlebt haben und bis heute in Uganda zu hören sind. Hauptinstrument ist die Akadinda, ein Xylophon mit zwölf Klangplatten. Jeweils drei Musiker mit zwei Schlägeln spielen gleichzeitig auf einem Instrument.

Durch die Verzahnung der Schlagmuster entstehen Klänge, die Hörer der nördlichen Hemisphäre in Staunen versetzen. Das Ensemble Amadinda Uganda tritt in dieser Formation erstmals in Europa auf. Klassische Hofmusik der Baganda wird in den Konzerten ebenso zu hören sein, wie zeitgenössische Kompositionen.



Mo 20. April 2015, 20.00 Uhr Wiener Konzerthaus, Grosser Saal

Pretty Yende Sopran
{started her international career when in 2010 was the first artist in the history of the Belvedere Competition to win First Prize in every category. She went on in 2011 to win the Placido Domingo Operalia Competition.}

KS Johan Botha Tenor
{KS stands for Austrian Kammersaenger – the highest distinction for a singer in this Opera-crazy Nation.}

Wiener KammerOrchester

Stefan Vladar Dirigent

Werke von Verdi, Donizetti, Bellini, Puccini, Lehar, J. Strauß

Dieses Konzert feiert Südafrikas zwanzigjähriges Jubiläum von Frei­heit und Demokratie und somit den Beginn des dritten Jahrzehnts. Es ist Südafrikas erstem demokratisch gewählten Präsidenten und weltweiter Ikone, Nelson Mandela, gewidmet. Der Erlös die­ses Konzertabends wird für die Errichtung des Nelson Mandela Kinderkrankenhaus in Johannesburg verwendet.

Es war Nelson Mandelas letzter Wunsch, ein Kinderkrankenhaus in Johannesburg zu errichten, die zweite medizinische Einrichtung dieser Art in Südafrika und die fünfte auf dem gesamten afrikanischen Kontinent.

Ein Benefizkonzert zugunsten des Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust veranstaltet von der Südafrikanischen Botschaft, Wien


I would like to stress here further that the two singers, besides being now the greatest musical Ambassadors of the 20 years young South Africa – the acclaimed tenor Bootha and the rising star Yende – are in their hopefully color-blind Nation a terrific pairing of a white star and a black star. Their music is in the best tradition of old Europe. Austria and the city of Vienna played an important role in the professional development of above two artists.

On the other hand, the musical group from Uganda performed in the the pre-colonial tradition of the now non-existing old Kingdom of Buganda where the King himself was a musician and composer. In the days of Idi Amin that tradition had to go underground hunted by that literally crazy black dictator who held back the development of independent Uganda. Now, the art of the Kingdom of Buganda is being studied at the school of ethnic musicology of the University of Vienna and the tour of the Amadinda was the occasion of joint performance of the percussionists from Uganda with fully developed local artists and students of the art of percussion from all over the world – including China – that work now in Vienna.

Significant as well was the naming last week of the square in front of the South African Embassy – Nelson Mandela Square.


Posted on on December 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Irith Jawetz writes from New York:

I just got back from the reception at the Austrian Consulate General in New York which was hosted by the Consul General and your friend Josef Mantl. I gave Mr. Mantl your regards and he reciprocated them.

This was a preview for a Charity auction at Sotheby to benefit operation Bobbi Bear in partnership with Arms Around the Child, which will take place on Monday, December 8th. Mr. Mantl and another Austrian gentleman Mr. Gery Keszler are involved in the Life Ball in Vienna and those bears are designed by celebrities and will be auctioned off. The celebrities who have their own bears include Bill Clinton, President Heinz Fischer, Vienna Mayor Michael Haeupl, Opera Star Anna Netrebko who lives now in Vienna, and many more. A few bears were on display tonight the rest are kept at Sotheby’s. The money will help abused children with HIV/AIDS in South Africa. This seems to be a huge problem there.

A few bears were on display tonight and sold! President Fischer’s Bear went for $1,300, and Mayor Haeupl’s bear fetched $ 1,350.

The Founder and Creative Director of Bobbi Bear, whose motto is “Giving abused children a voice” – Ms. Jackie Brandfield – is an incredible lady from South Africa. She runs this NGO from Durban.
I came very early and started talking to her without knowing who she was at first and we connected right away. I have her card and we became friends although she understood that I am not in the league of the bidders.

The South African NGO received tremendous help from Austria through the “Life Ball” event which is a huge charity event which takes place every year in Vienna and draws many celebrities including former President bill Clinton. This year the Life Ball will take place on May 16, 2015 inside the Vienna City Hall.

For further information about Bobbi Bear please visit

The children here are 5,6,7,8, years old and got aids because they were raped by people who had aids in the believe that this will help cure the AIDS. This was something I heard years ago in South Africa.

Above resonates because while I was in Johannesburg for the 2002 UN Global Summit, a lady of Scottish extract, helping out at my bed and breakfast Boer place, took me to visit an orphanage that was home to such children, and for which she did voluntary work. This was at a time we knew still very little of the AIDS scourge that was hitting Africa. She herself got interested because her son, of mixed race, a jazz musician, was living in a relationship with a black musician who contracted the virus. I was all amazed of complex human side of the new post-apartheid country. All volunteers there were church driven whites.


Posted on on June 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Feb 03, 2014

World’s top solar thermal experts to lecture at University Pretoria.

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Solar Heat (0.07 MB)

The world’s top solar thermal experts offer a specialist workshop on “Solar Heat for Industrial Applications” at the University of Pretoria on 3 and 4 February 2014.

The audience of 36 is exclusively limited to persons who have attended previous SOLTRAIN courses, or have experience with large solar water systems in Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

This Train-the-Trainer workshop is part of the unique Southern African Training and Demonstration Initiative, sponsored by the Austrian Development Agency. The Pretoria University workshop is coordinated by the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa. “Train-the-Trainer” entails that the recipients of this specialist training are committed to disseminate the knowledge they received.

More Insight

South Africa and the SADC region urgently need this expertise“, says Prof Dieter Holm, regional SOLTRAIN coordinator, “and this is a cost-effective way of creating decent long-term jobs”. Project leader, Werner Weiss, concurs: “Southern Africa has twice Austria‘s sunshine”.

The University of Pretoria is South Africa‘s and SADC’s leader in the use of solar water heating in their student residences. The University is also building a thermal demonstration unit for practical experiments by students. The Pretoria campus falls within the SOLTRAIN Solar Thermal Flagship District where various installations can be visited by technical tourists and political decision-makers.

Southern Africa boasts 59% of the world’s best winter sunshine area, but does not rank among the global solar thermal leaders. “Not yet”, says Holm, “but, given enabling legislation and leadership by example in government buildings, we would create a sustainable and competitive solar water heating industry in the region. A strong local solar water heating industry will earn forex, reduce our chronic regional electricity problem, reduce pollution and contribute to achieving our environmental commitments”.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter


Sector News


Posted on on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

date:  Mon, Feb 17, 2014


Syrian rebels or international terrorists?
Vijay Prashad* – The Hindu
*Vijay Prashad is the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
With Bashar Assad arguing that this is a war against terrorism, and the rebels arguing that this is a war against authoritarianism, no agreement can come of the peace talks on Syria.
Geneva 2’s mood mirrored the sound of mortar and despair on the ground in Syria. Not much of substance came of the former, as the U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi tiredly indicated that diplomacy continued despite the lack of a breakthrough. He hoped that the United States and the Russians would pressure their clients to remain at the table, from where, for three weeks, little of value has emerged. No agreement can come of these peace talks for at least two reasons. First, the government of Bashar Assad and the rebel coalition do not agree on the interpretation of the conflict. Mr. Assad argues that this is a war against terrorism (Al-Qaeda), while the rebels argue that this is a war against authoritarianism (the Assad government). Second, the rebels themselves are deeply fractured, with the Islamists in Syria who are doing the brunt of the fighting indisposed to any peace talks.
Mr. Brahimi hoped that humanitarian relief would be the glue to hold the two sides together. Residents in the old city of Homs and in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Yarmouk in Damascus have been under siege for two years. It was hoped that safe passage could be provided for food and medicine, but this was not accomplished. U.N. and Islamic Red Cross workers bravely avoided snipers and shells to transport food and medicines to the Syrians; children among them stared at fresh fruit, unsure of what to do with it. Absent momentum from Geneva, the options for a regional solution are back on the table.
Role for India, China?
In 2012, Egypt convened the Syria Contact Group that comprised Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — unlikely partners. Pressure from the U.S. and Russia at that time closed down the Group. Today, the regional partners seek an exit from their exaggerated postures over Syria, but there is no diplomatic space for them to act. It falls to powers that are untainted by the war, perhaps China and India, to call for a meeting — a Beijing or New Delhi summit — to craft a serious agenda to pressure all sides to a ceasefire and a credible political process.
The war is now fought less on the ground and more over its interpretation. Expectations of a hasty collapse of the government withdraw as the Syrian Army takes Jarajir, along the Lebanon border. Islamists groups continue to fight against each other in the north, weakening their firepower as the Syrian army watches from the sidelines. The emboldened Syrian government has now stepped up its rhetoric about this war being essentially one against terrorists with affiliation to al-Qaeda. Ears that once rejected this narrative in the West and Turkey are now increasingly sympathetic to it. As the Islamists suffocate the rebellion, it becomes hard to champion them against the government. Focus has moved away from the prisons and barrel bombs of the government to the executions and social policies of the Islamists.
A year ago, the West and Turkey would have scoffed at talk of terrorism as the fantasy of the Assad government. The West and the Gulf Arabs had opened their coffers to the rebels, knowing full well that they were incubating the growth of the Islamist factions at the expense of the secular opposition. Turkey’s government of Recep Tayyip Erdog?an micromanaged the opposition, provided bases in Turkey and allowed well-armed fighters to slip across the border into Syria. By early 2012, it had become a common sight to see well-armed Islamist fighters in the streets of Antakya and in the refugee camps in Hatay Province. The seeds of what was to come — the entry of al-Qaeda into Syria — was set by an opportunistic and poorly conceived policy by Erdog?an’s government. It did not help that his otherwise well-spoken and highly-regarded Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutog?lu began to refer to Syria’s Alawites (Mr. Assad’s community) as Nusayri, a derogatory sectarian term. Turkey joined U.S., Europe and Gulf Arab calls for Mr. Assad’s departure well before the numbers of those dead climbed above the thousands. Nervousness about the spread of al-Qaeda to Syria has made the rebels’ patrons edge closer to the Damascus narrative. The U.S. government wishes to arm the Iraqi government with Hellfire missiles and drones to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq’s Anbar Province. Britain has said that any fighter who comes back from Syria will be arrested (last week, a Sussex man — Abu Suleiman al-Britani — conducted a suicide operation in Aleppo). The Saudi Royal Court decreed that any Saudi found to have waged jihad abroad could spend up to 20 years in prison.
General Mansour al-Turki of the Saudi Interior Ministry said: “We are trying to stop everyone who wants to go to Syria, but we can’t stop leaks.” The Turkish Armed Forces fired on an ISIS convoy on January 28 inside Syria, and told the government in a report prepared jointly with the Turkish National Intelligence agency that al-Qaeda had made credible threats on Turkey.
Mr. Erdog?an hastened to Tehran to meet the new Iranian leadership — their public comments were on trade, but their private meetings were all on Syria and the need to combat the rise of terrorism. What Mr. Assad had warned about in 2012 came to pass — for whatever reason — and led to a loss of confidence among the rebels’ patrons for their future. Even al-Qaeda’s putative leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has sought to distance himself from ISIS. These signs indicate that on Syria, the “terrorism narrative” has come to dominate over the “authoritarian regime narrative.”
Islamic Front:
The fractious Syrian opposition that came to Geneva does not represent the main columns of rebel fighters on the ground. These are mainly Islamists — with the al-Qaeda wing represented by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the rest represented by the Islamic Front. They have no appetite for negotiation. Mr. Abu Omar of the Islamic Front said that Syria’s future would be created “here on the ground of heroism, and signed with blood on the frontlines, not in hollow conferences attended by those who don’t even represent themselves.” A U.S. intelligence official told me that when the U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001, “We smashed the mercury and watched it spread out slowly in the area.” Al-Qaeda was not demolished in Kandahar and Tora Bora. Its hardened cadre slipped across to Pakistan and then onwards to their homelands. There they regrouped, reviving the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, al-Qaeda in Yemen, Ansar al-Sharia, Ansar Dine, and ISIS. The latter slipped into Syria from an Iraq broken by the U.S. occupation and the sectarian governance of the current government. There they worked with Jabhat al-Nusra and fought alongside other Islamist currents such as Ahrar ash-Sham. It was inevitable that these battle-tested Islamists would overrun the peaceful protesters and the defectors from the Syrian Army — the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — who scattered to the wind in 2012.
The FSA troops either joined up with the Islamists, continued to fight in small detachments, or linger precariously as twice defectors who are now homeless. The barbarism of the ISIS pushed other Islamists — with Gulf Arab support — to form the Islamic Front. The hope was that this group would run ISIS back to Iraq and remove the stigma of “al-Qaeda” from the Syrian rebellion. The problem is that one of the constituents of the Islamic Front — Jabhat al-Nusra, arguably the most effective of its fighting forces — sees itself as the Syrian franchise of al-Qaeda and has largely abjured the fight against ISIS. Another problem is that the in-fighting on the ground seems to have tapered off — one of the Islamist groups, Suqour al-Sham signed a truce with ISIS and pledged to work together.
By early 2014, these groups found their supply lines cut off.  Iraq’s attack on ISIS began to seal the porous border that runs through the Great Syrian Desert.  Jordan had already tried to close its border since early 2013, having arrested over a hundred fighters who have tried to cross into Syria.  Lebanon’s border has become almost inaccessible for the rebels as the Syrian Army takes the roadway that runs along the boundary line.  Last year, Turkey closed the Azaz crossing once it was taken over by the radical Islamists.
On January 20, the rebels attacked the Turkish post at Cilvegözü-Bab al-Hawa, killing 16.  This is what spurred the Turkish Army to attack the ISIS convoy a week later.
As the Islamists saw their supply lines closed off, the U.S. announced that it would restart its aid to the rebel fighters.  On February 5, the Syrian Coalition chief Ahmad Jabra told Future TV that his rebels would get “advanced weapons” — likely from the U.S.  The FSA announced the formation of the Southern Front – with assistance from the West — to revive the dormant fight in Syria’s south-west.  All this took place during Geneva 2, signalling confusion in U.S. policy.       Does Washington still want to overthrow the Syrian government?  Would it live with an Islamist government on Israel’s borders?  Or, perhaps, the U.S. is eager for a stalemate, as pointed out by former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, “The rebels lack the organization and weapons to defeat Assad.  The regime lacks the loyal manpower to suppress the rebellion.  Both sides’ external allies are ready to supply enough money and arms to fuel the stalemate for the foreseeable future.”  This is a cruel strategy.
It offers no hope of peace for the Syrian people.
Road ahead for Syria group:
A senior military official in West Asia told me that one of the most overlooked aspects of West Asia and North Africa is that the military leaderships of each country maintain close contacts with each other. During Turkey’s war against the Kurdish rebellion in its eastern provinces, the military coordinated their operations with the Syrian armed forces. These links have been maintained. When it became clear that Mr. Erdog?an’s exaggerated hopes for Syria failed, and with the growth of the Islamists on Turkey’s borders and the Kurds in Syria having declared their independence, the Turkish military exerted its views. The Iraqi armed forces had already begun their operations against ISIS. Additionally, Egypt’s new Field Marshal Sisi overthrew the government of Mohamed Morsi when the latter encouraged jihadis to go to Syria. This was anathema to the Egyptian military who acted for this and other reasons to depose Mr. Morsi. The military view of the political situation leans naturally toward the terrorism narrative.
It appears now that the regional states are no longer agreed that their primary mission is the removal of Mr. Assad.This view — shared by the militaries — is evident in the political leadership in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.With Egypt, these three states would be the core of a rejuvenated Syria Contact Group.

The 2012 group also had Saudi Arabia, which might be enjoined to come back to the table if they see that their outside allies — notably the U.S. — are averse to a policy that would mean Jabhat al-Nusra in power in Damascus.

Without Saudi Arabia, and perhaps even Qatar, the Syria Contact Group would be less effective.

If the Syria Contact Group is to re-emerge, it would need to be incubated by pressure from China and India, two countries that are sympathetic to multipolar regionalism.
Thus far, neither China nor India has taken an active role in the Syrian conflict, content to work within the United Nations and to make statements as part of the BRICS group.
But the failure of the U.S. and Russia and the paralysis of the U.N. alongside the continued brutality in Syria require an alternative path to be opened up.
Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have indicated willingness for a dialogue — China and India need to offer them the table.



Posted on on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Green Prophet Headlines – El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city

Link to Green Prophet



El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city


Posted: 15 Feb 2014 09:23 PM PST


el gouna carbon neutral city EgyptEl Gouna, a resort city on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, is set to become the first carbon-neutral city in that nation, in Africa, and likely the entire Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Masdar City, in continuing development in Abu Dhabi, initially targeted zero-carbon status, but has yet to hit that goal.
Image of El Gouna from Shutterstock


The ambitious development agreement was signed last week by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Environment and El Gouna City.


Dr. Laila Iskandar, Egyptian Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, told Trade Arabia, “This agreement will help the Egyptian government to achieve a significant breakthrough in the fields of environment and tourism, enhancing Egypt’s global image and opening the door for Egyptian tourism projects and cities to rank among the leading carbon-neutral entities.”


El Gouna is already hailed as Egypt’s most environmentally-friendly vacation destination.  It’s captured Green Globe and Travelife certifications and was selected as the pilot location for the Green Star Hotel Initiative (GSHI).


Launched in 2007, GSHI is a cooperative effort between public and private sectors, the Egyptian and German tourism industries, and supported by key technical consultants.  They promote use of environmental management systems and environmentally sound operations to improve environmental performance and to increase competitiveness of the Egyptian hotel industry.


Priority projects include conservation of natural resources such as clean beaches, healthy marine life and protected areas, which are the backbone of the Red Sea Riviera and the nation’s eco-tourism market.


Mr. Hisham Zaazou, Egyptian Minister of Tourism, told Trade Arabia, “We will also be working on implementing this project in other Egyptian cities.”


Posted on on January 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (


Knesset goes green.


Israeli parliament to be solar secure by end of the year.

By  January” title=”\”>January” target=”_blank”>″>January 1,2014 – from


Knesset by Shutterstock

The Israeli parliament building’s roof has long been touted as a perfect place to build a 1MW solar array. And today, the idea for the Knesset to produce its own solar energy went into effect.

Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein officially launched the “Green Knesset” project – a multi-year project that will convert the Knesset into a legislature guided by the concept of sustainability.

The first two years of the venture will consist of 12 smaller projects focusing on energy and water. Among other things, this phase will include the construction of a 4,500 square meter solar field for the production of electricity from renewable energy; replacing hundreds of bulbs with LED bulbs; replacing the air-conditioning systems with an energy center; automatically shutting down all of the computers at the end of the workday; measuring the amount of water used for irrigation in the Knesset and adopting a more economical water consumption model; the desalination of water from the Knesset’s air-conditioning systems and using this water for irrigation and other purposes

Knesset says the projects will return the $2 million investment within five years. The money saved will go to a “green fund” – and be used for additional sustainable initiatives.
Photo by SeanPavonePhoto /

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Posted on on December 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


If you are interested in a non-violent strategy that could work to overcome global capitalism, come to Tikkun’s Transformative Activism training over Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in Berkeley, Ca.
info at [ ].”


Why non-violence won out over violence in Mandela’s strategic thinking by Stephen Zunes.

from: Rabbi Michael Lerner via 

to PJ

(Tikkun is a BIMONTHLY JEWISH & INTERFAITH CRITIQUE OF POLITICS, SOCIETY, & CULTURE dealing with how the World can be repaired.)

“Tikkun’s Contributing Editor Stephen Zunes shows why non-violence became so significant in the struggle for liberation in South Africa.

Mandela’s utilitarianism and the struggle for liberation.
STEPHEN ZUNES [ ] 13 December Printer-friendly version [ ]Send to friend [ ]PDF version [ ]

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“Mandela was a great leader because he recognized that the movement had become a civil insurrection, a largely nonviolent struggle. A great leader is one who recognizes where the movement is and leads them accordingly, not one who says, ‘Do it my way!'”

In the time since his death at age 95, Nelson Mandela’s thinking on the strategic direction of the liberation struggle in South Africa has been oversimplified by proponents of nonviolent and armed resistance alike.  His leadership in the relatively peaceful end to the brutal apartheid system was indeed critical, as was his leadership three decades earlier in the shift from nonviolent to armed resistance by the African National Congress (ANC). Yet many analysts have largely ignored the critical events in South Africa which took place in between, during his nearly three decades in prison.

While, on principle, Mandela refused to renounce violence from his prison cell as long as the far more violent apartheid regime refused to do the same, he also recognized the limits of guerrilla warfare in a country where the regime had all the advantages when it came to armed conflict. However morally justifiable armed struggle may have been in the face of such brutality, it simply was not working.

Indeed, in the final years of his imprisonment, he – like other ANC leaders – recognized that it was the growing waves of strikes and boycotts, the establishment of parallel institutions,  and other forms of unarmed resistance by the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the ANC’s political wing, that would eventually free South Africa from white minority rule.

While many western governments argued that the supposedly benevolent influence of western capital would lead to liberalization and an eventual end to South Africa’s apartheid system, and many on the left argued that liberation would come only through armed revolution, in fact it was largely unarmed resistance by the black majority and its supporters, both within South Africa and abroad, which proved decisive.

The resistance of the 1980s was centered on massive noncooperation. Less than six months prior to Mandela’s release from prison in February 1990, an editorial in the Weekly Argus observed, “The intimidatory powers of the state have waned; the veneration of the law has diminished with the erosion of the rule of law. Inevitably that meek acquiescence of yesteryear has evaporated and SA is now witnessing an open, deliberate and organised campaign of defiance.”

Though it is easy to think of apartheid South African in terms of radical polarization, a model that would tend to support armed struggle as a means of change, the high degree of interdependence – albeit on unfair terms imposed by the ruling white minority – allowed greater latitude for nonviolent movements than is normally possible in most polarized societies. About half of the country’s Africans lived in areas allocated to South Africa’s whites, including all the ports, major cities, industry, mines, and optimal agricultural land, as did virtually all of the Coloureds and Asians.

The white minority existed from day to day with a high level of dependence on the black majority, not just for their high standard of living, but for their very survival. Massive noncooperation, therefore, constituted a more direct challenge to the system of apartheid than did violence.

The black South Africans’ overwhelming numerical majority made the use of massive noncooperation particularly effective when they started to mobilize in large numbers in the mid-1980s. Nonviolent action, despite its requirements of discipline and bravery in the face of repression, allowed participation by a far greater percentage of the population than the ANC’s exiled guerilla army, whose armed cadres could rarely even penetrate the country’s heavily-guarded borders.

By contrast, essentially conservative and religious Africans tended to respond negatively or not at all to revolutionary violence. For example, sociologistHeribert Adam [ ] once noted how the early ANC bombing campaigns “which aimed at frightening whites into making concessions, instead resulted in a strengthening of the repressive machinery and general discouragement of African militancy closer to general resignative despair than determination to actively resist white domination.”

Likewise, the use of guerrilla warfare by the ANC’s armed wing and other acts of violence solidified even liberal white opinion in support of repressive actions by the white minority government. An escalation of the armed struggle, in the eyes of the white minority, would have confirmed their worst stereotypes of the Africans as “violent savages” and encouraged whites to resist bitterly and engage in even more brutal repression.

By contrast, nonviolent action allowed far greater potential for creating cleavages among the white elites, such as how to best respond to the resistance, how long to resist the inevitable changes demanded by the revolutionaries, and at what costs. The shift back to a mostly nonviolent struggle in the 1980s lured white opinion away from those seeking continued white domination. Though the prospect of giving up their privileges was not particularly welcomed by most whites, the use of largely nonviolent methods by the black majority was seen as indicative of a movement less likely to engage in reprisals against the white minority upon obtaining power, thereby making possible a greater willingness to accept majority rule.

The advantages of nonviolent action in winning allies went far beyond the potentially enlightened sectors of South Africa’s white minority, in that it also extended to the world community. International opinion was of crucial importance. Despite verbal condemnation of its racial policies, the western industrialized world gave South Africa consistent support over the years in the form of trade, industrial development, technological assistance, infusion of capital, and arms. South Africa would not have become the economic and military power it was without the massive aid it received from the west during the more than forty years of apartheid rule.

Prior to the imposition of sanctions in the mid-1980s, there was over $13 billion worth of annual trade between South Africa and the west, which – combined with $30 billion in foreign investment – supplied the country with the vast majority of such basic commodities as transportation equipment, electrical equipment and machinery, nuclear technology, telecommunications facilities and services, computer technology, chemicals and related products, paper and manufactures, and other goods essential to the maintenance of South Africa as a modern industrialized state. In addition, the west supported the South African regime through outstanding bank loans and credits totaling $6.5 billion, much of which went to government entities with no restrictions.

When the United Nations Security Council threatened sanctions and other punitive measures against South Africa, three members – the United States, Great Britain, and France (due to their important economic and political interests) – cast vetoes. Armed resistance by the ANC gave some western nations an excuse to label the ANC a “terrorist organization” and block the imposition of targeted sanctions against the apartheid regime. By the mid to late 1980s, however, thanks to massive nonviolent protests in these countries by anti-apartheid activists, most industrialized nations imposed sanctions on the apartheid regime. Labor unions, church groups, students, and leftist organizations in solidarity with the resistance movement in South Africa’s townships made business as usual with the apartheid government impossible.  Scenes broadcast in the international media of nonviolent black protesters being shot and brutally beaten by government forces galvanized popular opinion in the west in support of divestment and sanctions, which played a major role in forcing the white minority government to the negotiating table. By contrast, had the primary mode of resistance been armed struggle, it is unlikely that the same level of sympathy and the resulting mass mobilization would have been enough to make the sanctions movement so successful.

In his final years in prison, Mandela recognized that younger community activists like Mkhuseli Jack – a UDF leader who led the strikes, boycotts, and public protests in the Port Elizabeth area – were far more significant in the success of the struggle than his former comrades from the ANC’s armed wing. It was no accident that Mandela asked Jack, and not anyone from the old guard who had been involved in the armed resistance, to organize his first public rally upon his release from prison.

Mandela’s approach to violence and nonviolence was not ideological, but pragmatic. Rev. Allan Boesak, a former anti-apartheid leader, noted that while Mandela did not lead the movement away from armed resistance, “Mandela was a great leader because he recognized that the movement had become a civil insurrection, a largely nonviolent struggle. A great leader is one who recognizes where the movement is and leads them accordingly, not one who says, ‘Do it my way!'”

While the South African struggle was more protracted, more complex, and not exclusively nonviolent as some other pro-democracy struggles were during this era, it was one of the most significant. It demonstrated that even in a situation where so many had given up on nonviolent action, key figures in the resistance movement – including Nelson Mandela – would recognize its power in the successful liberation of their people.

For a scholarly discussion of the role of nonviolence in the South African struggle against aparthed, also read:


Posted on on December 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Nelson Mandela funeral: What to expect as global icon is laid to rest


By Laura Smith-Spark and Robyn Curnow, CNN
updated 9:51 AM EST, Sat December 14, 2013


The hearse carrying former South African President Nelson Mandela leaves the Union Buildings after the final day of his lying in state in Pretoria, South Africa, on Friday, December 13.     The hearse carrying former South African President Nelson Mandela leaves the Union Buildings after the final day of his lying in state in Pretoria, South Africa, on Friday, December 13, 2013
Nelson Mandela memorial service
  • NEW: Mandela’s body reaches the village of Qunu, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province
  • ANC leaders, local chiefs and the men in Mandela’s family will hold a private vigil
  • About 4,500 people will attend the funeral Sunday on the family farm
  • The funeral service will be followed by a smaller burial ceremony

Qunu, South Africa (CNN) — Ten days of mourning for South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon and former leader Nelson Mandela will come to an end Sunday with his state funeral.

After Tuesday’s vibrant, if rain-drenched, memorial service, followed by three days of public viewing of the former president’s casket in Pretoria, the burial will be a slightly more private affair.

About 100,000 people have paid homage to Mandela in those three days, including 50,000 who came to pay their respects Friday, the South African government said.

Here is how CNN expects events to unfold, based on information from the government and sources involved in planning for the funeral — although plans may change because of weather, security and other factors.

Return to the Eastern Cape

    Amanpour joins crowd mourning Mandela

  South Africans mourn, celebrate Mandela

   Mandela remembered: Obama’s full speech

A military plane carrying Mandela’s body flew Saturday from an air force base in Pretoria to South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, where Mandela’s ancestral village of Qunu lies. The family farm there will be his final resting place.

President Jacob Zuma and other members of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, gathered to bid Mandela farewell from the air force base. “We will miss him. He was our leader in a special time,” said Zuma. Mandela’s casket, draped in the national flag, was carried by soldiers to the plane.

Thousands of mourners lined the streets from Mthatha Airport, the closest to Qunu, as Mandela’s remains were transported to the remote village where he spent much of his childhood.

Traditional ceremony and vigil

Once at Mandela’s house in Qunu, the military was expected formally to pass responsibility for his remains to his family.

The South African flag draped over the coffin will be replaced with a tribal symbol of the Xhosa people, symbolizing the return of one of their own.

At dusk, ANC leaders, local chiefs and the men in Mandela’s family are expected to gather for a private night vigil, held according to the traditions of the Thembu community, his native clan, before a public funeral the next day. Villagers may gather outside the house to pay their respects.

The coffin will lie in Mandela’s bedroom overnight. The room overlooks the hills around Qunu and his grave site.

Who’s attending

Foreign leaders were encouraged to attend Tuesday’s memorial service in Johannesburg. Nonetheless, dozens of international dignitaries are expected to make their way to the Eastern Cape for Mandela’s funeral.

The airport in East London, south of Qunu, will be used for their arrival and departure, with access closely controlled.

Notable figures thought to be on the guest list include Britain’s Prince Charles, TV talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and U.S. civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

There’s no doubting the global media interest. More than 4,000 journalists had been accredited as of Friday morning, with more expected, a government spokeswoman said. However, only the national broadcaster will be given access to the funeral, with other journalists in Qunu to be based at the Nelson Mandela Museum.

The event will be broadcast to an audience of millions around the world.

The funeral

A private family prayer service will be held Sunday morning at Mandela’s home. The funeral will then be held in a huge white tent set up at the family farm.

The Mandela family, President Zuma and Cabinet members will be present as well as local and foreign dignitaries. About 4,500 people are expected.

The military will again be charged with draping Mandela’s coffin with the flag. Members of the military will perform a salute, and the national anthem will be played.

The burial

A group of family and close friends, expected to number about 430, will walk up to the grave site to bid a final farewell to the man many saw as the father of their nation.

About 2 p.m. — when the summer sun is high in the sky — Mandela will be laid to rest in the rocky soil of his childhood home.

The burial area has been especially built for him; some of Mandela’s long deceased family members are already buried at the site. It will be, according to custom, a homecoming.

His grave site is surrounded by rocky outcrops, hardy grass used for the grazing of cattle and bright orange aloe plants.

The aloes are indigenous succulents that are hardy, drought-resistant, medicinal plants that bloom across the bushveld when all else is dry and dull. They can be seen as a symbolic floral gesture to a man whose life was filled with sacrifice and tragedy but who triumphed with a tenacity of spirit and hope in even the darkest of days.


With so many high-profile guests in South Africa for Mandela’s state funeral, security has been a key concern.

Zuma has authorized nearly 12,000 members of the South African National Defence Force to serve alongside the police force “to maintain law and order” during the funeral period, the presidency said. They are employed for 15 days, from December 6 to December 20.

A tight military cordon is expected around the funeral site to assuage security fears.

CNN’s Robyn Curnow reported from inside the Mandela compound in Qunu, and Laura Smith-Spark wrote and reported in London.


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Posted on on December 13th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

 First as posted by us on December 11, 2013, but then we added on December 13th an Uri Avnery unforgiving point of view that explains why neither the Israeli President nor the Prime-Minister accepted the chance to travel to Johannesburg.  We attach this at the end of our own review of the Israeli delegation.




Israeli Delegation to Mandela Funeral Seated in Parliamentary Gallery

By Gidon Ben-zvi from Johannesburg, December 10, 2013


Knesset Speaker ‘Yuli’ Edelstein at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. Photo: Facebook.


The Israeli Knesset delegation to the funeral of South African President Nelson Mandela was placed in a parliamentary gallery inside of Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium, far removed from where the sitting president of South Africa and such visiting world leaders as President Barack Obama were situated, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported.


The delegation, headed by the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, landed Tuesday morning at the airport in Johannesburg and were immediately shuttled to the stadium in order to attend the funeral.

The Speaker was invited to sit on the main stage, but elected to stay with the other members of the Israeli delegation, Ma’ariv reported.


“It’s very exciting to be here in South Africa. We arrived after a long but pleasant flight and are looking forward to a moving memorial service,”
MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) told a Ma’ariv reporter.


MK Lipman, who heads the Israel-South Africa Friendship Association, added that, “…Nelson Mandela served as an inspiration around the world. [He] realized a vision of liberty and freedom and human rights which is a guiding light for everyone.”


Knesset Members Penina Tamanu-Shata (Yesh Atid), Hilik Bar (Labor), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) and Gila Gamliel (Likud) comprised the remainder of the Israeli delegation.


 Pnina Tamano-Shata ????? ???? ???.jpg    born in Wuzaba, Tamano-Shata immigrated from Ethiopia to Israel at the age of three.She studied law at Ono Academic College, and became Deputy Chairman of the national Ethiopian Student Association.She worked from 2007-2012 as a reporter for Channel 1. In last elections she was placed on spot 14 on the newly formed Yesh Atid list that won 19 seats in the Knesset.

?? ?????.jpg  M.K. Rabbi Dov Lipman born in Silver Spring, Maryland, Lipman attended the Yeshiva of Greater Washington in his hometown and completed his rabbinical studies at Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore while in a concurrent program with the Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a master’s degree in Education. He immigrated to Israel in 2004.

Since moving to Israel, Lipman has been a faculty member at a number of institutions for post-high school Torah learning, such as Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah, Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim, Machon Maayan, and Tiferet.

Lipman lives in Beit Shemesh, and is married with four children. He renounced his United States citizenship as required to serve as a member of the Knesset.

Rabbi Lipman is a member of the mainly secular new Yesh Atid party, and was placed seventeenth on the party’s list for the 2013 Knesset elections.

As a member of Yesh Atid, Lipman strongly advocates basic secular education for all schools in Israel wanting to receive government funding. This is also the position of Israel’s Minister of Education, Rabbi Shai Piron. Since taking these controversial positions, Lipman has been publicly shamed by many within the ultra-Orthodox/Haredi world, including his former Rosh Yeshiva and teacher Rabbi Aharon Feldman. Feldman, dean of Baltimore’s Ner Israel Rabbinical College, called Lipman a “wicked” apostate and said his positions on Jewish education do not represent the values taught by the institution from which he received rabbinic ordination.

We wonder if Rabbi Lipman was part of the Edelstein-Carter airport exchange that stirred our interest in the make-up of the Israeli delegation – a State that somehow was not able to get to Johannesburg one of its two main office-holders – President Peres or Prime-Minister Netanyahu.


Hilik Bar Portrait.jpg    Hilik (Yehiel) Bar (born September 4, 1975 n Safed in the Galilee), is a Member of Knesset for the Israel Labor Party,   Secretary General of the Labor Party, and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. Bar previously served as a member of the Jerusalem City Council on behalf of mayor Nir Barkat’s “Yerushalayim Tazliach” (Jerusalem Will Succeed) party, holding the Tourism and Foreign Relations portfolios for the city.

Bar studied at Bezek College at Givat Mordechai in Jerusalem. He served in the Israeli Defense Force as an officer in Adjutant Corps and reached the rank of captain in the reserves, later studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. From 1998 he served as chairman of the student organization (“Ofek”) of the Labor Party at Hebrew University, chairman of the national student organization of the Labor Party, and Chairman of the World Youth of the World Labour Zionist Movement.


Bar served as an Advisor to Minister Dalia Itzik in the Environment Ministry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade; an adviser to Acting Mayor of the Jerusalem Municipality, Professor Shimon Sheetrit; Director of Development Economics and Higher Education in the Jerusalem Municipality; Project Manager for the Jerusalem Conference with the Zionist Council for Israel; and adviser to National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer in Ariel Sharon’s second administration and Ehud Olmert’s government. It was during this time that he also served as advisor to Ben-Eliezer while the latter served as Minister of Industry.


During his public service he completed his BA in political science and international relations and MA in international relations at the Hebrew University. In 2008 he was accepted to the master’s program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, but passed on the opportunity in order to continue his public service.


Since 2002, Bar has been a delegate at the World Zionist Congress and the World Zionist Council. He is actively involved in pro-Israel advocacy and has taken part in advocacy and coexistence missions around the world, in the course of which he met with US President George W. Bush and other senior officials in both the Arab world and the West. In 2003, he was involved in the establishment of the “Young Israeli Forum for Cooperation” (YIFC), an organization whose activity was awarded a special prize by the EU’s Minister of Education. He was six-th on Labor’s list and is making inroads in the party system.


Nitzan Horowitz 2012.jpg    Nitzan Horowitz is a former journalist – he was the Foreign Affairs commentator and head of the International desk at News 10, the news division of Channel 10, before being elected to the Knesset on the left-wing Meretz list in 2009.

He is openly gay and ran for becoming Mayor of Tel Aviv. Before that – In 1989 he started his career at Haaretz, as the Foreign Affairs Editor. He served as “Haaretz” correspondent in Paris (1993–1998), covering also the European Union, and as Haaretz correspondent in Washington D.C. (1998–2001). Back in Israel, Horowitz was the chief foreign affairs columnist for Haaretz.

Horowitz served as a board member of ACRI – the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. He was also active in environmental issues and in 2007 he received the “Pratt Prize” for Environmental Journalism.

In December 2008, he resigned from Channel 10 and became a candidate of the Israeli left-wing party, Meretz in the upcoming elections.
He gained the third slot on the joint list of Hatnua Hahadasha (The New Movement) and Meretz. He said “My goal is to continue to do what I have been talking about over the past years, from protecting the seashore to promoting more sophisticated, nonpolluting public transportation”.


Meretz won three seats in the 2009 Israeli elections on February 10, 2009, election,making Horowitz the second openly gay Knesset member in Israeli history. The first, Uzi Even, also was a member of Meretz.  On February 16, he announced a plan to bring to the Knesset a bill that would allow marriages or civil unions between two partners regardless of their religion, ethnic background, or gender.


Before being sworn into the Knesset he was told to annul his Polish citizenship, which he was able to attain due to his father’s origins and used as a journalist to enter countries Israelis have a hard time entering.


In 2009, he announced that he would boycott all the events in Pope Benedict XVI‘s visit to Israel, saying that in his opinion, the pope bears a message of “rigidness, religious extremism and imperviousness. Of all the Pope’s injustices, the worst is his objection to disseminating contraceptives in Third World countries. It’s hard to assess how many miserable men and women in Africa, Asia and South America have contracted AIDS because of this Philistine attitude, but we are talking about many”.[9] He also published a two-part opinion piece on Ynetnews explaining his position.


On June 6, 2009, Horowitz addressed a crowd of 1,000 demonstrators in Tel Aviv marking 42 years of the occupation of the West Bank. Horowitz resides in Tel Aviv with his life partner.


Gila Gamliel.jpg    Gila Gamliel born in Gedera to an influential and large  family of Yemenite and Libyan Jewish origins, Gamliel studied at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where she was awarded a BA in Middle Eastern history and philosophy and an MA in philosophy. During her time as a student, she was chairwoman of the university’s student union, and also the first woman chair of the National Students’ Association. Later on, she obtained a Bachelor of Laws at the Ono Academic College and a Master of Laws at the Bar-Ilan University.


For the 1999 elections she was placed 25th on the Likud list,[1] but missed out on a place in the Knesset when the party won only 19 seats. In 2003 she surprisingly won 11th place on the Likud list for the elections that year, ahead of several cabinet ministers. She became a Knesset member when the party won 38 seats, but police decided to open an investigation into the suspected transfer of student funds into a private company.She was also accused of blackmailing a fellow student council member in order to retain the chairmanship of the students’ association of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev at the time.  Gamliel denied both accusations. In November 2003 the fraud police decided to stop the investigations against her because of lack of  evidence.


Mid-2003 she opposed the acceptance of the road map for peace by the government of Prime Minister and fellow Likud member Ariel Sharon.


About the same time, in June 2003, she and three other Knesset members of Likud were actually banned from the Likud faction for three months because they had been voting against an encroaching plan of Likud in matters of economy. By implementing severe austerities the Likud government was hoping to recover the declining state of Israel’s economy.[6]


During her first term in the Knesset she chaired the committee on the Status of Women, and in March 2005 was appointed Deputy Minister of Agriculture.


However, she missed out on a place on the Likud list for the 2006 elections and lost her seat. Prior to the 2009 elections she won nineteenth place on the party’s list, and returned to the Knesset as Likud won 27 seats. On April 1, 2009 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Gamliel as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in his new government, with the portfolio of the Advancement of Young People, Students and Women.


In November 2010 she was not allowed to enter Dubai to participate in a conference of the World Economic Forum because of the assassination of senior Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January 2010, of which the Mossad was accused of.


In the 2013 elections she was again chosen in the Knesset. On March 18, 2013, she did not return as a (Deputy) Minister in the Third Netanyahu Government.

Yuli Edelstein.jpg   Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, born  August 5, 1958  to a Jewish family in the great city Czernowitz in the former Austrian Bukowina, while it was Chernivtsi, Soviet Union, and now is in the Ukraine. Yuli immigrated to Israel in 1987. His parents, Yuri and Anita Edelstein, had converted to Christianity after Yuli’s birth, and his father is today a well-known Russian Orthodox priest and human rights activist in Russia.

Yuli formed his connection to Jewish culture through his grandparents, and he began studying Hebrew.

During his second year at the Chernivtsi university, Edelstein decided to apply for an exit visa and emigrate to Israel. However, an exit visa required an affidavit from relatives abroad, a problem faced by many Soviet Jews. As a result, he made up a story of his grandfather having an illegitimate son in Israel, and found some Israelis who agreed to pose as his relatives. In 1979, he submitted his application for an exit visa. The application was rejected, and Edelstein was expelled from university.

Throughout this period, Edelstein studied Hebrew, first on his own, then with an underground Hebrew teacher named Lev Ulanovsky. After Ulanovsky received an exit visa to Israel in 1979, Edelstein himself became an underground Hebrew teacher. He encountered various forms of harassment from the KGB and local police. In 1984, he and other Hebrew teachers were arrested on trumped-up charges. Edelstein was charged with possession of drugs, and sentenced to three and a half years. He was then sent to Siberian gulags and did hard labor, first in Buryatia and then in Novosibirsk. After sustaining an injury and undergoing surgery, Edelstein was due to be transferred back to Buryatia, but his wife Tanya threatened to go on hunger strike if he was returned there. As a result, he remained in Novosibirsk, and was released in May 1985, after serving one year and eight months of his sentence.

In 1987, he was finally given permission to emigrate to Israel. After arriving in Israel, he did his national service in the Israel Defense Forces, attaining the rank of Corporal. He then started to participate in political life. Initially a member of the National Religious Party and a vice-president of Zionist Forum, he founded the Yisrael BaAliyah party together with fellow Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky. He was elected to the Knesset in 1996, and was appointed Minister of Immigrant Absorption in Binyamin Netanyahu‘s Likud-led government. He was re-elected in 1999, and was appointed Deputy Immigrant Absorption Minister by Ariel Sharon in 2001.

He retained his seat in the 2003 elections, shortly after which Yisrael BaAliyah merged into Likud. Although Edelstein lost his seat in the 2006 elections, in which Likud was reduced to 12 seats (Edelstein was fourteenth on the party’s list), he re-entered the Knesset as a replacement for Dan Naveh in February 2007. He retained his seat in the 2009 elections after being placed twelfth on the party’s list, and was appointed Minister of Information and Diaspora in the Netanyahu government.

Following the 2013 elections he became Speaker of the Knesset.

The father of two, Edelstein lives in Neve Daniel – an Israeli  communal settlement located in western Gush Etzion in the southern West Bank. Located south of Jerusalem and just west of Bethlehem, it sits atop one of the highest points in the area – close to 1,000 meters above sea level, and has a view of much of the Mediterranean coastal plain, as well as the mountains of Jordan.


I went to this length of describing the six members of the Israeli Delegation that went to honor the Madiba – there hardly could have been a more RAINBOW type of delegation from Israel and in our opinion – this is a group of people that in their own lives depict how a new Nation , built on secular democratic principles, was built by linking with a common goal people of very different backgrounds. Members of this small group had given up US, Russian, Polish, Ethiopian, Yemenite, Libyan citizenships in order to be able to be part of the secular-jewish Parliament.

We believe they made for a truer representation to the Mandela ethos then had it been that the attention were on a Head-of-State.


Uri Avnery

December 14, 2013




CAN A country boycott itself? That may sound like a silly question. It is not.


At the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the “Giant of History” as Barack Obama called him, Israel was not represented by any of its leaders.


The only dignitary who agreed to go was the speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, a nice person, an immigrant from the Soviet Union and a settler, who is so anonymous that most Israelis would not recognize him. (“His own father would have trouble recognizing him in the street,” somebody joked.)


Why? The President of the State, Shimon Peres, caught a malady that prevented him from going, but which did not prevent him from making a speech and receiving visitors on the same day. Well, there are all kinds of mysterious microbes.


The Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, had an even stranger reason. The journey, he claimed, was too expensive, what with all the accompanying security people and so on.


Not so long ago, Netanyahu caused a scandal when it transpired that for his journey to Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, a five hour flight, he had a special double bed installed in the El Al plane at great expense. He and his much maligned wife, Sara’le, did not want to provoke another scandal so soon. Who’s Mandela, after all?



ALTOGETHER IT was an undignified show of personal cowardice by both Peres and Netanyahu.


What were they afraid of?


Well, they could have been booed. Recently, many details of the Israeli-South African relationship have come to light. Apartheid South Africa, which was boycotted by the entire world, was the main customer of the Israeli military industry. It was a perfect match: Israel had a lot of weapon systems but no money to produce them, South Africa had lots of money but no one who would supply it with weapons.


So Israel sold Mandela’s jailers everything it could, from combat aircraft to military electronics, and shared with it its nuclear knowledge. Peres himself was deeply involved.


The relationship was not merely commercial. Israeli officers and officials met with their South African counterparts, visits were exchanged, personal friendship fostered. While Israel never endorsed apartheid, our government certainly did not reject it.


Still, our leaders should have been there, together with the leaders of the whole world. Mandela was the Great Forgiver, and he forgave Israel, too. When the master of ceremonies in the stadium mistakenly announced that Peres and Netanyahu had arrived, just a few boos were heard. Far less than the boos for the current South African president.


In Israel, only one voice was openly raised against Mandela. Shlomo Avineri, a respected professor and former Director General of the Foreign Office, criticized him for having a “blind spot” – for taking the Palestinian side against Israel. He also mentioned that another moral authority, Mahatma Gandhi, had the same “blind spot”.


Strange. Two moral giants and the same blind spot? How could that be, one wonders.



THE BOYCOTT movement against Israel is slowly gaining ground. It takes three main forms (and several in between).


The most focused form is the boycott of the products of the settlements, which was started by Gush Shalom 15 years ago. It is active now in many countries.


A more stringent form is the boycott of all institutes and corporations that are dealing with the settlements. This is now the official policy of the European Union. Just this week, Holland broke off relations with the monopolistic Israeli Water Corporation, Mekorot, which plays a part in the policy that deprives Palestinians of essential water supplies and transfers them to the settlements.


The third form is total: the boycott of everything and everyone Israeli (Including myself). This is also slowly advancing in many countries.


The Israeli government has now joined this form. By its voluntary no-representation or under-representation at the Mandela ceremony, it has declared that Israel is a pariah state. Strange.



LAST WEEK I wrote that if the Americans find a solution to Israel’s security concerns in the West Bank, other concerns would take their place. I did not expect that it would happen so quickly.


Binyamin Netanyahu declared this week that stationing Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley, as proposed by John Kerry, is not enough. Not by far.


Israel cannot give up the West Bank as long as Iran has nuclear capabilities, he declared. What’s the connection, one might well ask. Well, it’s obvious. A strong Iran will foster terrorism and threaten Israel in many other ways. So Israel must remain strong, and that includes holding on to the West Bank. Stands to reason.


So if Iran gives up all its nuclear capabilities, will that be enough? Not by a long shot. Iran must completely change its “genocidal” policies vis-à-vis Israel, it must stop all threats and utterances against us, it must adopt a friendly attitude towards us. However, Netanyahu did stop short of demanding that the Iranian leaders join the World Zionist Organization.


Before this happens, Israel cannot possibly make peace with the Palestinians. Sorry, Mister Kerry.



IN THE last article I also ridiculed the Allon Plan and other pretexts advanced by our rightists for holding on to the rich agricultural land of the Jordan Valley.


A friend of mine countered that indeed all the old reasons have become obsolete. The terrible danger of the combined might of Iraq, Syria and Jordan attacking us from the east does not exist anymore. But –


But the valley guardians are now advancing a new danger. If Israel gives back the West Bank without holding on to the Jordan Valley and the border crossings on the river, other terrible things will happen.


The day after the Palestinians take possession of the river crossing, missiles will be smuggled in. Missiles will rain down on Ben-Gurion international airport, the gateway to Israel, located just a few kilometers from the border. Tel Aviv, 25 km from the border, will be threatened, as will the Dimona nuclear installation.


Haven’t we seen this all before? When Israel voluntarily evacuated the whole Gaza Strip, didn’t the rockets start to rain down on the South of Israel?


We cannot possibly rely on the Palestinians. They hate us and will continue to fight us. If Mahmoud Abbas tries to stop it, he will be toppled. Hamas or worse, al-Qaeda, will come to power and unleash a terrorist campaign. Life in Israel will turn into hell.


Therefore it is evident that Israel must control the border between the Palestinian state and the Arab world, and especially the border crossings. As Netanyahu says over and over again, Israel cannot and will not entrust its security to others. Especially not to the Palestinians.



WELL, FIRST of all the Gaza Strip analogy does not hold. Ariel Sharon evacuated the Gaza settlements without any agreement or even consultation with the Palestinian Authority, which was still ruling the Strip at that time. Instead of an orderly transfer to the Palestinian security forces, he left behind a power vacuum which was later filled by Hamas.


Sharon also upheld the land and sea blockade that turned the Strip practically into a huge open-air prison.


In the West Bank there exists now a strong Palestinian government and robust security forces, trained by the Americans. A peace agreement will strengthen them immensely.


Abbas does not object to a foreign military presence throughout the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley. On the contrary, he asks for it. He has proposed an international force, under American command. He just objects to the presence of the Israeli army – a situation that would amount to another kind of occupation.



BUT THE main point is something else, something that goes right to the root of the conflict.


Netanyahu’s arguments presuppose that there will be no peace, not now, not ever. The putative peace agreement – which Israelis call the “permanent status agreement” – will just open another phase of the generations-old war.


This is the main obstacle. Israelis – almost all Israelis – cannot imagine a situation of peace. Neither they, nor their parents and grandparents, have ever experienced a day of peace in this country. Peace is something like the coming of the Messiah, something that has to be wished for, prayed for, but is never really expected to happen.


But peace does not mean, to paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, the continuation of war by other means. It does not mean a truce or even an armistice.


Peace means living side by side. Peace means reconciliation, a genuine willingness to understand the other side, the readiness to get over old grievances, the slow growth of a new relationship, economic, social, personal.


To endure, peace must satisfy all parties. It requires a situation which all sides can live with, because it fulfills their basic aspirations.


Is this possible? Knowing the other side as well as most, I answer with utmost assurance: Yes, indeed. But it is not an automatic process. One has to work for it, invest in it, wage peace as one wages war.


Nelson Mandela did. That’s why the entire world attended his funeral. That’s, perhaps, why our leaders chose to be absent.  


above posted by Gush Shalom under:

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    • Gush ad 13.12.13

      After much hesitation,
      Israel sent the
      Knesset Speaker
      To the funeral of
      Nelson Mandela.

      Speaker Edelstein
      Lives in a settlement
      In occupied territory,
      Traveling daily
      Over apartheid roads.


weekly column by 

  Uri Avnery 





Posted on on December 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


The four-hour service, coinciding with U.N. Human Rights Day, was the centerpiece of a week of mourning and was expected to bring much of South Africa to a stop.


It began with the national anthem before South Africa’s presidents — past and present — were introduced. There was a loud cheer from the crowd for F.W. de Klerk, the last leader of white South Africa, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for helping to end apartheid.


The joyous cries died down as speeches from Mandela’s family and friends, members of the African National Congress, as well as a fellow Robben Island prison inmate, began.


Anguished faces listened quietly as a sorrowful chant to “Tata Madiba” filled the air. “Tata” means “father” in Mandela’s Xhosa tribe.

The presidents of Brazil, the United States, Namibia, India, Cuba and South Africa were designated speakers – so was a Vice President of China.

READ: The official program

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was inaugurated as President of a democratic South Africa on 10 May 1994.

Obama, who like Mandela is his nation’s first black president, has cited Mandela as his own inspiration for entering politics.


“To the people of South Africa — people of every race and every walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us,” he said, calling him a “giant of history.”


To roaring applause, he said Mandela’s death should prompt self-reflection.

Mandela’s gift for uniting foes across political and racial divides was evident at the service.Obama called it Ubuntu – a Xosa word for stretching out.


Walking up the stairs onto the stage to deliver his speech, Obama shook hands with Raul Castro, an unprecedented gesture between the leaders of two nations that are at loggerheads for more than half a century. He also kissed Dilma Rousseff who as President of Brazil has reasons to complain for having been the target of US espionage.


Nelson Mandela memorial service: Transcript of President Barack Obama’s speech

President Obama addressed the crowd Tuesday at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg.


Obituary of
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
It is with deep sadness that the Government has learnt of the passing of the father of
South Africa’s democracy – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of
December 2013.
The man who was to become one of the world’s greatest icons was born in Mvezo, Transkei
on 18 July 1918, to Nongaphi Nosekeni and Henry Gadla Mandela. His father was
the key counsellor/advisor to the Thembu royal house. After his father’s death in 1927,
the young Rolihlahla became the ward of Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the acting re
gent of the Thembu nation. It was at the Thembu royal homestead that his personality,
values and political views were shaped. There can be no doubt that the young man went
on to bring about some of the most significant and remarkable changes in South African
history and politics.
It is through Mandela that the world cast its eyes on South Africa and took notice of the
severe and organized repression of black South Africans. Yet it was also through Mandela
that the world would learn the spirit of endurance, the triumph of forgiveness and
the beauty of reconciliation. Indeed, the story of Nelson Mandela is so much the story
of South Africa.
When he was only 25 years old, Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress.
His political career would span decades more – as he himself said: “The struggle
is my life.” The young Mandela also qualified and practiced as a lawyer. Together with
Oliver Tambo he opened the first black legal practice in Johannesburg.
Mandela married Evelyn Nomathamsanqa Mase in 1945. They were married for
fourteen years and had four children: Thembekile (1946), Makaziwe (1947), who died at
nine months, Makgatho (1951) and Makaziwe (1954). The couple divorced in 1958.
He was instrumental in the formation of the radical African National Congress Youth
League (ANCYL) in the 1940s which was determined to change the face of politics.
Mandela was elected the league’s National Secretary in 1948 and President in 1952.
Much of the years that followed saw Mandela deeply involved in activism, rallying for
political change against the increasingly aggressive apartheid government. He was a key
player in the ANC’s Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws in 1952 and the Treason
Trial in 1961. During this time he was incarcerated several times under the apartheid
laws and banned from political activity. Realising that the ANC needed to prepare for
more intensive struggle, he became an instrumental force behind the formation of a new
section of the liberation movement, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), as an armed nucleus with
a view to preparing for armed struggle. Mandela was commander in chief of MK.
On 14 June 1958 Nelson and Winnie Madikizela were married at a local Bizana church.
They had two children, Zenani (1958) Zindziswa (1960). In April 1992 they were separated
and finally divorced in 1996.
He left the country in 1962 and traveled abroad to arrange guerilla training for membersof Umkhonto weSizwe. On his return to South Africa he was arrested for illegal exiting
the country and incitement to strike. Mandela decided to represent himself in court.
While on trial, Mandela was charged with sabotage in the Rivonia Trial. This is his famous
statement from the dock made in 1964: “I have fought against White domination, and I
have fought against Black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free
society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an
ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am
prepared to die.”
In the same year Mandela and the other accused were sentenced to life imprisonment in
the Rivonia Trial and sent to Robben Island, near Cape Town. While in prison, Mandela
rejected offers made by his jailers to be released on condition that he renounced vilence.
“Prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Only free men can negotiate,” he said. He
served a total of 27 years in prison for his conviction to fight apartheid and its injustices.
Released on 11 February 1990, Mandela plunged wholeheartedly into his life’s work,
striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991,
at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after being banned for
decades, Nelson Mandela was elected President of the ANC while his lifelong friend and
colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organisation’s National Chairperson.
In a life that symbolises the triumph of the human spirit, Nelson Mandela accepted
the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize (along with FW de Klerk) on behalf of all South Africans who
suffered and sacrificed so much to bring peace to our land.
The era of apartheid formally came to an end on the April 27, 1994, when Nelson Mandela
voted for the first time in his life – along with his people. However, long before that date
it had become clear, even before the start of negotiations at the World Trade Centre in
Kempton Park, that the ANC was increasingly charting the future of South Africa.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was inaugurated as President of a democratic South Africa
on 10 May 1994.
This world icon worked tirelessly even after the achievement of democracy in South
Africa to continue improving lives. Even as he retired from politics, his attention shifted
to social issues such as HIV and AIDS and the wellbeing of the nation’s children. As a
testimony to his sharp political intellect, wisdom and unrelenting commitment to make
the world a better place, Mandela formed the prestigious group of called The Elders – an
independent group of eminent global leaders, who offer their collective influence and experience
to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and
promote the shared interests of humanity.
Mr Mandela is survived by his wife Graça, three daughters, 18 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.


Posted on on December 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Mandela was rooted in Africa’s love with the Land  – so no wonder he took to the cause of fighting climate change, water and air pollution, and the global effects of the  industrialization in the countries of the colonial powers.


Justice giant: Remembering Mandela and his fight for climate justice.


December 6, 2013 and posted by Grist Weekly – 18 Comments


nelson mandela

Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday, is best known for his fight against South African apartheid. But his long walk to freedom also included steps toward solving this mammoth problem called climate change. He envisioned a world where all people are able to live a fully dignified life, with clean air to breathe and clean water to drink — and where poor countries are not left with the repercussions of rich nation’s dirty ways.

Six years ago, Mandela founded The Elders, a cross-cultural group of leaders from across the globe, including former President Jimmy Carter and former United Nations Chief Kofi Annan, to forge human rights-based solutions to worldwide problems. One of the group’s top priorities is climate justice, which is not only about reducing greenhouse gas emisssions, but also about ensuring the protection of those people and regions most vulnerable to the worst of climate change’s impacts.

The morning of Mandela’s death, the first thing I read when I woke up was a New York Times op-ed from Bjorn Lomborg stating that what the world’s most vulnerable “really want” is something that would leave them even more insecure under a destabilized climate: cheap, dirty, coal-based energy. Lomborg cited South Africa — where Mandela lived, fought, was imprisoned, and bled for a better life for his people — as an example of a place where people want this dirty fuel.

Mandela never bought into that line of thinking. He was fully aware of how global warming had already been causing havoc on his continent, destroying through oppressive heat what Europeans hadn’t already decimated through the oppressive regimes of slavery, colonization, and apartheid.

While Mandela and countless other peers such as Kwame Nkrumuah and Steve Biko were able to help Africans overcome some of these regimes, the heat created from them still remains. The pillaging of Africa’s natural resources through mining (oil, coal, diamonds, etc.), deforestation, and other European industrialized forces led to the ramped up blasts of carbon dioxide and methane that trap heat in the atmosphere, reconfiguring ecosystems and destroying habitats all over the planet. If Europe’s quest to exploit and export Africa’s most valuable goods wasn’t enough, the continent must now suffer the import of the worst of climate change’s assaults to boot.

It’s for these reasons that Mandela aligned himself with other South African leaders who want to move beyond the oppressive extractive industries of the past and toward a cleaner, more sustainable economy, as I explained in my response to Lomborg yesterday.

In an op-ed last month, Kofi Annan wrote: “It is essential that governments start phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, which currently account for about $485 billion a year, and are far greater than the global investment in renewable energy. While cutting subsidies is an issue for developed and developing countries alike, it remains true that the Group of 20 countries accounted for 78 per cent of global carbon emissions from fuel combustion in 2010.”

An appreciation for the beauty and subsistence of nature is not something that occurred to Mandela in just the final years of his life. During his 27 years in jail, he fought to have a garden installed on the roof of his prison, where he and his fellow inmates could grow vegetables for their meals. “To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction,” he wrote in his autobiography. “The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a small taste of freedom.”

This thinking was consistent with the African freedom fighter Amilcar Cabral, whose liberation ideology was grounded in giving Africans agricultural and sustainable development skills, so that they could subsist from their own work.

Over the past decade, one of Mandela’s prime missions was giving Africans access to clean water. In his 2002 “No Water, No Future” speech to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, Mandela said, “That our government has made significant progress in bringing potable water nearer to so many more people than was previously the case, I rate amongst the most important achievements of democracy in our country.”

This spirit was championed by the Nobel prize-winning, Kenyan environmental leader Wangari Maathi, who had the opportunity to address Mandela on his birthday in 2005. In that speech, Maathi said:

During the last thirty years of working with the Green Belt Movement I saw the need to give our people values. The man whose birthday we celebrate today exemplifies these values. For example, the value of service for the common good. How shall we motivate our men and women in the region, willing to sacrifice and volunteer so that others may have it better? The values of commitment, persistence and patience, to stay with it until the goal is realized … The love for the land and desire to protect it from desertification and other destructive processes.

Maathi said that Mandela’s life was inspiration for her own work, as did fellow Kenyan (or American of Kenyan heritage) Barack Obama in his statement on Mandela’s death yesterday. Mandela’s influence continues to captivate many other climate justice, environmental justice, and social justice leaders across the globe. leader Bill McKibben cited the divesture campaigns against apartheid as the blueprint for his movement’s own strategy against the fossil fuel industry.

But it’s important that, in considering Mandela’s legacy with climate change, we remember the justice component. In The Elders’ strategic framework plan for 2014-2017, under the goal of eradicating poverty and increasing sustainable development, is a strategy for achieving climate justice. It reads:

“We will highlight the impact of climate change, and the degradation of natural resources, particularly on poor people, and emphasise the need for inter-generational justice — not expecting future generations to pay for present irresponsibility.”

For world leaders to disregard this would be a dishonor to what Mandela lived for, as would any call to increase fossil fuel use in South Africa or anywhere else in the world. Those who continue to fight for climate justice should feel proud that a giant like Mandela included it in his steps in that long walk toward freedom for all people.


Brentin Mock is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist who writes regularly for Grist about environmental justice issues and the connections between environmental policy, race, and politics. Follow him on Twitter at @brentinmock.


Posted on on December 9th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



Press release


Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and fellow Elders travel to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

A delegation of Elders including Kofi Annan, Martti Ahtisaari, Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson will travel to South Africa to attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday 10 December.


A delegation of The Elders is traveling to South Africa this week to honour the memory of their founder Nelson Mandela.


The delegation, led by former UN Secretary-General and Chair of The Elders Kofi Annan, also includes former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, veteran UN diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, former US President Jimmy Carter and former Irish President Mary Robinson.


As part of the official state funeral, they will attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday 10 December 2013, where they will join fellow Elders Graca Machel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.


The entrepreneur Richard Branson and the musician Peter Gabriel, who brought the idea of The Elders to Nelson Mandela, will travel to South Africa with the delegation.



Nelson Mandela and The Elders


Nelson Mandela founded The Elders in Johannesburg on his 89th birthday, 18 July 2007. With the help of Grac?a Machel and Desmond Tutu, he brought together ten ‘Elders’ – independent, progressive leaders committed to peace, justice and human rights – to work together on global problems including peace-building and reconciliation in war-affected regions, sustainable development and equality for girls and women.


The Elders are Martti Ahtisaari, Kofi Annan (Chair), Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Harlem Brundtland (Deputy Chair), Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Hina JilaniGraça MachelMary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo. Desmond Tutu is an Honorary Elder.


At the group’s launch in 2007, Nelson Mandela called on The Elders to act as “a fiercely independent and robust force for good, tackling complex and intractable issues – especially those that are not popular.” After founding The Elders, Nelson Mandela did not play an active role, but he remained an Honorary Elder and the inspiration for The Elders’ work. In May 2010, the Elders were reunited with Nelson Mandela during one of the group’s biannual meetings, in Johannesburg.


Since 2007, the Elders have worked on peace-building efforts in Co?te d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Israel and Palestine, the Korean Peninsula, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Sudan and South Sudan, and Zimbabwe. They have also worked to encourage inclusive and peaceful transitions in countries affected by change in the Middle East and North Africa. The Elders have always promoted sustainable development and equality for girls and women.
Media resources



Posted on on December 7th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (



Following after Nelson Mandela | 1918 – 2013


Generation Born After Apartheid Sees Mandela’s Fight as History.


Born Free: The future of South African politics may depend on the generation born after Mandela.



JOHANNESBURG — Sitting in her comfortable suburban living room 45 minutes east of Johannesburg, Nokuthula Magubane, 18, was doing something close to unthinkable to older generations of black South Africans: She was affectionately praising Afrikaans.

“Afrikaans is such a laid-back and beautiful language,” she said. “You can just sit back, relax, speak your Afrikaans and be happy.”

Mandatory instruction in Afrikaans during apartheid was one of the sparks that set off the Soweto student uprisings of 1976. Hundreds of young people, many younger than Ms. Magubane, were killed. Countless others chose to abandon education rather than receive instruction in what they considered the language of the oppressor. It was a seminal moment in the struggle against apartheid, and the day of the uprising, June 16, became national Youth Day in the new South Africa.

But to Ms. Magubane, “At the end of the day, Afrikaans is just a language.”

Such feelings are common among members of Ms. Magubane’s generation, known as the born frees because they were born after the end of apartheid, or just before it ended, and are too young to have many memories of it. And while they certainly know Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, it is almost impossible for them to grasp what it was like to see him emerge from prison in 1990 and become president in the nation’s first fully democratic elections four years later.

The born frees make up a huge segment of the population — about 40 percent, according to census figures — and their many critics among older South Africans contend that they are apathetic and apolitical, unaware of the history of the struggle that made their lives better.

But the born frees have another name as well — the Mandela generation — and they insist that their determination to look to the future and not the past is the greatest tribute they can pay him.

“Yes, we were oppressed by white people; yes, it happened; yes, it hurt,” Ms. Magubane said while Mr. Mandela was still clinging to life. “But let us forgive each other so that we can move on fully and contribute fully to the South Africa we want to see in the future.”

Akhumzi Jezile, a 24-year-old producer, television personality and speaker, says the born frees are portrayed as apathetic because they do not respond with the same emotion, or in the same numbers, as the Soweto generation does during Youth Day marches and similar remembrances.

“It’s not a matter of not understanding apartheid; it’s just a matter of us having different challenges,” he said. “I think the feeling that the born frees are ignorant comes from an older generation that sees a youth that doesn’t react the way they do. But that is normal. We didn’t live it, but we have a vibrancy. We are fighting our issues.”

He pointed to education campaigns led by young people to fight the scourges of substance abuse, crime and H.I.V. infection.

“The generation of 1976, or the generation before us, had different challenges,” he said. “We cannot talk about apartheid every day forever.”

Many, though certainly not all, of the born frees’ attitudes differ markedly from those of older South Africans because their experiences are so sharply different. Young people, for instance, are more likely to socialize with people of another race, according to the Reconciliation Barometer, a yearly gauge of public opinion.

“It seems young people may be developing deeper relationships across historic dividing lines, beyond just interaction,” the 2012 Reconciliation Barometer reported.

They are also less likely to have faith in political leaders, and less likely to blame apartheid for South Africa’s current economic and social inequality, according to the Reconciliation Barometer.

And despite the warning from Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of South Africa’s powerful confederation of trade unions, that South Africa’s young are a “ticking time bomb” because of the unemployment and poverty rates they face — twice as high as in the general population — born frees are overwhelmingly optimistic, the Barometer and other surveys have found.

Indeed, their generation in other countries — often known as millennials elsewhere — also tends toward optimism.

Even young people from impoverished townships display a heady enthusiasm, though for many life has changed little in material terms since the end of apartheid, and unemployment is worse.

“Now there are no boundaries,” said Miles Mabaane, 18, a resident of Vosloorus, southeast of Johannesburg. “We young people have the potential to come up with new strategies of how to save the country, how to do things better, how to accommodate everybody in this country.”

While older South Africans complain about born frees not acknowledging the past, some born frees complain about their parents’ trying to hold them “captive” to it.

“We are constantly reminded of what happened directly by those who were involved in the struggle — as a means of keeping us loyal, they brainwash us by continuously reinstilling fear about what the ‘white man’ has done, about how much pain was caused, how much suffering their generation suffered,” wrote AkoLee, a blogger who says she was 6 in 1994, when Mr. Mandela became president. “They say we are ungrateful for not thinking the same way they do, for questioning what the ‘black man’ is doing.”

One popular hip-hop artist in South Africa who goes by the name HHP — pronounced “double H P” — seemed to sum up the experiential disconnect between the generations in a song called “Harambe,” which also shows a clear appreciation for the sacrifices of the previous generations.

“I’m not the political type,” the song says. “Not the type to fake an image for the sake of this whole consciousness type. Never been called a Kaffir before. Can’t imagine seeing 10 cops and dogs charging through my front door. Can’t say what tear gas smelled like. Can’t even imagine what a rubber bullet on your back felt like.

“But it’s because of you that I don’t speak Afrikaans today. I have chance today.” The song continues, “Because of you the black youth of today is emancipated.”

Researchers warn that the born frees’ hopefulness could sour once their expectations of a better life are not met.

“Without more effective and sustained job creation, and soon, a mismatch between these expectations and the capacity of the economy to absorb young people is inevitable, and will have consequences,” the Reconciliation Barometer said.

Many measures of inequality are just as a bad, or worse, for the born frees than for previous generations. “Many born frees face the same, if not greater, levels of unemployment, poverty, inequality and hopelessness as their parents,” wrote Robert Mattes, director of the Democracy in Africa Research Unit at the University of Cape Town’s Center for Social Science Research. Polls show they just do not know it.

The born frees, both in the townships and in more affluent suburbs, say political leadership has failed them. Opposition parties have tried to tap into a growing disillusionment with the governing African National Congress, so far with limited success.

“The A.N.C. doesn’t really hold the appeal it had for our parents, but neither do the opposition parties,” said Lerato Moloi, acting head of research at the South African Institute of Race Relations.

Most black South Africans 20 years ago would not have recognized the life that Ms. Magubane leads. A third of her friends are white. She has known many of them since she started school. She calls her white choir leader “Tanni Christine,” or “Auntie Christine” in Afrikaans.

As for Mr. Mandela, she said: “We have seen his example, and now we’re going to follow it. We’re going to take it one step further into the future, and we’re going to build the South Africa that he would have loved to see.”



“Yes, we were oppressed by white people; yes, it happened; yes, it hurt. But let us forgive each other so that we can move on fully and contribute fully to the South Africa we want to see in the future.”

NOKUTHULA MAGUBANE, 18, of South Africa.



Disappointment in Successors to Nelson Mandela, a Revered Father of a Nation.


Per-Anders Pettersson for The New York Times

A family outside its home in Mvezo, South Africa, where Mandla Mandela, the eldest grandson of Nelson Mandela, is chief.

MVEZO, South Africa — Adam Bhasikile’s day begins at dawn, always in the same way. Flanked by donkeys, she walks to the valley floor, collecting water for the family to cook, clean and bathe from the Mbashe River, which snakes around this hilltop village like a winding moat. It is an unending ritual that Nelson Mandela’s mother, who gave birth to the future president here in 1918, almost certainly performed as well.

More recently, Mrs. Bhasikile passes something else on her walk: a sprawling complex with gleaming porcelain toilets, showers and faucets that gush water with a flick of the wrist. The complex includes a cavernous meeting hall, a tribal courtroom and a private residence for the village chief. And not just any chief — the man in charge here is Mandla Mandela, favored grandson of Mr. Mandela.

But the truck that fills the water tanks at the Great Place, as the hulking set of buildings is known, does not stop at Mrs. Bhasikile’s house.

“That water is not for us; it is for them,” she said with a disapproving grunt as she walked up the craggy hillside, 40 liters of water astride each of her three donkeys. As for Chief Mandla, Mrs. Bhasikile is unimpressed despite his pedigree. “He is not like his grandfather,” she said.

The disgruntlement among Chief Mandla’s subjects mirrors the disappointment many South Africans feel about the generations that have succeeded the heroes of this nation’s liberation struggle. Mr. Mandela’s death on Thursday in many ways is the end of the line for the cohort of leaders who carried the battle against apartheid from a lonely and seemingly hopeless struggle to an inevitable moral and political victory cheered by much of the world. Other lions of the struggle, like Oliver Tambo, Walter and Albertina Sisulu and Joe Slovo, have been dead for years.

Perhaps inevitably, the following generations of leaders have struggled to live up to their legacy. Mr. Mandela’s successor as president, Thabo Mbeki, was roundly criticized for his resistance to broadly accepted methods of treating and preventing AIDS, a stance that added to the nation’s death toll from the disease, researchers concluded. South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma, has been under a cloud for years, investigated in corruption and rape cases.

Younger leaders like the firebrand Julius Malema have attracted a following among disgruntled, jobless youth, but his radical views and harsh criticism of older leaders got him expelled from Mr. Mandela’s party, the African National Congress. And the children of some families deeply involved in the struggle against apartheid — the Mandelas, the Tambos and others — have largely shied away from politics.

“In all of the great liberation movements there is the problem of producing great leaders to take over,” said William Gumede, an analyst who has written extensively about Mr. Mandela. “But in this case, there has really been a failure to pass the torch.”

Mr. Mandela is often called the father of the new South Africa, and he leaves behind an impressive legacy, even if the future of his metaphoric child, the Rainbow Nation, remains uncertain. But the story of his flesh-and-blood family has been marked by missteps, tragedy and neglect — a legacy of Mr. Mandela’s admitted failings as a husband and father amid the battle against apartheid and his decades of imprisonment.

His former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, is a polarizing figure, as underscored when the bodies of two young men last seen severely beaten at her house 25 years ago were unearthed in Soweto this year. Their deaths were connected to the Mandela United Football Club, a thuggish group that she used as her security team. She would eventually be sentenced to prison twice, though she never actually served a term because one sentence was reduced to a fine and another was suspended.

Mr. Mandela’s daughters with Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela have also suffered in the harsh glare of the spotlight. One daughter, Zindzi Mandela, has long been a fixture in the tabloid press, the subject of stories about her penchant for lavish birthday parties and her extensive personal debts.

One of Mr. Mandela’s sons-in-law, Isaac Amuah, was charged with rape in 2010. One of his grandsons, Zondwa Mandela, has been implicated along with a nephew of the current president, Mr. Zuma, in a deal that stripped the assets of a gold mine while leaving its 3,000 workers unpaid.

Mandla Mandela, the eldest grandson, was at the center of a public battle with the more than a dozen family members in recent months over where three of Nelson Mandela’s children, and eventually the leader himself, would be buried, leading to court-ordered exhumations.

And a separate squabble over a trust fund that Mr. Mandela set up for his descendants has led to a tense fight between two of his daughters and one of his oldest friends, resulting in a bitter exchange of affidavits in which the Mandela sisters are portrayed as impatient to get their hands on the money set aside for future generations.

Makaziwe Mandela, Mr. Mandela’s eldest daughter and one of the relatives in the legal fight, told The Daily Mail in October 2010 that “I have none of the simple memories other children have with their fathers, the day we went swimming together, or for a picnic or camping. No, no, no, nothing.” She continued: “I’ll be sad when he’s gone, but he hasn’t been a constant presence in my life.”

Two of Mr. Mandela’s granddaughters are appearing in a reality television show chronicling their lives as young professionals and inheritors of the Mandela legacy. The show was widely mocked when it aired in South Africa.

Mr. Mandela was aware of his failings as a husband and father. “I led a thoroughly immoral life,” he writes in his autobiography, without fully explaining.

“To be the father of a nation is a great honor, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy,” Mr. Mandela wrote. “But it was a joy I had far too little of.”

His children have often been at odds. When his son Makgatho died of AIDS in 2005, relations were so strained that some of his siblings were not allowed to sit with the body during the traditional mourning period, according to the book “Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years,” by David James Smith.

Unlike the descendants of Walter and Albertina Sisulu, another prominent family, Mr. Mandela’s descendants have largely shied away from public service, mostly avoiding politics. One daughter from his marriage to Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela, Zenani, serves as ambassador to Argentina. And his grandson Mandla has reclaimed the Mandelas’ place in the ruling family of the Thembu clan of the Xhosa people, to which Mr. Mandela belonged.

Mandla Mandela’s rise was a great source of pride for Mr. Mandela, who wrote of the pain of his father losing his chiefdom after a dispute with colonial authorities.

But Chief Mandla has been surrounded by controversy. He decided to destroy the ruins of the hut in which Mr. Mandela was born and replace them with a replica, angering preservationists and officials at the Nelson Mandela Museum. His messy divorce fight with his wife, Tando, tarnished his image when she testified in court that he had abused her and cheated on her.

Chief Mandla’s second wife — South African traditional law allows polygamy — gave birth in 2011 to a son, who was presented to Mr. Mandela as a great-grandson. But in 2012 Chief Mandla denied that the boy was his, accusing one of his brothers of fathering him. Meanwhile, he had taken a third wife, in defiance of a court order issued in connection with his divorce from his first wife. In the deeply traditional society here, his behavior has not sat well with residents.

Chief Mandla also quietly had the bodies of his grandfather’s three children disinterred from a family graveyard in Qunu, where the elder Mr. Mandela grew up, and reburied them here in Mvezo. This was widely perceived as an attempt to ensure that his grandfather would also be buried in Mvezo, despite his expressed wish to be buried in Qunu. A judge ordered that the bodies be taken back to Qunu for reburial.

Mvezo sits in the poorest of South Africa’s provinces, the Eastern Cape, almost entirely a so-called Bantustan during apartheid. These quasi-independent regions were homelands for blacks, who had no citizenship in the South Africa ruled by whites.

These areas were badly neglected, a legacy that remains throughout the Eastern Cape — in its dilapidated schools and hospitals, its crumbling roads, its isolated villages.

In his autobiography, Mr. Mandela described the leadership style he had learned from the king of the AbaThembu. “I always remember the regent’s axiom: A leader, he said, is like a shepherd,” Mr. Mandela wrote. “He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

But few here see the younger Mr. Mandela as following in his grandfather’s footsteps. “I must tell the truth, Madiba brought people together,” said Noluzile Gamakhulu, a resident, referring to Mr. Mandela by his clan name. “Mandla is very far from the old man’s way of doing things.”

Of course, few people could measure up to the elder Mr. Mandela — a Nobel laureate and beloved figure. But the disappointment echoes a broader disenchantment with the inheritors of the liberation struggle. Victoria Msiwa, 84, whose grandfather was Mr. Mandela’s teacher, said that the younger generation had spoiled the country, leaving her oddly nostalgic for the quiet certainties of the apartheid era.

“When I compare what we grew under to what is today,” she said, her voice trailing off. “I don’t make out a difference. People say we are free, but we cannot walk around at night.”

Her tractor was stolen by thieves two years ago.

“Look at this, we have burglar bars, here in this rural area,” she said. “The analysts can say if this is better. I am old. I am tired.”



Mandela’s African National Congress was once deemed a terrorist organization by both his home country, South Africa, and by the United States. And America’s view of Mandela and of South Africa’s system of apartheid cannot be whitewashed, even as we now venerate Mandela in death. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher plainly bad-mouthed Mandela to her permanent discredit.

As Noam Chomsky wrote in his 2010 book “Hopes and Prospects”:

“Through the 1980s, U.S. trade with South Africa increased despite the 1985 congressional sanctions (which Reagan evaded), and Reagan continued to back South African depredations in neighboring countries that led to an estimated 1.5 million deaths. As late as 1988 the administration condemned Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress as one of the world’s ‘more notorious terrorist groups.’”

{It was only recently that US Congress removed the last traces of its anti-ANC and anti-Mandela decisions. Now three or four US Presidents will go to South Africa to celebrate Mandela’s life.}

Be brave. Courage is not required to execute that which is easy or convenient.

As the Texas progressive author and agitator Jim Hightower once put it, “Even a dead fish can go with the flow.”

Courage is drawing up your shoulder and pushing into the resistance. Courage is doing what is unpopular or dangerous or discomforting because, even if you must do it alone, it is the right thing to do.

As Mandela put it: “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” We all feel fear. In fact,  fear the person who claims that he or she does not. But fear withers under the heat of righteousness. It cannot spread when it is cornered by those of noble conviction.

Remember that no one can divest you of your basic humanity without your submission and allowance. Discrimination and injustice are insidious, virulent scourges that the world is working hard to remedy, but they remain stubbornly resistant to complete eradication. Even as we labor to be rid of them, let us all retain our resolve and rise up in our dignity.


Posted on on December 5th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Nelson Mandela, died today at age 95. (photo: Joe Alexander/AFP/Getty Images)
Nelson Mandela, died today at age 95. (photo: Joe Alexander/AFP/Getty Images)

Thank you for your life, my friend – by Walter Sisulu
Mandela’s friend and fellow freedom fighter wrote this  towards the end of his own life.
He did not live to see it published but it remains a worthy tribute and a revealing portrait.
Some call it a true obituary.

Thabo Mbeki’s praise poem
From “A Farewell to Madiba”, a praise poem by Thabo Mbeki (president of South Africa from 1999 to 2008),
delivered by him to the National Assembly, Cape Town, on 26 March 1999


Our original posting of December 1, 2013 was:

This Thanksgiving and Chanukah  weekend – the first time in history a Thanukah Day – we went to see the just released new movie “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”

The Thanksgiving part dealt with memory of thanks for affluence to which were invited also the surviving colored neighbors that had not been exterminated, killed, deported or just chased away. The Chanukah part reminds us of cleaning house from those that chased us away from our own homes, and the fact that we managed to do nevertheless well with what we found. How nice if history could have been different and the new start was with a Mandela vision?

The unforgetable about Mandela the image, is his coming out of prison with a message of reconciliation rather than the obvious  triumph of a universal force of gale size. In the movie this is refined in essence by his jailer bending to tie his shoelaces when  onto what was already accepted as his victory visit with de Klerk. With his halting voice and friendly demeanor, Mandela had s spine of steel and ould not allow anyone to temper with his vision.

The 2.5 hours Mandela movie is based on excerpts from Mr. Mandela’s autobiography that tells the complicated story of his life, from a childhood in a tiny rural village to his slow immersion in the struggle against apartheid, his leadership of the African National Congress, his 27 years in prison, and his eventual resurrection and triumph.  My wife read the book but I had the honor to meet the man. That was when he was already the new President following his old scheme – building the new Nation of South Africa.

I was lucky to go on a trip organized by a South African finance and law company that intended to show the business World at large that there is continuity in South Africa and that its new economy can be trusted. Nelson Mandela stood there and received the visitors in a huge tent that was set up on the grounds of a hotel outside Johannesburg – squinting in the light – and we were told not to take photos with flash as his eyes were hurt by the dust of the quarry he was working and breaking up the carbonate stone.  Mr. F. W. de Klerk, the outgoing President, was also there and showed unity.

A few days later it was Walter Sisulu, one of those that went to prison with Mr. Mandela, and Govan Mbeki (father of the Second South Africa President after Mr. Mandela) he took us through Robben Island outside Cape-Town. I also was at the opening of the Parliament and sitting in the balcony saw Winnie Mandela downstairs in the pit as she was elected to that first Parliament – all eyes on her. Later we had also separate meetings with the two Mbekis and with Cyril Ramaposa who was another candidate for the eventual succession.

Seeing  now this excellent movie that manages to chose from the book episodes that when strung in a narrative  manage to show the evolution of the super-man Mandela without blushing that he was mere blood and flesh – a normal human with feelings. But let me say that I write this posting not because I want to say that God was presented as man – not at all. To me Mandela signifies something really above mere mortals.

I do not see just the Long Walk to Freedom in the evolution of one man – not even of a group of suppressed people – but rather a Promethean Figure that set out to help all men – it is the Long Walk To Freedom of Africa and of all those other places where man bites man.

The highlight of the movie is when Mandela tells de Klerk that he gets him nothing in exchange for being set free – the reward for de Klerk is in the actual act of letting him just walk out – this because he is not out for revenge but rather for the continuation of the process of building towards the humanism in the color blind equality and democracy of one man one vote.

Mandela and de Klerk got together the recognition of the Nobel Prize for having jointly ended apartheid – this by Mandela taking on the extremists that were out to get revenge for those terrible indignities of the past. What was more important to him was to have a New South Africa that starts from ground-rules of rejection of any kind of racism, and of feelings of revenge as well.

Our view is that the world needs more Mandelas – some of them sprinkled on the Middle East, on the UN, over East Europe – and some kept in reserve as potential Gurus for enlightenment for locations that need them.



Walking tonight on East 38 Street in Manhattan, I saw on the sidewalk, in front of a building that houses some New York University offices, jars holding flowers  stationed on top on notes saying this was the greatest man of our generation … A 31 year young Afghan-American who saw my surprise told me – yes – he passed away about 5 pm our time.

By now every important person in the world got to make a statement about the passing away of the Madiba.

Let us just add here a few informative lines from



“We have many articles, slideshows, and other content to share with those of you who wish to remember Madiba, as he was known in South Africa. Among other articles, I would like to share with you the article I wrote during Obama’s visit to South Africa a few months ago. It speaks to the bond between Mandela and Obama: both men ascended to lead two nations which held little prospect for a black leader when they set their eyes on the top seat.  Also, our official obituary


 We hope that you find your way to honor this great leader who has become an icon revered not only by Africans, but by people of all backgrounds throughout the world. Sincerely, Teresa Clarke, Chairman and Executive Director
President Obama said: “We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” the President said. “So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set:  to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.” “Mr Mandela gave me a sense of what a human being can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears.” “I cannot imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set. As long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.”

Conducting his own defence in the Rivonia Trial in 1964, he said: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.” “It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

And lately he said: “Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace” – Nelson Mandela


Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 5, 2013

Death of Nelson Mandela

Madiba’s ‘long walk to freedom’ gave new meaning to courage, character, forgiveness, and human dignity. Now that his long walk has ended, the example he set for all humanity lives on. He will be remembered as a pioneer for peace.

There are some truly brave people in this world whom you meet and you’re forever changed for the experience. Nelson Mandela remains Teresa’s hero, and a person who inspired her as a young woman to march with her classmates against apartheid. We had the honor of sitting with Mandela over the Thanksgiving holidays of 2007. I was struck by how warm, open, and serene he was. I stood in his tiny cell on Robben Island, a room with barely enough space to lie down or stand up, and I learned that the glare of the white rock quarry permanently damaged his eyesight. It hit home even more just how remarkable it was that after spending 27 years locked away, after having his own vision impaired by the conditions, that this man could still see the best interests of his country and even embrace the very guards who kept him prisoner. That is the story of a man whose ability to see resided not in his eyes but in his conscience. It is hard to imagine any of us could summon such strength of character.

Nelson Mandela was a stranger to hate. He rejected recrimination in favor of reconciliation and knew the future demands we move beyond the past. He gave everything he had to heal his country and lead it back into the community of nations, including insisting on relinquishing his office and ensuring there would be a peaceful transfer of power. Today, people all around the world who yearn for democracy look to Mandela’s nation and its democratic Constitution as a hopeful example of what is possible.

Teresa and I join those from around the world in honoring the life of this great man. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Graça, his family, all the people of South Africa and everyone who today enjoys the freedom Madiba fought for his entire life.





Nelson Mandela, World Icon, Dies at 95

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela has died. Surrounded by close family members, the 95-year old succumbed to a recurring lung infection at home in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The former South African president had been receiving treatment for the infection at his home after spending close to three months in a Pretoria hospital earlier this year. His battle with the infection was said to be a result of the tuberculosis he contracted in the 1980s while working in the prison quarry on Robben Island.

Named by his father, Rolihlahla was born in Mvezo, a small village in the eastern part of South Africa, on July 18, 1918 – a day now commemorated annually as International Mandela Day. Rolihlahla literally means pulling the branch of a tree, and informally, it means troublemaker.

It was only on his first day at school that he was called Nelson – the name was given to him by his teacher as it was common practice to give African children English names. He was later referred to by at least 4 other names – including the more popular ones: Madiba (traditional clan name) and Tata (a term of endearment meaning “father”). There was also Khulu (meaning “great” and “grand”) and Dalibhunga (the name given after undergoing the traditional Xhosa initiation. It means “founder of the council”).

In the early 1940s, having just enrolled for his LLB at Wits University in Johannesburg, Mandela became one of the founding leaders of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). It was during that time that he married his first wife, Everlyn Ntoko Mase, with whom he had four children.

Mandela kept busy over the next decade and right through the fifties. He he was elected president of the ANCYL in 1951, the same year the Defiance Campaign against unjust apartheid laws was presented. It was officially launched the following year, and resulted in more than 8,000 activists, including Nelson Mandela, being arrested for refusing to obey apartheid laws. A year later he and Oliver Tambo opened the country’s first black law firm, ‘Mandela and Tambo’s Attorneys’, in Chancellor House, Johannesburg, where they provide low-cost and sometimes free legal services to black South Africans. In 1956 he was among the 156 people arrested on charges of treason – Tambo left the country and remained in exile.

In 1958 Mandela divorced Mase and married Winne Madikizela Mandela, with whom he had two daughters – Zenani and Zindzi. A tipping point came in March 1960, when thousands marched to a police station in Sharpeville to demonstrate against having to carry pass (identification) books at all times. By the end of the day 69 were killed by police. Soon after, the ANC was banned but continued its work underground, and the country was in a State of Emergency. The period saw a change in usually peace-loving leader. The following year he co-founded the armed branch of the African National Congress (ANC) called Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) along with Oliver Tambo and other anti-apartheid fighters. He spent months on the run, and left the country soon after to undergo military training in Algeria. Shortly after his return he was arrested and charged with incitement and leaving the country illegally. He was also charged with sabotage along with 9 others in what would later lead to the infamous Rivonia Trial in 1963. He would ultimately be sentenced to life imprisonment.

In the 1980s, a worldwide campaign gained strength, urging South Africa’s National Party to release Mandela, but under the restrictions of then-president P.W. Botha—that included Mandela renouncing violence as a means of protest and change—the ANC would not agree to these terms and Mandela was refused release. When F.W. de Klerk became South Africa’s president in 1989, he announced Mandela’s unconditional release. Mandela finally left prison on 11 February 1990. After nearly three decades behind bars, Mandela took over as  president of the ANC in 1991, leading the party – and country – through a tumultuous time of transition from apartheid into democracy.

As the elected leader of the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela ran for president in South Africa’s 1994 elections, winning the ballot to become the country’s first black and democratically elected president. He led the country for five years, working to make broad moves to unite the country’s fractured black and white populations. He stepped down in 1999, refusing to run for a second term.

The Nobel Prize winner is survived by his wife, Graça Machel who he married on his 80th birthday in 1998,  Makaziwe Mandela (his daughter from his first marriage to Evelyn Ntoko Mase), Zenani and Zindziswa Mandela (his daughters from his second marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela), 17 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

  • Nelson Mandela fought against social injustice and inspired many others to do so as well (Photo: symphony of love)




Posted on on October 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

first posted October 25, 2013 – then Updated Retroactively.


  • Uri Avnery
Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. A member of the Irgun as a teenager.
Avnery sat in the Knesset from 1965–74 and 1979–81.
Actual date of the birth of Uri Avnery – September 10, 1923 (age 90 years)

Invitation:   Uri Avnery’s 90th birthday.
Monday Oct. 28, Tzavta, Ibn Gvirol 30, Tel Aviv,

starting at 6pm with informal reception


The newest article by Uri Avnery


October 26, 2013



                                                Taking Apartheid Apart

IS ISRAEL an apartheid state? This question is not going away. It raises its head every few months.


The term “apartheid” is often used purely for propaganda purposes. Apartheid, like racism and fascism, is a rhetorical term one uses to denigrate one’s opponent.


But apartheid is also a term with a precise content. It applies to a specific regime. Equating another regime to it may be accurate, partly correct or just wrong. So, necessarily, will be the conclusions drawn from the comparison.


RECENTLY I had the opportunity to discuss this subject with an expert, who had lived in South Africa throughout the apartheid era. I learned a lot from this.


Is Israel an apartheid state? Well, first one must settle the question: which Israel? Israel proper, within the Green Line, or the Israeli occupation regime in the occupied Palestinian territories, or both together?


Let’s come back to that later.



THE DIFFERENCES between the two cases are obvious.


First, the SA regime was based, as with their Nazi mentors, on the theory of racial superiority. Racism was its official creed. The Zionist ideology of Israel is not racist, in this sense, but rather based on a mixture of nationalism and religion, though the early Zionists were mostly atheists.


The founders of Zionism always rejected accusations of racism as absurd. It’s the anti-Semites who are racist. Zionists were liberal, socialist, progressive. (As far as I know, only one Zionist leader had openly endorsed racism: Arthur Ruppin, the German Jew who was the father of the Zionist settlements in the early 20th century.)


Then there are the numbers. In SA there was a huge black majority. Whites were about a fifth of the population.


In Israel proper, the Arab citizens constitute a minority of about 20%. In the total territory under Israeli rule between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the numbers of Jews and Arabs are roughly equal. The Arabs may by now constitute a small majority – precise numbers are hard to come by. This Arab majority is bound to grow slowly larger as time passes.


Furthermore, the white economy in SA was totally dependent on black labor. At the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip in 1967, the Zionist insistence on “Jewish Labor” came to an end and cheap Arab labor from the “territories” flooded Israel. However, with the beginning of the first intifada this development was stopped with surprising speed. Large numbers of foreign workers were imported: Eastern Europeans and Chinese for the building trade, Thais for agriculture, Philippinos for personal care, etc.


It is now one of the main jobs of the Israeli army to prevent Palestinians from illegally crossing the de facto border” into Israel to seek work.


This is a fundamental difference between the two cases, one that has a profound impact on the possible solutions.


Sadly, in the West Bank, the Palestinians are widely employed in the building of the settlements and work in the enterprises there, which my friends and I have called to boycott. The economic misery of the population drives them to this perverse situation.


In Israel proper, Arab citizens complain about discrimination, which limits their employment in Jewish enterprises and government offices. The authorities regularly promise to do something about this kind of discrimination.


On the whole, the situation of the Arab minority inside Israel proper is much like that of many national minorities in Europe and elsewhere. They enjoy equality under the law, vote for parliament, are represented by very lively parties of their own, but in practice suffer discrimination in many areas. To call this apartheid would be grossly misleading.



I ALWAYS thought that one of the major differences was that the Israeli regime in the occupied territories expropriates Palestinian lands for Jewish settlements. This includes private property and so-called “government lands”.


In Ottoman times, the land reserves of the towns and villages were registered in the name of the Sultan. Under the British, these lands became government property, and they remained so under the Jordanian regime. When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, these lands were taken over by the occupation regime and turned over to the settlers, depriving the Palestinian towns and villages of the land reserves they need for natural increase.


By the way, after the 1948 war, huge stretches of Arab land in Israel were expropriated and a wide array of laws enacted for this purpose – not only the “absentee” property of the refugees, but also lands of Arabs who were declared “present absentees”’ – an absurd term meaning people who had not left Israel during the war but had left their villages. And the “government lands” in the part of Palestine that had become Israel also served to settle the masses of new Jewish immigrants who streamed into the country.


I always thought that in this respect we were worse than SA. Not so, said my friend, the apartheid government did exactly the same, deporting Blacks to certain areas and grabbing their land for Whites Only.



I ALWAYS thought that in SA all the Whites were engaged in the fight against all the Blacks. However, it appears that both sides were profoundly divided.


On the white side, there were the Afrikaners, the descendents of Dutch settlers, speaking a Dutch dialect called Afrikaans, and the British who spoke English. These were two communities of roughly equal size who disliked each other intensely. The British despised the unsophisticated Afrikaners, the Afrikaners hated the effete British. Indeed, the apartheid party called itself “nationalist” mainly because it considered itself a nation born in the country, while the British were attached to their homeland. (I am told that the Afrikaners called the British “salty penis”, because they stood with one foot in SA and with the other in Britain, so that their sexual organ dipped into the ocean.)


 The black population was also divided into many communities and tribes who did not like each other, making it difficult for them to unite for the liberation struggle.



THE SITUATION in the West Bank is in many ways similar to the apartheid regime.


Since Oslo, the West Bank is divided into areas A, B and C, in which Israeli rule is exercised in different ways. In SA, there were many different Bantustans (“homelands”) with different regimes. Some were officially fully autonomous, others were partly so. All were enclaves surrounded by white territories.


In certain respects, the situation in SA was at least officially better than in the West Bank. Under SA law, the Blacks were at least officially “separate but equal”. The general law applied to all. This is not the case in our occupied territories, where the local population is subject to military law, which is quite arbitrary, while their settler neighbors are subject to Israeli civil law.



ONE CONTENTIOUS question: how far – if at all – did the international boycott contribute to the downfall of the apartheid regime?


When I asked Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he answered that the effect was mainly moral. It raised the morale of the black community. My new friend said the same – but applied it to the Whites. Their morale was undermined.


How much did this contribute to the victory? My friend estimated: about 30%.


The economic effect was minor. The psychological effect was far more important. The Whites considered themselves the vanguard of the West in the fight against communism. The ungratefulness of the West stunned them. (They would have wholeheartedly subscribed to the promise of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, that the future Jewish state would be the vanguard of Europe and a wall against Asiatic – viz. Arab – barbarism.)


It was no accident that apartheid broke down a few years after the collapse of the Soviet empire. The US lost interest. Can this happen in our relations with the US, too?


(By the way, young South African blacks who were sent by the African National Congress to the Soviet Union to study were shocked by the racism they met there. “They are worse than our Whites,” they commented.)



THE AREA where the boycott hit the apartheid people the most was sports. Cricket is a national obsession in SA. When they could no longer take part in international competitions, they felt the blow. Their self-confidence was broken.


Their international isolation forced them to think more deeply about the morality of apartheid. There was more and more self-questioning. In the final elections after the agreement, many Whites, including many Afrikaners, voted for the end of apartheid.


Will a boycott of Israel have the same effect? I doubt it. Jews are used to being isolated. “The whole world against us” is, for them, a natural situation. Indeed, I sometimes have the feeling that many Jews feel uncomfortable when the situation is different.


One huge difference between the two cases is that all South Africans – black, white, “coloured” or Indian – wanted one state. There were no takers for partition. (David Ben-Gurion, a great advocate of Palestine-style partition, once proposed concentrating all the Whites in SA in the Cape region and establishing there an Israel-style white state. No one was interested. A similar proposal by Ben-Gurion for Algeria met the same fate.)


In our case, a large majority on each side wants to live in a state of their own. The idea of a unified country, in which Hebrew-speaking Jewish Israelis and Arabic-speaking Palestinians will live side-by-side as equals, serving in the same army and paying the same taxes does not appeal to them at all.



APARTHEID WAS brought down by the Blacks themselves. No crypto-colonialist condescension can obscure this fact.


 The mass strikes of African workers, on whom the white economy depended, made the position of the ruling Whites impossible. The mass uprising of the Blacks, who displayed immense physical courage, was decisive. In the end, the Blacks liberated themselves.


And another difference: in SA there was a Nelson Mandela and a Frederik de Klerk.



Happy birthday Uri Avnery

Published on 10 September 2013 Written by Michel (Mikado) Warschawski,
Alternative Information Center (AIC)

Uri Avnery meeting Yasser Arafat during Israel's 1982 siege in Beirut/Photo: Gush ShalomUri Avnery meeting Yasser Arafat during Israel’s 1982 siege in Beirut/Photo: Gush Shalom

No doubt – Uri Avnery is the tribal elder of Israeli protest against Israel’s occupation and its numerous horrors. A small tribe, which perhaps would not exist without his dogged devotion. Today Uri celebrates his 90th birthday and, like truly good wine, he only improves with age.

In addition to his work as a journalist, or more precisely as the creator of the Hebrew press (and who trained the best Hebrew-language journalists) at a time when all other publications were nothing but rubbish propaganda serving the national consensus, Uri was for numerous years THE opposition par excellence. “One versus 120” some wrote of his parliamentary actions as a Knesset member, and this definition applies also to his extra-parliamentary actions in which he was often alone (with the exception of the communist party and Matzpen).


We had numerous disagreements, albeit since Oslo they have greatly diminished, but without  a doubt I owe him much for what I know and particularly about the “system” and its functioning. Uri’s birthday falls on the 20th anniversary of the Oslo accords: Uri unreservedly supported the agreement, while I did not. Yet we immediately found ourselves demonstrating side by side, and in breathtaking isolation, against the Rabin government and its manoeuvres, and we established Gush Shalom to fill the gap left by Peace Now following its blind support of the Rabin government. I cannot count the demonstrations, small and big, during which we marched side by side, including on rocky land near the Separation Wall while Uri, already 80++ years old, angrily rejected my outstretched hand…


Indeed, some of my most pleasant memories are related to shared trips abroad, from Passo del Tonale to Brussels, from Paris and Lille: they provided opportunities to exchange ideas about literature and music, really about every topic in the world including gastronomy because, to the sorrow of his deceased wife Rachel, Uri loves to eat and primarily that which his health does not permit I particularly recall a meal organised in our honour by Layla Benzeid, a French activist from Lille, which resulted in a sharp exchange between Uri and Rachel about Uri’s complete disregard of his health.

I know that my friendship with Rachel made him happy, including even the small jokes about him and his occasionally annoying habits. I greatly feared that Rachel’s death would harm his creativity, but it didn’t: every day Uri works hard on writing his memoirs and I have no doubt the book will create a great stir.

It is a reflex action to greet someone’s birthday by saying in Hebrew ‘until 120’, but concerning Uri Avnery I mean this in the most straightforward way possible: this is in total another 30 years, a simple task for a yekke like him


Please join us at the AICafe on Tuesday 29 October 2013 from 7.00 p.m. for Freedom Movements: Capoeira and Yoga in Palestine.   Palestine is playing host to two political tours this autumn that focus on the relationship between…


Posted on on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

From Irith Jawetz, The UN Compound, Vienna, Austria – July 18, 2013.

The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna, in cooperation with the South African Embassy and Permanent Mission to the UN in Vienna,
have organized an exhibition:

“Intimate Moments with Nelson Mandela”

to mark the
Nelson Mandela International Day 2013

Thursday, 18 July 2013, 12:30 hrs
Location: Rotunda, Vienna International Centre (VIC), Wagramerstraße 5, 1220 Vienna


M A N D E L A D A Y – The UN in VIENNA>

Intimate Moments with Nelson Mandela in Vienna.

This is a multimedia exhibition that showcases cherished encounters with South Africa’s much beloved Stateman.

The theme of the exhibition was created according to three key concepts: Love, Educate, Empower. Different photographers had the opportunity to photograph Mr. Mandela in his everyday life and the 17 photos show him as the man behind the legend.

The photographs show Mr. Mandela with his family, children. Grandchildren, friends, and are accompanied by his quotes.

The photographs are very moving and a real tribute to a great humanitarian. Many of the photographs show Mr. Mandela with children and young adults as he puts so much emphasis on education and teaching.

On a TV screen, in a corner of the Rotunda, one could watch a film showing Mr. Mandela’s life from the time of his birth, through his time in Jail, his struggle for freedom and his Political life as President. The film complimented the exhibit which was private moments in his life as compared to his public life.

The two photographs which struck me the most were the one with a closed fist, and the quote below: “I hope that life might offer me the opportunity to serve my people and make my own humble contribution to the freedom struggle.” (Nelson Mandela, 1964).

The quote on another photograph was “We watched our children growing without guidance… and when we did come out my children said: We thought we had a father and one day he will come back, but to our dismay our father came back and he left us alone because he has now become the father of the Nation” (Nelson Mandela, 1992). This last quote describes best Mr. Mandela’s 67 years of devotion to Public Service.

The event was opened with short Welcome remarks by Irene Hoeglinger-Neiva, Officer-in-Charge UNIS Vienna, who welcomed everybody and introduced the speakers.

The first speaker was Mr. Yury Fedotov, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) who also welcomed everybody and read the Message of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The message reads as follows:

“This year’s commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day comes at a moment of deep reflection on the life and work of Madiba, as the universally revered leader remains in the hospital. As we extend our best wishes to President Mandela on his 95th birthday, let us also give tangible meaning to our feelings of concern by taking action on behalf of others.

Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life to the struggle for human rights and social justice. In marking this Day, the United Nations is joining the Mandela Foundation in asking people around the world to devote at least 67 minutes of their time on 18 July to community service.

The heart of Nelson Mandela International Day is good works for people and the planet. Its theme – “take action, inspire change” – is meant to mobilize the human family to do more to build a peaceful, sustainable and equitable world. This is the best tribute we can pay to an extraordinary man who embodies the highest values of humanity.

At this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Mandela, his family and with all the people of South Africa. We are united in admiration for a giant of out times”

Mr. Fedotov also encouraged people to devote 67 minutes of their time on this important day for Public Service.

The last speaker was H.E. Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations (Vienna) who highlighted Mr. Mandela’s greatness in fighting for human dignity, equality and freedom for all people. He also said our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Mandela for a speedy recovery, and he too encouraged people to devote 67 minutes of their time for public service.

After the short speeches people spent time looking at the exhibition and exchanging thoughts. It was a short, simple yet very dignified event.

In the spirit of Nelson Mandela’s Day let me finish by two quotes which I thought were very appropriate to the occasion.

“Everybody can help change the world. Each individual has the ability to make the world around him or her a better place. One small step, when you add them all together, can become a global movement for good” (Nelson Mandela).

The second quote “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference”. (Nelson Mandela).

We wish Madiba a Happy Birthday and a Speedy recovery!


A similar celebration did not take place in New York though we received communications from the US Mission to the UN, from the US Department of State, and from South Africa Airlines – all suggesting we devote 67 minutes to do good deeds on this day.


Posted on on July 16th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Nelson Mandela Day 2013

In honor of International Mandela Day, we’re tasking you to turn your tweets into good deeds. Help us share Madiba’s message with your friends and fans this year… And in doing so, we may send you on the trip of your life to follow in his footsteps in South Africa!

The rules are simple: Pledge to spend 67 minutes honoring Madiba’s cause with a tweet including #MandelaDeeds.


One of the participants of #MandelaDeeds initiative will have a chance to trace Nelson Mandela’s journey in South Africa visiting the Apartheid Museum and touring Soweto in Johannesburg and making a trip to Cape Town.

We’ll randomly select one of the pledges to award the following GRAND PRIZE:

* 2 R/T Economy tickets on SAA from New York or Washington DC to Johannesburg and Cape Town
* 2 Night Hotel in Johannesburg
* 2 Nights Hotel in Cape Town
* Tickets to Soweto Tour
* Tickets to Apartheid Museum
* Full Day Cape Point Tour

We will be tracking your pledges on Twitter from 9:00 am EDT Tuesday, July 16 through 7:00pm EDT Thursday, July 18, 2013. Read all of the official rules.

To help get you started, here are a few actions you can take to support International Mandela Day.

I will spend 67 minutes volunteering at a local school: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

For Mandela Day I am donating food to those in need: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

I am getting involved in Mandela Day by teaching an adult literacy class: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

My Mandela Day Pledge: Starting a community garden: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

I will spend my 67 minutes reading at my library story hour: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

This Mandela Day I pledge to make a meal for someone in need: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

In honor of Mandela Day, I am collecting shoes & blankets for a local shelter: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

I will spend 67 minutes supporting food security for Mandela Day: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

I pledge 67 minutes to cleaning up a local park with my neighbors: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

My Mandela Day Pledge: Donating my skills to help someone improve their home: #MandelaDeeds [Retweet]

To participate, retweet one of the above messages, choose from additional ideas here or come up with your own good deed and tweet it with #MandelaDeeds.


You can add to the initiative’s momentum by telling as many people as possible about it.

Use your own network of friends, media connections, corporations and organizations to get involved and make a difference.

For more information about Nelson Mandela and his foundation, visit ” title=”
” target=”_blank”> Judith Miller

Keller spoke on July 6, 2005 in defense of Judith Miller and her refusal to give up documents relating to the Valerie Plame case.
NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program[edit]

Keller is reported to have refused to answer questions from The Times public editor, Byron Calame, on the timing of the December 16, 2005 article on the classified National Security Agency (NSA) Terrorist Surveillance Program. The Times series of articles on this topic won a Pulitzer Prize. The source of the disclosure of this NSA program has been investigated by the United States Justice Department. The NSA program itself is being reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee as to whether it sidesteps the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and after The Times articles, the Administration changed its procedures, allowing for more safeguards and more Congressional and judicial oversight.

Keller discussed the deliberations behind the Times’ decision to publish the story in a July 5, 2006 PBS interview with Jeffrey Brown that included a discussion of the issues involved with former National Security Agency Director Admiral Bobby Ray Inman.[6]


Op-Ed Columnist
The Revolt of the Rising Class.

Published – The New York Times: June 30, 2013 3 Comments

ISTANBUL — IN the upscale Istanbul suburb of Bebek, at 9 p.m. sharp, the diners began drumming on the tables or tapping their wineglasses with forks. The traffic passing along the Bosporus chimed in with honking horns and flashing headlights. It was a genteel symphony of solidarity with the protesters who a few days earlier were confronting fire hoses and tear gas in the heart of the city and elsewhere around Turkey.

Related – Premier of Turkey Seeks Limits on Abortions (May 30, 2012)

Those street battles that caught our attention this summer have mostly been policed into submission, and the world’s cameras have moved on, but the afterlife is interesting.

What is happening in Turkey is not “Les Miserables,” or the Arab Spring. It is not an uprising born in desperation. It is the latest in a series of revolts arising from the middle class — the urban, educated haves who are in some ways the principal beneficiaries of the regimes they now reject.

We saw early versions of it in China in 1989, Venezuela in 2002. We saw it in Iran in 2009, when the cosmopolitan crowds thronged in protest against theocratic hard-liners. We saw it in Russia in 2011, when legions of 30-somethings spilled out of their office cubicles, chanting their scorn for the highhanded rule of Vladimir Putin. While Turkey was still percolating, the discontent bubbled up in Brazil, where yet another ruling party seems to be a victim of its own success.

The vanguard in each case is mostly young, students or relative newcomers to the white-collar work force who have outgrown the fearful conformity of their parents’ generation. With their economic wants more or less satisfied, they now crave a voice, and respect. In this social-media century, they are mobilized largely by Facebook and Twitter, networks of tweeps circumventing an intimidated mainstream press.

The igniting grievances vary. Here in Istanbul it was a plan to build a mosque and other developments on a patch of the city’s diminishing green space. In Brazil it was bus fares. By the time the protests hit critical mass, they are about something bigger and more inchoate: dignity, the perquisites of citizenship, the obligations of power.

Because these protesters are by definition people with something to lose — and because the autocrats know it — the uprisings are eventually beaten into submission, at least for the short term. The authorities kid themselves that they have solved the problem. It reminds me of that old pirate joke: the floggings will continue until morale improves.

But morale does not improve. There is a new alienation, a new yearning, and eventually this energy will find an outlet. In some way, different in each country, the social contract will be adjusted.

The protesters in these middle-class revolts tend to be political orphans, leaderless, party-less, not particularly ideological. To reach a new equilibrium, either the rising class must get organized, or the ruling class must get the message, or, ideally, both.

In China and Iran and Russia, where the regimes are more established in their ruthlessness, the discontented may have a longer wait. But watch Turkey. How Turkey, as a partner in NATO and a bridge to the tumultuous Islamic world, finds its new balance has both practical and symbolic significance for the rest of the world.

The United States has long embraced Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the model of a modern Muslim reformer. The Turkish prime minister, during his decade in power, has tamed the army of its coup habit, raised the standard of living dramatically, offered an olive branch to the separatist-minded Kurds and demonstrated — alone in the region — that Islam is compatible with both free elections and broad prosperity. When civil war sundered neighboring Syria, Erdogan (braving the disapproval of an electorate that tends to be more isolationist) condemned the brutalities of President Bashar al-Assad and hosted camps for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have doted on Erdogan. The Islamist prime minister proudly sent three of his four children to universities in the U.S.

By fostering economic growth, by keeping the army in its barracks — and by not messing too much with secular lifestyles — Erdogan has won some grudging support from the worldly elite that originally viewed him and his more pious Islamic following as a lurch back to the Ottoman Empire.

Those days of urban skirmishing, which began at the end of May with a pointless and heavy-handed police crackdown on a sit-in at the disputed park, have opened many eyes to Erdogan’s intemperate and intolerant side — his tone-deafness, his tendency to regard any criticism as a grave insult, his conspiracy theories.

The surprise is that Erdogan’s darker instincts came as a surprise to anyone. Human rights organizations have long lamented the fact that Turkey, while it has a lively press, also has more journalists in jail than any other country on earth. If you troll through the American diplomatic cables divulged in the great WikiLeaks flood, you find abundant talk of how Erdogan has sometimes used police and courts as instruments of political control. But he was a friend in an unfriendly region. The American attitude was, to paraphrase a line F.D.R. supposedly said of another troubling ally: he may be a thug, but he’s our thug. And by regional standards, he wasn’t even that much of a thug.

With the important exception of police brutality, Erdogan’s latest affronts have been matters of speech and style rather than action. He has talked of outlawing abortion (as have some prominent American politicians), but he hasn’t tried to do it. He has described Twitter as “the worst menace to society” and suggested clamping down on social media, but he seems unlikely to have much success there even if he tries. He has conjured a dark conspiracy of secular subversives, bankers and Western media, but that is vintage Erdogan, and vintage Turkey — a country of intrigues that exemplifies the old line: even paranoids have enemies.

So the fact that the rising class has chosen this moment to run out of patience seems to be Erdogan’s bad luck. It may also be Turkey’s good fortune.

One possible outcome is that those unhappy with Erdogan will find an avenue into politics, and give Erdogan the challenge he deserves. The Turkish system (like the American, only more so) favors incumbency and makes it hard to form viable new parties, even if Erdogan’s foes could agree on what they are for. The most visible potential moderate rival to Erdogan, Abdullah Gul, who occupies the relatively powerless presidency, has shown little willingness to take on the prime minister.

But as Sinan Ulgen, the head of an Istanbul think tank, points out, Erdogan is more vulnerable than the autocrats of Iran or Russia, who have oil revenues to float them through a crisis. Turkey’s prosperity — and in large measure Erdogan’s popularity — depends on foreign investment and flocks of tourists. The crackdown on protesters dented Erdogan’s approval ratings; more threatening to his tenure, it spooked investors, emptied hotels and sent the Turkish stock market into a tailspin. “Yes, the protesters have something to lose,” Ulgen told me. “But so does Erdogan.”

In about a year his third term as prime minister is up, and the rules don’t allow for a fourth. He has been exploring options to prolong his time in power, but they require popular support, and Erdogan’s hovers precariously around 50 percent. So whether or not he has the ability to temper his intemperance, he has the incentive. A parliamentarian who is a moderate supporter of Erdogan and was with him during the protests insists, “He got the message.” We’ll see.

For the long-term stability of Turkey, it would be good to have a robust political opposition advocating a pluralism that protects both the devout and the secular. In the meantime, it may be up to Erdogan to save Turkey from himself.


Op-Ed Columnist
Mandela and Obama
Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

A photograph of Barack Obama meeting Nelson Mandela in 2005, in Mr. Mandela’s office at the newly renovated Nelson Mandela Center of Memory in Johannesburg.
Published: June 29, 2013 35 Comments

GATHERING valedictory material on Nelson Mandela as he faded in a Pretoria hospital the other day, I came across a little book called “Mandela’s Way.” In this 2010 volume, Rick Stengel, the ghostwriter of Mandela’s autobiography, set out to extract “lessons on life, love and courage” he had learned from three years of immersion in Mandela’s life.

Stengel, who is the managing editor of Time magazine, could not resist comparing his hero to another tall, serene, hope-bearing son of Africa: Barack Obama. “Obama’s self-discipline, his willingness to listen and to share credit, his inclusion of his rivals in his administration, and his belief that people want things explained, all seem like a 21-century version of Mandela’s values and persona,” he wrote. “Whatever Mandela may or may not think of the new American president, Obama is in many ways his true successor on the world stage.”

A bit much, yes? Well, Stengel was hardly alone back then in awarding the American president a stature he had scarcely begun to earn. The Nobel Committee, which had awarded its peace prize to Mandela for ending the obscenity of apartheid, bestowed that honor on Obama merely for not being George W. Bush.

Different men, different countries, different times. Perhaps even Mandela — who was more successful liberating South Africa than governing it — could not have lived up to the inflated expectations heaped on Obama. But it is interesting to imagine how Obama’s presidency might be different if he had in fact done it Mandela’s way.

Mandela, in his time on the political stage, was a man of almost ascetic self-discipline. But he also understood how to deploy his moral authority in grand theatrical gestures. Facing capital charges of trying to overthrow the state in the Rivonia Trial, he entered the formal Pretoria courtroom dressed in a traditional Xhosa leopard-skin cape to dramatize that he was an African entering a white man’s jurisdiction. And then he essentially confessed to the crime.

In 1995, Mandela, newly elected president of a still deeply divided country, single-handedly turned the Rugby World Cup — the whitest sporting event in South Africa, long the target of anti-apartheid boycotts — into a festival of interracial harmony. He was, in short, the opposite of “no drama.”
Obama’s sense of political theater peaked at his first inaugural. He rarely deploys the stirring reality that he is the first black man to hold the office. As my Times colleague Peter Baker notes, “Obama’s burden as he sees it, different from Mandela’s, is to make the fact that he’s black be a nonissue. Only then will his breakthrough be truly meaningful.” Still, I think Mandela would have sought a way to make a more exciting civic bond out of the pride so many Americans felt in this milestone.

Mandela understood that politics is not mainly a cerebral sport. It is a business of charm and flattery and symbolic gestures and eager listening and little favors. It is above all a business of empathy. To help win over the Afrikaners, he learned their Dutch dialect and let them keep their national anthem. For John Boehner, he’d have learned golf and become a merlot drinker. “You don’t address their brains,” Mandela advised his colleagues, and would surely advise Obama. “You address their hearts.”

Mandela was a consummate negotiator. Once he got you to the bargaining table, he was not going to leave empty-handed. He was an expert at deducing how far each side could go. He was patient. He was opportunistic, using every crisis to good effect. He understood that half the battle was convincing your own side that a concession could be a victory. And he was willing to take a risk. I don’t envy Obama’s having to deal with intransigent Republicans or his own demanding base, but Mandela bargained with Afrikaner militants, Zulu nationalists and the white government that had imprisoned him for 27 years. By comparison, the Tea Party is, well, a tea party.

Mandela usually seemed to be having the time of his life. Perhaps this is because (sadly for his family) the movement was his life. He shook every hand as if he was discovering a new friend and maintained a twinkle in his eye that said: this is fun. We’ve had joyful presidents — Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan. Obama more often seems to regard the job as an ordeal.

Mandela, above all, had a clear sense of his core principles: freedom, equality, the rule of law. He changed tactics, shifted alliances (one day the Communist Party, another day the business oligarchs) but never lost sight of the ultimate goal. In fairness to Obama, Mandela had a cause of surpassing moral clarity. The American president is rarely blessed with problems so, literally, black and white. And if Obama leaves behind universal health care and immigration reform — two initiatives that have consistently defeated previous presidents — that will be no small legacy. But tell me, do you have a clear sense of what moral purpose drives our president?