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15 Quotes From Nelson Mandela on the Freedom of Palestine

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“We have assembled once again…as humanists to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine.” (1997)

Nelson Mandela remains one of the most iconic figures in modern history when it comes to human rights and the fight for freedom and equality for all. While we recognize his lifelong fight in South Africa against the horrific apartheid regime of the time, let us not forget his support and fight for the liberation of all oppressed peoples around the world – including those in Palestine.

Here are just 15 of his quotes on Palestine and on the freedom of the Palestinian people against Israeli aggression – while Mandela often supported a two-state solution at the time, he was also adamant on any solution that would bring immediate peace to everyone in the region.

1. We need to do more

“All of us need to do more in supporting the struggle of the people of Palestine for self-determination.” (1997)

2. Israeli government is a terrorist state

“If one has to refer to any of the parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government, because they are the people who are slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs in the occupied [Palestinian] territories, and we don’t regard that as acceptable.” (1990)

3. Freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians

“The United Nations took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system…but we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” (1997)

4. Similar fight between the South African struggle and the PLO

“I sincerely believe that there are many similarities between our struggle and that of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).” (1990)

5. Proud to fight for the freedom of Palestine

“We are proud as a government, and as the overwhelming majority of South Africans to be part of an international consensus taking root that the time has come to resolve the problems of Palestine.” (1997)

6. We would be less human if we did not fight for the freedom of Palestine

“The temptation in our situation is to speak in muffled tones about an issue such as the right of the people of Palestine…we can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others faces…yet we would be less than human if we did so…it behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice…” (1997)

7. Palestinians have long supported South Africa’s fight against apartheid

“One of the mistakes which some political analysts make is to think that their enemies should be our enemies…our attitude towards any country is determined by the attitude of that country towards our struggle…[Palestine’s] Yasser Arafat…supports our struggle to the hilt…They [Palestine, Libya and Cuba] do not only support it [our struggle against Apartheid] in rhetoric, they [the Palestinians, Libyans and Cubans] are placing resources at our disposal for us to win the struggle.” (1990)

8. The history of South Africa and Palestine are connected

“The histories of our two peoples, Palestinian and South African, correspond in such painful and poignant ways.” (1999)

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9. Feeling of being home amongst Palestinians

“I intensely feel myself being at home amongst compatriots [the Palestinians].” (1999)

10. To support Palestine is to support human rights

“We have assembled once again…as humanists to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine.” (1997)

11. Comrade in arms

“Our stand is [Palestine’s] Arafat is a comrade in arms and we treat him as such.” (1990)

12. Israeli government is denying basic human rights

“We identify with them [the Palestinians] because we do not believe it is right for the Israeli government to suppress basic human rights [of the Palestinians.” (1990)

13. We must not condemn Yasser Arafat

“One of the problems we are facing in the world today are people who do not look at problems objectively but from the point of view of their own interests. One of the best examples of this is to think that because [Palestinian leader, Yasser] Arafat is conducting a struggle against the State of Israel that we must therefore condemn him. We can’t do that. It is just not possible for any organisation or individual of integrity to do anything of the sort.” (1990)

14. The attitude of the Israeli government is unacceptable

“The belligerent attitude which is adopted by the Israeli government is to us unacceptable.” (1990

15. We are a humanity as one with Palestinians

“In extending our hands across the miles to the people of Palestine, we do so in the full knowledge that we are part of a humanity that is at one.” (1997)


All sources and quotes found here and here.

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