After the recent death of former South African President Nelson Mandela, supporters from around the world celebrated his life in a variety of ways. People from every walk of life seemed to find something about which they could honor the apartheid fighter.
For Fars News, the Iranian state-run newspaper, the most praiseworthy aspect of his life was his hatred of Israel. In fact, the very first sentence of the publication’s recent Mandela obituary identifies him as “an outspoken critic of the Zionist regime….”
The memorial article also chronicles many pro-Palestinian comments the activist — who is familiarly referred to as “Madiba” — made throughout his life.
“Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas is one of the hundreds of the world officials who have expressed deep sorrow over Mandela’s demise,” the publication noted, “and praised his commitment to the Palestinian cause.” The article quoted Abbas as saying Mandela’s death marked a “great loss … for Palestine.”
The fawning eulogy continued by citing Mandela’s dedication to ending “Israeli occupation” of Palestine and praised the fact that he “encouraged a growing Palestinian embrace of boycotts and sanctions against the Zionist regime….”
Furthermore, Fars reported that Mandela’s first stop after being released from prison in 1990 was a visit with Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, who “espoused similar ideals as Mandela’s African National Congress….” At the time, Mandela praised him as a “fellow freedom fighter.”
Offering one final jab at God’s chosen people, the article claims “the ‘apartheid’ regime of the Zionists is the only one criticizing this icon of peace and reconciliation.”
Mandela’s ideology was obviously shaped by decades in prison and the cultural upheaval of his home country. As with anyone, he embodied both positive and negative qualities; however, too many merely read headlines associated with the leader and accept that he spent his life tirelessly crusading on behalf of the downtrodden.
Remembering Mandela as a flawless hero presents just one side of the man. What Iran apparently sees as his greatest attribute, on the other hand, provides some much-needed context.
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo Credit: LSE Library (Creative Commons)