Mandela’s Alleged Memo to Friedman About Israel & Palestine

By Nelson Mandela, in Jefferson Corner – America's Speaker's Corner, 28 March 2001


"If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you."


By Nelson Mandela, in Jefferson Corner – America's Speaker's Corner, 28 March 2001


"If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you."


Dear Thomas,

I know that you and I long for peace in the Middle East, but before you continue to talk about necessary conditions from an Israeli perspective, you need to know what’s on my mind. Where to begin? How about 1964.Let me quote my own words during my trial. They are true today as they were then: “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.”

Today the world, black and white, recognize that Apartheid has no future. In South Africa it has been ended by our own decisive mass action in order to build peace and security. That mass campaign of defiance and other actions could only culminate in the establishment of Democracy.

Perhaps it is strange for you to observe the situation in Palestine or more specifically, the structure of political and cultural relationships between Palestinians and Israelis, as an Apartheid system. This is because you incorrectly think that the problem of Palestine began in 1967. This was demonstrated in your recent column “Bush’s First Memo” in the New York Times on March 27, 2001.

You seem to be surprised to hear that there are still problems of 1948 to be solved, the most important component of which is the right to return of Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not just an issue of military occupation and Israel is not a country that was established “normally” and happened to occupy another country in 1967. Palestinians are not struggling for a “state” but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.

In the last few years, and especially during the reign of the Labour Party, Israel showed that it was not even willing to return what it occupied in 1967; that Settlements remain, Jerusalem would be under exclusive Israeli sovereignty, and Palestinians would not have an independent state, but would be under Israeli economic domination with Israeli control of borders, land, air, water and sea.

Israel was not thinking of a “state” but of “separation”. The value of separation is measured in terms of the ability of Israel to keep the Jewish state Jewish, and not to have a Palestinian minority that could have the opportunity to become a majority at some time in the future. If this takes place, it would force Israel to either become a secular democratic or bi-national state, or to turn into a state of Apartheid not only de facto, but also de jure.

Thomas, if you follow the polls in Israel for the last 30 or 40 years, you clearly find a vulgar racism that includes a third of the population who openly declare themselves to be racist. This racism is of the nature of “I hate Arabs” and “I wish Arabs would be dead”.

If you also follow the judicial system in Israel you will see there is discrimination against Palestinians, and if you further consider the 1967 Occupied Territories you will find there are already two judicial systems in operation that represent two different approaches to human life: one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life. Additionally there are two different approaches to property and to land. Palestinian property is not recognized as private property because it can be confiscated.

As to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, there is an additional factor. The so-called “Palestinian autonomous areas” are Bantustans. These are restricted entities within the power structure of the Israeli Apartheid system.

The Palestinian state cannot be the by-product of the Jewish state, just in order to keep the Jewish purity of Israel. Israel’s racial discrimination is daily life of most Palestinians. Since Israel is a Jewish state, Israeli Jews are able to accrue special rights which non-Jews cannot do. Palestinian Arabs have no place in a “Jewish” state.

Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children.

The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses emanating from the removal policies and Apartheid policies respectively, shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its Apartheid policies.

Thomas, I’m not abandoning Mideast diplomacy. But I’m not going to indulge you the way your supporters do. If you want peace and democracy, I will support you. If you want formal Apartheid, we will not support you. If you want to support racial discrimination and ethnic cleansing, we will oppose you.

When you figure out what you’re about, give me a call.

    1.  I am not a Mandela scholar

      I am not a Mandela scholar, but I would agree that I question whether he wrote this. It just does not seem like his language, and the viewpoint that he would take on these matters. It is shameful that someone would impersonate him.
      1.  Arjan did not impersonate

         Arjan did not impersonate anyone.  He posted an article WITH his byline which was clearly written by him.  It is the person who reposted it without crediting the author and insinuating as well that Mandela wrote it who is shameful.  That person is the one in the same boat as the authors of all the email screeds, lists that are erroneous, "warnings" etc.  

  1. Mandela Comments
    The question is not if Mandela really sent that letter. The question is its contents. I think Zionists should answer if those comments are true or not. Well..we all know where truth lies..

  2. Nelson Mandela

    Why do we think that Nelson Mandela is a great figure, his comments (facts) prove it.

  3. If the letter really is faked

    If the letter really is faked (which I could see) that is pretty shameful that someone would try to forge a letter from Nelson Mandela. But the need for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still a major issue. I think both sides share blame for the violence that has perpetuated that area of the world for so many years. I’m not sure exactly what needs to happen but maybe sit the leaders down, have a case of their favorite beer/alcohol and let them figure it out or even duke it out if they must. Either way, I hope the problem gets solved in our life times.
    1. Maybe you don’t read much.

      Maybe you don't read much. Columnists do stuff like that ALL THE TIME. The author made that clear when he published it. Do your research.

  4. Time for Armenians

    It’s time for Armenians to catch on in politics. In politics being flexible is a virtue. In life–business, family or social relationships–this would seem incorrect, perhaps even immoral. In politics do not look for morals: Pretend that you are acting morally while you change your partner(s), concoct fake occurrences, and or semi-true events. Here, on an Armenian platform, we have to utilize our time and effort to study others´ troubles, as well. We need to know what is happening in our neighbourhood and even on the other side of the globe.

    It is commendable to learn while trying to remain non-committal. This latter is also part  of diplomacy. If you take sides you´re in for trouble. You can be on both sides, depending how you go about it. This has to be done quietly though, without drawing attention, consequently animosity.

    I would like to refer to two recent events. The Azeri foreign minisiter was in China doing his best to gain their backing for Azeri "territorial integrity” and obtaining military training from China. At first glance this may seem, to an Armenian, as war preparation. Not so; it’s just diplomatic moves. Another example is Israel showing a disposition to cooperate with Armenia, plan an embassy, encourage trade, etc. Why now? Because  Israel-Turkey relations got a bit cool, after the fiasco at sea. Such issues, plus that of Arab-Israeli relations may also undergo changes. One can never fathom what will happen next. Those diplomats are out there doing their best for their countries.

    Armenians have just begun to act likewise. Let us have  patience and follow up events closely.

    We, as Diasporans, have limited areas that can be explored and worked on as partners with our homeland. However, there are means to do so, if we aspire  to have our permanent delegate alongside the Diaspora Minister. One each from the main Diaspora communities–North America; South America; Europe; Russian Federation; the Middle East. These would each represent their constituencies, intermingle with each other and along with Armenia try to solve problems in many areas. It is in the benefit of all the above to have direct, constant contact with each other and the Repubic of Armenia.

  5. Arab Islamic Racist “apartheid” Slur on Israel’s Democracy

    Nelson Mandela never used the word "apartheid" to describe the Palestinian situation.

    With all due respect to Arab-Palestinian propaganda, the "source" is not reliable. Arab / Muslim apartheid are the largest 'apartheid systems' that exist today. All non-Arabs and/or non-Muslims are considered second-class citizens. Among minorities that feel the wrath of the bigoted Arab-Muslim world include:

    * Berbers (native North Africans, before Arab invasion)
    * Copts (indigenous Egyptians suffer from Arab racism and Islamic bigotry)
    * Kurds (Saddam's Iraq and today's Syria)
    * Blacks, in Arab lands or in Arab-ruled Africa (the genocide in Sudan and slavery in Sudan and in Mauritania)
    * Asians, particularly in the Gulf Arab states (sex slaves or "plain" slaves)
    * Maronites-Christians [Native Lebanese] suffer from Arab ethnic racism and Moslem bigotry.Note the massacres in the 1970s by local Muslims and by Palestinian/Syrian forces.
    * Assyrians are/have been being persecuted racially and religiously. Still very much marginalized in Iraq.
    * Iran is not an Arab country but racism is huge against Kurds, Jews, Turkmens, etc. So is anti-non Muslim bigotry against Christians, Bahai, Zoroastrians and other in the Islamic Republic.
    * Turkey is also a Muslim non-Arab country. Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and other ethnicities have been through much suffering and genocide. Still there's great wide racism against non-Turkish ethnic groups. Turkey's policy in Cyprus has also been recognized as apartheid by many. All non-Muslims are automatically branded  "foreigners" at the "moderate" Islamic supremacy of Turkey.
    * Al-Akhdam in Yemen
    * Gypsies in Jordan
    * Anti-Jewish apartheid:
    * Arab racist apartheid against Jews; attempted genocide ever since the 1920s, (Like the Mufti of Jerusalem at the massacres he incited; the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood who simply call 'kill Jews')
    * Chased out a million Jews from Arab countries in the late '40s.
     * Boycotted and demonized [every logical defensive action is branded "racist"] the Jewish democratic-free-equal-to-all state only because it's the "other." It is neither Muslim nor Arab.
      *The Arab racist world continues to play with Arab-Palestinians (grandchildren of Arab immigrants) like ping-pong against Israel.



    As if we don't know the 'Arab oil lobby's power over the UN and some African officials who go along with the Arab propaganda.

    Even the promoter of the apartheid-slur Jimmy Carter admitted on CNN:  "I recognize that Israel is a wonderful democracy with freedom of speech and equality of treatment under the law between Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis."

    Last but not least:: Isn't it true that the anti-Jewish "apartheid" slur campaign is to demonize Jews and to hide the real apartheid practices of the Arab-Islamic world?


    1. Dear Maria

      Dear Maria,
      First of all, this article was written a long time ago. Why comment now? Unless you are a member of the Israeli propaganda machine. Secondly, what is your point? You mentioned many negative things that Moslems have done, like the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians, etc. So is that justification for the Israeli brutality against the Palestinians? Would two wrongs make it right?

      1. Hasbara

        Dear Mr. K.,

        You might have a point about Maria’s letter, sent so long after the original article appeared in Keghart. I am referring to your citing of the Israeli propaganda machine. Mossad, etc. consider every Jew a legitimate agent of Israeli government interests. Mossad, etc. have a global network of Zionists who are recruited to write to the media to advance Israeli propaganda. The set-up is called Hasbara. I don’t know what it means in Hebrew.

        It’s possible that the above organization or something similar noted the apartheid article long after its appearance in Keghart, and appointed Maria to write to Keghart. I believe there was a similar instance when a Zionist LA politician wrote to Keghart, more than a year after a certain article appeared, to challenge the points made in that article.

        But then again, there might be no Maria. "Maria" might be a pseudonym used by a covert organization pushing the Israeli point of view. There could be a "reverse" call- centre in Israel, where people spend their whole day writing electronic letters from "Marias" to the global media, to politicians, to influencers.

      2. Some still refuse to learn the facts.

        John K.- Unbelievable comments you made, just unbelievable.

        And why would you yourself choose to comment *now* on some other old comment? You committed propaganda in accusing the other writer of propaganda. Why did you overlook the suicide bombings committed against Israeli citizens? Why do you ignore the rocket attacks against civilians living in Israel? Why? Do you also justify human shield tactics using gradeschools and hospitals as bases for rocket launching attacks against Israel?

        The fact is that the Arab nations said they would take in the Arabs who were living in the area of Israel, and they have not and never intended to take in their own people. Arabs living in Israel have more support from Israel and America than any Arab nation or combination of nations has ever given them, unless you want to call armaments and rockets "support."

        The truth is out there, but you've been blinded by something unholy.

        1. Facts? Really?

          Haz, what you are saying doesn't make sense and is discriminatory, to say the least. There are different    Arabs. Those living in Israel are called Palestinians and they are different from Lebanese, Syrian and other Arabs. They have their own culture and their country. For centuries, they lived on the land that is now called Israel, created by the British in 1948.

          What you said is similar to saying that all Spanish-speaking people are the same. Yet they are different in Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, etc.

          Using logic, you should know why Palestinians are throwing stones at Israelis. Everyone is entitled to a home; defending their home from invaders is their primary right.

    2. To Maria

      Israel is a "beautiful democracy"? when has a democracy been so beautiful? One should be ashamed promoting the atrocities in Palestine which is the biggest concentration camp in the world and you say Israel is a "beautiful democracy". Democracy to those Khazar Jews that came from the Caspian Sea to destroy the Palestinian people's lives thanks in large to the Rothchild Banking Empire from London. Read your history about these fake Jews.

  6. Author of “Mandela Memo”

    "On 27 March 2001, after reading Friedman's 'mock memo' I wrote a letter entitled Mandela's first memo to Thomas Friedman to the op-ed editor of The New York Times and I posted the memo on the Thomas Friedman Discussion Board of the New York Times, hoping that Thomas Friedman would read it and that the New York Times would publish it. However, after two days, I came to the conclusion that the New York Times would not dare publishing this piece and I sent it on March 30, 2001 to Media Monitors, "a Platform for Serious Media Contributors", an online daily, which regularly published my contributions.

    Soon, however, I found the 'mock memo' I wrote and which clearly indicated that I wrote it, on various listservers and websites. For example, I found my 'mock memo' on the website of Houston Peace and Justice Center, Progressive Activism in Austin, TX, and listservers such as soc.culture and Indymedia and in different languages, for example German (in which it was claimed that the author is from South Africa) or Spanish. Later, I even found it on the website of the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Information. Again, without mentioning the original author." –

  7. Mandela and the ANC
    This is the Jews reward for defending him and being against Apartheid.  The country is now in shambles, and he along with most of the ANC are against the only democracy in the Middle East.  Can anyone imagine the finest medical facilities, schools, hospitals, and other things if the "Palestinians" controlled what is now Israel?  If you do, I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. It would still be a wasteland.  The Jews turned it into a metropolis.  Just like the ANC has ruined SA the Pals would have done the same thing to Israel, aka "Palestine."

    1. “This is the Jews reward for

      "This is the Jews reward for defending him and being against Apartheid."

      Are you suggesting that the only reason the Jews helped Mandela defeat SA Apartheid was to keep him silent regarding Israeli Apartheid… and to increase their status, power and influence under the ANC? There is no other conclusion to draw from your hypocritically twisted comment. 

      You then put the Palestinians in quotes as if to deny their existence. Dehumanization like this enables discrimination, racism and genocide to flourish in Israel.

      You then claim, using an Israeli PR sound bite, that "Israel is the only democracy in the middle east." Didn't Iran recently hold elections? How about Egypt, Israel's ally?

      Telling lies and spitting hatred in response to the wise words of a great man doesn't make you win a debate, it turns you to the gutter. 

    2. Wasteland

      It's their land to do with what they want. If its turned into a wasteland then so be it. 

      1. Jewish State

        The unfortunate thing is that Israel was created by European Jews who had lived in Europe for generations and then suddenly decided to return to the place their ancestors had left. Then they proceeded to persecute the Palestinians who had been living peacefully among Jews who had never left in the first place.

        My grandparents left Germany and came to Canada where I was born. The European Jews would be essentially the same as me if I were to go back to Germany. I then would have told Germans, who were born in Germany, that it wasn't their country anymore. And what is worse is that some of these Israeli Jews are the ones who are descendants of Jews who fled Germany and went back to Israel and are now doing to the Palestinians, who have lived there forever, what Hitler's SS did to them. Do you see the hypocrisy here? It's outrageous. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is a racist war monger. Many Jewish citizens don't even like him because he is trying to start a war and that's just plain sick.

    3. The Jews Could Have

      The Jews could have made it into something better than a metropolis, but nothing beats freedom. Would you switch your freedom for a metropolis? I don't think so. And you guys are so great at changing the subject. This isn't about how the country's appearance before and after. This is about freedom and human rights.

    4. Apartheid

      Maurice, what a racist and sad person you are. Just the same jingo that promotes hate and anger. One on one you're a coward.

      1. Really?

        Wait. So by stating his opinion he becomes a racist? Isn't that his right in this country? But you don't agree so you have to be nasty? Nice.

        1. Mr. Maurice you are entitled

          Mr. Maurice you are entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts. Listen do some research concerning the Khazars Empire and you will see that 90% of the so called Jews you see today were converted to Judaism some 500 years ago. Eventually they made their infamous invasion of the land of Palestine and started committing these atrocities, thanks in part to the British and the Rothschild Banking Empire.  One should be ashamed defending the biggest concentration camp in the world which is Palestine. Commerce, electricity, water sewage fishing and practically the whole infrastructure in Palestine is controlled by Israel.

          1. Israel/Palestine

            My comment to Maurice is short and to the point.  Catholic Spain slaughtered Jews and the Arabs. Palestine opened its door to provide them protection. They are both Semitic people and ultimately will join together and create a wonderful economic system in the Middle East that both Moses and Mohammed will be proud of.

            So–lets get started to make this happen!!!

    5. Palestine

      Maurice, have you read or seen films on the history of Palestine before Israel "made the desert bloom"? It was a cultured and prosperous region, whose hundreds of villages were razed by the invading Zionist forces.

      Even now, with the terrible occupation, education is effective and valued; restrictions on Palestinian imports and exports, especially, of course, in Gaza, make social and economic advancement impossible, but blaming the occupied ones is unfair. Read a bit of history and articles on the present situation by less biased observers than you probably select.

    6. Middle East Sham

      Maurice, Israel is a sham democracy because it is for Jews only. You forget that Hamas was elected in free and fair elections so it makes a lie of what you claim. You may be interested that Israel and the US attempted a coup to overthrow Hamas which failed (read Chomsky) and this caused the savage attack on Gaza on 2008/2009 in which 1,400 people died and chemical phosphorous bombs were used on civilians which is considered a war crime.

    7. Israel and Apartheid

      Jews being against Apartheid? Get your facts straight, bro.

      By the mid-'70s, an economic and military alliance between Israel and South Africa was on the ascendancy. In 1975 the Israel–South Africa Agreement was signed, and increasing economic co-operation between Israel and South Africa was reported, including the construction of a major new railway in Israel and the building of a desalination plant in South Africa.[18] In April 1976 South African Prime Minister John Vorster was invited to make a state visit, meeting Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.[16] [19] Later in 1976, the Fifth Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, adopted a resolution calling for an oil embargo against France and Israel because of their arms sales to South Africa.[18] In 1977, South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha visited Israel to discuss South African issues with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan.

      The South African government's yearbook of 1976 says: "Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples." 
      From the mid 1970s, the two countries were allegedly involved in joint nuclear-weapons development and testing. According to Seymour Hersh, for example, the 1979 Vela incident, was the third joint Israeli-South African nuclear test in the Indian Ocean.[21] Richard Rhodes concludes the incident was an Israeli nuclear test, conducted in cooperation with South Africa, and that the US administration deliberately obscured this fact to avoid complicating relations with Israel.

      The Israeli interest in South Africa sprang in part from the presence of about 110,000 Jews in South Africa, a figure which included more than 15,000 Israeli citizens.

      During Operation Protea in 1981, the South African Defence Force made military history, as arguably the first user of modern drone technology, when it operated the Israeli IAI Scout drones in combat against Angola. They would only be used in combat by the Israel Defense Forces a year later during the 1982 Lebanon War and Operation Mole Cricket 19.

      In 1981, Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon visited South African forces in Namibia for 10 days, later saying that South Africa needed more weapons to fight Soviet infiltration in the region.

      In 1984, Pik Botha again visited Israel but this time only for an unofficial meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir.