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News Maryland Howard County Columbia

Mandela's views were not always so well received [Letter]

I agree with Sherman Howell, "Nelson Mandela showed powerfully how one person can improve the world" [Dec. 12], but I think that it could serve a useful purpose to point out that, as far as the current adulation of Mandela by the U.S. is concerned, it was not ever thus.

Did you know that Mandela was, until 2008, on the U.S. terrorist watch list, no doubt because of his perceived leanings toward communism? Did you know that the CIA was involved in his incarceration at Robbin Island?

Did you know that Mandela was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and said: "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." He recognized the similarities between the South African apartheid system and that of Israel, which continues (mostly unacknowledged) to this day. A recent documentary, "Roadmap to Apartheid," shows this clearly, juxtaposing pictures of the apartheid system in South Africa with that of Israel against the Palestinians. During a meeting with Henry Siegman from the American Jewish Congress, Mandela said: "We identify with the PLO because just like ourselves they are fighting for the right of self-determination." Bishop Desmond Tutu observed: "I am a black South African. If I were to change the names, a description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and West Bank could describe events in [apartheid] South Africa."

It was only after Mandela and Bishop Tutu promoted reconciliation of the ANC and the white South African government that Mandela became accepted. It appears that the line between terrorists and freedom fighters is pretty much in the eye of the beholder.

Doris Rausch

Columbia

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