Notwithstanding the serious issues related to neither Prime Minister Netanyahu nor President Peres participating at the memorial for Nelson Mandela, this article (from South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper), abridged below, contains some interesting and perhaps significant information regarding the Israeli delegation to South Africa.
While the press focused on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision not to attend the memorial service to honour Mandela at FNB Stadium, it failed to give due credit to the high-level Israeli delegation that did attend. It is especially notable and poignant that this delegation comprised human-rights protagonists and activists. Leading the delegation of five Knesset members was Yuli Edelstein, the speaker of Israel’s parliament. As a former “prisoner of conscience” he says that “I had the privilege of meeting Mandela as a minister in 1996, and we shared experiences from prison and the fight for our rights”.Edelstein was [imprisoned] in the former Soviet Union, for the crime of teaching Hebrew. He describes his prison experience as follows: “I was sent to a labour camp in Burtiya near the Mongolian border. We were assigned to hard labour and I was injured. I was transferred from one prison camp hospital to another, first in Burtiya and then in Novosibirsk, where I underwent surgery. After the operation, I was due to be transferred back to Burtiya, but my wife was alerted and declared that she would go on hunger strike until she died, if I were returned there. So I remained in the Novosibirsk camp until my release in May 1985.”Edelstein was accompanied by Knesset member Penina Tamanu-Shata (Yesh Atid party), the first Ethiopian-born woman to be elected into Israel’s parliament. She was rescued at the age of three by “Operation Moses”, a covert Israeli organised aerial rescue of Ethiopia’s lost tribe of Jews. . . .Nitzan Horowitz, of the Meretz party, recently unsuccessfully contested to be mayor of Tel Aviv, … the first openly gay mayoral [candidate] of any city in the Middle East. Horowitz, a former television journalist who as a lawmaker has largely championed social issues and advocated for African migrants who have flocked to Tel Aviv.
. . . Gila Gamliel, a representative of the Likud party, is an Eastern or Mizrachi Jew. Her father’s family, the Gamliels, are a big family of Yemenite Jews in Gila’s birthplace Gedera. Her mother is a Libyan Jew, originating from Tripoli.Hilik Bar from the Labour party, wants to cut defence spending and increase spending on welfare. He is dedicated to reducing the wide gap between the rich and the poor in Israel by increasing spending on poor neighbourhoods.Dov Lipman is an Orthodox Rabbi in the secular Yesh Atid political party . . .The South African press in the meantime completely overlooked the absence of leaders from two of the Brics nations, an alliance of which South Africa is a member and with which it has very close relations. China announced that it would send a vice-president, Li Yuanchao, and not President Xi Jinping, while Russia failed to send either President Vladimir Putin or its foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.. . .