I think Bibi Netanyahu might have a problem with Nelson Mandela’s legacy:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled plans to attend memorial events for the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, citing travel and security costs, Israeli media reported Sunday.
Netanyahu, whose spending habits have recently come under fire, cited costs of about $2 million to travel to South Africa for the memorial, Haaretz reports.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama said Sunday that he won’t travel to South Africa either, AFP reports. It wasn’t immediately clear why, but the Dalai Lama has been visas to visit the country twice since 2009.
$2 million is pretty small beer, when you think about it, so let’s look at this a little more closely, and we discover that Israel had a deep and fruitful relationship with the apartheid government of South Africa.
South Africa was one of the first members to vote in favor of creating the state of Israel and as relations between Israel and the rest of the Middle East worsened in subsequent decades, South Africa stood alone, from Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope as being Israel’s only ally on the continent.
In turn, Israel was the last nation standing in support of the apartheid forces in the nation. The rise of Mandela could not have sat well with them. Indeed,it has been rumoured that Israel launched a nuclear development program with the Botha government (possibly culminating in the “Vela incident,” altho no one has ever claimed responsibility for that) and forcing the United States into an uncomfortable position of covering up possible Israel nuclear capabilities. In 1997, Ha’aretz reported that indeed it was a South African weapons test, conducted using Israeli designs.
When Mandela took office, he received offers to visit every nation in the world…except Israel (which he visited anyway in 1999 in conjunction with a visit to the Palestinian territories.) To his death, Mandela was vociferous about his support for a Palestinian state.
And there it is.