The department of pangs of conscience here has managed to gloat over Nelson Mandela's death of old age. According to the best of South African folklore, this department also danced during the funeral. At first there was a festive denunciation of the wise decision not to send a high-ranking delegation to the ceremony, followed by splendid remorse over local sins of racism.
Israel's governments never supported any apartheid in any country, and yet Israel was described last week as a country which stood by the evil white people. A diligent person inquired and found out that even Yitzhak Rabin once voiced an awful racist phrase – "the kushi ('negro') problem."
That happened, by the way, during a closed meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as part of his role as Israel's ambassador in Washington. Rabin innocently reviewed what was going on in his mission country, addressed the interracial riots which had erupted there at the time, and used the phrase "the negro problem." If we're allowed to talk about "the haredi problem," "the Bedouin problem" or "the settler problem," we may also talk about the "negro problem" or about the "black problem," depending on the century you're living in. Each generation and its political correctness.
In 1966, when Israel's representative at the UN Human Rights Committee abstained in the vote on condemning the apartheid, the Foreign Ministry rushed to issue a profound apology and clarify that Israel strongly opposed to discrimination against black people. The representative himself explained bewilderedly that the vote had caught him by surprise, that he hadn't had time to consult with Jerusalem and had decided to abstain. His name, by the way, was Haim Cohn, who went on to become a Supreme Court judge and president of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. He couldn't be suspected of racism.
It's true that since the 1970s Israel sustained good relations with the government which put Nelson Mandela in prison, but it never supported the apartheid. Its good relations with that government only developed after the majority of African countries treated Israel with atrocious ingratitude and severed their ties with it, inspired by the Arabs.
In diplomatic life there is no escape from problematic relations of this kind. Israel has good relations today with the Chinese dictatorship as well. It encourages the Americans to financially support the generals' regime in Cairo. For years it had a wonderful friendship with cruel tyrant Ceausescu. If only it could, it would exchange ambassadors even with the monarchic regime of oppression in Saudi Arabia. So there is something ridiculous and hypocrite in the fresh reminders about its tight relations with white South Africa of all countries.
Mandela himself, as we all know, was not a fan of the Zionist enterprise. The conduct of his colleague Desmond Tutu, may he live long, was even more hostile. When he visited Yad Vashem in 1989 he preached us to forgive the Nazis, but he himself belongs to the camp which refuses to this very day to forgive the Israelis for the Zionist adventure.
One can check old newspapers and find out that even before the Six-Day War, African elements labeled us an apartheid state. South Africa of the Mandela era and onwards encouraged this vicious staining process. It's good that we didn’t go out of our way sharing in its grief.