If prizes were given out for the lamest excuse of the year, surely the winner would be Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s excuse for not attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela — leaving the honors to no less than the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
Netanyahu said that the security expenses would be too high. Yeah, right. It is clear that Mandela was lukewarm on Israel; and that, if a terrorist supported Mandela, that was no problem for Mandela. He would embrace that support. The terrorist who supported Mandela — the founder of modern terrorism, in fact — was Yasir Arafat, whom Mandela embraced, figuratively and literally.
We cannot help but note the contrast between Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. King supported Israel wholeheartedly and renounced violence from and in every quarter.
Be all this as it may, Mandela is the man who ended the despicable system of apartheid and is a world hero. The time for a dispassionate analysis, for balancing his successes and failures, is not now. Funerals are not the time for policy differences. The call of the hour is honor — and, alone among major Western nations, Israel’s head of state is absent.
And memorable. Symbols count. The symbol of the absence of the prime minister of Israel will not be forgotten. It will not win Israel friends in South Africa and other circles worldwide who rightly want to honor not just Nelson Mandela the person, but Nelson Mandela the fighter against apartheid. Netanyahu’s absence looks like Israel has hesitations about the evil of apartheid and will only confirm the ridiculous accusations against Israel that it is an “apartheid state.”
Security costs? Please. From the remarkably articulate and persuasive Benjamin Netanyahu, this excuse is a slip of major proportions.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News