Nelson Mandela supported the Palestinian right to self determination.
Ten years after the anti-apartheid icon passed away, his embrace with Yasser Arafat and his donning of the keffiyeh remain powerful symbols of South Africa’s special warmth towards Palestine.
Mandela felt a special bond with the Palestinian people. In 1997, while still president of South Africa, he said the ANC’s struggle was ongoing. “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
In 2004, after the death of Arafat, he paid tribute to the leader of the PLO: “He was an icon in the proper sense of the word. He was not only concerned with the liberation of the Arab people but of all the oppressed people throughout the world – Arabs and non-Arabs – and to lose a man of that stature and thinking is a great blow to all those who are fighting against oppression.”
Three years after Mandela’s death on December 5, 2013, the people of Palestine repaid the favour by unveiling a giant statue of the South African leader in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.