ADL Mourns the Loss of ‘A True Hero of Conscience’ — South Africa’s Nelson Mandela

New York, NY, December 5, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today mourned the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela, the courageous leader who dedicated his life to ending apartheid and building a free, multiracial and democratic South Africa and, by example, a more equal world.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

Nelson Mandela will be long remembered as one of the greatest figures of his generation and one of the most inspirational and effective freedom-fighting figures in modern history.  In a world where the word “hero” is too readily bandied about, Nelson Mandela was a true hero of  freedom who brought historic change, and did so peacefully.

We first met with Mr. Mandela as part of a leadership delegation to Geneva in 1990.  We met with him again in 1994 — just months after he was elected president in the country’s first multiracial elections and just a few years after he was released from his 27-year imprisonment. While Mr. Mandela had suffered tremendously under the apartheid regime, remarkably, he did not dwell on retribution, but rather on reconciliation and healing.  His establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help all South Africans come to terms with the legacy of apartheid remains a model for post-conflict transition and resolution.

During the years of his trials and tribulations, the Jewish community of South Africa supported him, and when he sought freedom Mandela returned the friendship and appreciation.

In recent decades, ADL did disagree with Mr. Mandela from time to time on some issues.  Those differences, however, did not diminish our respect and esteem for this upstanding moral leader.   Mandela will be greatly missed, but his legacy lives on.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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