How Israel's 1948 struggle inspired Nelson Mandela

By Simon Rocker, May 17, 2012

When Nelson Mandela was on the run from the South African authorities in the early 1960s, one of the safe houses he used belonged to a Jewish Communist called Wolfie Kodesh.

It was there that the great anti-apartheid leader read about other liberation struggles, among them The Revolt, Irgun head Menachem Begin's account of his war against the British in Palestine.

The anecdote is just one of those recalled in Jewish Memories of Mandela, a sumptuous picture book produced by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), which documents his links with the Jewish community and its role in the defeat of apartheid.

The book, which is being promoted among Jewish communities around the world, received its British launch last Friday at a reception hosted by the Jewish Leadership Council and its chairman Mick Davis, one of the UK's most prominent Jewish émigrés.

Mr Davis told an audience, which included other expat Jewish South Africans: "In generations to come, the large number of South African Jews, who worked closely with Nelson Mandela and who previously worked against apartheid who are no longer here to tell their story, will have this book to remind the world of the Jewish contribution to the struggle."

Its message, he added, was that "Jews must actively stand up against all forms of racism and discrimination and this should remain an active refrain for Jewish leaders today."

Guests included Amos Goldreich, son of one of Mr Mandela's most cherished comrades in arms in the African National Congress, Arthur Goldreich.

Last updated: 11:26am, May 17 2012