Image: Daily Hearld

You probably won’t see a lot of this picture or others in non-stop TV coverage of Mandela today. You probably won’t hear Mandela quotes like this either:

“If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care.”


“If one has to refer to any of the parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government, because they are the people who are slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories, and we don’t regard that as acceptable.”

I learned about these and many more in great piece today in the Huffington Post by Mehdi Hassan. I learned absolutely none of this from watching CNN International today.

The closest CNN came to mentioning Mandela’s views on Palestine, which he had compared to his own struggle, was when an anchor briefly mentioned “his relationship with Arafat,” eyes raised as if this were a dangerous gray area.

To top it off, another CNN anchor then chimed in: “Why don’t we have an Arab Mandela?”

No suggestion of an Israeli one of course. And no mention of all the Western leaders who supported the apartheid system Mandela was imprisoned by, including the US president at the time.

So enjoy your local broadcaster’s “special coverage” of Mandela, which will probably mention none of the above and nothing in depth about a man who stood up to some of the world’s biggest players and the major media outlets that continue to fear upsetting them.

One CNN anchor put it best, joking that “none of us are as brave as he was.”


Post Script: I realized I forgot to mention a tribute interview with Tony Blair CNN did earlier today. To CNN’s credit, one anchor asked toward the end of the segment if there was any comparison, ‘as some’ have suggested (Not Mandela himself of course) between apartheid and Israeli occupation.

Blair seemed a bit stunned by the question, but then responded dismissively: “Oh…Personally I would not compare Apartheid South Africa to Israel…” He then quickly changed the subject.

  1. I’m speaking here without knowing the context, but I’m not sure why the question about an Arab Mandela is necessarily derogatory in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Surely it would be an Arab Mandela and an Israeli DeClerk? Anyways, excellent post as always!

  2. Thanks! Well the idea goes to the heart of the media narrative today: that Mandela was a figure of peace and forgiveness and the assumption by the anchor is that no Arab leader has delivered that. When in actuality Mandela supported armed struggle and was very close to the PLO position.

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