CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Sept. 23 (JTA) – South African President Nelson Mandela was awarded an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University this week. But the ceremony was held here rather than in Israel because Mandela has indicated he will not visit the Middle East until he is able to make a meaningful contribution to the peace process. Nonetheless, the event drew dignitaries from around the world, including Knesset speaker Dan Tichon. Avishay Braverman, president of Ben-Gurion University, which is located in the Negev Desert, said at the ceremony that Mandela is “a master in bringing people together.” Braverman added that he hoped the spirit of Mandela would “prevail upon all the leaders of the Middle East” in their quest for peace. Mandela said the honorary doctorate, in philosophy, was “a triumph of the whole South African nation” who transformed conflict into “a society where all can work together to make the people of the rainbow nation blossom.” While South Africans do not believe they can solve others’ conflicts, Mandela said that “we do believe that our own humble experience has shown that negotiated solutions can be found even to conflicts that have come to seem intractable.”
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