JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Nelson Mandela Foundation denied an Israeli newspaper report that Mandela received training from Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency in the 1960s.
“Media have picked up on a story alleging that in 1962 Nelson Mandela interacted with an Israeli operative in Ethiopia,” the foundation said in a statement on Saturday. “The Nelson Mandela Foundation can confirm that it has not located any evidence in Nelson Mandela’s private archive … that he interacted with an Israeli operative during his tour of African countries in that year.”
In 1962, Mandela received military training in Morocco and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, according to the statement.
“In 2009 the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s senior researcher travelled to Ethiopia and interviewed the surviving men who assisted in Mandela’s training — no evidence emerged of an Israeli connection,” the statement said.
According to a report Dec. 19 in Haaretz, Mandela was trained by Mossad agents in weaponry and sabotage in 1962. The report was based on a document in the Israel State Archives labeled “Top Secret.”
The document, a letter sent from the Mossad to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, said Mossad operatives also attempted to encourage Zionist sympathies in Mandela, Haaretz reported.
Mandela led the struggle against apartheid in his country from the 1950s. He was arrested, tried and released a number of times before going underground in the early 1960s. In January 1962, he left South Africa and visited various African countries, including Ethiopia, Algeria, Egypt and Ghana, before being imprisoned in 1964 for nearly three decades.
According to the Haaretz report, Mandela met with the Israelis in Ethiopia, where he arrived under the alias David Mobsari.
The letter was discovered several years ago by David Fachler, 43, a resident of Alon Shvut who was researching documents about South Africa for a master’s thesis.