The South African Jewish Board of Deputies hailed the release of Nelson Mandela on Monday, in a statement echoed by other Jewish spokesmen world-wide.
The board wished Mandela well and congratulated South African President F.W. de Klerk for his decision to free the African National Congress leader, who became a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement during his 27 years in prison.
“It earnestly hopes Mr. Mandela will use his considerable political experience and wisdom for creating a suitable climate for reconciliation and negotiation, which would be to the benefit of all peoples of South Africa regardless of race, color or creed,” the Jewish Board of Deputies said.
In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir made clear Monday that his country’s policy of limiting its contacts with South Africa would not change because of Mandela’s release.
“I do not think that we need change our policy when it is still unclear what the situation will be tomorrow,” Shamir told Israel Television.
In Toronto, B’nai Brith Canada congratulated the South African regime on Mandela’s release.
“It is an overdue but nevertheless bold decision,” Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada’s executive vice president, said in a statement. “We hope his freedom heralds the fastest possible end to all forms of apartheid.”
In New York, Seymour Reich, who was in South Africa only last week for meetings with the president and other political leaders, said, “President dc Klerk was true to his word.”
“Now the irrevocable process for achieving racial harmony and representative government in South Africa has begun,” said Reich, who is international president of B’nai B’rith.
Sholom Comay, president of the American Jewish Committee, declared that “freeing Nelson Mandela is a giant step on the road to a more just world.”
Lenore Feldman, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, observed, “While this is a momentous step forward and we applaud President de Klerk’s efforts, apartheid still oppresses the people of South Africa and must be dismantled.”
NCJW urged the South African government to lift the state of emergency and release all political prisoners. It supported a continuation of economic sanctions against South Africa until apartheid is abolished.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.