Tablet (“A New Read on Jewish Life”) is another of the many ethnocentric webzines focused on Jewish identity.
“Nelson Mandela Was a Revolutionary—and These Jews Made Common Cause With Him” is an article the historical analogues of which took place in may other places (e.g., disproportionate Jewish involvement with the Soviet Communist Revolution, the ‘Civil Rights’ movement in the U.S., the founding of organizations such as NAACP, etc.):
In 1963, after South African police arrested six Jews and seven blacks in a raid on an African National Congress hideout in the Johannesburg suburb of Rivonia—a sweep that eventually landed Nelson Mandela in prison for more than 25 years—a white nationalist newspaper asked whether Jews were unhappy in South Africa. The community’s Board of Deputies responded unequivocally that the opposite was true, promising that South Africa’s Jews were loyal and patriotic. “No part of the community can or should be asked to accept responsibility” for the actions of a few, the board insisted in its official reply.
The Board of Deputies, it seems, vastly underestimated where this group’s loyalties rested.
In time, of course, Mandela became a hero, and the actions of those few became a point of pride for South African Jews. Beginning with his years at Johannesburg’s more or less integrated University of the Witwatersrand—aka “Wits”—and later as an apprentice to a Jewish law firm, Nelson Mandela had a political life that was profoundly intertwined with those of Jewish activists who, to varying degrees, found in their Jewish identity the imperative to object to a system that, while almost completely welcoming to them, treated blacks in a way that many of these children of European refugees found discomfitingly familiar.
While most South Africa Jews took the silent, implicitly conservative position of the Board of Deputies, the great majority of white South Africans involved in “the struggle” were Jewish. Many were Communists. Most were lawyers. A few had money. But all faced what has been described as a “double marginality”: not fully accepted as white, while also alienated from an organized Jewish community beholden to the powers that be.
For more on interpreting Jewish involvement in leftist radical movements across the gentile world, read Yuri Slezkine’s The Jewish Century or anything by Kevin MacDonald. [MacDonald’s review of Slezkine’s award-winning book, which I read this past summer, provides a good overview of Slezkine’s thesis and historical findings.]
With respect to South Africa, The Great Erasure might be good complementary reading:
The experience of European peoples worldwide can be said to be distinctly post-Apartheid, post-colonial, and post-national. The White man lives in a world his race once dominated and in which Black and Brown are now colonizers, in which European heritage is being taken away piece by piece: cultural heroes, literature, popular icons, identity ultimately, everything. The Great Erasure, the first volume of Radix Journal, explores these themes, with particular emphasis on contemporary South Africa.