Israeli Leaders, Dalai Lama Not Attending Mandela Funeral
It is amazing that the world is honoring a communist and former terrorist like this.
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The State of Israel may not send a senior political figure–either President Shimon Peres or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu–to South Africa for the memorial or funeral of former President Nelson Mandela this week, citing costs and security concerns. Similarly, the Dalai Lama–often associated in popular culture with Mandela as a symbol of peace–will not be attending either, after being repeatedly denied entry visas.
The Dalai Lama’s absence is easier to understand. As South Africa and other African nations have moved closer to China’s orbit, they have become more accommodating of Chinese foreign policy preferences. The South African government has been prepared to appease the Chinese government’s wishes regarding the isolation of the Dalai Lama over the objections of local human rights activists and spiritual enthusiasts.
The Israeli decision is more difficult to decipher. The simplest explanation is probably the best: given the chaotic nature of the public events around Mandela’s memorial and funeral, the security risks for Israeli leaders may simply be too high in a country that has often been a conduit for radical Islamists. Yet it is also possible that Israel is aiming a diplomatic snub at the increasingly anti-Israel South African government.