Cape Town (Nov. 2)
Dr. F. D. Malan, the Minister of the Interior in the South African Government, who introduced the Immigration Quota Restriction Law which was enacted in March 1930 and went into force on May 1st., 1930, made a remarkable speech to-day, warning “a section of Jews”, who, he alleged, want to take revenge on the Nationalist Party for enacting the Immigration Quota Restriction Law, but “fearing to come into the open are using men like Dr. Steenkamp” (the leader of the South African New Party, who has seceded from the Nationalist Party and has declared on the platform that he is in favour of repealing the Act, “because it was aimed at the Jews”), in order to fight the Nationalists.
I do not know how many Jews agree with this agitation, the Minister said, but I want to warn those who fan the agitation that it will be very easy to awaken a feeling of hatred against the Jews in the country.
The Quota Act, he declared, was introduced in the interests of the whole country, including the Jews. There was a feeling of unrest over the low type of immigrants coming from Eastern Europe, and the whole country demanded legislation to limit this immigration. The unrest threatened to develop into a feeling of hatred against the Jews, and as a result of the Quota Act this bad feeling has died down.
In the past, he went on, the Jews always had the Nationalist Party as a friend, but I want to warn them that if they hit at us they may rest assured that we shall hit back. If they go on with this campaign, I can assure them that at the next election we shall force every candidate to reply unequivocally to the question whether he is in favour or against the repealing of the Quota Act. If they want an election on the Quota Act, I can assure them that they will get it, and then the Jews themselves will be in a position to see what they were doing in sacrificing the friendly relations between them and the Nationalist section of the people.
Once again, he concluded, I want to emphasise that the Quota Act was adopted in the interest of the Jews as well as the whole country and if they continue with this campaign they will in the long run do a great deal of harm to themselves.
JEWISH DEPUTIES DENOUNCED BILL DURING DISCUSSION IN PARLIAMENT AS DEFINITELY AIMED AT JEWS: DR. MALAN’S WARNING TO JEWS AT TIME TO KEEP DOWN HOSTILITY OF POPULATION “WHICH IN OTHER PARTS OF WORLD HAS HAD DISASTROUS RESULTS”: GENERAL SMUTS’ ADMISSION IN SPEAKING FOR BILL THAT JEWS ARE UNPOPULAR: THOUGH VOTING IN FAVOUR OF IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION HE SAID MY PARTY DEPLORES METHOD OF THIS BILL AIMED AT JEWISH SECTION OF PEOPLE
Jewish opinion in South Africa has been practically unanimous from the moment that the Immigration Quota Restriction Act was first introduced in Parliament by Dr. Malan, that it is an anti-Jewish measure, and it was the proposal of the Secretary of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Mr. Carter, that the day on which it came into force, May 18th., 1930, should be observed as a day of prayer and mourning.
The Jewish Deputies in Parliament were all agreed in protesting against it as clearly directed against the Jews. Mr. Morris Kentridge said in the House that the Bill was definitely aimed at the Jews. Mr. Charles B. Robinson, another Jewish Deputy, said that the measure was the thin end of the wedge to keep the Jews out of South Africa, and Deputies Emile Nathan and Eli Buirski denounced it as a stigma upon the Jewish population. Dr. Malan in replying to their opposition, referred also to resolutions against the Bill adopted by various Jewish Communities in South Africa, and after explaining that the country was alarmed at the decreasing stream of Nordic immigration, warned the Jews to “keep down the hostility of the population”, which, he said, “in other parts of the world has led to disastrous results”.
Mr. Kentridge asked the Minister of Justice to explain the Government’s attitude in view of his public statement only a month previously that the Jewish immigrants were the only ones who did not fall a burden on the State. He also quoted the tribute paid to the Jews by the Prime Minister, General Hertzog, the leader of the Nationalist Party, at a recent banquet to Mr. Reuben Brainin, in which he had said that “the Jews had played a role in South Africa “second to none of the great sections of the people”, and that “if ever there was a section looked upon by the Afrikanders as fellow-Afrikanders it is the Jewish section”. The Premier’s reply to this was to say that South Africa already had four national problems – the native, the coloured, the Indian and the European, and immigration was threatening to become a fifth.
General Smuts, speaking in favour of the Bill, admitted that the Jews may be unpopular in South Africa, but he urged that they had done their share and perhaps more than their share in the past, and he would be sorry to see a law passing a stigma upon them. His Party was voting for the Bill, he explained, because it was in agreement that some form of restriction of immigration was necessary, but he deprecated the method of the Bill as invidious and illiberal and undoubtedly aimed at a certain section of the population.
“A BLOW TO EVERY JEW IN SOUTH AFRICA”
We see in the Bill not merely an attempt to shut almost entirely the gates of South Africa to our brethren from Eastern Europe, but a measure which in its character is most degrading not only to the Jew who may be seeking the hospitality of South Africa, but equally so to the Jew who is here, and who has so strikingly excelled himself in his service to this country and has bestowed so much credit upon it, one of the leading Jewish papers in South Africa wrote when the Bill was passed.
The vast majority of the Jews in South Africa hail originally from the “unspecified” countries, and whatever applies to immigrants who come to-day from such countries applies equally to their more fortunate brethren already in South Africa. If anything, the present-day immigrant from Lithuania, Latvia, or Poland, is superior to the one of 30 years ago, and his standard of living and civilisation is higher; and in attempting to keep him out of South Africa a blow is given to every Jew in this country – a blow which will not be taken “lying down”.
The opportunities which South Africa could offer to Jewish immigration were dwelt on by Dr. Leo Bramson, the President of the World Federation O.R.T., when he returned from his South African tour in 1928, in the course of an address in Berlin to the United Jewish Emigration Committee (Emigdirekt) in which, speaking on the basis of a year’s experience of the country, he said that with favourable conditions and careful control of the immigration movement South Africa could become a country for a concentrated and systematic immigration of productive Jewish elements. They ought to concentrate, he urged, on bringing over the best type of Jewish immigrant, the productive and creative Jew, in order to win South African confidence. If they carried on such a systematic work for some years, he claimed, they would find that there would be no more difficulties in the way of a natural stream of immigration.