South African Jewry and the Government: Not a Political Body Put Citizens of Country Jewish Board of
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South African Jewry and the Government: Not a Political Body Put Citizens of Country Jewish Board of

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The Jews are not a political body, but citizens of the country, the South African Board of Jewish Deputies points out in a statement which it has issued replying to the warning addressed recently (given in the J.T.A. Bulletin of the 4th. inst.) by Dr. F. D. Malan, the South African Minister of the Interior, to the Jewish population that if Jews do not stop opposing the Immigration Quota Restriction Law, he will awaken a feeling of hatred against the Jews in the country.

Dr. Malan’s utterance has given the impression, the statement proceeds, that he wanted to terrify the Jews into joining or not joining a particular political party, or to keep silence on a subject on which they feel a sense of injustice.

To this statement, Dr. Malan has sent a reply in which he denies that he suggested that the Jewish Board of Deputies was a political organisation, or that the Jews have no right to oppose any measure or any party. I only issued a warning, he says, against a section of the Jewish population who are organising a movement to defeat the Government, and for that purpose are exploiting the feeling that exists on account of the Quota Immigration Restriction Law.


Dr. Malan’s essay into Hitlerism is not a maiden effort, the “South African Jewish Chronicle”, dated November 6th., which has just reached London, comments in an editorial article on the Minster’s statement.

Before the Quota Bill became an Act of Parliament, when Jewish resentment at what was declared to be a gratuitous insult to the Jewish citizens of South Africa was expressed in public meetings held all over the country, Dr. Malan, alone of all politicians in favour of the measure, the paper writes, hinted at the big stick of antisemitism. His reiteration of the covert threat at the present juncture would seem to imply that he would not hesitate to give his blessing to an agitation designed to deprive the Jew of that which as a citizen of this country he is entitled to – freedom of political views and speech. The Jews of South Africa, no whit less than the other citizens of this country, have at all time, followed their own individual political predelictions and still maintain their right to do so irrespective of the Quota Act and the political designation of the party for the time being in power. Assuming that there are Jewish individuals who support Dr. Steenkamp, the threatened victimisation of the whole of South African Jewry on that account is a monstrous statement from a Minister of the Government. We unhappily regret that that is the only intelligible meaning to be attached to Dr. Malan’s words: “The Jews have, in the past, always had a friend in the Nationalist Party, and I warn them that if they want to hit us they may be assured that we will hit back”.

The Jews of South Africa resented, and still resent, the Quota Act, frankly and unashamedly, as an insult to the existing Jewish population of the country. Their resentment has been open, public and above board and they are entitled no less than their Dutch – or English-speaking fellow countrymen to seek to remove, legitimately and by the will of the majority of the people, an offensive measure from the Statute Book. That, surely, is a constitutional aspiration which not even Dr. Malan can deny them. The Quota Act was passed by the Union Parliament and received support from all parties: to talk of Jewish “revenge” against the Nationalist Party is so much balderdash. The Jewish objective is to bring about a change of mind of the people of South Africa to a realisation of an injustice done both to the Jews and to South Africa itself by the Quota act as it now stands.

Dr. Malan talks of Jews who are afraid to come out in the open “and for that reason they make use of men such as Dr. Steenkamp to fight the Nationalist Party”. We challenge Dr. Malan, the “Jewish Chronicle” declares, to substantiate those remarks. We challenge him to prove any underhand machinations and to name any Jewish individual, reputable or otherwise, who is guilty of the accusation he makes.


There is not the slightest justification for Dr. Malan’s accusation, Chief Rabbi Dr. J. L. Landau writes. There may be single individuals, who, for political reasons try to exploit the Quota Act in favour of their party, but surely no one has a right to maintain that they represent the whole Jewish community of the Union.

Nor can we be blamed for resenting the Quota Act. We never tried to conceal our feelings and our views regarding that measure when it was passed almost unanimously by Parliament with the exception of the Jewish votes and those of a few friends of our people.

We publicly and very strongly expressed our feelings at mass meetings, which were fully reported in the daily press and, indeed, we blame the South African Party at least as much as the Nationalists for allowing the Bill to pass without any amendment. They, as an Opposition party, had an excellent opportunity of at least removing the sting from the Bill, and let it be clearly understood that it is the sting that is most resented.

It is a fact that it reflects not only on our people in the Eastern European countries, but just as much on those who are already here, and have even, according to leading Christian members of this sub-continent, proved excellent citizens, who have considerably and loyally contributed towards the commercial, industrial and spiritual development of this country.

Dr. Malan must know, Dr. Landau concludes, that in spite of the Quota Act there are in his party many prominent and influential Jews. It has always been to the credit of our community here, as well as in other countries, that its members have been free to act politically according to their personal convictions and that they approach their political problems not as Jews but as citizens.

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