JOHANNESBURG (Dec. 2)
No change in attitude by the Nationalist Government toward the Jewish community of South Africa is anticipated as a result of the dramatic choice of 61-year-old Johannes G. Strydom to succeed Dr. Daniel F. Malan as head of the party and Premier of the Union.
During their six years in office, the Nationalists have demonstrated that they have decisively turned their back on the World War II period when they were critical of the Jewish community, and tread the same path of friendship to the Jewish community as every other South African Government has done.
Mr. Strydom is not different from other members of the Malan Cabinet in this respect. In fact, it was he who first announced that the Nationalists–then in opposition to the Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts government–would recognize the newly established State of Israel if the party were voted into power.
That was in 1948, before the general election and before Marshal Smuts granted Israel de facto recognition. Some observers believe that Mr. Strydom’s announcement forced Marshal Smuts’ recognition on the eve of the election. The Nationalists, voted into office in that election, converted the de facto recognition to de jure and from the commencement of their regime followed the previous administration’s policy of friendship and aid to the Jewish National Homeland.
Informed circles say that when the Transvaal Nationalist Party in September, 1951, dropped its wartime ban against Jews being accepted as members of the provincial division of the party, Mr. Strydom was largely responsible for the decision. Certainly no such decision could have been taken without his consent, since he was then as now the unquestioned leader of the Transvaal Nationalists.
At last year’s celebration of Israel Independence Day at the Israel Legation at Praetoria, Mr. Strydom proposed the toast to Israel, on behalf of the Union Government. Mr. Strydom has always received with courtesy all Jews who have had official business with him, and it is anticipated here that this attitude will prevail in his dealings with the Jewish community.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation yesterday sent messages of good wishes to retiring Premier Malan. Both organizations expressed their appreciation of his personal, and his government’s, friendship for the State of Israel. The Zionists noted particularly that Dr. Malan was the first foreign Premier to visit Israel.