Jews in So. Africa Mourn Death of Premier; Backed Jewish Equality

The Jewish community of South Africa mourned today Johannes G. Strijdom, Nationalist Prime Minister who died yesterday at the age of 65. Mr. Strijdom’s term of office was characterized by a marked friendliness toward Israel and a cordiality toward the Jewish community backed by a strongly-worded guarantee, scrupulously observed, of its equal position among the white population of this country.

A message of condolence by Edel Horvitz, chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, broadcast today over the national radio service, called the Prime Minister’s “last heroic battle” to carry out his public duties in the face of ill health “typical of his fortitude and devotion.”

Chief Rabbi Louis I. Rabinowitz, in a statement late yesterday at the dedication of a new youth center adjoining the Great Synagogue of this city, spoke of the Prime Minister as a man who filled the Biblical qualifications of a ruler who “kept God’s word at his hand and often turned to it for guidance.”

Before he became Prime Minister, Mr. Strijdom publicly welcomed the establishment of the State of Israel and on Israel’s first birthday he represented the then Prime Minister Daniel F. Malan at the Israel Embassy reception here, voicing the Nationalist government’s friendship for the Jewish State.

In his first interview with the PTA after his accession to the Prime Ministership in 1954, Mr. Strijdom, one of the architects of the current policy of apartheid, stated: “The rights of the Jews as full and equal citizens in South Africa with all other sections of the white population remain the same under my government as under all previous governments of the Union.”

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