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Johannesburg Jews Oppose Histadrut Proposal to Boycott So. Africa

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The “overwhelming majority” of South African Jews would be “distressed” by a boycott of the Union of South Africa by any Israeli organization “and profoundly trusts that this will never happen,” a spokesman of the Board of Deputies of South African Jews declared today.

The statement was made to the Afrikaans newspaper, “Dagbreek,” in reply to a request from the periodical for comment on a report that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion supported in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, a proposal by Histadrut chief Pinhas Lavon for a boycott of South Africa over its apartheid policies.

The spokesman was Edel Horowitz, chairman of the Zionist Federation, who told the newspaper that while South African Jews had no authority over Histadrut policies, he felt that relations between South Africa and Israel were cordial and that all persons concerned hope they would remain that way.

He added that Mr. Ben-Gurion’s comment had been incorrectly reported and that what had been under discussion was not a boycott but a protest against events in South Africa. Mr. Horowitz said that Mr. Ben-Gurion had supported the Histadrut leader’s right to protest but had at the same time clearly dissociated the Israel Government from that protest.

“There is no question of the Israel Government engaging in or sanctioning a boycott of South Africa,” he declared. “On the contrary, the Government and the people of Israel are anxious to establish the closest trade relations with South Africa. As chairman of the Zionist federation, I can confirm that we are anxious to do everything possible to promote the traditional bonds of friendship and understanding between Israel and South Africa and we hope they will endure forever.”

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