JOHANNESBURG (Sep. 5)
A resolution urging every Jewish citizen in South Africa to make “his individual contribution toward the promotion of understanding, good will and cooperation between all peoples and races” in this country was adopted unanimously here last night at the concluding “public relations” session of the 22nd biennial congress of the Board of Deputies of South African Jews.
Earlier in the congress, Namie Phillips, chairman of the Board of Deputies, told the 350 delegates and observers that the forthcoming referendum in the Union of South Africa, on whether the country is to become a republic, does not involve “a Jewish vote.”
Last night’s resolution reaffirmed that view, holding that Jews participating in politics do so as individuals, in accordance with their personal convictions. The debate on the resolution showed keen awareness of South Africa’s complex problems, but emphasized the fact that cordial relations exist in this country between Jews and non-Jews. Leaders of the Jewish community stressed their satisfaction at the fact that there is no “lunatic fringe” in South Africa advocating disunity between Jews and Gentiles.
At the same time, however, the session also noted “with concern” the increasing trend toward identifying faculty members and students in some universities by religion. Stressing the principle of “freedom of conscience,” the congress called for safe-guarding that principle in state educational institutions for “all teachers and students, irrespective of their religious belief.”
In his presidential address, Mr. Phillips had told the congress that South African Jews “participate in South African life as citizens of the country, and they have no attitude as a community regarding political issues raised by the referendum.”
He said he hoped that each individual Jew “will exercise his vote conscientiously and fearlessly in accordance with his personal view of what is best for the interests of South Africa and its inhabitants. Whatever the result of the referendum, it is the unqualified duty of every citizen to give his complete loyalty to the nation.”
GROWTH OF JEWISH COMMUNAL LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA EMPHASIZE
In a review of the period since the previous congress, which culminated in South Africa’s Golden Jubilee this year, he said that, as far as the Jewish community was concerned, “our communal life was more highly developed, our educational and religious facilities are much greater.” He added that, if the Jewish record of growth during the 50 years was creditable, “this is testimony to the spirit of tolerance and fair play which generally marked the relationship between Jew and non-Jew,”
He asserted that South Africa remained faithful to the traditions of religious freedom brought from England and Holland, and that the Jews shared to the full the same opportunities as their fellow countrymen.