JOHANNESBURG (Nov. 23)
Jewish newspapers here replied editorially today to remarks by Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd linking South African Jews to Israel’s United Nations stand in opposition to the Verwoerd Government’s Apartheid policy.
Affirming South African Jewry’s position as a community of African citizens who cannot be held responsible for Israel’s policies, the Jewish papers said that, in South Africa’s internal politics, the Jews here have the full democratic right to vote for whatever political party each voter favors.
The Zionist Record, organ of the South African Zionist Federation, said that the position of the Jew in South Africa is that he is a South African citizen with the full right to Join any lawful party he wishes. Jews in fact have joined all parties, including the Nationalists, the paper said, adding that: “How many Jews voted for the Progressive party is neither known nor material.” The paper said that the difference between South Africa and Israel was a “conflict of interests between two sovereign states and must be resolved as such without involving identifiable groups of citizens in the struggle.”
The Revisionist Jewish Herald said that, while it criticized Israel’s vote against South Africa at the United Nations as an error, it was wrong for the Premier to link South African Jewish citizens as a group with a policy of Israel, or to seek to make them responsible for that policy. It was also wrong, the paper said, for the Premier to criticize those Jews who voted for the party in opposition to his own. The Herald added that there was no connection between Israel’s vote at the UN and the democratic right of citizens of South Africa to express themselves as they wished in local elections.
The independent Southern African Jewish Times said that the Jews would not be intimidated by the Premier’s letter, that they would stand on their rights as citizens of a democratic country and also on their ties with Israel and world Jewry. These ties, the paper said, have nothing to do with Israel’s vote against South Africa at the United Nations on which there was a difference of opinion both here and in Israel. This was a matter to be discussed at government level, the paper added, and South African Jews could not be hostage to force Israel’s hand at the United Nations.
In editorial reaction in the South African general press both the Rand Daily Mail and the Star sharply criticized the letter as mistaken in concept, and urged the Jews to stand firmly on their rights as citizens to support whatever parties they chose.