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Church in South Africa Disassociates Itself from Anti-jewish Tract

The top leader of the Dutch Reformed Church in this country today disassociated himself, the Church and the South African Government completely from anti-Jewish attacks recently printed in a newsletter called “Antikom,” issued by the Interchurch Anti-Communist Action Committee of the Dutch Reformed Churches.

In a statement made to the Southern African Jewish Times, Dr. A.J. van dor Merwe, first moderator of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church, who is also moderator of the Cape Synod, noted that he had received a protest against the Antikom articles from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. He said that the protest would be dealt with soon by the Church leadership and added:

“If I know my Church, you won’t find a Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in any of the provinces that would support or lend itself to any movement which aims at persecuting Jews. They would disapprove of it strongly. I believe our Church sincerely hopes and tries to live on friendly terms with the Jewish community.”

“As a matter of fact,” the leading clergyman added, “the Government would resist it. It is certainly doing this Government an injustice to compare anything it is doing with anything that was done by the Nazis in Germany.”

Dr. van der Merwe explained that the committee which issued the newsletter does not speak for the Church, saying: “No committee could speak for the General Synod, which is the only voice of the Church.” He declared that, while recognizing Communism as a threat to all religion, and we would welcome it if Jews joined the struggle against Communism, “we must forget some of our differences and stand together for the things that are dear to both sides. South Africa would have been a poorer community without its Jews; it would have been a poorer community without its English and Dutch-speaking citizens.”

JEWISH BOARD OF DEPUTIES OUTLINES STAND OF JEWISH COMMUNITY

At the same time, the Jewish Board of Deputies issued a reply it had given to a newspaper, Die Transvaler, which had inquired whether the Jewish community disassociated itself from Communism. The board stated:

“No less than any other section of the population, the Jewish community seeks to advance the welfare and peaceful development of all its inhabitants Representative Jewish spokesmen, both lay and clerical, have on numerous occasions affirmed that they stand for law and order and for political progress through constitutional means, and that they unreservedly condemn and reject subversion and violence in the political field.”

In reply to a question asked by the newspaper as to the alleged “number of Jewish names” among those sponsoring Communism, the Board stated: “Such persons constitute only a tiny fraction of the Jewish population. The Jewish community has as little control or influence upon these individuals as the Afrikaan or English communities have upon Afrikaner or English Communists. No other section in South Africa could for a moment be held responsible, or accept responsibility. The Jewish community is no exception.”

The Board also pointed out that Jews here have repeatedly criticized the Soviet Union for anti-Jewish oppressions in the religious and cultural fields, declaring: “This worldwide concern over the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union is shared by South African Jewry.”

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