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South African Jewish Presg Rejects Suspicions on Jewish Loyalty

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The local Jewish newspapers editorially endorsed the statement issued by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies criticizing recent comments in some Afrikaans newspapers on the position of the Jew in South African politics, and in particular an article by Dirk Richard, editor of the pro-Government weekly, “Dagbreek,” saying that many Afrikaners were suspicious of where the Jews stood politically, and whether, if the need arose, they could be relied upon to defend the country “to the last ditch.”

Both the “Zionist Record” and the “Southern African Jewish Times” agreed with Mr. Richard that once such suspicion exists, it is better that it be brought into the open and be frankly discussed. The “Zionist Record” says “we are loath to believe that Mr. Richard, and those whose views he reflects, are prepared to endorse such reactionary and dangerous doctrines. His thesis has evoked deep resentment in Jewish circles. It calls into question the status of Jews as citizens, and their loyalty to the Republic, and also basic democratic principles which South African has hitherto professed.

“While maintaining their group identity and institutions, Jews are, and wish to be accepted as, full South African citizens, integrated into all aspects of South African life,” the Zionist organ stresses. “South African Jewry has never acted as a political entity. On the contrary, individual Jewish citizens have zealously asserted their right to think and act independently in political matters, and they have, in fact, been found among the supporters of all the political parties.” The Jewish community had proved its loyalty to South Africa, the paper points out.

The “Southern African Jewish Times” says that when the present Government came to power in 1948, its first Premier, Dr. D. F. Malan, “stated as a plank of policy that Jews were full and equal citizens of South Africa” and this assurance had been reaffirmed by Mr. J.G. Strijdom and Dr. H.F. Verwoerd when they successively attained the premiership. “Each accepted that, as full and equal citizens of South Africa, Jews followed their individual predilections in politics, and there was no such thing as a ‘Jewish group’ attitude. Nor did they see any incompatibility between this position and the existence of a Jewish community bound together by ties of Jewish religion, Jewish culture and Jewish history. Through all the ups and downs which South Africa has undergone, including civil revolt and two world wars, there has never been any question that when there was need to defend the country, its Jewish citizens were in it with all other citizens — even to the last ditch, as many South African Jews proved with their lives.”

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