JOHANNESBURG (Nov. 24)
“Jews could be very proud of the role they had played in the upbuilding of South Africa,” Blaar Coetzee, Deputy Minister of Bantu Affairs and Education, told a large gathering of B’nai B’rith members here. He was the guest speaker at a meeting arranged by the Simon Kuper Lodge. “In commerce, industry and the professions, in the sciences, the arts and in public life, they have made a contribution which was widely appreciated,” he declared.
As an Afrikaner, said Mr. Coetzee, he had always had a deep respect for the Jewish community. “I grew up in a very religious home, and my father taught us that the Jews were God’s chosen people. I have fought anti-Semitism when it reared its ugly head here. If ever anti-Semitism should stick its head out in the National Party, I would fight it there, too. In the 12 years that I have been a member of the National Party, I’ve certainly seen no evidence of anti-Semitism there.” It was a matter for gratification, said Mr. Coetzee, that South Africa was in general free from the poison of anti-Semitism. “Of course,” he added, “we have our lunatic fringe — but which country hasn’t?”
South Africa, he continued, was today going through difficult days, when its name was unfairly blackened abroad, and power groups combined against it at the United Nations. “Even Israel votes against us at the U.N. I’m not blaming them. I know their difficulties and can understand their vote.” The South African Jewish community, however, has always demonstrated its loyalty to South Africa, he added. As citizens of the country, they were in the best position to appreciate policies which were traditional in South Africa and which were directed at the advancement of all sections of the population black as well as white, he said.