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Black Newsmen and Israeli Official Discuss South African-israeli Relations

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Israel’s policies of aid to the emerging nations of black Africa and the “sticky question” of its relations with the Republic of South Africa, were explained in detail to a group of visiting American Negro journalists in Jerusalem recently. An almost verbatim report of the briefing given the American group by Mordechai Lador, of the Israel Foreign Ministry, was published in the New York Amsterdam News, the largest Negro weekly newspaper in America. The account was given by Dick Edwards, a columnist for the Amsterdam News, in the second part of his series “Black Man in Israel.” Mr. Edwards was one of ten black newsmen from all over the United States invited on a fact-finding tour of Israel. The tour was organized by the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League and was conducted by the Israel Government.

Quoting Mr. Lador on Israel’s program of technical aid to black African countries, Mr. Edwards wrote: “We find that in many of these countries, the Israeli experience is close to the African people. For instance, if they came to America…and went to the Ford Motor Co.. it is so huge that, going back to African countries, it is completely irrelevant to local African situations. On the other hand, the chances of establishing a Ford company in Liberia, or even Ghana, are remote. Here (in Israel)we have smaller plants, people get to know each other and logically speaking, plants here are more relevant to local African conditions.”

Mr. Edwards reported that the Israeli official “fielded the sticky question on why the Israelis did business with racist South Africa with the following explanation: ‘We have limited relations with South Africa in order to express the displeasure of Israelis with their apartheid policies. We don’t have an ambassador there. Our diplomatic mission is headed by a charge d’affaires. We have in the United Nations supported all moves, mainly those initiated by the African countries, to impress South Africa that their apartheid policies are repugnant to the conscience of all mankind…In South Africa there is a Jewish community of over 100,000 and we are fearful lest the attitude which brings apartheid may degenerate into very unpleasant anti-Semitism.”

Mr. Edwards, in the first part of his series, said that initially he was suspicious of Israeli propaganda intentions, but was favorably impressed by the candid manner in which the Israeli spokesman answered the group’s questions about relations with the Arabs and Israel’s policies in the occupied territories.

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