JOHANNESBURG (May. 31)
The “improved understanding” by the South African Government of Israel was hailed at the 26th conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies by Israeli Consul General Itzhak Unna. Praising South African Jewry’s support for Israel, the Israeli diplomat said “however much we may differ” with the South African Government “on internal political issues, we face one mighty external enemy together – Communist imperialism, which is spreading its net wider across Africa and Asia.”Maurice Porter, chairman of the board, expressed pleasure at the restoration of good-will and friendship between the Jews of South Africa and Israel, in spite of recognized differences of opinion “on matters of principle.” This was a reference to the fact that the South African Government had become irritated at Israeli opposition at the United Nations to the official policy of apartheid, which was believed to be a factor in the government’s barring of transfer of South African Jewish philanthropic contributions to Israel in 1967 after the Six-Day War.
Mr. Porter told the conference, which began here on Friday, that “we are proud to proclaim our citizenship in this republic and our responsibilities to fulfill both the rights and obligations of citizenship. It is self-evident that the destinies of South African Jewry are inseparable from those of the republic as a whole and all its inhabitants.” Responding to criticism from “some circles overseas” because South African Jewry did not take a communal stand on internal political matters, specifically in opposition to apartheid, he said “there cannot be any attempt at regimentation of political thought in any section of the population.” He reiterated the long-standing position of the board that as equal citizens, Jews participated in South African political life as individuals “following their personal views” and that the board remained convinced that this was “the only correct position.” Irving Kane of Cleveland, a former president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, praised South African Jewry’s unity and its strong backing of Israel.