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S. African Government Suspends Transfer of Funds to Israel

The South African Zionist Federation expressed regret today over the government’s decision to suspend all transfers of funds from South Africa to Israel. The government said the measure was a temporary one that would be reviewed when clarification was obtained on Israel’s donation of $2,800 in food and medical supplies to the Organization for African Unity. South African Jews have the world’s highest per capita rate of support for Israel. Since the June, 1967 Six-Day War more than $28 million has been remitted to Israel with the South African government’s approval. The Jewish population of South Africa is about 120,000. The suspension of fund transfers reflected the anger aroused by the donation to the OAU which Israel said it made on humanitarian grounds in response to an appeal from the United Nations Secretary General for aid to victims of natural disaster. The South African government regards the OAU as a terrorist organization. The OAU, an umbrella organization that supports African “freedom fighter” movements opposed to colonialism and apartheid, has received aid and support from several Western governments. The Israeli donation was bitterly condemned by Premier Vorster and by the South African press. The Zionist Federation and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies issued a joint statement deploring it as a “blunder.” The Zionist Federation’s statement today expressed “confident hope, based on the government’s sympathetic understanding of the humanitarian purposes for which the funds are used, that the suspension will soon be lifted.”