Envoy Says South Africa’s Trade with Black Africa Greater Than with Israel

Israel’s trade with South Africa has been “vastly overrated and exaggerated,” according to Ambassador Abe Hoppenstein, Consul-General of South Africa in New York. He told the Associates of the American Friends of Tel Aviv University at the group’s monthly forum this week that trade between Jerusalem and Johannesburg amounted to only $250 million in 1984. He said this represented “one-half of one percent of Israel’s foreign trade and less than one-quarter of one percent of South Africa’s trade with other nations.”

He added: “Black African countries currently have 12 times more trade with South Africa than Israel does, and of course such countries as Great Britain, France, West Germany and the United States have huge volumes of trade with us.”

Hoppenstein, who held key leadership posts with the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, the country’s central Jewish communal organization, and the South African Zionist Federation, described the rich communal life of South African Jewry and its strong ties to Israel.

“Sixty percent of our country’s Jewish youngsters attend Hebrew day schools and 85 percent of South African Jews have visited Israel at least once,” he said. Noting that the South African Jewish community had consistently recorded the highest per capita giving to Israeli causes — “without benefit of tax deductions” — Hoppenstein declared: “Every one of South Africa’s 120,000 Jews is a Zionist.”

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