NEW YORK (Oct. 6)
“To be a Jew means to be against apartheid. To be a Jew means to be against racial discrimination” declared Yitzhak Shamir, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel.
Shamir stated categorically that the position of Israel, the State of Israel, and the government of Israel on South Africa is clear: “We are against apartheid, we oppose any racial discrimination, and we have said it openly before other governments ever dared to say anything on this subject.”
Addressing a group of civic leaders and government officials convened by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Shamir asserted that the system of apartheid could never be acceptable to Israel because it stands in opposition to its moral principles. “Apartheid is against all of the lessons of Jewish history,” Shamir said, and Israel has communicated this to the South Africans at all appropriate international forums.
EXPLAINS ISRAEL’S RELATIONS WITH PRETORIA
In response to a question from the publisher of the Amsterdam News, a leading Black weekly published in New York, Shamir stated that Israel maintains diplomatic relations with Pretoria largely because of the need to maintain contact with the Jewish community in South Africa which has clearly stated its opposition to apartheid.
However, the Foreign Minister made it very clear that beyond diplomatic relations, all other ties with South Africa are “constrained and very reduced moreso than with almost all Western and some African countries”.
Shamir expressed his disappointment with the failure of the global community to give enough importance to solving the famine ravaging the African continent which “may be the most important international problem after the peace issue.”
The Foreign Minister outlined Israel’s extensive programs of cooperation with Black African countries that try to develop an infrastructure for the production of food utilizing achievements in agricultural technology and innovative irrigation techniques developed in Israel.
Shamir called on the countries of the free world to “take this example and work together with us towards saving millions of starving suffering men, women and children.”
DETECTS CHANGE OF STYLE IN THE USSR
Commenting on the role of the Soviet Union in the Middle East, the Foreign Minister said that although he has detected a change in style, there have been no changes in the policies of the Soviet Union in regard to Israel and Jewish emigration. However, Shamir said he believes that Soviet bloc countries are altering their attitude toward Israel and he stressed that they must be given every opportunity “to take such a step even if they are hesitant.
In view of this positive trend among those aligned with the Soviets, Shamir expressed the hope that “in the interest of Israel and the free world, “responsible governments will “encourage any sign of change in the intransigent and stubborn positions of the Soviet Union.”
The meeting last Friday was chaired by Peggy Tishman, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of N.Y. Other Israeli officials in attendance included Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Consul General Moshe Yegar. Among those in attendance were leaders of the Black and Hispanic communities, top city and state officials, legislators, educators and organizational leaders.