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June 04, 1976 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1976-06-04

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2 June 4, 1976


Purely Commentary

An Historic Mission

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Talmudic wisdom inherent in the proverbial "sadno
d'arho had hu," the ways of the world are like, is applicable to the experience of an
American Jew amidst his kinsmen in far odd lands. Many of the problems are related, the
aspirations are the same, the loyalies are in evidence and the concerns are equatable.
Commencing the South Africa report with the last point, the southernmost point,
rather than Johannesburg, which is to follow, the impressions gathered are filled with
admiration for a very dignified and courageous community.

The inaugural Pan-American Airlines flight from New York to Johannesburg, via Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil, which inspired the Jewish reportorial mission, introduced the visit-
ing editors to the conditions in the land which is generally viewed as filled with tensions
through the government involvement and the deep interest of the Jewish community.

SATUR, the South African Tourist Bureau, a government agency, the South African
Railways and the Jewish Board of Dtpaties of South Africa were the joint co-hosts to a
visit that must be viewed as historic because of the deeprooted desires on the part of all
involved to-establish strong links between American Jewry and South African Jewry, just
as there is the growing urgency to create the strongest links between the U.S. and South
Africa. In the process there is the aim to emphasize a sincere desire to end the racial
tensions. That is why talk about "apartheid" diminishes with the introduction of the
policy to attain the fulfillment of the program of "separate development."

The Jewish community is deeply involved in this. There are the concerns over an
uncertain future of whites outnumbered six to one — in 20 years it is anticipated that the
whites will number 8 million but the blacks will exceed 50 million. Admittedly many
youths are leaving the country. But there is a retention of confidence that the "separate
development" program,`granting autonomous status to five different tribal groups but
retaining a form of overall unity for all of South Africa may prove to be a workable
program. But there also is the problem of 32 languages being in use in South Africa —
not dialects but languages — and the South African experience is a challenging
The Jewish anxieties are akin everywhere. Jews in South Africa are as much worried
about miked marriages and assimilation as those in Brazil, as the Jews of the U.S. and
Great Britain. In South Africa the Jewish student population is 46 percent, among the
highest; just as philanthropy is on a higher scale. But the concern over intermarriage and
assimilation plagues the community.
In all of South Africa there are, in a semi-official count, 117,000 Jews, 65,000 of them
in Johannesburg, 25,000 in Cape Town. The latter became a focus of special interest at
this time because the S. A. Parliament, which divides its sessions between Pretoria and
and Cape Town was in session here during the Jewish editorial study mission. It provided
an opportunity to observe the country's valor. It was tested in two forms, with glittering

South African Jewry responded promptly to a challenge that involved a basic princi-
ple. A television program .recalling the tragedieS of World War II, with emphasis on the
Holocaust, was preemptoriously cancelled by authorities on the morning preceding the
evening's showing. Cape Town Jewish leaders acted firmly and promptly. John Simon,
the chairman of the Cape Town branch of the Jewish Board of Deputies and his associates
protested, contacted government officials and demanded revocation of a verdict that
shocked the liberals in the land. In Johannesburg, Dennis Diamond, the executive director
of the Board of Deputies; David Mann, the president; John E. Rosettenstein, the chairman
of the board; and other leaders refuted the fears over expose of the Nazi bestialities. The
very next night the program was restored and shown. The reversal had the unanimous
commendation of the press, with editorial commendation of the Jewish position. There
were some pro-Nazi echoes, but the Jewish sense of pride and justice predominated.

The other evidence relates to the "separate development," to the rejection of
"apartheid," to the Jewish liberalism. Jews are represented in all parties in parliament
and the views, logically, differ. But it was a Jewish woman, Helen Suzman, the wife of
Dr. Moses SuznPan and mother of three children, who 12 years ago organized the Progres-
sive Party and fought alone for total erasing of all restrictions on blacks. Now there are 12
Progressive Party members in the S. A. Parliament and Mrs. Suzman has the greatest

South African Jewry's Role as a Valiant Sup-
porter of Israel, as a Community with Deep Roots
in Jewish Traditions and in Aims for Racial Justice

By Philip

An Experience in Realism

respect ever of her fiercest opponents for the courage and sincerity with which she con-
ducts her battle for justice for the non-whites.
The South African friendship with Israel, more firmly cemented as a result of the
visit in Israel recently of S. A. Prime Minister John Vorster, began in greater firmness
two years ago with the establishment of embassies to supersede the previous general
consulates. South African Jewry takes great pride in the first Israel Ambassador to their
country, Itzhak Daniel Unna.
The interview with Ambassador Unna conducted by 12 American Jewish editors
added immensely to the highlights of the editors' mission. The evaluative analysis of
South African-Israeli relations enunciated by Unna emerged as a policy statement of
great significance. In the process of his explanatory definition of the two nations' relation-
ships, Unna said:
After 1961, we did not encourage them (South Africa) to open a mission in
view of our Black African policy, and, indeed, then came the votes at the Un: '
Nations when Israel aligned herself with the Black African countries and
the third world powers. Whenever apartheid came up, we voted against So
Africa . . .
We voted for sanctions against South Africa and indeed relations were, shal 1
we say, somewhat less than cordial. Things began to change a bit after the 1967
war. Now, it (Israel) is the only country to where South Africa can legally trans
fer funds. And, eventually in 1971, South Africa did
establish a Consular mission, a Consulate-General
in Tel Aviv.

Anyway, it was felt that the time had come to
raise the diplomatic mission of Israel to an Embassy
and in June 1974, the mission was raised to Embassy
and I am, for my sins, the first fully-fledged Ambas-
sador of Israel in South Africa.
The South Africans, who are very mindful of
Arab reaction over there, have officially today no re-
lations between South Africa and Israel. There are
connections which have to do with oil. South Afri-
cans have everything except oil, and they are very
keen not to foreclose any options, especially on oil...
I would say that the relationship on the whole
(between Israel and South Africa) is a commercial
relationship. Over the last seven years, I would say
that South Africa and Israel have discovered each
other economically, in terms of the tremendous nat-
ural wealths of this country, which is short of manu-
facturing skill, and the available manufacturing
skill in Israel which is short of natural wealths, and
so the supplementary and complementary aspects of
the relationship really suggest themselves, and I
think it suffers to say that in the last seven years,
trade has grown from $3 million to $80 million.


What justifies having an editors' tour? In the present
instance it is the deep interest that was shown by two val-
iant Jewish communities who are seeking closer ties with
U.S. Jewry and the concerns in such aspirations by the gov-
ernments involved. In Cape Town, the government dis-
played unusual interest in the visiting group, cabinet minis-
ters insisted on holding special sessions with them and the
conferees were the intergovernmental discussants in a ma- _
jor issue involving just rights for all races.
The Johannesburg story that is to follow next week will
embark upon the immensity of what began as a tour and
emerged as the linking of communities and cementing good
relations between distant nations.


Brazilian Jewish Community, Rooted in Freedom, Struggles Against Assimilation


(Copyright, 1976, JTA Inc.)

RIO de JANEIRO, Brazil
— Editors of English-Jew-
ish newspapers from 14
major American Jewish
communities, here on a
study mission, were given
the assurances by Jewish
spokesmen that the free-
doms Jews enjoy here are
deeprooted, guaranteed by
"a Brazilian mentality" that
does not know prejudice,
racial or religious bias.
This unanimous view-
point was asserted in spite
of their country's vote with
the Third World at the UN
defining Zionism as racism.
Oscar Bloch, vice presi-
dent of the leading Brazilian
publishing house, Bloch
Publishing Co., famous for
the Mabchete magazine and
a score of the country's lead-
ing publications, told the
American journalists that
he had confidence in assur-
ances given him by high gov-
ernment officials that the
negative vote was a one-time

act and that never again will
it symbolize that nation's
Zevi Ghivelder, admit-
tedly the best qualified
spokesman for the Jews of
Brazil as the editorial di-
rector of all the many
Bloch publications, which
have a total circulation
exceeding_ a million, con-
curred that the anti-Zion-
ist vote at the UN did not
denote the country's treat-
ment of and attitude to-
ward Jews. "The people,"
he said,"__have no bias
against anyone. Our secu-
rity is assured."
Zevi Ghivelder is presi-
dent of the Zionist Council
of Brazil which is composed
of all Zionist parties. Trans-
mission of funds abroad is
prohibited, and that applies
to Israel. Nevertheless all
Zionist parties function for
educational purposes. The
strongest group is WIZO —
Women's International
Zionist Organization — the
global counter-part of the

American Hadassah, with
the Pioneer Women a strong
The proudest Brazilian
achievement vis-a-vis Israel
occurred in January, when
814 youths went on an or-
ange-picking mission, work-
ing on Israeli farms, estab-
lishing a link between their
country and the Israelis.
"This is the best retort to
what had happened at the
UN," the Brazilians say.
Brazilian Jewry, rooted in
freedoms, concerned about
growing assimilation, nev-
ertheless takes pride in
youth volunteer roles on
Israeli kibutzim.
Brazilian Jewry is con-
cerned about youth identi-
fication. With about 20
percent of the children
enrolled in Jewish schools,
most of them retain a
knowledge of Hebrew.
There is a partial reten-
tion of strength in com-
munal organizations. The
increasing number of
mixed marriages is attrib-

uted to the vast majority's
estrangement from Jewish
school enrollment and the
indifference to the Jewish
school system as a substi-
tute for the public schools.

The more than 50,000
Jews in Rio de Janeiro are
proud of their Jewish
schools. There are more
than 3,000 children in one of
them. In Sao Paulo, with a
Jewish population exceed-
ing 70,000, there is an
equally concerned devotion
on the part of the Jewish
community td educational
tasks and whatever links
may be established with Is-
The Lubavitcher Hasidim
— the Chabad movement —
has become concerned with
the need for an improved
school system which is de-
pendent upon properly
trained teachers and has
established a yeshiva in Pe-
tropolis, not too distant
from Rio de Janeiro. In ad-
dition to training teachers,
the yeshiva plans to send

senior students to Israel for
graduate studies and even-
tual ordination as rabbis.
Concerned with the prob-
lem of intermarriage, Cha-
bad also is organizing
classes for girls at Petro-
polis and a sort of shad-
hanut, marriage brokerage
and counseling, is planned
to assure Jewish marriages.
Because the overwhelm-
ing majority of children do
not get any sort of Jewish
education, there is the usual
concern about an increasing
assimilation, the rise in in-
termarriage, a slackening of
Jewish identification.
Contributing to the con-
cern is the rapid decline in
the use and knowledge of
Yiddish, the threat to the
continuity of the Yiddish
press as a lessening of
unity in Jewish ranks.
True, Hebrew is substi-
tuted for Yiddish in the
Jewish schools, but only
when the youth identify
with Israel is the problem

There are three Yiddish
weeklies in Brazil — two in
Rio, one in Sao Paulao.
David Marcus, editor of the
Jewish Press of Rio de Ja-
neiro, admits to the diffici• 1
ties and points out t
when a Yiddish composiwr
is ill and absent, he can not
produce issues during his
absenteeism, and there are
no replacements: no _one
wishes to study or learn to
operate the Yiddish
Sociability helps retain
the strength of the commu-
nity. There are three Jewish
clubs in Rio — one with a
membership of 5,000, an-
other has 2,000, with 800 in
the third. Sports, entertain-
ments, readings and discus-
sions bring thousands to
gatherings in these clubs,
thus creating a literary-ath-
letie-social atmosphere for
all ages.
While the Brazil JewiSh
community has its tests, it
also has its encouraging fac-
(Continued on Page 5)



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