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March 10, 1978 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-03-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

56 Friday, March 10, 1918


Gloomy Prospects Augured for Rhodesian Jewry

Rhodesia's Jewish popu-
lation of 7,000 of a decade
ago is now down to some
3,000, as indicated in an
important study released
recently by the World
Jewish Congress. While the
prospects for the future aye
not optimistic, there is an
important element in the
population that has better
hopes for survival and prog-
Maurice Wagner pre-
pared the study of Rhodesia,
"Rhodesian Jewry," and
goes into great detail in
analyzing the existing con-
ditions there.
In an accompanying
memo on the study, Max
Melamet, director of the
North American branch of
the World Jewish Congress,
"When Mr. Wagner
says the only options now
for those who want to
leave Rhodesia are Israel
and South Africa, -I im-
agine he is referring to
the rank and file and not
to the small number with
special skills or other
qualifications which
would make it possible
for them to immigrate to
Canada, Australia or the
United States.
"At the present time
emigrants cannot take out
more than a very small
amount of capital from
Rhodesia, and those who are
liable for service in the
army cannot go in any cir-
cumstance. Moreover, the
property market in
Rhodesia is depressed to the
point where fixci'd assets
cannot be disposed.of except
at sacrificial prices.

"I might add, however,
that Rhodesia's economy is
a closed one, and even today
there are those, especially
in war-related production,
who are making a lot of

"Mr. Wagner is rightly
cautious about making pre-
dictions abciut how Rhode-
sian Jews would react to
black majority rule. The
situation in Rhodesia is so
fluid that one cannot make
confident predictions.

"How Jews and the
white community in gen-
eral will react to black
majority rule will depend
almost entirely on the
way it comes. If black
majority rule comes, as it
were, from the barrel of a
gun, that will be one situ-
ation; if it comes peace-
fully, especially with the
kind of guaranteed com-
pensation for whites who
want to leave that Dr.
Henry Kissinger is re-
ported to have proposed,
many whites will want to
stay and see what kind of
future is possible for

"In 1969 the Jewish popu-
lation of Rhodesia was said
to be between 5,500 and
6,000. Already then there
was a steady emigration of
Jews, and it is worth noting
that the largest white emig-
ration from Rhodesia to
South Africa was in 1963
and 1964, just after the col-
lapse of.the Central African
Federation — Southern
Rhodesia, Northern
Rhodesia (now Zambia),
Nyasaland (now Malawi)."

The article by Wagner fol-

By Maurice Wagner

General Secretary,
Central African Jewish
Board of Deputies

Rhodesian Jewry has de-
clined numerically to less
than half of its over 7,000
souls at its peak in 1961.
The high hopes engen-
dered by the setting up of
the Federation of Rhodesia
and Nyasaland in 1953
began to droop with the sec-
ession of Nyasaland in the
early 60's and the total
break-up of the Federation
in 1963. From then on the
Jewish population of
Rhodesia started to decline
at an average rate of about
250 annually.
It is estimated reliably
that the Jewish population
now numbers between
3,300 - 3,400 and that by the
end of 1977 the number will
have dropped to 3,000. In
1951 the Jewish community
constituted 3.5 percent of
the white population. In
1969 it had shrunk to 2.3
percent, in 1976 to 1.6 per-
cent and now stands at 1.4
It should be em-
phasized that despite this
constant annual drain
there has never been, nor
is there likely to be unless
- there is some radically
violent change in the
situation, a panic exodus.
Those who are departing,
or plan to do so, have suf-
ficient time to make
plans, to dispose of
businesses and houses
and generally to choose
their own time.
Many who have made

tentative plans to leave are
hanging on in the hope that
the transition to majority
rule will be a peaceful one,
and that there will be a
place for them in an African
ruled country.
In fact, there are dozens of
Jews who have already ob-
tained residence permits for
South Africa but who have
applied for an extension of
the validity of their permits
in the hope that they might
not have to move after all.
This applies particularly to
the older age groups who
may have already experi-
enced the hardships and
frustrations of one or more
uprooting in their lives.
The younger Jews can see
no future for their children
in this part of the world and
are more readily disposed to
make a fresh start
In so far as students are
concerned the drain pat-
tern goes much further
back. Most Rhodesian
students pursue their
studies at universities in
South Africa and further

Black African Paper's Arab Bias

view of the fact that Israeli world, are taking full ad-
leaders never made any en- vantage. A swing to the
SALISBURY — The couraging remarks on the right can be clearly dis-
Zimbawe Times, Salis- Palestinian issue. cerned.
"Prime Minister Begin
"He also underestimated
bury's daily paper catering
has made it absolutely
to the African masses, has the practical and political
that the idea of a
for the past few weeks
shown it's pro-Sadat bias by world's vehement opposi- Palestinian state is
They are also
publishing almost daily tion to his peace initiative.
"He should have been going ahead with plans
favorable pictures depicting
settlement in
cautious even to the point for.
him in various activities.
However, on Feb. 23, for of cancelling his peace the West Bank and Gaza.
"Sadat rather naively
the first time, it commented mission once he failed to
editorially showing its secure the support of his thought a big gesture of sin-
anti-Israeli feelings. Fol- most important allay, cerity and goodwill from
President Assad of Syria- him would produce a concil-
lowing is the editorial:
"As a result of these er- liatory attitude from the-Is-
"President Sadat's his- rors the Arab world is now raelis.
All it produced was Arab
toric visit to Israel does not bitterly divided. The cap- resentment. The best thing
seem to have paid off. On ture of Egyptian hostages
could happen to the
the contrary, it has by Palestinian commandos
Arab world is for Egypt to
weakened the Arabs vis-a- last week was an expression
swallow her pride and join
of this bitterness.
vis the Israelis.
"The prospects for the re- hands with the other Arab
"President Sadat made a
number of fundamental and
"A common opposition to
costly blunders. He exagg- peace conference, which
Israel and a real danger of
erated the Israelis' readi: were bright at one time, are war might make the Israelis
ness or desire for a genuine almost nil.
"The Israelis, aware of less arrogant and more
settlement of the Middle
East. This is surprising in the turmoil in the Arab


No Way News & Press Agency


Jews in their tracks and has
made them turn to Israel as
their second choice.
Politically, Rhodesian
Jews are as divided in
their views as the white
population generally.
While it is true that,
broadly speaking, Jews
tend to be less racist in
their individual be-
havior, there is no doubt
that they have in the past
given considerable sup-
port to the Rhodesian
Front, the ruling party.
Elly Broomberg is Minis-
ter of Information, Im-
migration and Tourism,
having previously been
Minister of Commerce
and Industry. John
Landau and Morris Low-
enthal are Members of
Till his death last year
Joel Pincus, also a Rhode-
sian Fronter, was a member
of the Senate. The only
white Member of Parlia-
ment in opposition to the
monolithic Rhodesian Front
in the last House was Dr.
Ahrn Palley.

The identification is
still there. But Arab
propaganda against Is-
rael is having its impact
and the Jews may there-
fore be said to be under a
double handicap: they
are white, and they, in
African eyes, linked to
'expansionist, imperialis-
tic and oppressive' Israel.

Jews cannot, therefore,
and do not expect any favo-
rite status under a black
government. If there will be
a place for them it will be
because of their skills and
expertise in certain fields.
What are the prospects
for an organized Jewish
community in Rhodesia in,
say, 10 - 15 years? It would
be foolhardy to make a pre-
cise prediction. But there
are certain pointers in the
experiences of the Jewish
communities in Zambia,
Kenya and Zaire all of
which have emerged from
colonial status to indepen-
dent black rule in the past
two decades.
Zambia's transition was a
peaceful one. Kenya's inde-
pendence was preceded by a
lengthy period of internal
unrest and Mau Mau ter-
rorism, not unlike the phase
which Rhodesia is going
through now.
Zaire's civil war and the
unsuccessful attempt at.
secession by Katanga fol-
lowed its independence.

There are some Jews
Even in more tranquil
prominent in the more lib-
times very few of them ever eral opposition parties —
came back to Rhodesia, the Rhodesia Party and the
partly because employment Center Party. Mrs. Muriel
opportunities were more Rosin, a past M.P. and only
woman member of the Fed-
limited than in the more de-
veloped western world, and
eral Parliament and later of
partly because, from out- the Southern Rhodesian
side, they could read the
Parliament, recently took
signs of the future more over the Presidency of the
Each of these countries
clearly than those in the
Rhodesia Party.
had organized Jewish
But these opposition par- communities, and in each
The effect of this trend is
ties lack political weight, case, though greatly re-
an imbalance in the age
have no parliamentary rep- duced in numbers,
structure of the community.
resentation, and, generally, Jewish communities are
Some 16.8 percent are aged
have only minority support. still there. Zambia has
over 60 as compared with
declined from a peak of
Jewish support of the 1,200 in the early 60's to
9.7 percent of the national
(white) average. The crude
Rhodesia Front has been about 300, Zaire from a
birth rates per 1,000 are:
slowly eroding. Most pre-independence figure
Jews 13; Whites generally Jews are engaged in of 2,500 to 150 and Kenya
commerce and industry. from 1,000 to 200. This
In relation to Jewish While the Unilateral De- would appear to be the
emigration certain crucial claration of Indepen- pattern that is likely to
factors should be borne in dence and the ensuing emerge in Rhodesia.
sanctions created special
Till now, despite its
problems and difficulties
• A sizable portion of the
Jewish community hails they also acted as a greatly decreased.numbers,
Rhodesian Jewry has been
from Eastern Europe. They stimulus to developing
able to maintain all its
are now Rhodesian citizens. new industries and find-
communal institutions and
Their choice of a new home
is limited to Israel to which nels. Jews were in the even to expand them to
some extent. This is true of
they have right of entry
both Salisbury and
under the Law of Return or country and themselves
Bulawayo, two cities in
South Africa which, genet..."
which virtually the entire
ally, gives favorable consid- have prospered.
Jewish community of
eration to applicants from
But the squeeze is catch- Rhodesia is concentrated in
Rhodesia for permanent re- ing up with them. Unilater-
equal numbers.
ally Declared Indepen-
It may seem curious that
• Until the unrest, start- dence, which was to have the Salisbury Hebrew Con-
ing with Soweto last year, been a nine-day wonder is
gregation has embarked on
began, most of those who now in its 12th year, and the the erection of a new
left went to South Africa. country finds itself more synagogue building and
Even if. they considered that isolated than ever, and has
that the Home for the
country as only a staging to face what may prove to be
Aged in Fulawayo
post, it had from their point a major war. Disillusion has Jewish
of view a number of advan-
set in has added a new wing to its
building complex.
tages: the way of life there is
not dissimilar to life in Nor are Jews under any How long such viability
continue will depend on
Rhodesia; proximity to as-
sets which were left behind lation draws any distinction political developments and
in Rhodesia; family ties in between Jews and other the emigration drain. If pre-
that country. whites. To some extent such sent trends continue, as ap-
The continuing unrest in a distinction was discerni- pears almost certain, cut-
South Africa, as well as the ble some 15-20 years ago. backs will become inevita-
world-wide political pres- Many blacks then identified ble; and while individual
sures against that country Jews with Israel and Is- , Jews may be here for a long
which are being intensified, rael's favorable image time, the community as an
coupled with reports of in- among Africans at the time organized entity will
creasing Jewish emigration reflected favorably also on gradually run down an '
from South Africa, has Jews in this part of the perhaps disappear in th
halted many Rhodesian world. next 15 - 20 years.

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