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December 25, 1981 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-12-25

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

54 Friday, December 25, 1981


Growing Signs That Black Africa May Resume Israel Ties


Are the countries of black
Africa, which broke dip-
lomatic relations with Is-
rael in 1972 and 1973, mov-
ing toward restoring official
ties with the Jewish state?
There has been speculation
about this from time to time
in recent years. But two re-
cent events have increased

the suspicion that some-
thing is agout to happen.
First, President Mobutu
Sese Sekb of Zaire, while on
a visit to Washington, told
reporters his government
was ready to resume rela-
tions with Israel "im-
mediately" but would not
act except in conjunction
with other African coun-

Then it was disclosed that
Defense Minister Ariel
Sharon visited several Afri-
can countries before going
to Washington Nov. 30 to
sign a Memorandum of
Understanding implement-
ing strategic cooperation
between the United States
and Israel against a Soviet
threat to the Middle East.
One of those countries was

Mobutu, who received
his paratroop training in
Israel, was considered a
staunch friend of Israel
until he broke relations
with Jerusalem two days
before the outbreak of
the 1973 Yom Kippur
War. In a speech an-
nouncing his decision at
the United Nations Gen-
eral Assembly, Mobutu
explained he had t o
choose between a
brother (Egypt) and a
friend (Israel).
Zaire's break with ,Israel
came at a time when the
black African countries
were under heavy pressure
from the Arab states to
sever their ties with
Jerusalem. The process
started in March, 1972,
when Ugandan dictator Idi
Amin, who also received his
military training in Israel
broke off relations after Is-
rael refused to provide him
with additional funds. It is
believed that the funds were
then provided by Libyan
ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
Financial Lard from Libya
was also believed to be the
reason Chad broke relations
with Israel a few months la-
But the major 131 eaks
came in the days before and
after the Yon). Kippur War
and included such close
friends as Ghana, Liberia,
Kenya, the Ivory Coast and
Ethiopia, then still ruled by
Emperor Haile Selassie,
who claimed descent from
the Biblical meeting be-
tween King Solomon and
the Queen of Sheba.
By the end of 1973, 27
countries south of the
Sahara had broken ties
with Israel leaving
Jerusalem with diploma-
tic relations only to
Botswana, Lesotho,
Malawi and Swaziland.
But more than diplomatic
relations were broken. Is-
rael, since 1958, had a pro-
gram of development aid to
Africa. The program started
in Ghana shortly after it be-
came the first black African
state to achieve its indepen-
dence. It soon was expanded
to other African states, and
eventually included some
80 countries in Africa, Asia
and Latin America.
The African program,
started by Golda Meir when
she was Foreiin Minister,
was a combination of self-
interest and altruism. Since
Israel was rejected by its
neighbors it could leepfrog
over them and find friends
among the countries just
beyond the Arab borders,
friends who would be good
trading partners and might
provide diplomatic support.
At the same time, Israel
as a developing nation itself
was accepted by the African
countries as a country
which could share its ex-
periences in overcoming
some of the same problems
they faced. The Israeli pro-
grams were also designed to
have the host country take
over their operations as
soon as possible.
The programs, which
attracted many idealistic


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young Israelis in the
same way the Peace
Corps attracted Ameri-
cans, were operated by
the government, by the
Histadrut and by private
Israeli companies. Many
Americans were also
brought to Israel for
Much, though not all of
these programs, were shat-
tered when diplomatic rela-
tions were broken. The Af-
riCan countries were soon
backing the Arabs in their
diplomatic attacks on Israel
in the various international
But in the last few years,
some African countries
have been moving away
from this position as they
saw that the UN General
Assembly and other inter-
national forums were being
dominated by Arab attacks
on Israel while their con-
cerns were given secondary
treatment or ignored. At the
same time, the Black Afri-
can countries have gained
little economic benefits
from the oil-rich Arab coun-
tries and, instead, they and
other underdeveloped coun-
tries have suffered on ac-
count of the oil price in-
Of course, while diploma-
tic ties have not been re-
newed other relations, espe-
cially trade, have continued
between Israel and many
black African countries
and grown in recent years.
Mobutu said in his
Washington press con;
ference that he broke re-
lations with Israel to
support a fellow African
state in Cairo's effort to
get the Sinai back. Now
that Egypt has diploma--
tic relations with Israel
and -Israel's withdrawal
from the Sinai is
scheduled to be com-
pleted in April, "as far as
we are concerned we
could do it immediately,"
Mobutu said of restoring
ties with Jerusalem. "But
Zaire is not alone in Af7
rica," he added. "for the
time being I will wait to
see what the other ones
are going to do."
There have been other
such comments in recent
years. Shortly before the
Egyptian - Israeli peace
treaty was signed, a

UOJCA Offers
Kids' Cookbook

member of Kenya's Parlia-
ment who was touring the
U.S. said his country would
resume relations with Is-
rael once Egypt had dip-
lomatic relations with the
Jewish state. At the UN in
1979, Ivory Coast Ambas-
sador Amoakon Thiemele
called for a renewal of rela-
tions between black Africa
and Israel. There have been
other voices, both public
and private.
However, the time may be
ripe now. Israel is very con-
cerned about the Sovi-
penetration in Africa, est
cially the Horn of Africa
which is not too far from its
own borders. Many African
states, such as Zaire, share
this view.
Jerusalem sources linked
Sharon's visit to Africa to
Israel's strategic coopera-
tion with the U.S. The Re-
agan Administration's
strategic consensus does not
seem to have convinced
many Arab states of the
need for cooperating with
Israel. But it may be the
catalyst that will result in
restoring diplomatic rela-
tions between Israel and
black Africa, relations that
never should have been
broken in the first-place.

Kosher Meals
for N.Y. Aged

(JTA) — A third senior citi-
zens kosher feeding prog-
ram under auspices of the
National Council of Young
Israel has been opened at
the Young Israel of Forest
Hills, Harold ,Jacobs, na-
tional council president, has
The new senior citizens
center was opened Oct. 1
and has since been provid-
ing a hot kosher lunch five
days a week to 120 elderly
Jews. Rivkah Shenker, di-
rector of the new program,
said it- was operating on a
one-year grant of $133,000
provided through the city's
department of aging.

Two Named
to UJA Posts

NEW YORK- — The -
United Jewish Appeal has
named two new assistant
executive vice chairmen as
part of its reorganization to
strengthen its fundraising
services and programs.
David Hersch, national
director of Project Renewal
and Rabbi Melvin L. Lib-
man, director of the Faculty
and Rabbinic Cabinets,
were named to the newly
created posts.

A new cookbook "Kids'
Kosher Incredible Edibles"
has been published by the
women's division of the
Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations of America.
The cookbook is illus-
trated with drawings and Israel Studies
calligraphy. Each recipe is Lavi Fighter
The book contains recipes
fox soups, snacks, main dis- Defense Minister . Ariel
hes, and desserts in addition Sharon has asked the
to recipes for new holiday Ministry of Defense to re-
dishes such as a Menorah examine the Israel Aircraft
Sandwich, Magic Maca- Industries' Lavi jet fighter
roons, and a Lag B'Omer project, according to Avia-
_ tion Week and Space
Bull's Eye.
Copies of the book may be Technology magazine.
The magazine said Sha-
obtained from UOJCA, 84
Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y., ron may propose stretching
out the program.
10011. There is a charge.

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