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July 02, 1982 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-07-02

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS


Zaire Could Be Catalyst for Re-Opening

By YOEL COHEN

World Zionist Press Service

JERUSALEM — Eigh-
teen years ago Joseph
Mobutu was the command-
ing officer of 300 commando
soldiers from the Congo who
came to Israel to receive
parachute training with Is-
rael's Defense Forces. To-
day, President Mobutu of
the former Belgian colony of
Zaire is at the forefront of
the movement among Black
African states to re-open the
diplomatic ties with Israel
which they severed during
the aftermath of the 1973
Yom Kippur war.
There have been reports
over the last six months
that several Black African
states were keen to resume
diplomatic ties with
Jerusalem, and that only Is-
rael's final withdrawal from
Sinai stood in the way.
Black African states had
broken relations with Israel
in 1973 ostensibly in re-
sponse to Israel's occupation
of the territory of Egypt, a
fellow African state. During
visits to Washington and
Paris last December and
January, respectively,
President Mobutu ex-
pressed his country's readi-
ness to resume ties im-
mediately.
Last November Israeli
Defense Minister Ariel
Sharon made what was in-
tended to be a secret visit to
six African states in a bid to
encourage them to reopen
- ties. These were the Central
African Republic, Gabon,
the Ivory Coast, Liberia,
Sudan and Zaire. The Direc-
tor - General of the Israeli
Foreign Ministry, David
Kimche, has himself made
two African tours.
Both President Reagan
and President Mitterrand
have been encouraging the
Black African countries to
reopen ties with Israel. The
United States sees this as a
means to strengthen the
West's position against
Soviet expansionism in the
continent.
Israel has in fact main-
tained a commercial
presence with a number
of African countries, de-
spite the diplomatic
break. Trade with Black
Africa has increased sev-
eral times since 1973.
Trade with Nigeria alone
increased between 1979
and 1980 from $20 million
to $40 million.

Israel's interest in Africa
dates back to the 1950's
when Arab pressure suc-
ceeded in excluding Israel
from the Bandung Confer-
ence of Asian and African
States. Prime Minister
David Ben-Gurion decided
that Africa would be the
- spawning ground for Is-
rael's relations with the de-
veloping world. Unable to
give large quantities of fi-
nancial aid to developing
countries, Israel decided
upon a policy of technical
assistance and cooperation
to newly independent states
undergoing similar birth-
pangs of statehood which Is-
rael underwent.
The Histadrut's Afro
Asian Institute provided
leadership training for
thousands of Africans.
From 1959 to 1962, some
3,000 African students were
trained in a variety of pro-
fessions and trades, and
some 800 Israeli techni-
cians and engineers were
sent to Africa in advisory
capacities.
In addition, the Histadrut
organized joint construction
ventures in Ghana, Nigeria,
Sierra Leone, Tanzania and
Kenya, as did Mekorot (Is-
rael's water company) in
Nigeria, the Ivory Coast
and Sierra Leone. Despite
the break in diplomatic ties, -
technical cooperation has
continued.
Israel's relations with
Black Africa are, like
those of other western
countries, complicated
by her relations with
South Africa. Although
these have increased
since 1973, both dip-
lomatically and commer-
cially, Israel has re-
peatedly condemned the
system of apartheid. Is-
raeli trade with South Af-
rica has increased from
$44 million in 1973 to over
$100 million in 1980. Is-
raeli officials emphasize,
however, that trade be-
tween South Africa and
Black Africa is six times
that between the former
and Israel.
Zaire's resumption of ties
with Israel has brought a
strong reaction from Arab
countries, some of which
have broken their own ties
with Zaire. Early hopes that
Zaire's resumption would
give a lead to other African
states have been soured.
The fear of Arab pressure is

very real. In some respects
the reasons which influ-
enced African states to cut
ties originally have not
changed: African states are
still in desperate shortage of
economic aid; Arab states
still have the wealth to give
to Africa; and Israel can in
no way compete with the
Arabs as an aid donor.
The future shape of Is-
rael's relations with Africa
needs consideration. More
emphasis is likely to be
placed on trade, though
there is no doubt about the
importance of technical as-
sistance programs. The
benefits of technical assis-
tance programs are difficult
to measure and accompany-
ing political actions favora-
ble to the donor are not al-
ways forthcoming.
The long term goodwill
which the programs have
brought Israel in Africa is
undeniable. One example of
this is that 18 years after
Israel trained Joseph
Mobutu as a parachutist he
has become the first African

Friday, July 2, 1982 15

Renees Writings

Calligraphy & Invitations

head of state to defy Arab
pressure and reopen dip-
lomatic ties with
Jerusalem.

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Israel provides agricultural
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In Thailand, an Israeli
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can Republic.

Center Publishes
Bialystok History

NEW YORK (JTA) —
The history of the Russian -
Polish city Bialystok is the
theme of a book published in
observance of the 50th an-
niversary of the Bialystoker
Center in New York.
"The Bialystoker Memo-
rial Book" is comprised of a
collection of essays by one-
time residents, and provides
a history of Bialystok from
its inception, when it was
still a part of Russia,
through the Holocaust.

Reform Leader-

NEW YORK — Rabbi
Benjamin A. Kamin of Bay
Shore, N.Y. has been ap-
pointed North American di-
rector of the World Union
for Progressive Judaism.

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Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin meets
with Nimyaidika Ngimbi, a representative of the gov-
ernment of Zaire. Ngimbi arrived in Israel bearing
announcement of Zaire's decision to renew diploma-
tic relations with Israel, which had been severed fol-
lowing the Yom Kippur War.

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