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July 25, 1986 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-07-25

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



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from now when a direct mail
packet will be sent by the well
organized South African Zionist
Federation to tens of thousands
of Jewish homes registered on
its rolls.
South African Jews claim a
tightly knit community
matched rarely in other coun-
tries outside Israel. Most
children receive a quality Jewish
education, assimilation and in-
termarriage are virtually non-
existent, and aliya and tourism
rates are markedly high.
The only problem is that the
community is situated in South
Africa, a nation undergoing
sweeping changes under the con-
stant threat of extremist

"If people can earn a
decent living in
Israel, they will
come. If not, it's to
Australia."

violence on the one hand and
strong government clampdowns
on the other. Essentially the
Jews find themselves under at-
tack on four distinct fronts:
•From the Soviet-oriented
ANC which advocates the
violent overthrow of minority
white rule and the establishment
of a pro-Moscow regime.
•From the meteorically risen
far right in the form of the very
small but increasingly popular
AWB neo-Nazis who strut about
in brown-shirted uniforms while
waving swastika banners.
•From the international com-
munity which seems headed for
tougher economic sanctions, a
measure that would deal a
damaging blow to Jewish busin-
essmen who play an active and
prominent role in the nation's
finances.
•And finally, from an internal
erosion of confidence and fears
that an entire generation of
younger Jews will emigrate,
leaving a demographically lop-
sided populace behind them to
face the worst.
"Ours is the great test of aliya
for Israel," explains SAZF Presi-
dent Julius Weinstein, "If this
so very Zionist community with
its excellent day schools, active
youth movements and devoted
Zionist orientation doesn't come
to Israel when it's already on the
move, then it just won't work
anywhere."
Weinstein says Israel is aware
of the challenge and doing as
much as it can to meet it. He ad-
monishes its bureaucracy to
think in middle and upper mid-
dle class terms, not in refugee
terms, and adds "If people can
simply earn a decent living, not
the high style we've grown ac-
customed to, but sufficient, they
will come. If not, it's to
Australia."
When Jews talk emigration,
Australia, Canada (Toronto

especially), America as well as
Israel crop up in conversation.
So far this year, some 250 South
Africans have come on aliya, the
same number as arrived during
all of the previous year.
Ibp communal fundraiser
Mendel Kaplan notes that
15,000 Jews from his country
already live in Israel. "What
other community can boast that
about 12 percent of its members
have gone on aliya? Virtually
every family has friends or faint-
ly in Israel." He chides Israel for
having relegated the absorption
process into a "political football
kicked between the Jewish
Agency and the government,"
but overall he is optimistic that
the affirmative "blue book" in-
centive plan will help fence-
sitters decide on Israel over the
competition.
Dr. Abramowitz, president of
the Bnai Brith region, says,
"This community will not get up
and move en masse unless the
situation changes drastically or
for the worse."
Dr. Stephen Cohen, Deputy
Director of the Board of Jewish
Deputies, says his "gut feeling"
is that "more people are still
staying than are going, but of
those going it seems that more
are considering countries other
than Israel. Israel's bent every
rule in the book to attract us,
but too many of us have been
lured into the belief that being
a good Zionist does not necessar-
ily mean settling in Israel."
Those who look to a future in
South Africa see hope in the
figure of a black Zulu chief
named Buthelezi, 57, who ad-
vocates sweeping reform with-
out bloodshed.
In an interview conducted in
Kwazulu's administrative seat,
Ulundi, Chief Buthelezi proved
highly informed on matters of
Jewish interest.
"Israel is a land of miracles,"
he said of his visit there. "I am
deeply inspired by what I saw
there. I returned home with in-
creased hope and a realization
that people facing adversity can
become ingenious beyond all
prediction." He called the equa-
tion of Zionism with apartheid
"a convenient cover for anti-
Semitism. This is an abhorrent,
abominable thing. When they
say. Zionism is the same as apar-
theid, they are just hiding their
anti-Semitism."
The chief said Archbishop
Desmond Tiitu "has no consti-
tuency" at home. He identifies
with political parties and is
much more than being involved
as a moralist based on Judeo-
Christian ethics. He is restricted
as a religious leader and admits,
in endorsing economic sanctions
against South Africa, that he
doesn't speak for anyone except

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The chief spoke of his admira-
tion for Judaism and his will-
ingness to relocate the South
African embassy to Jerusalem if
he had the power to do so.

.

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