You have heard about the relationship between Israel and South Africa, and you may have reached the conclusion that Israel is the main support of the South African regime, its principal weapons supplier, most important trading partner, purveyor of atomic technology, and much more. And that apartheid the odious suppression of Blacks might cease if Israel were only to withdraw its support from South Africa.
What are the facts?
Israel is a multi-racial society. Its citizens, most of them "immigrants," or children and grandchildren of immigrants, come from all corners of the globe. More than 55% are what we would call "non-Caucasians." In the last few years, the government has expended much effort and money to in-gather the Black Jews of Ethiopia. The concept of apartheid, of race discrimination, is repugnant to Israelis and to the Jewish religion. Condemnation of apartheid has been publicly expressed by every Israeli Prime Minister, beginning with David Ben Gurion.
Israel is not a significant factor in the arms trade
with South Africa. The main suppliers of weaponry to that country
are France, Britain, Canada, West Germany, Italy, India, and the United
States. But South Africa has its own arms industry. It entered into a
$1 billion barter deal with Iran, by which it would supply weapons --
mostly light and heavy artillery and shells -- in exchange for oil, ironically,
but not surprisingly, a similar barter contract for $750 million -- was
signed with Iraq.
How about trade in general? The principal trading partners of South Africa in 1986 were in that order: U.S.A., $3.4 billion (exports and imports); Japan, $2.9 billion; Germany, $2.8 billion; U.K., $2.6 billion -- with Israel far in the rear with a total trade of $0.2 billion, less than 1% of South Africa's total trade. And what does not take into account South Africa's vast (unrecorded) trade with the Black African countries, its collusive trading relationships in diamonds and precious metals with the Soviet Union, and its huge barter trade for oil with the Arab countries and Iran.
The Arab countries (with the exception of Egypt) consider themselves to be in a state of war with Israel. They do not trade with Israel at all. Other major countries such as Japan, India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia do not trade with Israel either or only to a negligible extent. Israel, in order to survive, cannot be too choosy with whom to trade. But, in any case, political approval would not seem to be a requirement for trade. After all, the United States and other Western democracies deal with South Africa, with the Soviet Union, and with other countries of whose politics they disapprove.
Israel has been repeatedly singled out and condemned for alleged nuclear collaboration with South Africa. It is a charge that has no foundation and that Israel has denied categorically and constantly. The U.N. has recently published a document -- "South Africa's Nuclear Weapons Capability." It mentions certain countries in connection with nuclear collaboration with South Africa. Israel is not among them.
The facts are clear: Israel is a very minor player in trade and military relations with South Africa, has no nuclear cooperation, and has at all times condemned and denounced apartheid. In formulating policy towards South Africa, Israel, just as in its dealings with the Soviet Union, must take into account the vulnerable position of that country's large Jewish community. The perception that Israel has a particularly close relationship with South Africa is fostered by the Arabs, is based on distortion, and stems from hostility to Israel. A Congressional Committee and the Black Caucus of Congress has commended Israel for its government's resolution of March 18, 1987, regarding its relations with South Africa. Critics of Israel would also do well to judge its position on racism by its prodigious 20-year record of unprecedented development aid programs in 31 Black African countries.
This ad has been published and paid for by
Gerardo Joffe, President