Jews and Communism In South Africa



Nelson Mandela alongside Jewish Communist, Joe Slovo
 



Against the international background of heavy Jewish involvement in Communism, did the South African experience show any parallels? Perhaps the best way to gain an insight into this topic is to quote from four books, three of which are by Jewish authors.

BOOK ONE


A History of Communism in South Africa by Dr Henry R Pike (published by Christian Mission International of South Africa, Germiston, South Africa (1985, 1988).

A large number of Jews have worked to promote Communism in South Africa, as Pike’s book indicates. Many of these Jews were involved in the organization of trade unions, particularly black trade unions. Some of the names mentioned by Pike are A Z Berman ‘a noted Marxist’ who headed the Industrial Socialist League in Cape Town; the communist writer David Shub, Solly Sachs, secretary of the Garment Workers Union and expelled from and then readmitted to the South African Communist Party, Bennie Weinbren who directed the Non-European Trade Union Federation, Issy Diamond, Abraham Levy, Hymie Levin, Issie Wolfson, Julius Lewin, Louis Joffe, Dr Max Joffe, Molly (Zelikowitz) Wolton, Lazar Bach, Rebecca (Notlowitz) Bunting, Fanny Klenerman, Michael Harmel, Sam Kahn, Katy Kagan, Eli Weinberg, Yetta Barenblatt, Hymie Barsel, Leon and Norman Levy, Lionel Forman, Jacqueline and Rowley Arenstein, Errol and Dorothy Shanley, Monty Berman, Bertram Hirson and Neville Rubin.

Dr Pike (p 212-3) quotes from a South African Government Gazette Extraordinary (vol VI 16 Nov 1962 pp 2-28) which listed ‘persons who have been office-bearers, officers, members or active supporters of the Communist Party of South Africa’. The list included 66 ‘clearly identifiable as Jews’, 61 ‘white non-Jews’ and two uncertain. At the time, the South African population was approximately 3 million whites, while the South African Jewish population was 110 000 (World Almanac 1958 p270). So there was approximately one Jew for every 26 white non-Jews in the country. If there had been an equal distribution of Communist involvement between non-Jewish whites and Jews, the Jewish membership of the Communist Party should have been one-twenty-sixth the white Gentile representation. Instead, we find slightly more Jews as members. In other words, Jews were almost thirty times more likely to become members of the Communist Party than were white Gentiles. If Jews with non-Jewish names were also counted, the ratio would be likely to have been considerably higher.

In theory this could be explained away as simple Jewish concern for the welfare of the underdog, the lowest classes, and in the South African context, evidence of Jewish sympathies across racial barriers, or non-racism. In testing such a hypothesis to see whether this is indeed the case, we can look at another instance. Such concerns have been notoriously, and very conspicuously, almost totally absent in the protracted conflict in the Middle East. There, international Jewish support has been overwhelmingly and steadfastly in favor of the Jewish Israelis, and not of the Palestinians who have lost their country, and in thousands of cases their lives, to the violent settlers from Eastern Europe and America. After all, the entire territory was under Palestinian political control until 1947. The Jewish population of the area in 1917 was a mere 7% of the 700 000 inhabitants. The other 93% were Arabs. In 1947 the United Nations under tremendous US pressure gave the Zionists, who owned only about 6% of the land, 56% of the territory of Palestine. Since then, there has been a steady take-over of the remaining territory by force, violence, warfare, bribery and stealth.

Perhaps you might think Dr Pike is just ‘anti-Semitic’ and his approach is biased. But have a look at the next author:

BOOK TWO

Jews and Zionism: the South African Experience (1910-67), by Dr Gideon Shimoni (Oxford University Press, 1980). This book appears to have been written for a Jewish readership. Two extended quotes from the book will serve as a summary of the situation some decades ago.

[Dr Shimoni was born in South Africa to parents from Lithuania, but settled in Israel where he lectured at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and where he gained post-graduate degrees in Jewish history. While bitterly contemptuous of South Africa under the apartheid system, Dr Shimoni in effect identifies with the concept of geographically based ethnic groupings that was the basis of the South African system. This kind of irony, not to say hypocrisy, is typical of Jews opposed to ‘racism’ in Europe, the US or South Africa.]

Dr Shimoni writes of ‘..the extraordinary salience of Jewish individuals in the white opposition to the regime of apartheid. Throughout this period Jewish names kept appearing in every facet of the struggle: amongst reformist liberals; in the radical Communist opposition; in the courts, whether as defendants or as counsel for the defense; in the lists of bannings and amongst those who fled the country to evade arrest. Their prominence was particularly marked in the course of the Treason Trial which occupied an important place in the news media throughout the second half of the 1950’s. This trial began in December 1956, when 156 people were arrested on charges of treason in the form of a conspiracy to overthrow the state by violence and to replace it with a state based on Communism. Twenty-three of those arrested were Whites, more than half of them Jews. They included Yetta Barenblatt, Hymie Barsel, Lionel (Rusty) Bernstein, Leon Levy, Norman Levy, Sydney Shall, Joe Slovo, Ruth (First) Slovo, Sonia Bunting, Lionel Forman, Isaac Horvitch, Ben Turok, Jacqueline Arenstein, Errol Shanley, Dorothy Shanley. To top it all, at one stage in the trial the defense counsel was led by Israel Maisels, while the prosecutor was none other than Oswald Pirow. The juxtaposition was striking: Maisels, the prominent Jewish communal leader, defending those accused of trying to overthrow White supremacy; Pirow, the extreme Afrikaner Nationalist and former Nazi sympathizer, defending White supremacy.’ (pp. 227-8).

‘In this extended five-year period between the emergence of violent opposition and its effective suppression, the prominent involvement of individual Jews was in the public eye more than ever before. This was even more so than in the dramatic circumstances of the ‘Rivonia arrests’. On 11 July 1963 the police raided the home of Arthur Goldreich in Rivonia near Johannesburg, where it captured, by surprise, the leadership cadre of the Umkonto we Sizwe underground. Seventeen people were arrested.. Five of those arrested were Whites, all of them Jews. They were: Arthur Goldreich, Lionel Bernstein, Hilliard Festenstein, Dennis Goldberg and Bob Hepple.. [There was an] overwhelming impression that Jews were in the forefront of the White radicals who were trying to overthrow the system of White supremacy in South Africa. When the secret African Resistance Movement (ARM) was crushed during 1964, it again became evident that many Jews were involved. One of its founders was identified as Monty Berman.. others were Adrian Leftwich and Bertram (Baruch) Hirson. Among those who were associated with ARM were Neville Rubin and Michael Schneider [and ] others implicated were Frederick and Rhoda Prager, Raymond Eisenstein and Hugh Lewin..’ (pp. 232-3).

Dr Shimoni records with obvious distaste the wording of an Afrikaans letter in a newspaper criticizing this fundamentally hypocritical proclivity of Jews: ‘They (the Jews) themselves are the most exclusive apartheid people, yet they exert themselves here for integration.’ While Jews themselves have shown no intention to integrate or merge with the African masses, they have been hyper-critical of mainstream whites who are reluctant to follow this route, criticizing churches with segregationist policies, while their synagogues have remained ethnically 100% Jewish.

BOOK THREE

Cutting Through the Mountain: Interviews with South African Activists Edited by Immanuel Suttner (Viking-Penguin, England and USA 1997).

This book also appears to have been written for a Jewish readership. It is a thick expensively bound book of over 600 pages, financially supported by the Liberty Life Foundation created by the Jewish mega-capitalist Donald Gordon. Suttner says ‘a disproportionate number of individual Jews played a part in transforming South Africa into a more just society. There are two streams: those who fought ‘within the system’ as jurists, members of parliament, via the media, or in civil society, and those who entered ‘illegal’ organizations which were socialist, communist or mass-based in character.’ (p.2) He says the book ‘welcomes (these Jews) back not only as worthy South Africans, socialists, communists or liberals, but as worthy Jews’ (p.3). Some of the ‘remarkable people’ (page vii) who are heroes of the book include:

Taffy Adler who was involved in the 1970s and '80s in the 'formation and consolidation of the black trade union movement'. His father was a Lithuanian Jew who emigrated to South Africa in 1926 and who 'was tremendously loyal to Stalin and Russian communism' right up to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. His uncle, Michael Harmel, became general secretary of the South African Communist Party.
Ray Alexander (Rachel Alexandrowich) arrived in South Africa from Latvia and joined the SA Communist Party five days later. She played a leading role in the organization of trade unions. She was married to Jack Simons, a 'devoted communist' and lecturer at the University of Cape Town.

Pauline Podbrey (Podbrez) born in Lithuania came to South Africa at the age of eleven. She joined the Communist Youth League, run by Max Joffe, and the related Labor League of Youth, run by Hilda Bernstein. Of the Communist Party she says 'the majority of the members were Jewish…looking back on it now, it seems as if everybody was Jewish.' (*p52). She married a prominent Indian trade unionist and Communist Party leader, resulting in her mother being ostracized by the South African Jewish community, although it has been and still is normal practice for this community to depict white non-Jews as despicable prejudiced racists.
Joe Slovo born in Lithuania, came to South Africa where he joined the Young Communist League at the age of sixteen. He became a central member of the Communist Party of South Africa and a 'hard-line Stalinist', becoming general secretary in 1986. He concentrated on building up Umkhonto we Sizwe, the ‘armed wing’ of the ANC (African National Congress), becoming its chief of staff and head strategist in the campaign of bombings directed at civilian targets and other acts of terror. He only abandoned his commitment to Stalinism and Soviet-style communism when the Soviet bloc started falling apart in the late 1980s and it became necessary to do so. A key strategist representing the ANC in the negotiations with De Klerk’s government in the hand over of power, he became a minister in Mandela's Cabinet when the ANC came to power in 1994.
He died of cancer a few years later. His daughter published an autobiographical book describing her father’s affair with a Jewish Communist friend’s wife and his utter refusal to acknowledge the son born of this relationship.

Gill Marcus, the daughter of parents involved with the Communist Party, a long-time member of the Party and of the ANC, is now a Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank after being a member of the first Mandela Cabinet. Ronnie Kasrils became a central figure in the South African Communist Party and head of military intelligence of the ANC's military wing. He became Deputy Minister of Defense in the Mandela government, and is now Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry.

BOOK FOUR

Traitors’ End: The Rise and Fall of the Communist Movement in Southern Africa by Nathaniel Weyl (Arlington House, USA, 1970).

‘For the most part, the Jews had come to South Africa from Lithuania at the turn of the century.. They had been popular at first, but by the mid-1930’s this was no longer the case. The Jews had become heavily urbanized. In Johannesburg, they constituted 17 per cent of the population and were sufficiently conspicuous so that the metropolis was sometimes referred to, not as Jo’burg, but as Jewburg. They aroused envy and some rancor during the years of depression because they controlled a large part of the business of Johannesburg and other cities.. Anti-Semitism was fed by the economic discontent.. A perhaps more important ingredient was the prominence of South African Jews in finance, mining and the other economic command posts of the nation, on the one hand, and in revolutionary and racial reform movements on the other. From the outset, the Jews had been prominent in the Communist Party and its various fronts. They were equally conspicuous in the various movements that sought to break down the barriers separating the White from the non-White population. South African anti-Semitic propaganda.. depicted the Jew as a deracinated element who sought to destroy White civilization and nationalism with the twin weapons of Communism and international finance. Given the visible prominence of Jews in both areas, this doctrine fell on receptive ears.’

The famous Rivonia Trial of the 1960’s resulted from a raid on a farm near Johannesburg in which many of the top leadership of the Communist party were detained. The White defendants were virtually all Jews, including Dennis Goldberg, ‘a civil engineer who served as commander in a Communist camp that trained young guerrillas’, and Lionel ‘Rusty’ Bernstein, the only prisoner to be acquitted. A Johannesburg architect, Bernstein ‘admitted to having been a Communist for 25 years, but successfully alleged that he had left the party, without, however, changing his revolutionary convictions.’ (Weyl pp 122-3). Amongst those implicated during the trial were the Jews Joe Slovo and his wife Ruth First, Bob Hepple and Michael Harmel. ‘Operation Mayibuye [a plan for guerrilla warfare, armed invasion of South Africa and Communist conquest of the country] was drafted by Arthur Goldreich, perhaps the most important of the men captured by the South African Police at Rivonia. Goldreich managed to bribe his way out of prison.. During the trial, Goldreich was referred to by Nelson Mandela and other defendants as a military expert who served as an officer in the Israeli war for independence.. Goldreich’s plan was modeled on the guerrilla strategy of the Chinese Communists.. Goldreich’s notebook shows constant preoccupation with the practical details of revolutionary war. He goes into the types of explosives and fuses needed and their characteristics…’ (Weyl pp124, 127-8).

‘On December 16, 1966, the United Nations branded Rhodesia "a threat to international peace". President Johnson’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Arthur Goldberg, immediately pledged United States support for sanctions against Rhodesia "in order to drive home to the illegal regime (of Ian Smith) that the international community will not tolerate the existence of a discriminatory system based on minority rule in defiance of the United Nations and its principles." Ambassador Goldberg’s logic was extraordinary, to say the least. Over half of the 122 UN member states had governments not based upon majority rule As for the United Nations statement that Rhodesia threatened international peace, the statement simply reversed the facts of the matter. Rhodesia was exposed to attacks by guerrillas, armed, financed, trained and abetted by Black African member states of the United Nations in flagrant defiance of the UN Charter.. Ambassador Goldberg had shown on previous occasions that, where racial issues were involved, he practiced a double standard of morality in favor of Black demands.. Ambassador Goldberg was not alone in his fanatical hostility to White rule in Africa..’ (Weyl pp 162-3).

Jews in South Africa in the main and those mentioned above in particular have all been pushing for a majoritarian government in which population numbers effectively mean that whites have no say over their own affairs. The new ANC-dominated South Africa is proclaimed to be a ‘democracy’, although a leading political scientist, Professor Hermann Giliomee has described the election system as a simple ethnic census. Whites, for example, have no effective power over the government as far as their own interests, such as schooling for their children or their language rights are concerned. The Constitutional Court, supposedly the custodian of these rights, has an over-representation of Jews who have shown little sympathy for white non-Jewish rights. Even the traditionally English South African game of cricket is being transformed - the Jewish former director of the cricket board, Dr Ali Bacher, did everything in his power to turn cricket in the country into a black-dominated sport.

There are various kinds of hypocrisy at work here. Authors such as Immanuel Suttner perhaps unwittingly communicate their clear belief that Jews are morally better than South African whites, because of their political stance. This in itself is not only racist but also not true. We can study the attitude of South African Jews to Middle Eastern issues to see whether they really do display a genuine moral superiority. Until a few years ago South African Jews gave more per capita to Israel than any other Jewish community in the world, including that of America (Suttner p. 420).

‘When Ronnie Kasrils, a leader of the ANC’s armed campaign against apartheid South Africa, returned home after 27 years in exile, he was lionized by a local Jewish establishment belatedly eager to associate itself with the struggle. His picture was put in the Jewish Museum in Cape Town and his name in the Book of Honor. The Jewish community basked in his reflected glory’ (Fair Lady 22 May 2002 p.37). South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris officiated at the funeral of Joe Slovo, calling Slovo ‘a better Jew than most’ (ibid p.39). Who was Slovo? He was general secretary of the Communist Party of South Africa and chief of staff of the armed terrorist wing of the ANC (African National Congress). When Kasrils, in an awkward position because of his cabinet post in the ANC government which includes several very influential Moslems, became one of a very small number of Jews to speak out against Israeli policies against the Palestinian people in Palestine, his name became mud. He signed a petition along with 286 other Jews to the effect that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians does not have their blessing. The South African Zionist Federation quickly organized a rival petition in support of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, and collected 11500 signatures. Helen Suzman, the veteran anti-Apartheid Jewish member of the South African parliament and consequently the recipient of numerous international honors and awards, ‘believes that everything Israel has done has been retaliatory’ (ibid p39) in spite of the fact that the Israelis, with support from Jews elswhere particularly in the US and its government, have been able to take over Palestine with absolute impunity, disregarding with absolute and violent contempt the lawful human and property rights of the Palestinians. This hypocrisy is very common, not to say dominant, in the Zionist community which forms the overwhelmingly dominant part of South African Jewry.

No candid discussion of the issues raised above was permitted to take place in South Africa before the fall of white rule owing to the ownership pattern of the newspaper cartel. There has been much talk of a ‘Jewish Capitalist-Communist nexus’ - we have to recognize that monopoly capital has an affinity with Communism. According to Antony Sutton (Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution) international bankers funded the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1917, Trotsky and 200 revolutionaries were literally transferred from New York's Lower East Side to St. Petersburg to foment the revolution in Russia. Jews are internationally synonymous with hyper-capitalism or monopoly-capitalism, where ever-greater financial power is continually being sought, and there is the impression that the hunger behind this urge is insatiable. Media control is an important part of this program, because criticism must be stifled at all costs. These powerful people are ever-seeking to instruct or coerce non-Jewish people of European ancestry in the direction of non-discrimination, but always supporting their own country with its fundamental racial discrimination whereby Palestinians born in Jerusalem have no rights, while even atheistic Jews born in Milwaukee or Miami have full citizenship rights in Israel.

The large reserves of gold, diamonds and other natural wealth attracted Jews in large numbers from Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Russia. The discovery of gold in the Boer republic of the Transvaal turned out to be tragically unfortunate for the Boers. According to J A Hobson, an English liberal-socialist thinker and correspondent who reported on the Boer War, ‘a little ring of international financiers’, mainly Jews, led Britain into the war for their own selfish capitalist interests. (Hobson, The War in South Africa – its causes and effects (New York, Macmillan, 1900, pp194, 184, 190). Boer farms and towns were burnt to the ground. Boer women and children were herded into concentration camps, where 26 000 died through epidemics and unsanitary conditions. But the Jews gained a wonderful ascendancy in the gold and diamond industry, with leading names including Barney Barnato, Solly Joel and Lionel Phillips. Eventually the Oppenheimer family, with financial support from Rothschild interests, controlled not only the largest gold mines in the country but also the world diamond cartel De Beers and a very large part of the South African economy, as well as the English language newspaper monopoly. De Beers in recent decades has been often implicated in trading in ‘blood-diamonds’ from war zones in Africa. (The international diamond trade in New York and Amsterdam is also largely Jewish-controlled.) The Oppenheimer press cartel normally depicted white efforts in South Africa to find political self-determination, including the apartheid policy of parallel or separate development, as totally and utterly reprehensible and unacceptable. At the same time the cartel ensured that the Israeli State did not come in for parallel criticism for its incomparably inhumane and violent oppression of the native Palestinians. The Jews have found it useful to their ethnic agenda to exacerbate tensions between white and black in South Africa, with the clear objective of subverting the apartheid idea of ethnic self-determination for a situation in which non-Jewish whites would be subject to unfettered black political and social control. Since this goal has been achieved, Jews have been emigrating in large numbers, primarily to the United States. Although scornful of white non-Jews for racism during the apartheid era, none of these Jewish emigrants are known to have moved to any African country. As Immanuel Suttner says ‘The Jewish community.. will likely continue to shrink through emigration, and those Jews who choose to stay in South Africa, and choose to involve themselves fully in South Africa’s unfolding story, face a difficult period of redefining their role and finding a niche in which they believe they are relevant and useful.’ (Cutting Through the Mountain p.4).

Why are Jews prominent as political activists in all western countries, but definitely not on behalf of the Palestinians, as fifty years of history have shown? Why were US Congressmen Stephen J. Solarz and Howard Wolpe, instrumental in securing financial sanctions against the South African apartheid regime, but ‘unwavering in their commitments to Israel’ (ex-Congressman Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Insttutions Confront Israel’s Lobby (1985) p70-71). Are hidden tribal-racial agendas a factor in "liberal" American universities and, above all, in politics?


South Africa Project - P.O. Box 282 - Converse, Louisiana 71419