Jews And Communism In South Africa – Part 3

Source : 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 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. After the first fully democratic elections in South Africa in 1994, Kasrils became a member of the Transitional Executive Council’s (TEC) Sub-Council on Defence. He was appointed as Deputy Minister of Defence on 24 June 1994, a post which he held until 16 June 1999. He was also the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry from 1999 to 2004 and was appointed as Minister of Intelligence Services in 2004. Following the resignation of President Thabo Mbeki in September 2008, Kasrils was among those members of the Cabinet who submitted their resignations on September 23

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