August 29, 2011
Jewish anti-apartheid activists honored
Arthur Goldreich, an anti-apartheid struggle activist, was honored posthumously by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies during its national conference in Johannesburg.
Goldreich, who died in Israel in May this year at the age of 82 and who had fought as a volunteer in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, was awarded the board’s annual human rights award on Sunday.
In the early 1960s, Goldreich provided shelter and a meeting place for the African National Congress and helped plan armed resistance activities there with Nelson Mandela. Goldreich was arrested in 1963, along with virtually the entire top leadership of the ANC.
He and another Jewish prisoner made a daring escape from jail and managed to flee the country, avoiding the biggest manhunt in its history, while the other prisoners, with Mandela, were convicted of treason in the famous Rivonia trial.
Goldreich moved back to Israel, where he spent the rest of his life. He lived in Jerusalem, establishing the Bezalel School of Industrial and Environmental Design.
Michael Schneider, another former anti-apartheid activist who fled South Africa in 1964 to escape a police dragnet for his sabotage activities and later went on to become CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress, spoke to the conference.
“Jewish Memories of Mandela,” a new book edited by David Saks, associate director of the Board of Deputies, was launched at the conference. The book deals with the role played by Jews in Mandela’s life and struggle and in the triumph of democracy in South Africa.