JOHANNESBURG — South African Deputy President F.W. de Klerk has called on Jewish communities worldwide to become advocates of the "cause of the new South Africa."
"There was much injustice in this country," de Klerk said at the recent biennial conference of the Commonwealth Jewish Council.
"A lot of courage has been shown in bringing an end to that injustice," he said. "It has created for all South Africans a new window of opportunity and if we stick to our task and retain our commitment, this country is destined to become a success story."
In his address, he also said he appreciated the international support South Africa received "in this period of dynamic change."
Such support had come from Jewish communities around the world, from Israel, from the countries of the Commonwealth Jewish Council and from the Commonwealth as an institution.
The Commonwealth is a free association of sovereign states that recognize the British sovereign as its head. Member countries include South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
The fact that South Africa was the location for the conference was seen by some as another example of its effort at reintegration into the international community.
Also at the conference, South African Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris called on organized South African Jewry to help bridge the gap between the country's "haves" and "have-nots."
He spoke about South African Jewry and the tensions it faces, particularly the potential for friction due to racial, ethnic and religious differences.
"Because South Africa is so heterogeneous, it is absolutely essential that we create bridges between one community and another," the chief rabbi said.