South Africa calls for expat Jews to return

A call by new South African president Jacob Zuma for expatriate Jews to return home has received a lukewarm response in the UK.

President Zuma made his plea to an 800-strong audience at the national conference of the South African Board of Deputies in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

“This country has a massive skills shortage as a result of decades of neglect and deliberate under-investment,” he said. “This problem is exacerbated by the emigration of skilled people. We must reverse the trend.

“The message we want to send to people who have left the country, to live and work abroad, is that South Africa will always remain their home.”

Mother-of-two Daniella Klein, 36, of South End Green, north London, said: “I have always been in love with the country and the only reason I left was because I was in love with my husband. His business is here and though I would definitely consider going back, it would not be realistic.”

Pathologist Professor David Katz, 64, chair of Britain’s Jewish Medical Association, said: “I am willing to help but I wouldn’t want to go back. I have concerns about the direction the government is taking, and about crime, employment and the social structure.”

Electrician Rob Nathan, 63, of Muswell Hill, north London, said: “I left 30 years ago because of the political situation. I served in the army and I didn’t want my children to fight for a cause in which they might not believe.”

Last updated: 11:40am, September 3 2009