"I had not, before I was briefed in the treason trial and learnt the true position of the
non-whites and particularly of the Blacks in this country, fully appreciated the how unjust was the society in which I lived." Israel (Isie) Maisels, counsel for the defence in the Treason Trial.
From the time of their arrival, a significant number of Jews challenged the inequities of South Africa’s political system, and fought for an unprejudiced society. Some were motivated by traditional Jewish teachings and values, others by ideals of liberalism, socialism and Marxism. Jews were involved in political activism, trade unionism and various forms of social protest, while Jewish organisations and individuals provided basic human rights to disadvantaged communities in education, health care and social welfare services.
After the election of the Nationalist Government in 1948, a significant number of Jews actively opposed the apartheid system. Many fought for political justice, others for tolerance and liberty, and some for the rights of workers. Their efforts were evident in mainstream and radical politics, legal aid, educational, cultural and health care initiatives, philanthropic endeavours, student activism, trade unions, underground resistance and the delegitimisation of the apartheid state from abroad.