While Israel is widely accused of having been out of step with international trends by trading with South Africa in the eighties, the facts tell a different story. In 1986, during the height of Apartheid, South Africa’s main trading partners were, U.S.A. – $3.4 billion, Japan – $2.9 billion, Germany – $2.8 billion, U.K. – $2.6 billion. In defending Britain’s position at the time, Sir Alec Douglas Home referred to Britain’s heavy investment in South Africa and the strategic importance of naval facilities at Simonstown.
By comparison, Israel’s puny $200 million total trade with South Africa amounted to less than 1% of South Africa’s total trade.
The Apartheid regime could have been brought to its knees much earlier, had its oil supply been cut off. All its $2 billion annual oil import came from Arab states, mainly Saudi Arabia. A $1 billion barter deal was concluded with Iran, exchanging weapons from South Africa’s own armaments producers in exchange for oil. A similar deal for $750 million was concluded with Iraq. Is it not irrational that none of these countries is judged by the same yardstick that has been applied to Israel? Foreign investment was a major source of support to the regime. Arab countries accounted for one-third of the foreign investment in South Africa, totalling over 9 billion dollars. (Middle East Review, Summer 1985)