EJC President meets with Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister, Mayor of Jerusalem and Likud Chairman

EJC President Moshe Kantor and Secretary General Serge Cwajgenbaum attended the WJC Governing Board meeting in Jerusalem held on January 29, 2008. On that same day, the EJC, together with Shai Hermesh, President of the WJC Israeli Branch, met with Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss urgent issues facing Israel and international Jewry, in particular the peace process, the Iranian threat and the need to counteract assimilation. Moreover, they told her of the EJC’s wishes to lobby European countries to strengthen their cooperation with Israel and reaffirmed its support of Israel’s efforts in the peace process.

In the meeting with the Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister, Moshe Kantor ensured the EJC’s full support for the Israeli government regarding the issue of a peace settlement in the region. While discussing Iran, both parties concluded that France’s upcoming chairmanship of the European Council might intensify the international community’s pressure on the Iranian nuclear seeking state. The meeting also touched upon the issue of developing a dialogue between Israel and the European Council on anti-Semitism.

Taking the floor at the WJC, Moshe Kantor introduced a report on the EJC’s activities since his election, in which he emphasized the importance of launching an awareness campaign among European leaders on the Iranian nuclear threat, the need to fight anti-Semitism and address the problem of assimilation, and his upcoming project to commemorate Kristallnacht. Among the other European leaders present were Roger Cukierman (France), in his capacity of WJC Vice President, Chief Rabbi Yaakov Bleich (Ukraine), Peter Feldmajer and Gusztav Zoltai (Hungary), Joel Rubinfeld (Belgium), Avi Kozma (Macedonia), Shaul Fel (Latvia), and Myriam Glikerman (EJC Paris office).

Over 130 delegates and observers from around the world attended the WJC Governing Board. Welcoming the delegates, Chairman of the WJC Governing Board, Matthew Bronfman, said: “The power of the World Jewish Congress is to go into communities listening, learning and leading,” and called for a coalition against a nuclear Iran. In his address, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said that the unity of Jewish communities was important to achieve and was indeed a set goal for the WJC.

Furthermore, Lauder praised a decision by the Canadian government to withdraw its support for a second UN anti-racism conference (Durban II). Held in 2001 in South Africa, the first Durban conference on racism held under the auspices of the UN was used as a platform for the fiercest display of anti-Semitism and reached a climax with a declaration equating racism to Zionism. In the same panel, Acting Secretary General, Michael Schneider was confirmed by the Governing Board in his post and former EJC President Cobi Benatoff (Italy) was appointed as new Chairman of the WJC Policy Council.

Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Governing Board luncheon, stressing the need for Israel to maintain security, economic peace and regional cooperation. Major General Ido Nehushtan presented a strategic analysis of the latest developments in Iran. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stated that there was no alternative to serious discussions with the Palestinian Authority and called on world Jewish communities to explain and justify Israel’s policy to their respective governments. Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed the closing dinner of the Governing Board and emphasized the need for closer economic cooperation in the area. That same evening, retiring Chairman of the WJC Institute Mordechai Arbell was presented with a citation and awarded the Nahum Goldmann medal for his dedication and activities in service of world Jewry. The same honor will be bestowed upon Dr. Manuel Tenenbaum, long-time director of the Latin American Jewish Congress at a separate event.

Following the WJC Governing Board meeting, Kantor and Cwajgenbaum held separate private meetings with Likud Chairman Benyamin Netanyahou, Mayor of Jerusalem Uri Lupoliansky, and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. In a private meeting with Moshe Kantor, the Likud leader agreed with the EJC President about the importance of the International Conference on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, convened last May in Luxembourg, as an efficient tool to counteract the threat of nuclear technologies and materials falling into the hands of threshold countries and to thwart the danger posed by Iranian nuclear programme.

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