With antisemitism on the rise in the United States and globally, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) concluded last week its quadrennial gathering addressing key issues affecting Jewish communities and setting policy for the years ahead. During its final convening the 16th Plenary Assembly formally announced the election of its leadership, including the reelection of the philanthropist Ronald Lauder as president. Italy’s role is confirmed as important with the election of the President of the Italian Jewish Communities Noemi Di Segni in the new executive committee.
In keynote remarks (full speech transcript available here), Lauder raised the alarm of the frightening rise of antisemitic hatred seen globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We come together at a difficult hour for the Jewish People”, he said. “It’s not 1936, Nazi Germany is not on the rise. And we have a strong, resilient Jewish homeland, now in its 74th year. But this year, 2021, has given us some real Tsourus. On top of the Pandemic, we have seen a frightening rise of antisemitic hatred throughout the world. No country is immune, Great Britain, France, Germany, Argentina, even in Israel, and right here in the United States. You have all seen this where you live, and right now, I am speaking to you in 106 different communities on six continents”.
His concerns were echoed by fellow global leaders who participated, including President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro and UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay.
All congratulated Lauder and the WJC for its leadership on combating antisemitism and intolerance, advancing human rights globally, preserving Holocaust memory and increasing Holocaust education, and developing the next generation of Jewish community leaders. Each emphasized their support of the WJC and global Jewry.
Lauder promised the hundreds of delegates participating in the Plenary in representation of their Jewish communities and organizations that as leader of the WJC, he would take a multi-pronged approach to address current challenges the global Jewish community is confronting, and to drive Jewish unity across Israel and the Diaspora. Among the topics addressed there are education with the opening of new Jewish schools and specific scholarships; pluralism and shared Jewish peoplehood; support for Israel; development and enforcement of stronger and stricter hate crimes legislation.
(Above, Ronald Lauder with the President of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities Noemi Di Segni in a previous occurrence)