14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress
The 14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress (Budapest, May 5-7) ended with a commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust in Hungary and the presentation of the Nahum Goldmann Medal to former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Németh. In 1989, Németh was instrumental in opening the Iron Curtain and in helping to secure the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union.
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder told the 500 delegates and guests representing Jewish communities and organizations in more than 70 countries world-wide that “in the 77 years of the World Jewish Congress there have been few gatherings as important as this one.” Lauder was re-elected by the delegates for another four-year term as WJC president. He has held the position since 2007. “I see this as the top assignment for the Jewish people and I am excited to serve as President of the World Jewish Congress for another four years,” said Lauder.
The gathering in Budapest was notably addressed by Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán, who said that “anti-Semitism today in Hungary is unacceptable, and we will show zero tolerance in regards to it.” Introducing Orbán, Ronald Lauder called on Hungary and the government to do more against growing anti-Semitism, notably coming from the extreme-right Jobbik party. Mazsihisz President Péter Feldmájer said in his speech at the opening dinner: “I believe that the Jews of the world must unite their forces. This day also shows us that we are not alone, we are all listening to each other no matter where we may be living across the globe. The task we have is no little one to handle.”
Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in his keynote address: “Anti-Semitism has no place neither in Berlin, nor in Budapest, nor anywhere else in Europe or in the world… We are firmly committed to protecting and nourishing Jewish life in our societies and to countering anti-Semitism across the globe. We have to tackle the root causes of anti-Semitism.”
The WJC also urged national leaders and legislators in Europe to join the 125 legislators from more than 40 countries in signing the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism.
In another resolution, the delegates urged the international community to recognize the legitimate rights of Jewish refugees in the Middle East who were forced to flee their countries after 1948.
About the Organiser
The World Jewish Congress is the international organization that represents Jewish communities and organizations in 100 countries around the world. It advocates on their behalf towards governments, parliaments, international organizations and other faiths. The WJC represents the plurality of the Jewish people, and is politically non-partisan.
The Talmudic phrase “Kol Yisreal Arevim Zeh beZeh" (All Jews are responsible for one another), encapsulates the raison d’être of the WJC. Since its foundation in 1936, in Geneva, Switzerland, the WJC has been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of Jews and Jewish communities around the world.