Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Middle East,: As Arab Revolutions Engulf Middle East, World Jewish Congress to Convene in Jerusalem

SOURCE World Jewish Congress

On the 75th anniversary of the founding of the world's foremost political Jewish organization, leaders of Jewish communities from around the world will gather at the David Citadel Hotel and Beit Shmuel in central Jerusalem from Sunday evening, 19 June, to Tuesday, 21 June 2011, for the annual meeting of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress (WJC).

The Governing Board, chaired by Eduardo Elsztain from Argentina, will elect a new secretary-general of the WJC to succeed Michael Schneider. The WJC Executive has unanimously nominated the respected foreign policy expert from Israel, Daniel Diker, for the most senior WJC professional position. The meetings come at a time of unprecedented volatility in the Middle East and for Israel. The meetings will be dedicated to presenting unified perspectives of the global Jewish community on issues like the Arab Spring and the proposed United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood. The centrality of Jerusalem – historically, spiritually and culturally – to the Jewish people will find its public expression in a ceremony at the Western Wall (Kotel) on Monday, where a Sefer Torah will be presented by the WJC to members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

"Perhaps more than ever before, the international community is witnessing a variety of pivotal changes which will impact very heavily on the global Jewish community," said Amb. Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. "The purpose of this gathering is to enable the Jewish world to offer a united voice on these developments so that the vital interests of the global Jewish communities are recognized and acted upon."

Israeli leaders, including President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (tbc), Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and opposition leader Tzipi Livni will address the WJC gathering. Israeli businessman Nochi Dankner, chairman of IDB Holdings, will be presented with the WJC Herzl Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, a co-founder of the Friends of Israel Initiative, will address the opening dinner on Sunday, and former president of Uruguay Luis Alberto Lacalle will speak at a dinner on Monday celebrating the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the WJC. The meeting in the Israeli capital will be attended by around 150 leaders representing the 92 WJC member communities and affiliated organizations.

Proceedings at the Governing Board, including the dinners on Sunday and Monday evening, are open to journalists. However, some sessions may be off the record, or closed for the press.