BERLIN – The president of Vienna’s roughly 7,700-member Jewish community (IKG),
Oskar Deutsch, announced on Wednesday the resolution of a conflict between his
organization and the head of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder,
over interference in the IKG’s election process last year.
In a statement
published on the Vienna community’s website, Deutsch said he met with Lauder on
January 13 in Vienna and, in the context of the talks, the “differences were
reconciled.” According to Deutsch’s statement, Lauder regretted his approach and
stressed that he had in no way intended to influence the November
Deutsch was elected president of the community and is the first
post-Holocaust, Austrian-born Jew to run the community’s affairs.
result of the disagreement in November, Deutsch had barred Lauder from entering
the IKG’s center. The mending of fences between Lauder and Deutsch led to a vote
by the community’s council to unanimously rescind the non-visitation
The controversy triggered coverage in the mass circulation
daily The New York Post in early December. Lauder – a former US ambassador to
Austria and a distinguished philanthropist of Jewish renewal in Europe and
around the world, who had previously run for mayor of New York City – was
accused of funding Deutsch’s opponent.
According to The New York Post,
Lauder deposited “more than $700,000 into a lawyer’s account to help sway three
factions to support his candidate, psychoanalyst Martin Engelberg.” Deutsch
responded in the article that Lauder promised millions more to the pro-Engelberg
The daily reported that Lauder did not deny his intervention.
According to the article, the dispute outlined by Engelberg centered around his
plan to promote social service programs over Deutsch’s concentration on building
a new museum and archival research.
Engelberg’s Chai Jewish life party
won 391 votes and three seats in the November election. Deutsch’s Atid party
garnered the highest tally with 950 votes, giving it seven representatives in
the local Jewish leadership.
Deutsch then formed a coalition with other
factions in the community to continue his presidency.
Vienna-based Jewish news website Die Jüdische reported on the meeting between
Lauder and Deutsch. Samuel Laster, the site’s editor-in-chief, wrote that Lauder
flew into Vienna from Israel and later departed for New York, with the
reconciliation talk lasting 45 minutes.