President of the European Jewish Council Moshe Kantor..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The General Assembly of the European Jewish Congress on Tuesday unanimously reelected Russian businessman Dr. Moshe Kantor to a third consecutive term as the organization’s president.
Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was chosen as chairman of the council, in the elections that originally had been slated for late 2016.
Kantor, a fertilizer magnate and Legion of Honor laureate, said he was “delighted” at the “strong vote of confidence from the leadership of the European Jewish communities,” and called the election “a positive testament to the work we have done these last few years and the plan of action we have for the years ahead.”
“The high level of anti-Semitism, the crisis brought about by large numbers of migrants and asylum-seekers entering Europe, the wave of terror and the economic situation are all interconnected and present great challenges for European Jewry,” he said in a statement.
Several community leaders from Europe, speaking on condition of anonymity, were quoted by Israeli Russian-language news website IzRus as saying they believed the elections were moved up to preempt World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder from backing a candidate who would have opposed Kantor.
However, several sources within Jewish communities who spoke with The Jerusalem Post said they did not believe that to be the case.
Asked earlier this month if the date change was political, EJC spokeswoman Orly Joseph replied with an emphatic negative, stating that the new date had been proposed by the organization’s vice president in order to address urgent issues facing the Jewish community and that it had been unanimously ratified by the Congress’s executive committee.
Last week, Kantor and the senior leadership of the EJC met with President Vladimir Putin and responded warmly to his suggestion that Jews “come back” to Russia in response to rising anti-Semitism in Western Europe.
Kantor called Putin’s proposal “a fundamentally new idea” that he plans to raise for discussion among European Jewish leaders at the EJC’s upcoming general assembly, adding that he hopes they will support it.
No mention of the plan was included in the Congress’s post-assembly press release, however.