World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder speaks at the Jerusalem Post Conference in 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder has called on the Jewish people to “unite as one” to fight the continuing wave of antisemitism facing global Jewry.
Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York on Sunday, Lauder said that hatred toward the Jewish people hasn’t stopped.
“In Bulgaria, since 2003, neo-Nazis have staged a march... with men in neo-Nazi uniforms and with their hands in the air [in Nazi salute],” he explained. “The government could not stop this because of free speech laws in the country.
“We went to Bulgaria and helped organize a counter-march, in which Jews and non-Jews came together,” he said. “Even the president joined… We all marched together and the world saw these neo-Nazis as antisemites.”
“That’s how to fight neo-Nazis; we cannot let them dictate the streets,” Lauder emphasized.
He made it clear that uniting as one is the key to putting an end to antisemitism, but the Jews need to see past their differences to do so.
“We must do this as one people – but right now we are not one people,” Lauder emphasized. “This might be the most dangerous situation the Jewish people face today. There is a growing divide between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews over the last decade.”
Lauder highlighted that this divide “must end now,” because when Hezbollah and Hamas fire rockets, they don’t care if the Jews they are targeting are religious or irreligious.
“In the Tree of Life Synagogue” attack in Pittsburgh, “the shooter didn’t care [if the victims were] shomrei shabbat [Shabbat observant] or not” – the same for when the Nazis rounded up Jews.
“If our enemies don’t care which synagogue we go to, then why should we?” Lauder asked.
“We are one people; I don’t care if you are on the Right or on the Left, Sephardi or Ashkenazi. If you are Jewish, I want you to be free,” he said, adding that the Jewish people “must step up and act as one.”
Lauder’s message was loud and clear: He said the Jews in Israel – who are moving toward Orthodoxy, and the Jews of the Diaspora – who are mostly secular, conservative or reform – must learn to compromise.
“The Kotel [Western Wall] is big enough for mixed couples,” he said, referring to the Orthodox protest against the egalitarian section.
In the same breath, he said that “secular and reform Jews in the Diaspora must show greater solidarity with Israel.
“Socialism won’t save you from antisemitism, but Israel will,” he added, advising them to move away from left-wing ideologies.
“We have to let the story of Israel be told and defined by people like us, not those who hate us,” Lauder said.
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