(photo credit: AP)
The president of the World Jewish Congress said Monday that economic sanctions against Iran will not stop the Islamic Republic from seeking to obtain nuclear weapons.
"My concern is that they [the sanctions] will not stop Iran from their quest for a bomb," Ronald S. Lauder told The Jerusalem Post during a gathering of the New York-based organization in Jerusalem. "Economic sanctions always help [but] the question is how strong they are and what effect they have. They cannot affect a country in the short-term."
In defiance of the UN Security Council and years of increasing economic sanctions, Iran continues to enrich uranium, which nuclear experts say is the hardest part of building a bomb.
"We all know that the obfuscation and trickery of the mullahs in charge of that once great country have one clear goal - a nuclear bomb," Lauder said.
The American cosmetics heir also said that he was confident that US President Barack Obama would be supportive of Israel, noting that the first African-American president's popularity in the Arab world would likely further peace talks in the Middle East.
"I am totally confident that Obama and his administration will work as hard as they can to protect Israel and look for peace," Lauder said. "The fact that Obama will be accepted by the Arab world... is also a key to world peace."
His comments comes just two days before Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George J. Mitchell, will arrive in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and amid Israeli concern that the new US administration will pressure Israel.
In an earlier address, Lauder blasted the world's "double standard" in criticizing Israel's recent military operation in Gaza, noting that no other country in the world would accept having thousands of missiles rain down on their civilians for years.
"How long would your governments wait if you were threatened, not just by words that promised your destruction but by real rockets?" he said. "There is no question to how fast the US would have reacted."
Lauder also blasted both the Red Cross and the New York based-Human Rights Watch for their "skewed" treatment of Israel.
"These organizations pretend to be unbiased and care for all human beings..but from my observation they are nothing but pro-Palestinian fronts," he said.
The remarks come at a time when anti-Israel protesters around the world - as well as some foreign government officials - have been comparing Israel's actions against Hamas in Gaza to those of Nazi Germany.
"When I look at the double standards that the world applies to Jews...I come to the sad conclusion that with anti-Semitism the best we can hope for is that it goes away for a time, but like a persistent and deadly virus it re-energizes itself after a generation or two and comes back in all of its hideous forms," he said.
The WJC president said that the lesson of the 1930s was the need to immediately react to any anti-Semitic incident anywhere in the world, but especially in Europe, which has witnessed a spike of anti-Semitic incidents since the military operation against Hamas in Gaza began.
"Today in Europe the situation is as bad as it ever has been," he said.
"In reality, to my mind [being] anti-Israel and anti-Semitism are the same thing," he concluded.
In an earlier address, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu called for the establishment of broad alliance against anti-Semitism and the "creed of hate," with both Christians and moderate Muslims around the world.
"I have no doubt that ultimately militant Islam will lose the battle against modernity and freedom," Netanyahu said. "The question is [at] what price until that defeat is assured."