Ronald Lauder speaks at WJC conference 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh)
BUDAPEST – Billionaire philanthropist Ronald Lauder was reelected to the post of president of the World Jewish Congress during voting for his organization’s top executive slots at the WJC’s 14th Plenary Assembly in Budapest on Monday.
The election results were announced by former WJC secretary- general Michael Schneider, several hours after the ballots were cast by representatives of over 100 Jewish communities around the globe.
Lauder, who was elected to his current position in 2007 and ran unopposed in Monday’s elections, is active in a number of Jewish organizations and sits on the boards of the Jewish Heritage Council, International Society for Yad Vashem, United States Holocaust Memorial Council and the Jewish Theological Seminary, among others.
He also serves as the president of the World Jewish Restitution Organization and as the head of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, which he founded, and which is “committed to rebuilding Jewish life in that part of Europe where the destruction of the Holocaust was followed by the oppression of Communist rule.”
A Republican and a supporter of the Likud, Lauder has served as American ambassador to Austria under president Ronald Reagan, run for mayor of New York City and in the late ’90s, played a role in failed Israeli-Syrian negotiations as an unofficial envoy of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Between 1983 and 1986, Lauder served as US deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO affairs.
The son of Estee Lauder, whose eponymous cosmetics corporation does billions of dollars in business annually, Lauder is one of the world’s richest Jews, ranked by Forbes as the 123rd richest man in the US, with a net worth of $3.6 billion as of March.
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Lauder is part owner of both Channel 10 and the news website Nana, as well as Jerusalem Capital Studios, where The Jerusalem Post is headquartered.
After his reelection, Lauder said that he sees “this as the top assignment for the Jewish people” and that he is “excited to serve as president of the World Jewish Congress for another four years.”
During a recent interview with The Jerusalem Report, Lauder said in the context of rising European anti-Semitism – which motivated the WJC to hold its plenum in Budapest, where the far-Right Jobbik has become the former Communist nation’s third-largest party – that “the role of the WJC is to raise awareness, to give advice and to assist the Jewish communities in their efforts against anti-Semitism.”
Others elected to executive positions in the WJC included Baron David René James de Rothschild of France, 70, who became chairman of the governing board; and Chella Safra of Brazil, who was is now the WJC’s treasurer.
Robert Singer, who was chosen several months ago as the new WJC Secretary-General, was presented as the new CEO and executive vice president. Singer, who is coming off a 14-year stint as director- general of World ORT, had previously worked in the Prime Minister’s Office and served for more than a decade as an educational officer in the IDF.
The voting was not without controversy, with Jerry Lewis, a member of the delegation from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, interrupting the proceedings on several occasions with procedural objections.
During the announcement of electoral results, Lewis received an ovation for announcing that he was making his final motion of the day, when he called for an immediate recitation of the number of ballots cast for each candidate.
Speaking with the Post afterward, Lewis claimed that there was a lack of “transparency” within the WJC, although not many other delegates seemed to share his zeal.
One member of the Israeli delegation, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated he thought that the proceedings had been quite transparent and that he disagreed with Lewis’s assessment.
Menahem Rosensaft, general counsel of the WJC, told the Post that Lewis had complained of not receiving necessary information from the WJC, but that since he had only been selected as a delegate after the board of deputies had already received all necessary information from the WJC, his claims of opaqueness would be better directed toward his own organization.
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