Quixotic candidate challenges oligarch rule of Jewish group

Retired physicist from Beersheba claims Euro-Asian Jewish Congress won't consider him as a leadership candidate because he doesn't have enough money.

November 22, 2011 05:23
1 minute read.
Israeli's march with flags (illustrative)

Israel Flag March 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A retired physicist from Beersheba wants to run for the leadership of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC), a Jewish advocacy group, but he says it won’t consider him because he doesn’t have enough money.

Vladimir Hertzberg, who has made several unsuccessful bids to head the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Likud party, said the organization demanded he deposit two million dollars to challenge the only other candidate, businessman Vadim Shulman.

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“I ran against [billionaire businessman] Ron Lauder for the leadership of the World Jewish Congress in 2007 and nobody asked me for money,” he said on Monday. “Everything depends on money? I don’t understand this. A man with no money cannot participate? I’m against this. In a democracy one doesn’t have to need money.”

The EAJC was founded 10 years ago by Kazakhstani- Israeli billionaire Alexander Machkevitch. An affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, it funds Jewish projects and institutions across the former Soviet Union. Shulman, a wealthy businessman who has Israeli, Russian and Ukrainian citizenship, is expected to take over from Machkevitch – but Hertzberg feels he would do a better job.

The group said it was familiar with Hertzberg’s request and that it was undergoing evaluation.

“He can participate,” said EAJC Secretary-General Michael Chlenov. “But he doesn’t live in the area and he has no money so I’m not sure. He just likes to take part in elections. He’s a bit of a strange man.”

Hertzberg is undeterred.

“Israel is the country of miracles,” he said. “There have been precedents and I pray that God almighty will help me. Maybe someone will understand that a physicist is just as good as a businessman.”

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