World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, at the opening of the WJC’s
gathering in Jerusalem to usher in its 75th anniversary year, declared that the
resounding and unequivocal message of the WJC with delegates from the right and
the left, from Jewish communities large and small is: “We stand by
Lauder spoke of the global phenomenon in which terror campaigns
against Israel and the Jewish people have assumed “a new and dangerous form of
Arab and radical Islamic states, academics, media,
universities and professional unions through boycotts, sanctions and divestments
are mobilizing to delegitimize, demonize and isolate Israel from the community
of nations, he said.
He also reviewed anti-Semitic and anti-Israel
Iranian and neo-Nazi-backed terrorist activities around the world, and with the
help of a brief documentary film, painted a picture of a widespread red
“The world is quiet on anti- Semitic attacks, and the United
Nations serves as an international forum for assaults on Israel’s legitimacy,”
he said, adding that uncompromising pressures on Israel ignore Israel’s basic
“We understand the dangers Israel is facing today. We are one
Jewish family,” he said.
Referring both to Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s mission to Washington and to the resurgence of anti-Semitism and
anti- Israel sentiment, Lauder termed the current period “one of the most
fateful moments of the Jewish people since the establishment of the State of
President Shimon Peres, who will fly to Rome on Thursday to meet
with Pope Benedict XVI and to update him on the latest efforts to secure peace
in the region, shared with the WJC some of what he will discuss with the
He was convinced that Netanyahu is well-prepared for the talks
in Washington and that he is determined to implement an agreed-upon two-state
In Peres’s perception, a onestate solution would be dangerous,
because judging by what is happening in other states in the region, it would be
a springboard for conflicts within itself. A three-state solution would be
equally dangerous, he said, because, of the three, the one in Gaza would be a
What he would like to see would be a demilitarized
Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.
Peres credited US
President Barack Obama with the important achievement of bringing together the
parties in the conflict.
“The US has played a key role in divorcing the
proximity talks, and entering a more serious gate of direct negotiations,” Peres
voiced, in appreciation to Obama for his diplomatic investment in direct
Peres was also grateful to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, for
whom he said, he has the most profound respect.
“Mubarak stood like a
rock in the Middle East to prevent a regional war.”
Peres was certain
Mubarak’s journey to Washington would be a major factor in helping to achieve
peace. He also saw significance in the participation of King Abdullah of
What unites all the leaders from the Middle East who will meet in
Washington, said Peres, is a common desire for peace.
“They don’t come to
lose peace but to make peace.”
While there is a sense of optimism in this
unfolding development, Peres stated that in the name of intellectual honesty he
had to acknowledge that no prime minister was ever able to do all the things he
wanted to do, or to avoid doing things he didn’t want to do, “because no-one can
Alluding to Iran, Peres said: “We are witnessing one of
the greatest confrontations in the Middle East.”
struggles, he noted this was a combination of ideology, religion and
“Will the Middle East become a Muslim hegemony?” he asked
Arab nationalism is a comparatively recent
For 900 years Arabs lived under imperial rule, and the
establishment of 23 Arab states did not meet all of the expectations, Peres
“Now there is a new appetite to rebuild the empire not by kings,
but by clerics. Iran is very assertive and very extreme.”
Arabs don’t mind giving up nationalism and are beginning to accept Muslim
hegemony, said Peres, most Arab countries do not want to sacrifice their
nationalism and become occupied by a new empire of religion.
Iranians, he charged, “are covering their ambitions by riding on an anti-Israel
ticket, but Iran is trying to convert Lebanon into a battlefield.”
sending arms to Lebanon and to Hamas, Iran is splitting the Lebanese and the
Palestinians, said Peres, who accused Iran of being a dangerous terrorist
movement disguised in the name of religion.
Peres reiterated his call for
a world coalition against Iran saying that no one will be able to sleep
at night while Iran develops nuclear weapons, especially in light of the
of the Iranian government.
Peres also touched briefly on the lifting of
the construction freeze, underscoring that there are 21 Arab-populated
in Jerusalem in which Jews never built, and that there was no need to
provocation by building in them now.