In a pre-recorded video address broadcast to attendees at the Jerusalem Post London Conference, Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, discussed a wide range of topics, including antisemitism, the war in Ukraine, the Iranian threat to Israel, and the importance of maintaining the unity of the Jewish people.
Lauder suggested that ‘Jew-Hatred’ is a more apt and accurate term than antisemitism. “Anti-Semitism” is a holdover from the 19th century,” said Lauder, and it has lost its meaning. No one cares when they hear Anti-Semitism. From now on, let’s all call it what it really is – the hatred-of-Jews, or Jew-Hatred.”
Turning to what he termed the Conference’s elephant in the room – the war in Ukraine – Lauder said that no one could ignore the destruction and devastation occurring there, noting that the war has created more than 10 million refugees seeking food, shelter and safety.
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Lauder praised the response from surrounding countries in the area, such as Poland, Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia, who have found homes, shelters and jobs for refugees. He added that the Lauder Jewish school network in Europe has returned young Ukrainian children to classrooms in Vienna, Berlin, Warsaw and Budapest and elsewhere, while in Israel, refugee families have found jobs in the Negev.
Lauder cautioned that were Israel to be attacked by its enemies, other countries would do little to stop such an attack. “When Iran stages “Death to Israel” demonstrations for over 40 years,” said Lauder, “today they now dream of Ukraine.” The only people who will protect Israel, he added, are the Israeli people.
The most significant threat to Israel’s existence today, Lauder said, is Iran. “While Israel must use all diplomatic means to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, the country must do what is in its best interests to stop that from happening. “It must make it very clear that it will never accept a nuclear Iran,” he said.
Lauder suggested that the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora and the divide between religious and secular Jews is a serious issue with long-term consequences. “Today, I can tell you as President of the World Jewish Congress that Israel is losing the support of the Diaspora,” he stated. Israel needs the Diaspora, and the Diaspora needs to look to Israel as its second home, the WJC president asserted.
Turning to Jewish education, Lauder announced that the World Jewish Congress is opening a special Education division and is working on a scholarship fund that will make Jewish education affordable for those who do not have the financial means. “I want to see that every Jewish child that wants a Jewish education should get a Jewish education, and money should never be a factor,” he said. He added that the WJC is supporting young Jewish activists on college campuses who are countering Jew-hatred that they have experienced from professors, administrators and other students.
Concluding his remarks, Lauder stated, “Our world is going through a great trauma as this conference convenes. We don’t know how it will resolve itself. But this we do know – if the Jewish people act as one, if we continue to watch out for each other, from Ukraine, to Israel, to the United States, and all points in between, then we will be so much stronger to face whatever comes our way.”