WJC vows to stand by Israel

Lauder says the Jewish people have assumed “a new and dangerous form of political warfare.”

WJC gathering (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
WJC gathering
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
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 Israel.”
Lauder spoke of the global phenomenon in which terror campaigns against Israel and the Jewish people have assumed “a new and dangerous form of political warfare.”
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 alert.
“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 rights.
“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 Israel.”
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 Pontiff.
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 solution.
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 terror state.
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 talks.
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 Jordan.
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 escape reality.”
Alluding to Iran, Peres said: “We are witnessing one of the greatest confrontations in the Middle East.”
Unlike previous struggles, he noted this was a combination of ideology, religion and politics.
“Will the Middle East become a Muslim hegemony?” he asked rhetorically.
Arab nationalism is a comparatively recent occurrence.
For 900 years Arabs lived under imperial rule, and the establishment of 23 Arab states did not meet all of the expectations, Peres said.
“Now there is a new appetite to rebuild the empire not by kings, but by clerics. Iran is very assertive and very extreme.”
While some 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.
The Iranians, he charged, “are covering their ambitions by riding on an anti-Israel ticket, but Iran is trying to convert Lebanon into a battlefield.”
By 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 quietly at night while Iran develops nuclear weapons, especially in light of the nature of the Iranian government.
Peres also touched briefly on the lifting of the construction freeze, underscoring that there are 21 Arab-populated suburbs in Jerusalem in which Jews never built, and that there was no need to create a provocation by building in them now.