Berlin, 01 October, 2007
The president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Ronald S. Lauder, has met in Berlin with Germany’s federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
It was Lauder’s first meeting with Germany’s political leadership since he was elected WJC president in June 2007. He was accompanied to the meetings by the president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), Moshe Kantor, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and WJC vice-president, Charlotte Knobloch, and the new WJC secretary-general, Michael Schneider.
The talks focused on rising anti-Semitism in Europe, on the protection of vulnerable Jewish communities in Germany and central and eastern European countries, and on Iran’s nuclear program which threatens the existence of the State of Israel.
Lauder told Merkel about his growing concerns regarding Iran’s aggressive stance in the Middle East. “We must not let fanatics such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad destabilize the entire region, ” the WJC president said, adding that “six decades after the Holocaust, Germany – under Mrs. Merkel’s leadership – commands sufficient respect among the family of nations to be a measured and moderate force in world affairs. It has become a symbol for democracy, the rule of law and the protection of minorities in the world.”
Lauder also supported tough measures against the threat posed by Islamist terrorism, saying: “Not only Jews, but Western society as a whole needs the strong democratic state,” he pointed out. He condemned developments in certain central European countries where far-right paramilitary groups were being formed and who parade in the streets.
The WJC president said: “The specter of Nazism and Fascism must not be allowed to get the upper hand again in Europe.” Lauder supported calls by German NGOs for an annual report on anti-Semitism to be compiled, following the example of other countries.
Michael Thaidigsmann – World Jewish Congress, Brussels Office
Tel. +32 2 552 09 24 – Email: email@example.com