May 28, 2008
Brussels, 28 May 2008
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
Moshe Kantor, President
Flo Kaufmann, Chairman of the Council (UK)
Serge Cwajgenbaum, Secretary General
Yaakov Bleich (Ukraine)
Michel Bulz (Luxembourg)
Claudia De Benedetti (Italy)
Alfred Donath (Switzerland)
Pinchas Goldschmidt (Russia)
Tomas Kraus (Czech Republic)
Dalia Levinsohn (Spain)
Alex Rutman (Latvia)
By special invitation:
Vladimir Kantor (LINK project)
Maram Stern (Belgium)
Herbert Winter (Switzerland)
Arie Zuckerman (Israel)
Myriam Glikerman, EJC Paris office
Darina Privalko, Moscow office
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE EJC EXECUTIVE MEETING
The EJC Executive meeting started with a lunch with guest of honor former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski. EJC President Moshe Kantor introduced to the audience the guest, who is a friend of the European Jewry.
President Kwasniewski reminded the participants of the two moving and educative events organized by the World Holocaust Forum in Krakow (Poland, 2005) and in Babi Yar (Ukraine, 2006). He stressed the fact that we are living paradoxical times when Europe is becoming more and more multi national, multi cultural and multi religious. In such times, tolerance needs to be in the core of the organization of the society. Therefore, with regard to the upcoming 3rd World Holocaust Forum, dedicated to the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of “Die Kristallnacht”, Mr. Kwasniewski announced about the creation of the Council of Europe’s Civil Society Representatives, that will include prominent political and public leaders, scientists, Nobel Prize winners, such as Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, Imre Kertész, Hungarian Author and Nobel Prize Winner, Jose Maria Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain, and other distinguished personalities, who have gained international acknowledgement for their outstanding humanitarian activity for the sake of tolerance.
The Council shall be chaired by Mr. Kwasniewski himself, who has noted as well that in Poland and in many other countries, the key word for the years to come will be RECONCILIATION and tolerance which is an absolute need if you want to reach this reconciliation both on the level of inside national fights and external fights.
Moshe Kantor reported on the morning meeting devoted to the preparation of the European Day of Tolerance and to the Commemoration of the Kristallnacht.
It will start on November 9th at the Synagogue of Europe with a ceremony organized by the CER in relation with the Belgian Jewish community (Chief rabbis Guigui and Lau will be invited and many others as well).
On November 10th (which happens to be the day of the commemoration of Itzhak Rabin), a full day program will involve the legal society, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. The first part of the program will be devoted to an impressive artistic event attended by over a thousand guests. The second part of the program will take place at the European Parliament with the launching of the European Day of Tolerance, followed by a formal dinner honoring 3 high level personalities - respectively symbolizing the past, the present and the humanitarian involvement - who will be awarded the European medal of tolerance.
Activity report by Serge Cwajgenbaum
Serge Cwaigenbaum, EJC Secretary General, reported on recent visits of EJC official delegations to Slovenia, Macedonia and Italy and highlighted the positive outcome of meetings with the government and Jewish community leadership of those countries.
During its visit to Slovenia, the EJC delegation discussed with the leaders of the country that currently presides in the European Union, the issues of nuclear security of Europe and raised an issue of governmental support to small Jewish Communities.
A special highlight of the trip to Macedonia was the ordination of Rabbi Avi Kozma, the first Macedonian born and raised Chief Rabbi of this Balkan country with small, but very active Jewish community.
The trip to Italy, perfectly organized by Jewish Community of Italy, was dedicated to official ceremonies of Yom Hazikaron and Yom-Haazma’ut, as well as the Official Book Fair opening, hosting Israel as special guest country.
S. Cwajgenbaum emphasizes the improvement of the website and the number of daily hits which reaches 1000 to 1200. He expresses the necessity to receive from all affiliated communities as much information as possible in order to feed the site with up to date events of Jewish interest.
Flo Kaufmann (Chairperson, Great Britain) reminded about her welcome to the communities to join the “Salute to Israel” parade, which is to take place in London on June 29, 2008.
Arie Zuckerman (Special Advisor, Israel): Confirmed the unprecedented possibility for European Jewry to greet Israel on the occasion of its 60th Anniversary, by holding a special EJC dinner at the Knesset for the presidents of all EJC member communities along with top Israel leadership, parliamentarians and politicians. This idea has been previously discussed with Dalia Itzik, the Speaker of the Knesset, who also indicated the importance of personal presence of EJC president at meetings with European political leaders at the Knesset. Tentative date for the dinner is September 16, 2008.
Tomas Kraus (Special Envoy, Czech Republic): suggested to organize a meeting with the Czech authorities sometimes in October 2008 to prepare the Czech presidency of the EU. Then one of EJC Executives can be held in Prague sometime in December 2008 or January 2009.
EJC’s Constitution has been brought to the Prefecture, pursuant to French Law and accepted with all relevant documents. The final registration in the “Journal officiel” shall take place in the coming weeks, whereupon the copy of the certificate of incorporation will be uploaded on the EJC’s website.
President Kantor welcomes the new President of the Federation of Swiss Jewish communities Herbert Winter, who will from now on represent Switzerland at the EJC Executive meetings, and expresses his deep appreciation for the work done by Prof. Donath who will continue to chair the EJC Committee on anti-Semitism.
Report on WJC Steering Committee
The recent meeting in Brussels gathered WJC lay leaders and professionals. The priorities of WJC announced at the meeting, are in line with those of EJC. It was stipulated that elections for the WJC President would take place no later than January 2009.
The EJC Executive has discussed the ways to maximize the effect of the coordinated actions of EJC/WJC.
Relations with communities that suspended their participation in EJC
Serge Cwajgenbaum gladly announced that one of the communities (Portugal) has rejoined the organization and EJC’s leadership is now in the process of negotiations with other communities. He emphasized the importance of all communities for further development of EJC’s activities, and confirmed willingness to find compromise, as long as it conforms with the Constitution.
During the EJC Executive meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Jose Oulman Carp was appointed the Chair of the Committee for the support of small communities. At the EJC Executive in Brussels, on his behalf, Arie Zuckerman elaborated on the Committee’s plans to define the needs of small communities, which are very different from those of large ones. Assimilation was indicated as one of the main concerns, and LINK project (that was discussed later on agenda) might be a strong tool to combat this issue. It was also mentioned that Carp, together with Silvyo Ovadya (Turkey), are very much interested in activating the Judeo Muslim dialogue
Vladimir Kantor gave impressive presentation on progress report of the Project LINK: Creating The World’s Largest Jewish On Line Community, which should be operational by September 2008 at the latest. The main idea of this project is to share the Formula of Success of outstanding Jews with Jewish youngsters, who belong to the “click”-generation.
At the moment the Jewish Agency for Israel is ready to promote the site and the communities shall also receive precise instructions on distribution of the information regarding this site (LEADEL.com) to enable young Jews in respective countries to take advantage of this project.
Preparatory meeting for the 2009 Review Conference - “Durban II”
EJC will coordinate with EU countries and will not tolerate the conference to be hijacked by anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic elements as it happened at Durban I.
S. Cwajgenbaum confirms that the WJC has an NGO status at the UN in Geneva. There must be a coordination between the communities so to pressure their governments and to inform about what happened in Durban I. Many of them are completely unaware. Each Jewish community should ask for one of its members to be part of the official national delegation.
Czech presidency of the EU
T. Kraus reported, that it has been decided to organize, in Prague, in June 2009, an EU Conference on Jewish restitutions, which will be a follow-up of the 1998 Washington conference on restitutions. The Czech government will receive full support of the Americans and it makes sense for the EJC to be involved in this process.
S. Cwajgenbaum suggests to organize the EJC General Assembly around this event in Prague, in June 2009 and at the same time to have a major pan-European Jewish event gathering Presidents and Jewish activists from all over Europe. The proposal is approved by the Executive.
Serge Cwajgenbaum, together with Pr. Donath and Rabbi Bleich, are in charge of studying a mechanism to deal with the question of demography. Then bring a study to the GA so to confirm or modify the key of representation and amount of annual fees according to the accepted figures of Jewish population.
Good Friday prayer
Dr. Herbert Winter asks what has been done in other countries regarding the reintroduction of the prayer of the Good Friday where Jews are mentioned in a negative way.
Rabbi Goldschmidt commented that it was discussed at a meeting of the CER. It is widely known that part of the Christian mission is to convert the whole world to their faith.
Maram Stern noted that this matter does not affect the relations with the Catholics since only a small majority of the Bishop Conferences in the various European countries will be ready to adopt it
In the meantime, the College of Cardinals is preparing a declaration stating that this prayer doesn’t refer to the Jews of today, but to Jews of 2000 years ago. This declaration will help the Pope not to lose face.
The meeting is adjourned.