An open letter to Edgar Bronfman

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Mr. Edgar Bronfman, President
World Jewish Congress
501 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Dear Edgar

I write to you as the Senior Vice President of the World Jewish Congress.

Last week you co-signed with Lawrence Eagleburger a letter to President George W. Bush preceding his meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

On a cursory glance your letter reads like an objective “even-handed” State Department release calling on both Israelis and Palestinians to adhere to their obligations to the road map, taking care not to even hint as to which party is responsible for the conflict.

But buried amongst these even-handed platitudes is an intervention by the President of the World Jewish Congress to President George W. Bush urging him to stand firm on the one critical security issue in which there are serious differences between the policies of the United States and the government of Israel.

You criticize Israel’s security fence, describing it in the language of those opposed to the Israeli position, as a “separation wall” and assert that it is “complicated and potentially problematic”. Furthermore you urge the President to exert pressure on Israel and apply “the same straightforwardness in his meeting with Prime Minister Sharon” as he had with the Palestinian Prime Minister.

By this, you have initiated an outrageous act that stands in defiance of the broad consensus of the World Jewish Congress constituency, unbefitting to the President of that organization. Without a doubt that broad consensus seeks to maximize its support of the policies determined by the democratically elected government of Israel during these difficult times.

You have in the past expressed other odd ideas about Israel but your most recent foray is much more serious and has crossed every red line. It would be obscene at any time for the President of the World Jewish Congress who is resident in New York to lobby the President of the United States to resist policies being promoted by the government of Israel. But on a security issue such as the security fence, which impacts on the life and death of Israelis, your intervention – irrespective as to whether you formally used your presidential title or not – can only be described as an act of perfidy which will not be swept under the carpet.

It brings to the fore important issues of principal such as:

Does the President of the World Jewish Congress have any accountability to others in the organization? Is the WJC a personal fiefdom which a powerful individual can exploit as he sees fit as a platform to promote his personal agenda, irrespective of the opinion of his colleagues and of other Jewish leaders? Is such behavior legitimate even when the views are contrary to the policies of the government of Israel, affect the life and death of Israeli citizens, and are addressed to the President of the United States? Does the concept of governance have any applicability or relevance whatsoever to the WJC?

Even if I were not now living in Israel I would be appalled by your act. Indeed I do not believe you will find a single elected Jewish communal leader who would approve your deed.

Sir. I request you to retract and apologize forthwith. Otherwise, I call on you to resign. Enough is enough! We have sufficient enemies without having a person titled President of the World Jewish Congress undermining policies of the government of Israel on what are indisputably security- related issues that enjoy the support of the vast majority of Israelis of all political persuasions.

I write this letter in sadness.

Isi Leibler

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