European Jewish Congress unanimously reelected Russian businessman Dr. Moshe Kantor for his third consecutive term as the organization’s President on Tuesday.
Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was concurrently chosen as Chairman of the Council.
There were no dissenting votes among the forty two member communities represented in the continental body, Kantor’s spokeswoman wrote in a statement, while the fertilizer magnate and Legion of Honor laureate stated that he was “delighted” at the “strong vote of confidence from the leadership of the European Jewish communities” he received.
The election, Kantor said, was “a positive testament for the work we have done these last few years and the plan of action we have for the years ahead.”
“The high level of Antisemitism, the crisis brought about by large numbers of migrants and asylum-seekers entering Europe, the wave of terror and the economic situation are all interconnected and present great challenges for European Jewry.”
Elections for EJC President had been moved up by nearly a year and were originally slated to be held in late 2016.
Several community leaders from Europe, speaking on condition of anonymity, were quoted by Israeli Russian-language news website IzRus as saying that they believed the elections were moved up to preempt World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder from backing a candidate to oppose Kantor.
However, several sources within Jewish communities who spoke with The Jerusalem Post said they did not believe that to be the case.
Asked earlier this month if the date change was political, EJC spokeswoman replied with an emphatic negative, stating that the new date had been proposed by the EJC’s Vice President in order to address urgent issues facing the Jewish community and that it had been unanimously ratified by the Congress’ executive committee.
Last week Kantor and the senior leadership of the EJC met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and responded warmly to his suggestion that Jews “come back” to Russia in response to rising anti-Semitism in western Europe.
In response, Kantor called Putin’s proposal “a fundamentally new idea” that he plans on raising for discussion among European Jewish leaders at the EJC’s upcoming general assembly, adding that he hopes they would support it.
No mention of the plan was included in the congress’ post-assembly press release, however.Thursday, January 28, 2016