2310ec Zagreb - World Jewish Congress
Zagreb, 16-17 October 2023

Executive Committee Meeting

Jewish communal leaders from more than 40 nations weighed their next steps in responding to the terrorist group Hamas’ attack on Israel and expressed solidarity with the people of the Jewish State, at an emergency session this week of the World Jewish Congress Executive Committee in Zagreb.

The Executive Committee unanimously voted in favor of approval on a resolution affirming the organized Jewish world’s unified position during this challenging time. WJC officials also presented the assembled communities with an action plan to bolster support for Israel and hamper Hamas’ ability to carry out further atrocities. The resolution and corresponding action items will serve as the foundation for coordinated advocacy by local Jewish communities to their national governments, media organizations and relevant agencies.

WJC and Affiliate Community Action Items: 

  • Immediate Recognition of Threat: All governments, civil society organizations and international organizations must swiftly and unequivocally classify Hamas as an internationally recognized terror organization, if they have not already done so. Delay in such recognition not only undermines global security but also emboldens the perpetrators.
  • Advocating for the Safe Return of Hostages: It is a priority for Jewish communities worldwide to call on their respective governments, multilateral organizations and humanitarian agencies to engage in focused diplomatic efforts to ensure the safe return of the hostages taken by Hamas. These innocent individuals, held under dire circumstances in Gaza, should be front and center in our advocacy. Every life is precious, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure the hostages are returned to their families and loved ones without delay.
  • Protection for Jewish Communities: Governments around the world must not only allocate but also ensure the proactive deployment of resources to safeguard the well-being of Jewish communities and institutions. International organizations must also advocate for the protection of Jewish communities. A proactive stance is the key to deterrence.
  • Strategic Financial Embargo: Any financial assistance flowing into Gaza should be scrutinized rigorously. Governments and humanitarian organizations must withhold foreign aid from entities within Gaza that even remotely have the potential to channel these funds towards terror-supporting activities. Our global responsibility is to ensure that aid does not inadvertently become an instrument of terror.
  • Media Integrity and Accountability: Media organizations bear a profound responsibility. They must vigorously resist any tendencies to relativize or sympathize with Hamas. Instead, they should focus on delivering unvarnished, factual reporting, refraining from painting Hamas’ terror activities as any form of legitimate resistance. The global audience deserves the truth, uncolored by biases.
  • Digital Vigilance: Social media companies play an integral role in shaping opinions and spreading information. They must be held accountable for curbing the dissemination of misinformation and content that glorifies terror. With great power comes great responsibility, and these platforms must be at the forefront of ensuring online safety and truth.
  • Unwavering Global Support: We urge governments and international organizations to stand resolute in their support for Jewish communities and Israel, despite the surge in protests worldwide that seemingly glorify Hamas, its actions and its campaign of terror. The events of October 7 serve as a reminder of the dire consequences of terror. Governments and multilateral organizations should anchor their stance in truth, justice, fairness and a commitment to the safety and security of innocent lives.
  • Prioritizing Safety and Respect in Academia: Universities and colleges stand as bastions of learning, growth and open discourse. They must also be and remain safe spaces for Jewish students and teachers. The evidence of increased attacks on Jewish students and academy – in the wake of Hamas’ attack and Israel’s response – requires academic administrators offer unwavering support to those people and adopt a zero-tolerance policy for the glorification or acceptance of terror. Educational institutions must foster an environment of inclusivity, respect and safety, ensuring that no student is targeted or feels threatened due to their religious or ethnic background.

Formal Executive Meeting and Meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković

The WJC Executive Committee, which includes senior leaders of the major Jewish communities around the world, met on Monday to discuss the war in Israel and its implications on global Jewry. Given the crucial topic of the meeting, the gathering also featured the virtual participation of Jewish leaders from across the world, including from Israel.

“Let it be known that the Jewish diaspora stands unequivocally in unwavering support of the citizens of Israel and the IDF during these challenging times,” WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said Monday, during the formal meeting of the Executive Committee. “In unity lies our indomitable strength.”

WJC leaders also met privately with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, holding a moment of silence to honor the victims in Israel as well as those civilians currently under threat from Hamas rockets.

Breaking Down Barriers to Women's Leadership

Amb. Michèle Taylor, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council, delivered the keynote address for the 'Breaking Down Barriers to Women's Leadership' seminar, emphasizing the critical importance of empowering women and removing obstacles that hinder their path to leadership roles.

In light of the ongoing war in Israel, the seminar’s first session was adjusted to examine how the war is specifically impacting women and how Jews around the world can offer support to Israel. The second session identified some of the most pressing obstacles to empowering women in leadership and outlined solutions to garner the necessary support and resources to start building meaningful initiatives. The conversation built on the last WJC Executive Committee meeting in Madrid, where global leaders discussed similar challenges faced by women in different regions and strategized for a more inclusive and equitable future.

WJC Elevate Program

The WJC Elevate Program commenced as Elevate Members reflected on the difficult past week in Israel and its impact on their local communities. The discussions served as a poignant reminder of the pressing need for global solidarity and a call for action to create impact initiatives for Israel and their local community.

In parallel, select WJC Elevate members actively participated in key events, including the Breaking Down Barriers to Women’s Leadership Seminar, the formal meeting of the WJC Executive Committee, and a closing lunch hosted by WJC President Ronald S. Lauder honoring H.E. Mr. Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of Croatia. The WJC Elevate program also featured private discussions with President Lauder and Amb. Taylor addressing the current challenges and opportunities facing the Jewish community, as well as a joint session with Executive Committee Members, entitled "Israel Under Fire: Our Collective Response - A Jewish Unity Salon," which explored how Jewish people across the world can unite amidst the challenges posed by the war in Israel and strengthen the global Jewish community.

Working Group on Holocaust Obfuscation

Leaders of WJC’s affiliated communities, from the Baltics to the Balkan region (former Communist states), gathered on the sidelines of the Executive Committee meeting to coordinate efforts to prevent the manipulation of Holocaust history for political or nationalistic purposes. WJC has recently been active across the Balkans and has successfully advocated for nations to more fully address their actions during World War II. 

In July, a WJC delegation of Jewish scholars and young diplomats attended a conference co-organized by WJC and the Srebrenica Memorial Center on preserving the collective memory of genocide victims and confronting Holocaust and genocide denial. The conference was part of this year’s commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. The month prior, the presidents of the Jewish communities of Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Serbia and Greece took the initial step of signing a memorandum of understanding to ensure adherence to the same set of historical facts and initiate models of cooperation on future remembrance initiatives.