World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder was welcomed on Tuesday by Colombian Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzon for a reception in his honor at the ambassador’s official residence in Washington, D.C.
Lauder, who has met numerous times with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, thanked Colombia in his speech for the constant friendship it has shown Israel and the Jewish people.
“I want to thank Colombia for the courage you have shown over all these years, courage that you continue to demonstrate,” Lauder said. “It’s not always easy being a friend of the Jewish people or Israel or the United States. But frankly, I believe this puts you on the right side of history. We remember our friends.”
In concluding his speech, Lauder said in Spanish: “"Tal como apoyó Colombia al pueblo judío... El Congreso Judío Mundial apoya a Colombia. [Just as Colombia stood by the Jewish people ... the World Jewish Congress stands by Colombia.]”
Pinzon praised Lauder for his leadership and commitment to developing vibrant Jewish communities around the world, including in Latin America, and for strongly supporting Colombia’s efforts to secure lasting peace.
“In Mr. Lauder, we are honoring someone who has forged a close bond with Colombia – and Colombia, in turn, has become a friend to the World Jewish Congress,” said Ambassador Pinzón. “Colombia remains one of Israel’s longest, strongest partners and supporters. Mr. Lauder’s leadership at the helm of the WJC since 2007 has been central to advancing this alliance.”
“Whether countering anti-Semitism, supporting the people of Israel in their struggle to live in peace with their neighbors or leading successful efforts to recover stolen Jewish property, including art stolen during World War II – something about which he is deeply passionate – he has led the development of vibrant Jewish communities around the world,” said the Ambassador.
The ambassador also used the occasion to recognize and reaffirm the Colombian government’s commitment to its Jewish community at home and abroad as well as Jewish communities around the world.
“Not only has Colombia’s Jewish community greatly contributed to the fabric of our nation, Colombia has also benefited from strong ties with the Jewish community here in the United States and worldwide – from diplomatic support to business and investment. And it is because of people and the commitment of leaders like Mr. Lauder that those ties continue to strengthen,” the ambassador concluded.
More than 100 people attended the reception, including members of Congress, the U.S. Administration, business leaders, members of the press and members of the Jewish community of Washington.
The Colombian Jewish community numbers about 5,000, and is represented by the umbrella organization the Confederación de Comunidades Judías de Colombia, led by President George Levi. The CCJC is in turn a member of the Latin American Jewish Congress, a regional branch of the World Jewish Congress. The World Jewish Congress will be holding a Special Plenary Assembly March 16-17 in Buenos Aires, the headquarters of the Latin American Jewish Congress.