The World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly meetings kicked off on Tuesday with the first in a series of topical discussions focusing on the organization’s priority issues. The session was organized by the Israel Council on Foreign Relations (ICFR), a non-partisan forum for the study and debate of foreign policy operating under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress.
The conversation, moderated by WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps member and ICFR Board Member Nir Boms, centered on the state of the threat posed by the Iranian regime and featured remarks from leading experts Alliance Center for Iranian Studies Founding Director David Menashri, Founder and President, Emirates Policy Center Founder and President Ebtesam Al Ketbi, and Koret Project on Arab-Israel Relations Director David Makovsky. The conversation concluded with interventions from WJC-affiliated Jewish community leaders.
Menashri, an authority on the Iranian nuclear program, provided an overview of the current situation, noted that while developments may emerge, the Iranian nuclear negotiations are the only "tier one issue for the U.S. in the Middle East." Menashri said that he believes the Biden administrations focus is to “try and constrain Iran inside a nuclear agreement that would limit its capabilities at least for a few years.” He concluded noting that the fundamental difference between the policy preferences of Israel and the United States is that the Israel wants to “keep all the sanctions in place, because without it you'll never get to [Iran nuclear deal] 2.0,” while the United States believes “if you overload the system [with sanctions], you will be left with [no capacity to inspect Iran’s nuclear programs]”
Contributing to the discussion, Al Ketbi noted that Iran wants to go back to negotiations but not “the same deal as 2015, they don't want to go to zero enrichment, they want to start from 20% enrichment.” Al Ketbi concluded her remarks advocating for the use of soft and hard power to reach a “deal that would satisfy everybody and limit Iran malign activities, missile program and nuclear power.”
Professor Makovsky noted that there are three main challenges that the free world faces: Iran’s nuclear program, its regional behavior and its human right violations. Makovsky contended that Israel’s “most immediate challenge” regarding Iran, is that the sponsor of terror now unofficially borders Israel with proxies in nearly every direction, explaining, “look at the number of rockets and missiles that Lebanon has, Iranian presence in Syria, relations with Hamas and the approaching elections in the Palestinian Authority.”
Other plenary sessions will include an overview of the current political landscape in Israel; an event marking Ramadan together with the World Muslim League, and a conversation on online hate. There will also be sessions on thetopics on young leadership and diversity in Jewish organizations. Meetings of WJC’s ICJP and SECCA Forums will also take place.
The WJC Plenary Assembly takes place every four years and brings together delegates from WJC-affiliated Jewish communities and organizations in more than 100 countries around the world. The Plenary Assembly elects WJC leadership and sets policy for the years ahead. This year’s meeting will take place on 25 May.