ZAGREB, Croatia – 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.
Those leaders met today with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
“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. “In unity lies our indomitable strength.”
His comments came ahead of a unanimous vote of approval on a WJC 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.
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.
The resolution and corresponding action items will serve as the foundation for coordinated action and advocacy by local Jewish communities to their national governments, media organizations and relevant agencies. WJC will work to support these communities and advance the discussion within international forums, including the United Nations and European Union.
“During this unprecedented crisis, it has been critical for global Jewish representatives to share their experiences and learn from each other,” Amb. Lauder said. “As a result, we developed a concrete, unified plan of action that will steer us in the coming weeks. Together, our voices and actions are more powerful.”
On Tuesday, the Croatian prime minister met privately with WJC leaders, and held a moment of silence to honor the victims in Israel as well as those civilians currently under threat from Hamas rockets.
“The government of Croatia stands united and in solidarity with Israel. We have strongly condemned the terrorist crimes of Hamas and its murder of civilians including women and children,” said Plenković in his remarks to Jewish community leaders.
“As we continue to voice our support to Israel, we must also to do so for Jewish communities around the world. Jewish citizens must feel comfortable to practice their faith, and the Croatian government will do everything possible to protect our Jewish community,” added the Prime Minister.
Speaking ahead of the Prime Minister's address, Amb. Lauder said, “As history has shown us over and over, the Jewish may be the first victims of totalitarian genocide, but they certainly are never the last.”
“Thank you, Croatia, for having the courage to stand with the Jewish people,” he added.
The meeting, in Croatia which currently serves as the chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), was initially scheduled to focus on Holocaust revisionism, instead centered on the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
WJC officials were also joined by Amb. Michèle Taylor, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Council, for a series of discussions ahead of the formal meeting of the Executive Committee.
In addition, 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.
The World Jewish Congress also has worked to promote an accurate history of Bulgaria’s role in the Holocaust. While King Boris III may be hailed by some as the rescuer of 48,000 Bulgarian Jews, he also delivered over 11,000 other Jews to Nazi camps from the Bulgarian-occupied zone, in what is today North Macedonia.
For the full participant list, click here.
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