NEW YORK/BRUSSELS – A sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks and the growing hostility towards Israel will be among the subjects to be discussed at a meeting of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in Berlin, which will take place from 14 to 16 September 2014. The WJC Governing Board will be chaired by David de Rothschild and attended by 150 heads of Jewish communities, delegates and young Jewish diplomats from around the world. Among the guest speakers will be Germany's Economics Minister, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
In tribute to his lifetime efforts for reconciliation between Germans and Jews, and between Germany and Israel, the WJC’s Theodor Herzl Award will be bestowed posthumously on the late publisher Axel Springer, whose widow Friede Springer will receive it at a dinner at Berlin’s Jewish Museum on Monday, 15 September 2014.
The participants will also take part in the rally against anti-Semitism organized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany in front of Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate on Sunday, 14 September 2014, at 3 p.m., where German President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel, and many other German leaders are expected.
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, who will be one of the speakers at the rally, said the WJC meeting in Berlin came at an important moment: “After the terrible hostilities against Jews we witnessed in the last eight weeks in Europe, following Israel’s legitimate action in the Gaza Strip, we are faced with a fundamental question: What needs to be done to ensure that the next generation of Jews has a future in Europe? This eruption of anti-Semitism has been an eye-opener for many people, and it would be wrong to go back to doing business as usual. Instead, we expect politicians and societies to address the root causes of this hatred, and to take appropriate action against it.”
Reports will be given about Hamas and about the threats posed by jihadist fighters returning to their Western countries of origin. Another focus of the WJC meeting will be visits of the delegates to important Holocaust-related sites in Berlin, including the Wannsee Conference Memorial Exhibit, the ‘Gleis 17’ train platform at Berlin’s Grunewald Station from which many German Jews were deported to the Nazi death camps, and to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe near the Brandenburg Gate. This will take place in the morning of Tuesday, 16 September 2014. At ‘Gleis 17’, there will be a short ceremony and Kaddish will be recited.