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World Jewish Congress: New Mideast Course for America?

The World Jewish Congress added its voice to the growing chorus of concern about the apparent White House hostility towards Israel. McCain agrees.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 4/15/2010, 11:11 AM / Last Update: 4/15/2010, 12:17 PM

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The World Jewish Congress has added its voice to the growing chorus of concern about the apparent White House hostility towards Israel. The organization sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, unreservedly expressing the group's deepening concern over U.S. foreign policy on the Jewish State, as well as the increasing Iranian nuclear threat to Israel and the world.

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder told Obama in the letter released to the media Thursday, “Jews around the world are concerned today... about the nuclear ambitions of an Iranian regime that brags about its genocidal intentions against Israel... that the Jewish state is being isolated and de-legitimized... [and] about the dramatic deterioration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Israel.”

Lauder, heir to the mammoth international Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, also expressed American Jews' anguish at what appears to be escalating hostility towards Israel from the White House.

“Can it be true that America is no longer committed to a final status agreement that provides defensible borders for Israel?” he asked bluntly. “Is a new course being charted that would leave Israel with the indefensible borders that invited invasion prior to 1967?”

Lauder also asked about the country's strategic ambitions in context of the “broader Middle East,” noting that the Obama administration's “desire to improve relations with the Muslim world is well known."  

"But,” Lauder added, “is friction with Israel part of this new strategy? Is it assumed worsening relations with Israel can improve relations with Muslims? History is clear on the matter: appeasement does not work. It can achieve the opposite of what is intended.”

McCain's Warning
U.S. Senator John McCain, meanwhile, contends that the United States has been backing away from a brewing fight with Iran, while that country moves ever closer to having nuclear weapons.

McCain opened a Senate hearing Wednesday by saying that Iran will succeed in obtaining an atomic bomb unless the United States acts more boldly. Speaking figuratively, the Arizona Republican said the U.S. keeps pointing a loaded gun at Iran but fails to “pull the trigger.”

Lauder echoed McCain's concern, asking, “What about the most dangerous player in the region? Shouldn't the United States remain focused on the single biggest threat that confronts the world today? That threat is a nuclear-armed Iran.”

His letter added that world Jewry embraces Obama's “sincerity” in his “quest to seek a lasting peace,” but urged the White House to “end our public feud with Israel and to confront the real challenges that we face together.”

The World Jewish Congress, founded in Geneva in 1936, is an international organization with headquarters in New York representing Jewish communities and organizations in 80 countries on six continents. According to the organization's mission statement, it seeks to “foster the unity and creative survival of the Jewish people while maintaining its spiritual, cultural and social heritage.” Due to its global status, WJC has special credentials and recognition at the United Nations, where it has a diplomatic seat and a presence within many of its institutions, commissions and sub-bodies. It is normally careful to express its views diplomatically, so that the Lauder's explicitly critical letter is a significant change.