JERUSALEM (Feb. 2)
The Binyanei ha-Ooma, Jerusalem’s big convention hall, hummed with activity today as final preparations were made for the Sixth Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress which opens here tomorrow evening. It will be the first Plenary Assembly of the WJC ever held in Israel and the largest and “most representative,” according to Gerhart M, Riegner, secretary general of the WJC.
Some 600 delegates from 65 countries are expected to attend. The largest single delegation will be from the United States, numbering 109 members. They represent 17 major American secular, religious and Zionist organizations with a combined membership of about three million American Jews, Riegner said. The Plenary Assembly will continue through Feb. 10.
It will undertake a major re-organization of the WJC’s leadership set-up and the event has been generating sparks well in advance of its opening. Dr. Nahum Goldmann, the WJC president, has become a figure of controversy in Israel because of his outspoken views that are often at variance with official government policy. Dr, Goldmann will open the Plenary Assembly tomorrow night with an address on “The Jewish People Among the Nations.” His re-election to the WJC presidency seemed virtually assured on the eve of the opening despite a vigorous drive to unseat him conducted by Likud and some elements of Labor and other factions.
ROSENBAUM OFFERS TO RESIGN
A potential convention floor battle may have been averted, however, when Swiss-Jewish financier Tiber Rosenbaum offered to resign from the post of WJC treasurer which he has held for nine years and said he would not participate in the Assembly. Dr. Goldmann released a letter from Rosenbaum, dated Jan. 21, in which the banker and leader of the world Mizrachi movement said he would “rather not stand as a candidate unless the Congress sets up an inquiry com-mission to investigate my conduct in the light of the atrocious press campaign against me.”
Rosenbaum has become a figure of bitter controversy because of the scandals surrounding the loss of large sums of Israeli money invested in certain of his enterprises in Vaduz, Lichtenstein and the partial failure of his International Credit Bank in Geneva. The National Religious Party had supported Rosenbaum’s re-election to the treasury post and allegedly offered to support Dr. Goldmann’s re-election to the WJC presidency if he agreed to back Rosenbaum. That was vigorously denied by the NRP leadership and by Dr. Goldmann. He said he would submit Rosenbaum’s request for an inquiry to the new WJC Executive which would “decide how to act with regard to his future position in the Congress.”
ANOTHER CONTROVERSY EMERGING
Another area of pre-Assembly controversy was a proposal by the World Zionist Organization Executive last week to establish a six-member executive to run the WJC. Leon Dulzin, WZO treasurer, stressed that the plan had nothing to do with the WJC presidency which will be a matter for the Plenary Assembly to decide. But Yosef Klarman, head of the WZO’s youth department and a leader of Likud, threatened to resign from the Executive if the plan was approved on grounds that it opened the way for Dr. Goldmann to continue in office.
The WZO Executive, nevertheless, approved the proposal in principle. It provides for a WJC Executive consisting of five elected members plus the secretary general–the post now held by Riegner. Two of the members would be WZO representatives. WZO Executive chairman Pin-has Sapir would be an ex-officio member and one other WZO representative would serve as chair-man of the WJC’s General Council.
Dr, Goldmann, who is 80, has said that if re-elected he would not serve out a full term. It is widely believed here that his personal choice of a successor to the WJC presidency is Philip M. Klutznick, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and a former president of B’nai B’rith., Klutznick is scheduled to lead off a general debate at the Plenary Assembly Tuesday on the theme of “World Jewry in a Changing World.”