VIENNA (Jan. 24)
Delegates from Jewish communities throughout the world, including Eastern Europe and Cuba, have begun streaming into town for the three-day meeting of the World Jewish Congress Governing Board, from January 26 to 28. This is the first time that leaders of world Jewry are assembling here since the end of World War II.
The decision to hold the WJC Board meeting in Vienna, said WJC president Edgar Bronfman, represents “a determined effort on the part of both the Jewish people and the government of Austria to forge a new relationship in which the realities of the future will supercede — though not neglect — the traumatic events of the past.” The meeting will be opened by Chancellor Fred Sinowitz.
The more than 200 delegates and observers at the meeting from the Jewish communities of nearly 70 countries in North and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia will set policy for a global Jewish agenda for the next year.
The delegates to the weekend conference — among them representatives from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Rumania and Yugoslavia — will hear reports and establish policies on a variety of issues of worldwide Jewish concern. These include the emergency airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, endangered Jewish communities, Soviet Jewry, the Middle East, the United Nations, the Third World, East-West relations, anti-Semitism, Christian-Jewish relations, and human rights.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CONFERENCE
Highlights of the meeting will include a report by Ambassador Moshe Gilboa, director of world Jewish affairs in Israel’s Foreign Ministry, on the situation of Ethiopian Jewry. He will also discuss the current conditions of Jews in endangered communities.
Premier Shimon Peres of Israel will deliver a major policy address on the Mideast via live satellite TV hook-up from Jerusalem. The hook-up will enable delegates to engage in a back-and-forth discussion with Peres.
The direction of Christian-Jewish relations will be addressed by Msgr. Jorge Mejia, the director of the Vatican Commission on Relations with the Jews, and the Primate of Austria, Franz Cardinal Koenig. The WJC Governing Board will consider policy recommendations on the problem of the absence of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel. Also addressing the meeting is Ambassador James Jonah of Sierra Leone, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, who served as Secretary General of the organization’s World Conference Against Racism in 1983 in Geneva. Jonah will focus on the struggle against apartheid and racism.
Elie Wiesel, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, will speak on the legacy of the Holocaust, as delegates consider a series of proposals for commemorative events to mark the 40th anniversary of the Liberation. Another highlight of the meeting is Bronfman’s “State of World Jewry” address — an assessment of the conditions of Jewish communities around the world and of his talks with 22 heads of state in the past year.