Moshe Kantor was elected President of the European Jewish Congress by the EJC General Assembly on Tuesday June 26th with 55 votes against 30 votes for Pierre Besnainou, EJC’s incumbent president.
87 delegates from 40 Jewish communities from throughout Europe participated in the vote, with two abstentions – the EJC elects a President, Executive and Chairman of the Board of Governors every two years. Flo Kaufmann from the UK beat Raphael Cohen from Spain by 48 votes versus 39 for the position of Chairperson.
Moshe Kantor, the Chairman of the European Jewish Fund, President of the Russian Jewish Congress and Chairman of the EJC Board of Governors during the past two years, told the assembly he was a “true believer in European Jewry” and argued that European Jews were strong enough to address the many challenges they are facing. Despite rising anti-Semitism, assimilation and astute criticism of Israel in Europe, Kantor argued that sixty years after their near annihilation, Jewish communities have a bright future in Europe.
“I will never compromise with the security of Jews in Europe and with the security of Israel,” declared Mr. Kantor.
The General Assembly, held in Brussels, was opened by an address by the newly elected President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Ronald S. Lauder, who attended along with Matthew Bronfman, newly elected Chairman of the WJC Governing Board.
As this was his first trip to Europe as WJC President, Lauder addressed directly the need for Jewish unity among European Jews. Making reference to the EJC elections, which pitted the Russian/Swiss Moshe Kantor against the French Pierre Besnainou, Lauder stated “this election is not about East versus West – it is about two men who have contributed enormously to the Jewish people.”
Mr. Lauder also stressed the importance of education and the need to strengthen inter-religious meetings. The WJC President revealed that he has received a letter from Moroccan King Abdullah calling for strengthened ties between Muslims and Jews.
Dr. Moshe Kantor is a well-known Jewish community leader and philanthropist. He is Chairman of the European Jewish Fund, President of the Russian Jewish Congress and the World Holocaust Forum Foundation.
He holds a PhD in spacecraft automatic control, and an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University. He is also the recipient of government awards, including the Order of Friendship (Russia), Order of Merit (Poland) and the order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (Ukraine).