Edgar Bronfman – A Personal Recollection from Isi Leibler

December 24, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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When Edgar Bronfman accepted the presidency of the WJC he told me he was doing this for a year as a form of secular Kaddish for his father. He enjoyed it so much that he retained office for 30 years.

Isi Leibler

Isi Leibler

EMB-290Initially I had a very close relationship with him although we had major differences over our respective approaches to Israel and I also frequently criticized his failure to enforce governance and accountability in the organization. This arose out of his delegating excessive power to the Secretary General Israel Singer whose subsequent financial irregularities culminated in his dismissal.

Bronfman’s greatest achievements include exposure of Austrian President Waldheim for his collaboration with the Nazis culminating in his being placed on the US watch list  and his relentless campaign against global anti-Semitism, in particular the international effort to rescind the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism.

Bronfman’s greatest legacy to the Jewish people was he has success in engaging the support of President Clinton to bring about the Swiss banks and allies German restitution issues to a head. No one else could subsequently have achieved this and he made his mark in history in this campaign.

On a personal note, about two years ago in New York Edgar invited me for lunch to his restaurant New York . There, he expressed regret that that notwithstanding our political differences we should have worked closely together but the disgraced Secretary-General had poisoned him against me. I was pleased that we parted on a very harmonious note

Editor’s note: Isi Leibler, formerly from Melbourne and now residing in Jerusalem, is a former Chairman of the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress

 

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