It's all much too little much too late of course...but then that is the story of the World Jewish Congress. And the story of how Edgar Bronfman Sr. both bought and stole the WJC back in the early 1980s has yet to be told as well...but it will...
Israel's wall sparks row among US Jews
By Inigo Gilmore in Jerusalem
telegraph.co.uk- August 10 2003:
A furious row has erupted between Jewish leaders in America over Israel's
construction of a security fence up to 25ft high around Palestinian areas in
the West Bank.
The row, which has drawn in prominent politicians from America and Israel,
has been caused by a letter sent to President George W Bush by Edgar
Bronfman, the billionaire scion of the Seagram's drinks fortune and the
president of the World Jewish Congress.
Construction work on the security fence continues
The letter was co-signed by Lawrence Eagleburger, the former secretary of
state under President Bush Snr, who is a close friend of Mr Bronfman.
In it, the two men criticised the security fence, describing it a
"separation wall", and asserted that the continuing construction is
"complicated and potentially problematic".
They also urged the American president to exert pressure on Israel and apply
"the same straightforwardness" with the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, as the
American leader had shown with the Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas.
A copy of the letter was obtained by an intermediary, and then passed to Isi
Liebler, a hardliner who, as senior vice-president of the WJC, is Mr
At the end of last week, he went on the offensive against Mr Bronfman and in
a letter to the Jerusalem Post, accused his president of "perfidy" and
called on him to resign unless he retracted his comments.
He wrote: "It would be obscene at any time for the president of the World
Jewish Congress to lobby the president of the United States to resist
policies being promoted by the government of Israel.
But on a security issue such as the security fence, one that impacts on the
life and death of Israelis, your intervention - irrespective of whether you
formally used your presidential title or not - can only be described as an
act of perfidy which will not be swept under the carpet."
The row has come as Jewish leaders in America wrestle over the "road map"
plan for peace and Israel's construction of the fence.
While those aligned to the peace camp in America have thrown their weight
behind the "road map", many Jewish leaders have been vocal in their
opposition, suggesting that such support is a betrayal of Israel.
Right-wing Jewish leaders have attempted to exert pressure on Washington to
back off on those parts of the "road map" which focus on Israel's
obligations, including an end to settlement once Palestinian militant
activity has subsided.
The pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC),
and its congressional backers, also wants Mr Bush to focus on "real
performance" by the Palestinians.
The "road map", an internationally backed peace plan for the creation of a
Palestinian state in 2005, calls for an end to Israeli settlement and the
deployment of international monitors to enforce its provisions.
Last week, the US secretary of state Colin Powell suggested that Washington
may reduce some of its $9 billion (£5.6 billion) of loan guarantees to
Israel if work on the fence continues.
Mr Powell said the barrier was cutting too deeply into the West Bank. "The
fence is developing in a way that will make it very difficult to reach the
next stage of the road map," he said.
An Israeli government official conceded that the route of the fence might be
altered so it would no longer encircle the large Jewish settlements of Ariel
and Emmanuel, in a planned 19-mile detour into the heart of the West Bank.
As the row escalates, Yossi Lapid, Israel's justice minister, from the
secular Shinui Party, and Shimon Peres, the former prime minister, have
risen to Mr Bronfman's defence. In a letter of support, Mr Peres said:
"Clearly, issues that are open for debate in Israel should be open for
debate in the Jewish world."
The row has brought into the open tensions within the American Jewish
leadership and highlighted the issue for many Jews about how far they should
question Israel's policies.
Mr Bronfman is known as one of the harshest critics of AIPAC, one of the
most powerful lobby groups in Washington, and of the Conference of
Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations, which he believes have been
hijacked by hardliners.
His supporters point to opinion polls showing that about 80 per cent of
American Jews support the "road map" process.
4 August 2003: US in cash threat to halt West Bank fence
26 July 2003: Palestinian leader man of courage, says Bush
17 June 2002: Israel begins its West Bank 'Berlin Wall'
1 May 2003: The road map in full