Billionaires, Russian oligarchs, Ukrainian ambassadors, international financiers, the Rothschilds, and glitterati of all sorts gathered at the 2019 gala for the World Jewish Congress, as reported by Jewish Voice and others
The gathering represented unparalleled power & wealth (and not a little corruption)… martialled on behalf of Israel…
By Alison Weir
It bestowed its annual Theodor Herzl Award (named after Israel’s founding father) on former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for her work on behalf of Israel. Some previous awardees have been Joe Biden and Henry Kissinger.
One of the WJC’s main issues is support for Israel. Among its many activities in this realm, it collaborates with the Israeli government to defend Israel from criticisms of its human rights abuses and discriminatory system.
The WJC defines many factual statements about Israel to be “antisemitic,” and labels legitimate opposition to Israeli violence and oppression against Palestinians “antisemitism.” As a result, its top issue, combating “antisemitism,” often consists of efforts to suppress information about Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and to combat efforts on behalf of Palestinian human rights.
At one of its recent international conferences to oppose this newly defined “antisemitism,” US Special Envoy Elan Carr proclaimed that every law enforcement office and every prosecutorial agency throughout the world must “force everybody who has even a hint of antisemitism to undergo a tolerance program.” (More on this below).
Embed from Getty Images
2015 WJC reception for President of Israel
A Glittering Guest List
The Jewish Voice described the recent World Jewish Congress gala in New York:
“It’s 6 PM on Wednesday November 6th in New York City and dozens of Secret Service are gathered at the Pierre to protect billionaires, politicians and global influencers at one of the premier evenings of the year.”
JV reports that “the illustrious guest list was unparalleled,” and provides a lineup that represents extraordinary wealth and power (and, in a number of cases, diverse types of malfeasance).
JV provided the names of some of the guests, to which are appended their net worths when available (these fluctuate over time) and additional information:
- Henry Kissinger (net worth $180 million, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under two presidents)
- The Rothschilds (estimates of net worth range from $400 billion up to $700 trillion, from the famous Rothschild banking family, more information below)
- Robert Kraft ($7 billion net worth, NFL Patriots owner, received Israel’s Genesis Prize at a lavish ceremony in Israel, where he pledged $20 million to combating anti-Semitism and the Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel, charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution in Florida -Boston’s WBUR radio reports: “The diamond-studded legal guns representing the 78-year-old New England Patriots owner (one of them a former Epstein lawyer) may save him… ” meanwhile, the women are facing up to 15 years in prison)
- Thomas J. Tisch (net worth $121 million, former chancellor of Brown University, son of billionaire Laurence Tisch, former CEO of CBS)
- Leonard Lauder ($21 billion net worth, elder son of Estee Lauder)
- Judy Glickman Lauder (wife of Leonard Lauder, widow of Louis J. Glickman)
- The Safras (of the ‘sometimes clandestine’ banking dynasty that started over a century ago, Chella Safra is WJC Treasurer)
- Ira Rennert (net worth $3 billion, previously, $6 billion, investor, known as a “junk bond billionaire,” found guilty of corruption in 2015, placed a mill in Baltimore’s outer harbor into bankruptcy, causing more than 2,000 workers to lose their jobs, owes Baltimore $8 million in unpaid city water bills, allegedly used money he looted from his business to build a 29-room mansion & compound – a garage holds 100 cars)
- Dick Parsons (former Time Warner CEO, CBS chair, & Citibank chair; in 2012 shareholders filed a lawsuit against Parsons and some other executives for “stuffing their pockets while running the bank into the ground“)
- Ben Ashkenazy (net worth $4 billion, Israeli American real estate tycoon, a benefactor of the 2015 AIPAC Real Estate Luncheon at New York’s Grand Hyatt Hotel)
- Jack Chehebar (real estate mogul, sued for alleged breach of contract, accused of beating his son)
- Ray Kelly (longest serving commissioner in the history of the New York City Police Department, for a period was an Interpol vice president, charged by Muslim groups of discrimination: “The commissioner oversaw a spying program that targeted Muslims based solely on their religion, showed poor judgment by participating in a virulently anti-Islamic film, and approved a report on terrorism that equated innocuous behavior such as quitting smoking with signs of radicalization”)
Oligarchs from Russia, Ukraine
Also among “the super power players who descended on the foyer of the Pierre,” JV reports, “were numerous oligarchs from Russia, Ambassadors from the Ukraine, and dozens of inner circle investors who rarely venture out to weekday galas.”
Among the oligarchs at the event was Kazakh Israeli billionaire Alexander Mashkevitch, net worth $3.6 billion. Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper calls him “one of the biggest oligarchs to have emerged from the former Soviet Union.” Mashkevitch is alleged to have ties to organized crime in the U.S. and has been accused of a $55 million money-laundering scheme in Belgium. He has also been investigated for organizing a sex party on a luxury yacht in Turkey. (His daughter was also recently charged with fraud.)
Working to counter support for Palestinian human rights
The Times of Israel reports that the EAJC regularly collaborates with Israel’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Strategic Affairs and works “to counteract the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement” (BDS is founded on the principle that “Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity).
According to the TOI, the EAJC works “to influence global public opinion in Israel’s favor.” TOI states: “EAJC’s public diplomacy program cultivates relationships with thought leaders in its 25 constituent countries. These thought leaders include businesspeople, academics, journalists, politicians, cultural leaders, and bloggers. EAJC encourages these individuals to visit Israel and likewise sponsors prominent Israelis to speak to such groups abroad, with EAJC acting as an intermediary between the Israelis and their foreign counterparts.”
It is unlikely that the thought leaders brought by EAJC learn about Israel’s systemic discrimination against its non-Jewish inhabitants, including Christians, and Israel’s ongoing violence against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Also present at the WJC Gala was the EAJC’s First Vice President Emmanuil Grinshpun, a leader of the Jewish community in Moldova, a member of the European Jewish Parliament, honorary consul of Kazakhstan in the United States and board member of the Chabad Russian Center in South Florida (info on Chabad is here). Grinshpun has been involved with Veaceslav Platon, reportedly “considered by Moldovan law enforcement to be a mastermind of financial crime.”
JV does not name the other oligarchs who attended the gala, but a few of the Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs connected to the WJC are:
* Boris Lozhkin – a WJC vice president (net worth appears to be about $450-500 million, President of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, on the board of the EAJC, Lozhkin has been accused of corruption in Ukraine, fired as chief economic advisor to the president of Ukraine last year after allegations of fraudulent financial transactions involving millions of dollars came to light)
* Andrey Adamovsky – WJC vice president (Ukrainian businessman, vice-president of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, in 2015 was found guilty of defrauding his former business partners of $34.7 million, and in 2016 he was again found guilty of fraud)
* Moshe Kantor (aka Viatcheslav Kantor) – member of WJC Executive Committee (net worth $4 billion; JTA reports that in 2006 he was detained in Israel on suspicion of money laundering, in Russia he had reportedly been fired for being involved in a business scandal, holds triple citizenship: Russia, UK, Israel)
* God Semenovich Nisanov – WJC vice-president (net worth $3.5 billion, reportedly a “king” of Moscow real estate, part of what Russian media call “one of the most corrupt facilities of the last 5 years,” alleged gun running; diverse other accusations)
The Powerful, Politicians & a Princess
Jewish Insider lists some of the additional attendees:
- Rep. Peter King (Republican Congressman from New York, member of the Homeland Security Committee and Financial Services Committee, Ranking Member of the Sub-Committee on Emergency Preparedness, served as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee in 2005-2006 and again in 2011-2012, notorious for anti-Muslim extremism, over $100,000 in pro-Israel contributions were given to King between 1998 and 2010)
- Jason Greenblatt (known as the designer of the Trump peace plan on Israel-Palestine)
- Joel Grey (net worth $10 million, actor, presented with the WJC’s Teddy Kollek Award, named after the former Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, interview here, Deputy Israeli Consul General in NY)
- Israel Nitzan (Deputy Consul General of the Israeli Consulate in New York, largest Israeli mission in the world, coordinates interfaith dialogue and outreach nationally)
- Princess Firyal (married into Jordanian royal family, after divorce was longtime companion of New York venture megafund capitalist Lionel Pincus, partner of Eric Warburg of the banking family that began a few centuries ago)
- Stanley Chera (real estate developer, close friend of Donald Trump, raised tens of millions of dollars for his presidential campaign, involved in questionable real estate deal)
- Izzy Tapoohi (president and CEO of Birthright Israel Foundation)
- Linda Mirels (daughter of South African businessman Nathan Kirsh, who is a major shareholder of an Israeli company that provided technology for Israel’s apartheid wall)
- Malcolm Hoenlein (executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which advocates for Israel)
- Ze’ev Rubenstein (Israel Bonds vice president, accused of being implicated in Netanyahu corruption case, some analysts have called Israel Bonds “junk bonds” and compared theme to a Ponzi scheme)
- Dore Gold (a top Israeli official under Netanyahu & Sharon, born in Connecticut, funded by Sheldon Adelson)
- Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt (son of the Chief Rabbi of Moscow and the President of the Conference of European Rabbis)
- Dr. Ruth Westheimer (sex therapist)
- George Klein (a founder of the Congressional Republican Jewish Committee)
- Brooke Goldstein (founder of the Lawfare Project, says “there’s no such thing as a Palestinian person”)
- Siggy Flicker (TV personality, Israeli)
- Danny Danon (Israeli Ambassador to the U.N.)
- Ezra Friedlander (founder of U.S.-Israel Security Alliance, which takes delegations to Israel, CEO of the Friedlander Group, political connector e.g. “NYC’s Top Elected Officials Grace Sukkoth Celebration” – video here)
- Mark Botnick (assistant to Ron Lauder, former press secretary for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg)
- Michal Grayevsky (senior advisor to Ron Lauder, president of JCS International (JCSI), Lauder’s global media company, headquartered in New York)
- Justin Hayet (Senior Project Manager, Israel Diaspora Initiatives at the Genesis Philanthropy Group)
- Betty Grinstein (wife of founder of Israel’s Reut Institute)
- Eve Stieglitz (WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps)
- Peter Thoren (works for Leonard Blavatnik – the richest man in the UK in 2015; Blavatnik has numerous connections in Hollywood, is friends with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been donating to both Republican and Democratic U.S. politicians, including Trump, in June Blavatnik and his wife gave as much money as any other individual donation the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has ever received in its entire history; in 2009 he hosted an event for The Atlantic, organized by Editor Jeffrey Goldberg)
Lauder, Haley, Kissinger
The longtime president of the WJC is multi-billionaire Ronald Lauder, an heir of the Estée Lauder cosmetics company. At the age of 37 Lauder, a Republican fundraiser, sought and succeeded in obtaining a position in the Defense Department (Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and NATO affairs), and then an ambassadorship.
Lauder kicked off the gala’s speeches by decrying “the rise in anti-semitism,” giving as an example Bernie Sanders’ recent statements calling the situation in Gaza “inhumane” and declaring that some of the $3.8 billion annual U.S. aid to Israel should go to Gaza instead.
Sanders’ speech was a reference to the fact that Israel has made Gaza into “the world’s largest open air prison.” A Norwegian NGO reports: “More than 50 years of occupation and 10 years of blockade have made the lives of 1.9 million Palestinians living inside the Gaza Strip unbearable. That is why they now are protesting and risking their lives.” (Despite these and previous strong criticisms of Israeli actions, Sanders continues to say he is a supporter of Israel.)
In contrast to Lauder’s condemnation of Sanders, he lavished praise on this year’s WJC Herzl awardee, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
Lauder called Haley “one of the greatest women in the world” and said he hoped she would seek higher office. (Before being named ambassador, Haley had been governor of South Carolina. She had no previous international expertise; her college degree was in accounting.)
Lauder told the audience: “In my years of service in the diplomatic world and as president of the World Jewish Congress, I have met many heads of state, dignitaries, and ambassadors who have worked diligently in support of Israel and defended it across the international stage. Throughout her tenure, US Ambassador to the UN, H.E. Nikki Haley, proved to be a giant in this realm…”
Henry Kissinger, who served as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under Presidents Nixon and Ford, introduced Haley. Kissinger is famous for his shuttle diplomacy and assistance to Israel (some of his actions in that regard led to the disastrous oil boycott against the U.S.).
JV reports that Kissinger praised Haley “as an all-star politician adept at the machinations of Washington and the UN.” Kissinger said that Haley “did a fantastic job by leaving no attack against the US unanswered and helping Trump move the US embassy to Jerusalem.”
JV called Haley’s speech “very campaignlike” and reported that she received a lengthy standing ovation for her remarks.
Previous Herzl Awardees: the Rothschilds, Biden, Kissinger
Previous recipients of the Herzl award have included the Rothschild family, Joe Biden, and Henry Kissinger, who was introduced by longtime TV news celebrity Barbara Walters. (The Lauder video is here, Walters video here, and Kissinger video here).
Current Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden received WJC’s Theodor Herzl award in 2016, and was introduced by Henry Kissinger. (Actor Kirk Douglas was also honored that year.)
Last year the award went to the Rothschild family, an international banking dynasty begun in the 1700s.
Lord Jacob Rothschild and Baron David de Rothschild, chairman of the World Jewish Congress Governing Board, accepted the award on behalf of the family. In his acceptance speech, Lord Rothschild announced:
“On behalf of our family, we are so proud to be given your medal in the name of Herz….. As David Wolfson said in his eulogy for Herzl in 1904, Herzl’s name will, and I quote, ‘remain sacred and unforgotten for as long as a single Jew lives on this Earth.’ To have our family’s name linked with Herzl is a great honor.” (Video of the speech is here.)
Lord Rothschild noted that when Herzl had originally approached the Rothschild family to help in the establishment of the State of Israel, they had initially refused. However, they eventually changed their views, and Rothschild noted that the family played an integral role in the creation of the state. Rothschild stated: “Herzl and the Baron came to share a single objective – the redemption of Israel and the rebirth of the Jewish nation in its historic land.”
At the time, Palestine was inhabited by a population that was approximately 80 percent Muslim, 15 percent Christian, and 5 percent Jewish. The establishment of a Jewish state would require a massive “ingathering” of Jews, and a massive expulsion of the indigenous population. In the thousands of years of ancient history in the region, Jewish dominion had lasted at most a few hundred years.
In a 2017 television interview, Rothschild said that his relative Dorothy de Rothschild had played a hidden but decisive role in the eventual creation of Israel. She had connected Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann to the British establishment, eventually procuring the Balfour Declaration, which opened the door to Jewish colonization of Palestine.
Balfour said that Dorothy “told Weizmann how to integrate, how to insert himself into British establishment life, which he learned very quickly.” Lord Rothschild said: “It was the most incredible piece of opportunism.” (For more on how the Balfour Declaration was obtained, see this.)
In his WJC acceptance speech, Rothschild announced: ”It is now eight generations since our family left the Frankfurt ghetto, over 200 years ago.” He continued: “It is a source of pride to us that our family remain involved and committed to Israel and Jewish communities in Europe.”
JV reports that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer praised the Rothschild family for funding the Israeli Knesset and Supreme Court buildings and for currently financing a National Library in Israel. (More here)
No one seems to know the net worth of the Rothschild family. Estimates for the extended family range from $400 billion up to MSN News’ report of up to $700 trillion. Lord Rothschild himself is reported to have a net worth of $5 billion.
2018 Gala: More of the Same
Jewish Voice published an article about last year’s gala entitled, “Moguls, Politicos & Opinion Makers Gather at Pierre Hotel for Historic World Jewish Congress Dinner.” Attendees at the 2018 gala (in addition to many of the above) included:
- Leon Black (net worth $8 billion, his firm has been accused of fraud, he is connected to pedophile Jeffrey Epstein – also here and here)
- John Paulson (Inside Philanthropy gives his net worth as $10 billion; his mother was a Jewish immigrant from Lithuania and he donates to Birthright trips to Israel, the WJC & other Jewish causes; he has ties to both Trump & to Clinton)
- Joseph Chetrit (real estate developer, settled a lawsuit claiming he helped launder money stolen from Kazakhstan)
- James Wolfensohn (former president of the World Bank, Special Envoy to the Middle East Quartet, Mayne reports that at one time his net worth was $400 million)
World Jewish Congress History & Present
Plans to create a Jewish world congress were first officially proposed in 1917 by the American Jewish Congress, following earlier recommendations by Theodor Herzl. A major purpose was to promote a Jewish state in Palestine, which at that time was inhabited by a population that was approximately 90 percent Muslim and Christian.
(While many powerful Jewish American leaders supported the movement to create Israel, including Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, most Jewish Americans at the time had little interest in the movement and some actively opposed it. Although today virtually every mainstream national Jewish organization supports Israel, there are many Jewish Americans who are critical of Israel.)
Conferences to create the WJC were then held in London in 1926, in Zurich in 1927, in Geneva in 1932, 1933 and 1934. Finally, in 1936 the First Plenary Assembly, held in Geneva, officially established the World Jewish Congress.
According to its website, the WJC today “represents Jewish communities and organizations in 100 countries around the world. It advocates on their behalf towards governments, parliaments, international organizations and other faiths.”
The website announces: “The Talmudic phrase ‘Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh beZeh’ (All Jews are responsible for one another), encapsulates the raison d’être of the WJC.”
It states that in the 1940s the WJC “successfully lobbied the United Nations and governments to support the establishment of the State of Israel.”
Statistics on the organization’s annual revenue and expenditures seem unavailable. The U.S. section alone, a tax-exempt organization that is just one of the dozens of member communities around the world, has revenue in the range of $25 million.
in 2005, when then WJC chairman Rabbi Israel Singer was charged with diverting $1.5 million to his personal use, there were calls for an independent audit. The WJC eventually removed Singer, and he was required to return the money, but no public audit seems to have taken place.
‘Antisemitism’ – Criticisms of Israel
The WJC is playing a significant role in the international project to change the traditional definition of antisemitism to a new, expanded version that includes criticisms of Israel.
The new formulation for the definition of antisemitism was originated by an Israeli minister in 2004, and Israel partisans have steadily inserted it into a variety of national and international entities. For example, U.S. Antisemitism Envoy Hannah Rosenthal adopted it for the U.S. State Department in 2010.
In June and October of this year, the WJC hosted officials from around the world for the “World Jewish Congress International Meeting of Special Envoys and Coordinators for Combating Antisemitism (SECCA).” Attendees discussed the alleged “need” to “obligate EU member states” to adopt the new definition.
At the October conference in Germany, US Special Envoy Elan Carr said: “Every law enforcement office and every prosecutorial agency must incorporate [tolerance programs] as part of their standard operating procedures. They have to force everybody who has even a hint of antisemitism to undergo a tolerance program.”
Enabling Israel’s Violence against Palestinians
Below is the WJC banner video featured on its website and Facebook page:
The WJC’s vast wealth and power support Israel, which was established in 1948 through a war of ethnic cleansing and is maintained through apartheid-like policies and continual confiscation of Palestinian land. U.S. taxpayers give Israel over $10.5 million per day, thanks to efforts by the WJC and the numerous other members of the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.
Recently, Israeli forces assassinated a Palestinian resistance leader, then used the response by some Palestinian factions to commit a three-day bombardment of Gaza that has so far killed 34 people, injured 111, and damaged homes and schools. A third of those killed have been women and children. No Israelis have been killed.
Over the years, Israeli policies have caused Gazans to be among the most poverty-stricken populations on earth. Since March 2017, thousands of Gazans have been participating in weekly unarmed demonstrations against their oppression by Israel and the theft of their ancestral homes and land (70 percent of Gazans are refugee families forced out by Israel in 1948). Every week Israeli forces have shot some of the participants. Among those killed and maimed have been women, children, medics, and journalists.
In addition to this, every week Israel commits a wide variety of human rights violations against Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza. Below is a video showing some of these actions during a typical recent week, Oct 3-9. (A detailed record of that week is here. The video is also on YouTube.)
This is what the World Jewish Congress, with its billionaires and oligarchs, its glittering galas and international projects, is enabling.
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.