Uniting the Jews of the Asia-Pacific

AUSTRALIA will be instrumental in establishing an Australia-based Asia-Pacific regional office of the World Jewish Congress (WJC).

Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, tabled a resolution at last week’s WJC governing board meeting that set in train a process to establish the office.

The office is expected to be responsible for Jewish communities and Jewish activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Goot said the plan to establish a WJC Asia Pacific office in Australia — which will work in conjunction with the ECAJ — was “critically important for the region and the Jewish community and demonstrated great confidence in the Australian community and its leadership”.

Goot expects plans for the Asia-Pacific office to be finalised at the WJC plenary assembly in January in Jerusalem.

Around 100 Jewish leaders and observers from around the world attended last week’s meeting, which was held in Ashkelon.

The location was selected to demonstrate solidarity with the local residents who have recently been under rocket attack from Gaza, and Major General Yoav Galant — commander of the Israel Defence Forces southern region — addressed the meeting.

The WJC governing board also held discussions about Israel’s position with respect to Iran’s nuclear program.

WJC president Ronald Laufer said that economic sanctions against the Iranian regime must be universally embraced.

“We believe in economic sanctions however, these sanctions will be effective only if countries whose representatives have applauded Ahmadinejad will not go around those sanctions,” Lauder said at the meeting.

He said it was disappointing for the Jewish world that other United Nations member countries were applauding Ahmadinejad.

The WJC’s policy on Iran states that oil-rich countries cannot be permitted to possess nuclear weapons.

The organisation, which represents world Jewry, supports sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency and states that more drastic action should be taken against Iran as a last resort, after the failure of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

The Ashkelon WJC conference also emphasised the ongoing importance of interfaith dialogue and pledged to better coordinate the international interfaith efforts through the WJC Brussels office.

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