Source of WJC Leak a Mystery

By Nathaniel Popper

Published March 30, 2007, issue of March 30, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

As the controversy over the firing of top officials at the World Jewish Congress entered its third week, much of the focus was on a topic that seems to riddle all national debates these days: the source of a leaked document.

The document in question was a letter written March 14 by the president of the WJC, Edgar Bronfman. In it, he accuses Rabbi Israel Singer, his longtime lieutenant, of helping “himself to cash from the WJC office, my cash,” of “playing games with his hotel bill” and of not paying taxes. A few days later, excerpts from the letter appeared in a number of news stories, triggering vehement denials from Singer and back-and-forth accusations about which side leaked the material to the media.

The secretary general at the WJC, Stephen Herbits, said that Pierre Besnainou, president of the European Jewish Congress, was the only one to whom Bronfman had sent the letter. Herbits claims that Besnainou must have supplied the letter to Singer, who then leaked it to the press.

“Even though it condemned him, it made him look like the person who is the victim,” Herbits said. “That is Singer’s style. I am telling you categorically that Mr. Bronfman did not distribute the letter.”

After hearing of Herbits’s claim, Besnainou said, “It is completely false.” He declared, “I categorically state that I did not ‘leak’ this private letter to anyone and made this very clear to Stephen Herbits when we spoke in Caracas,” where the two men met last week.

The mystery unravels as both the Israeli and European branches of the WJC are battling with Bronfman and Herbits over the recent firings. Herbits announced that there would be a meeting of the WJC’s steering committee May 7 to discuss the recent dustup.

A larger WJC governing board meeting is scheduled for June. There has been talk that Bronfman will step down as WJC president, allowing for an election at that time. One of the most prominent candidates has been Bronfman’s son, Matthew. But this week, Herbits said, “Mr. Bronfman may or may not tell them he is retiring.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.