GELT COMPLEX: IPF Chief Stays Put, Rabbi Praises Putin

Published December 12, 2007, issue of December 14, 2007.
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IPF Chief Stays Put

The Israel Policy Forum’s lay leadership blocked an attempt to replace the group’s president. Seymour Reich, who has been heading the organization since 2005, will remain president for another year.

Karen Adler, IPF’s vice chair of government relations, had challenged Reich’s presidency, urging members to elect her as Reich’s replacement.

According to an IPF activist speaking on condition of anonymity, Adler sent to group members e-mails arguing that Reich has served his three-year term and cannot continue in his current position.

Sources in the organization said that board members decided to extend Reich’s term due to his high profile in the Jewish community and to his reputation as one of the most prominent Jewish communal leaders in America. Reich served in the past as head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and of B’nai B’rith International.

Reich would not comment on the issue. Adler did not respond to calls from the Forward for comment. A spokesman for IPF confirmed that the group decided to extend the term of its current president.

Established after the signing of the Oslo Accords, the IPF works to promote a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. The group recently turned down calls to merge with the other two dovish groups, Americans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom.

While settling the debate over the group’s presidency, IPF is still searching for a new executive director to replace David Elcott, who left several months ago. In the interim, IPF’s new consultant, Tom Dine, has taken on many of the executive director’s responsibilities.

— Nathan Guttman

Rabbi Praises Putin

A chief rabbi of Russia came out in support of Vladimir Putin as prime minister.

Rabbi Berel Lazar of the Chabad-led Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia called the possibility of Putin’s continued leadership a “great present” for Russia in an interview with the Interfax news service.

Anointed presidential successor Dmitry Medvedev went on state television Tuesday to ask Putin to head his government following the upcoming election.

“When president, Vladimir Putin has showed that he is equal to any task,” Lazar told Interfax. “If Putin considers the scenario offered by Dmitry Medvedev realistic, it will surely be a great present if the government is headed by the most efficient statesmen in Russia.”

Lazar’s remarks stand in contrast to a statement he made Monday about the role of religion in politics. Following an endorsement of Medvedev by Putin that virtually guaranteed him the presidency, Lazar told Interfax that it is not “the matter of religious figures to agitate for any candidate.”


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