WJC election slate set
Four candidates apparently have filed for the interim presidency of the World Jewish Congress.
According to a WJC source, those who declared officially to the office of the WJC secretariat are Ronald Lauder, president of the Jewish National Fund; Mendel Kaplan, chair of the WJC's board of governors; Israeli writer/activist Einat Wilf, an Israeli writer and activist; and Vladimir Herzberg, a Russian-Israeli nuclear physicist.
The WJC's governing bodies will meet in New York June 10 to select the interim president, who will serve until the organization's 2009 plenary meetings.
While it had been assumed that Kaplan would run since Edgar Bronfman announced last month that he was retiring after 30 years as UJC president, he did not officially enter the race until Monday.
Herzberg, who entered the race last Friday, is a former Russian nuclear scientist who moved to Israel in 1996 and is now an economics professor at Ben Gurion University. In 1999 he posed a long-shot challenge to Ariel Sharon for the head of the Likud Party.
Herzberg believes the WJC should shift its focus to Israel.
"The state is in trouble," he told JTA. "I know what it's like to live and struggle here in Israel. Lauder and others don't know the problems we face from firsthand experience.
"The first thing the WJC should do is provide aid to Israelis struggling to make ends meet, and those in Sderot facing Kassam rockets. This organization needs to come down from the sky, and come down to the level of the simple people here in Israel."