Dispute between Prodi and World Jewish Congress ends with meeting


(8 Jan 2004)

1. European Commission President Romano Prodi greeting World Jewish Congress (WJC) chairman Israel Singer
2. Singer and Prodi walking down hall
3. Singer and Prodi shaking hands
4. Both men sitting and talking


European Commission President Romano Prodi patched up a dispute with the World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Thursday and resumed preparations for a European seminar on anti-Semitism.

“The cooperation between our two institutions is fully restored on the basis of a concrete mutual trust,” Prodi said after meeting Israel Singer, the board chairman of the congress.

Prodi suspended preparations for the seminar this week after the president of the WJC, Edgar Bronfman, and the head of its European branch, Coby Benatoff, accused the EU’s head office of “intellectual dishonesty and moral treachery” in handling anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism can be expressed in two ways: by action and inaction. Remarkably, the European Commission is guilty of both,” Bronfman and Benatoff said in a joint letter published Monday in the Financial Times.

Prodi said the criticism amounted to a “defamatory accusation of being anti-Semitic.” However Singer, who flew to EU headquarters from New York, said they had overcome differences in Thursday’s hastily arranged meeting.

“If there is a man in whom we trust … it’s president Prodi,” Singer told reporters.

“We have trust, because Romano Prodi has told us what he is going to do … to make sure that no citizen in this continent feels uncomfortable.”

The seminar is expected to be held next month. It was called in response to an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Europe which have been linked to the resurgence of violence in the Middle East.

In their letter to the Financial Times, Bronfman and Benatoff accused the EU’s executive Commission of censoring a study that highlighted the involvement of Europe’s Arab minorities in anti-Semitic attacks.

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