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Vienna - Austrian Jewish Group Bans Billionaire Lauder In Election Spat

Published on: December 6, 2012 01:00 PM
By: Reuters
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Vienna - Austria’s official Jewish organisation has banned billionaire Ron Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress and a former U.S. ambassador, from its property over complaints he meddled with its elections.

A spokesman for Lauder on Thursday dismissed the allegations as “a distortion of the truth”.

The move by IKG, Austria’s official representative of Jews, is an unusual slap at Lauder, son of cosmetic mogul Estee Lauder and a major supporter of Jewish communities around the world.

In a letter to Jewish leaders in Europe dated Dec. 3 and seen by Reuters, IKG President Oskar Deutsch accused Lauder of offering incentives to IKG board members to support rival candidate Martin Engelberg as president.

The incumbent Deutsch won the election.

Lauder and Engelberg strongly deny wrongdoing.

“It was Ambassador Lauder’s counsel that the Jewish community of Vienna decide their own path and vote according to their individual conscience and their own best interest,” said Gary Lewi, a Lauder spokesman.


“To suggest otherwise is a deliberate and cynical distortion of the truth.”

Engelberg said the claims against him and Lauder were “emotional and beyond reason”.

“My party contacted Ron Lauder (to see) if he would support our projects, like youth centres, since they were aligned with his previous and evident philanthropic interests,” Engelberg said.

“A major issue for my campaign was to support the community development and Jewish life instead of creating archives and investing in real estate as is currently done.”

Vienna’s Jewish community was largely annihilated in the Nazi Holocaust and now has only 8,000 members. Engelberg said most young Jews were immigrants from the former Soviet Union and needed more help.

But Deutsch told Reuters: “It is unacceptable for Ron Lauder, someone who is outside of our community, to try to interfere with or buy our elections.

“This goes against the rules of his position as president the World Jewish Congress and is wrong.”

The European Jewish Congress (EJC), a regional arm of the world body, said it would set up an panel of “eminent personalities” to investigate the alleged interference.

“According to our constitution and by-laws in no way should (the president) interfere in the internal affairs of the domestic communities. A member community has turned to us and we take this very seriously,” said Serge Cwajgenbaum, secretary general of the EJC.

The ban against Lauder does not include Viennese synagogues but covers other IKG property like schools and nursing homes, Deutsch said.

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Read Comments (4)  —  Post Yours »


 Dec 06, 2012 at 01:49 PM chaim Says:

I think Mr. Lauder deserves huge amount of credit.
For those who don't know he supports kollelim on his own. and many more tzedaka org.
Besides this he's had many anti Israel boycotts for his stand with Israel
SOOO thumbs up for u!


 Dec 06, 2012 at 03:06 PM Brooklyn mom Says:

Mr. Lauder, we are strongly behind you and all your efforts--WTG !!!


 Dec 06, 2012 at 11:40 PM Anonymous Says:

When a jewish communitiy bans another jew, it has crossed the line of dignity. It is a pathetic excuse to say that he is an outsider. Israel is Israel whereever it goes.


 Dec 08, 2012 at 01:34 AM Gritts02 Says:

I believe that a very serious step was taken before all the relevant facts were reveled.

Equate to ex-President Bush stating his reason for going to War with Iraq was that they had a few mobile WMD, which turned out to be "Bad Intel"...

Thought & Research prior to actions...?
Thank you.


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