Non-profit

World Jewish Congress (WJC)

Website:

www.worldjewishcongress.org/en

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-1790756

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2020):

Revenue: $23,850,359
Expenses: $23,322,765
Assets: $20,538,827

Director:

Ronald S. Lauder

Founded:

1936

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is an international ethnic and religious advocacy organization. The WJC promotes the interests of Jewish communities within political, economic, cultural, and other spheres of the societies in which they live. The organization also works to increase support for the state of Israel and to solidify the concept of Israel as a nation with a Jewish identity.

World Jewish Congress focuses on countering perceived antisemitism, both in societies with Jewish diasporas and in the international community, particularly in the form of disproportionate criticism of Israel. The organization is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and states that it is active in at least 100 countries. The WJC claims to represent the “plurality of the Jewish people” and portrays itself as the “diplomatic arm” of Jewish communities around the world. [1]

History

The World Jewish Congress was founded in 1936 when representatives from Jewish communities in 32 countries assembled in Geneva, Switzerland to address escalating anti-Jewish persecution in Germany and across the European continent. From its inception, the organization identified its objectives as both supporting Jewish diaspora communities and advocating for the creation of a Jewish ethno-religious state in Palestine. Throughout the Second World War, the WJC lobbied Western governments to increase their support for Jewish refugees and their efforts to halt the persecution of Jews on German-controlled territory. [2]

After the war, the organization successfully pressured the new government of West Germany to establish a reparations fund for Jewish survivors of the war, and played a key role in lobbying the United Nations to adopt the partition plan for the British Mandate of Palestine that led to the creation of the state of Israel. The WJC also reached an agreement with the Soviet Union which allowed Jews living in its member states to move to Israel. The organization’s other post-war accomplishments include negotiating the release of assets allegedly taken from Jews during the war that were being held in Swiss bank accounts, as well as lobbying the government of the newly reunified Germany to contribute additional Jewish reparation funds. [3]

Policy Initiatives

The World Jewish Congress pushes for Jewish communities to organize on the basis of their ethnic and religious identity in order to secure favorable policies, economic structures, and legal outcomes. The WJC is also a strong supporter of the state of Israel and asserts the state’s “centrality” to “contemporary Jewish identity.” To reinforce this concept, the organization works to build connections between Jewish diaspora populations and Jews in Israel. [4] The WJC frames the ongoing tensions between Israel and other Middle Eastern nations, especially over the disputed Palestinian territories, as the Israeli people’s “struggle to live in peace with their neighbors.” [5]

Immigration

The WJC supports immigration from the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere into Western nations. In 2015, at the onset of the European refugee crisis, WJC president Ronald Lauder and vice president Josef Schuster co-wrote a statement which praised the government of Germany for opening its borders and condemned German citizens who opposed the influx of migrants. The statement, published in the leading German newspaper Die Welt (The World), also praised the government of controversial Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which had been pushing arriving migrants further into continental Europe, for its “receptiveness.” Lauder and Schuster demanded that Germany and other European governments provide long-term financial benefits and permanent housing to migrants, and cited Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, who had called on European citizens to take migrant families into their households. [6]

At the same time, the WJC has been a consistent and dedicated backer of the state of Israel, which has an immigration system essentially open to Jewish in-migration while sharply restricting other immigration. [7]

United Nations Involvement

The WJC has collaborated with the United Nations (UN) on initiatives to oppose antisemitism and criticism of Jews while also criticizing the international body for its perceived bias against the state of Israel. In July 2022, the organization endorsed a UN report which called for extensive moderation of Holocaust denial statements on social media platforms. The following month, WJC president Ronald S. Lauder criticized the members of an ongoing UN inquiry into Israel’s activity in the disputed Palestinian territories as “unfit to carry out their sensitive duties,” condemning antisemitic statements by a Commission member. [8] [9]

Interfaith Relations

The WJC promotes and engages in “inter-faith dialogue” with religious organizations around the world with the goal of representing Jewish religious perspectives, as well as pushing back against perceived antisemitism in other religions and the societies where antisemitic beliefs are prevalent. [10]

Catholicism

The WJC touts its “privileged relations” with the Holy See, the diplomatic representation of the Papacy, which it uses to promote its interests to the leadership of the church. [11]

The WJC was consulted by the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-1965 series of conferences involving top Catholic clergy and theologians, as well as representatives of other religions, that produced significant developments in the interpretation of Catholic doctrine. Nahum Goldmann, the president of the WJC at the time, met with Catholic cardinal Augustin Bea, the head of the Vatican secretariat overseeing relations with other denominations, to discuss relations between the Catholic Church and Judaism. [12]

Leadership

Ronald S. Lauder has been the head of the WJC since 2007. An American by nationality, he was the deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO affairs in the Reagan administration from 1983 to 1986, when President Reagan appointed him as the United States ambassador to Austria. In 1987, he launched a personal foundation which funds Jewish schools and community organizations across central and eastern Europe. In 1997, Lauder was elected as president of the Jewish National Fund and ran the organization for ten years before becoming its board chairman. He also spent several years as the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. As president of the WJC, Lauder personally lobbies heads of state and other government officials to increase their support for the state of Israel. [13]

David de Rothschild is the chairman of the WJC governing board. He is a member of the Rothschild financial family, whose other notable members include banker Evelyn de Rothschild and his wife Lynne Forester de Rothschild. [14] [15]

Finances

In 2020, the United States chapter of the World Jewish Congress generated more than $23.8 million in revenue, almost entirely from grants and contributions. That year, the organization held net assets of more than $17.2 million. [16]

In 2006, an investigation of the WJC (with which WJC cooperated) by the New York state attorney general’s office found that the organization’s governance and fiscal control “deficiencies” had “led to failures in the proper administration of charitable assets,” though no criminal activity was identified. The investigation reported that the organization’s former secretary general had made a transfer of $1.2 million in assets to outside entities without the involvement of the WJC’s governing authorities and senior WJC employees had taken “a series of inappropriate disbursements.” In response to the investigation, WJC agreed to implement governance and administrative measures to ensure its fiduciary probity. [17]

References

  1. “About WJC.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/about ^
  2. “History.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/about/history ^
  3. “History.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/about/history ^
  4. “Mission Statement.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/about/mission ^
  5. “About WJC.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/about ^
  6. Ronald S. Lauder, Josef Schuster. “Wir Juden wissen, wie bitter Flucht ist.” Die Welt. September 9, 2015. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.welt.de/debatte/kommentare/article146203997/Wir-Juden-wissen-wie-bitter-Flucht-ist.html ^
  7. “A Warm Welcome for Some.” Migration Policy Institute. June 5, 2020. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.migrationpolicy.org/country-resource/israel ^
  8. “UNESCO, UN report: Social media platforms play critical role in stemming online hate.” World Jewish Congress. July 13, 2022. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/unesco-un-report-social-media-platforms-play-critical-role-in-stemming-online-hate ^
  9. “World Jewish Congress condemns antisemitism of UNHRC Commission of Inquiry.” World Jewish Congress. August 2, 2022. Accessed September 5, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/world-jewish-congress-condemns-antisemitism-of-unhrc-commission-of-inquiry ^
  10. “Mission Statement.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/about/mission ^
  11. “About WJC.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/about ^
  12. Thomas Stransky. “The Genesis of Nostra Aetate.” America Magazine. October 24, 2005. Accessed September 3, 2005. https://www.americamagazine.org/issue/547/article/genesis-nostra-aetate ^
  13. “Our President.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/about/president ^
  14. “David de Rothschild.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/bio/david-de-rothschild ^
  15. “About WJC.” World Jewish Congress. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/about ^
  16. “World Jewish Congress American Section Inc.” ProPublic Nonprofit Explorer. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/131790756 ^
  17. “Assurance of Discontinuance.” New York State Department of Law. January 31, 2006. Accessed September 3, 2022. https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/press-releases/archived/WJC%20AOD%2001-31-2006.pdf ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 1953

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $23,850,359 $23,322,765 $20,538,827 $3,336,493 N $23,827,733 $0 $78,901 $250,590
    2019 Dec Form 990 $27,298,024 $26,630,627 $17,092,982 $757,043 N $26,923,468 $0 $273,032 $117,026 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $25,355,395 $22,951,007 $15,627,744 $270,962 Y $25,108,168 $0 $141,013 $113,426 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $24,809,459 $21,483,018 $13,312,255 $279,248 N $24,620,951 $0 $80,742 $0 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $22,619,696 $20,471,729 $9,974,539 $244,768 N $22,489,205 $0 $23,645 $94,903
    2015 Dec Form 990 $20,319,809 $19,765,359 $7,715,096 $132,519 N $20,270,350 $0 $13,054 $91,531 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $18,968,297 $16,700,680 $8,300,523 $1,272,027 N $18,936,374 $0 $1,397 $91,250 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $18,453,651 $16,688,911 $5,106,130 $344,761 N $18,423,520 $0 $1,711 $80,000 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $5,521,674 $2,551,566 $3,170,482 $173,853 N $5,521,623 $0 $0 $455,000 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $408,500 $406,317 $34,615 $8,094 N $408,500 $0 $0 $80,000 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    World Jewish Congress (WJC)

    501 MADISON AVENUE
    NEW YORK, NY 10022-5602