The Executive Council of Australian Jewry called on the World Jewish Congress this week to immediately discontinue its $10 million defamation suit against Isi Leibler, a former president of the Australian branch of the WJC. Leibler, who now lives in Israel, was removed as vice president of the WJC last year after calling for an investigation into the group’s financial practices.
The Australian council gave the WJC 30 days to respond and said it would review its participation in the WJC after that time.
In a resolution adopted Feb. 23, the Australian council said the suit reflects adversely on the WJC, "particularly at a time when the WJC is implementing measures to improve its governance, fiscal management, accountability and transparency. It will not only divert WJC resources away from its core mission, but will inevitably prolong if not escalate the dispute and thereby further damage the reputation of the WJC."
The WJC suit was filed last month against Leibler in Israel just as New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer completed an investigation of the charity that found no criminal wrongdoing but a number of financial irregularities.
Stephen Herbits, the director general of the WJC, has said the lawsuit was justified and sought damages for Leibler’s alleged slandering of the group with accusations that prompted the attorney general’s investigation.
A WJC spokesman had no comment on the Australian council’s move, saying it had not received a copy of the resolution.