A doubtful campaign

LONDON, 1-7-2015 — /EuropaWire/ — Few election campaigns may prove to be really clear and transparent. But nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest, and all the illegal contrivances and the truth about them sooner or later will come out. And in this case, the supposed organizers of fractious campaigns may be punished too severely by public opinion for such jokes with the electors. For instance, according to the Haaretz portal, Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, was declared persona non grata in Austria on suspicion of vote tampering of the Executive Council of Austrian Jewish Community to support his candidate.

According to the news portal haaretz, the Jewish community of Vienna has declared Jewish-American billionaire Ronald Lauder persona non grata because, it alleges, he flagrantly interfered in the elections for the community’s president that took place last month.

The Jewish community’s president, Oskar Deutsch, sent a letter this week to leaders of Europe’s Jewish communities in which he claimed that Lauder offered money to members of the Vienna community’s executive board to influence them to vote for a candidate that Lauder supported. Lauder aggressively denied the allegations and stated that they were false and despicable. Lauder, who is a major shareholder in Israel’s Channel 10 among other business interests, formerly served as United States ambassador to Austria. Today, he serves as the president of the World Jewish Congress, an international organization that is the representative body of Jewish communities and organizations around the world.

The Austrian Jewish community claims in the letter that was distributed that Lauder supported a candidate by the name of Martin Engelberg and tried to promote his election. The candidate that was eventually elected, Oskar Deutsch, alleges in that letter that Engleberg and Lauder offered “more than 4.5 million euros” to “groups within the Jewish community” in return for their support of Engleberg’s candidacy.

As a result of these allegations, the Jewish community in Vienna has declared Lauder persona non grata “from all premises belonging to the Jewish community in Austria.” Gary Lewi, Lauder’s spokesperson, provided his response to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which also published a story about the letter. “For some 25 years, Ambassador Lauder has demonstrated through word and deed his support for the Viennese Jewish community,” Lewi told JTA. “It was Ambassador Lauder’s intent that the Jewish community of Vienna decides their own path and vote according to individual conscience and their own best interest. In repudiating these unfounded and irresponsible allegations in the strongest terms possible, he continues to stand with this proud and dynamic community today and far into the future. However, let there be no mistake: These allegations are despicable and without any basis in truth.”

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