Reinvigorated World Jewish Congress Gets a New Leader: B. Daniel Diker to Become Next Secretary General

Dec 01, 2010, 10:28 ET from World Jewish Congress

Michael Schneider to retire next year after 40 years of distinguished service

NEW YORK, Dec. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Executive Committee of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) has nominated B. Daniel Diker, a noted foreign policy and media expert, as its next Secretary General. "Dan" Diker will succeed Michael Schneider, who will step down after forty years of distinguished service in Jewish public life at the next WJC Governing Board meeting to be held June 2011 in Jerusalem. As Secretary General Designate, Diker assumes WJC's top professional post immediately and will work in close coordination with Schneider until a formal transition in June, 2011.

Diker has served as WJC's Director for Strategic Affairs since May, 2010 and since early 2009 has served as WJC Middle East adviser on policy and diplomacy. Diker comes to the WJC following nearly ten years at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs where he served in a variety of roles, including as director of its Institute for Contemporary Affairs – the Center's public diplomacy institute. At the JCPA, Diker produced and edited several books on the Iranian nuclear threat, Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and on Israeli defense and national security issues. Diker is a former Knesset affairs correspondent for Israel's Channel One English television service and also served as a featured commentator on international news networks covering Middle East affairs and US-Israel relations. Previously, Diker held two senior marketing positions at two leading Wall Street firms. Diker is a graduate of Harvard University and grew up in New York City.

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, former US Ambassador to Austria and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Affairs, welcomed Diker's designation by the WJC Steering and Executive committees. "Dan Diker brings to the WJC a unique set of talents, skills and strengths that will help us achieve our goals of uniting, defending and strengthening our global community and constituency. Dan brings great energy, vision and political will to help forge new directions for the WJC and help strengthen the bond of Jewish communities worldwide and fortify their relationship with the State of Israel."

Diker noted, "At this time of unprecedented challenges to the State of Israel and the Jewish people, I am honored to help lead the WJC's worldwide efforts to unite Jewish communities to protect and advance their vital interests."

In 2007, at the request of President Ronald S. Lauder and the WJC leadership, Schneider agreed to lead the WJC as Secretary General at a time of internal turbulence and uncertainty. He successfully continued the efforts of his predecessor, Stephen Herbits, to restore the organization's credibility and prestige as a leader in world Jewish diplomacy and as the trusted representative of nearly 100 Jewish communities around the globe.

"Michael's unique abilities as a consummate diplomat and senior statesman of the Jewish people were essential in revitalizing the WJC's almost 75 year old global brand and franchise as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people," said Lauder, in praising Schneider for his critical role in putting the organization on a course for reinvigorated global leadership.

"The culmination of more than four decades of experience and leadership at some of the leading Jewish organizations in the world, Michael's steady hand at helm of the World Jewish Congress for the past three years has been instrumental in strengthening the WJC and preparing it to once again play a leading role on the international stage.

"With Dan Diker taking over, the WJC is going from strength to strength, and is poised to play an increasingly important role in protecting the rights and vital interests of Jewish communities worldwide," Lauder added. "I join the WJC leadership in thanking Michael for his extraordinary service, not only to the World Jewish Congress, but to the Jewish People, and in welcoming Dan in his new role."

Prior to the WJC, Schneider successfully headed the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for 14 years, where among many fundamental contributions to the vitality and safety of Jewish communities around the world he played a central role in the negotiations over the safe evacuation of 14,000 Jews from Ethiopia and in providing critical aid to hundreds of thousands of impoverished elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union in partnership with the Claims Conference.

In handing over the professional leadership of the institution, Schneider praised the selection of Diker as his successor. "In the more than 12 months that Dan and I have worked together on many of the critical issues confronting the WJC, the state of Israel, and the broader Jewish community, Dan's strategic vision and creative thinking have already helped foster greater unity between Israel and the Diaspora and have also energized Jewish communities around the world.

"I am immensely proud of the World Jewish Congress and am very pleased to be handing over a thriving organization to a man who has demonstrated the ability to take the WJC to an even greater level of achievement," Schneider said.

Under Diker's leadership, and building on the renewed foundation built by Schneider and the WJC leadership, the organization is marshaling its energy and resources in representing the vital interests of global Jewry. Currently, the organization is undertaking efforts to unite the Jewish world to combat the multi-layered political assault being waged against the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

The WJC will also continue to play a leading role in highlighting the Iranian nuclear threat through diplomatic channels and public diplomacy efforts, and plans to raise the international profile of Jewish refugees from Arab lands, who were forced to flee their homes following the establishment of the State of Israel and to whom substantial compensation has yet to be made.

About the World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 92 countries around the world. The WJC serves as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people to governments, parliaments and international organizations.

SOURCE World Jewish Congress