Edgar Bronfman philanthropist, former WJC president is dead

Edgar Bronfman, billionaire chairman of the Seagram Company, died of natural causes aged 84 at his home in Manhattan. Born in Montreal, he expanded the family’s liquor-based empire and as president of the World Jewish Congress from 1981 until 2007, turned the organization into an aggressive defender of Jewish rights. He pressed the Soviet Union to give the Jewish better living conditions and allow their emigration, led the effort to expose the hidden Nazi past of Austrian president Kurd Waldheim and forced Swiss banks to make restitution running in many billions of dollars to families of pre-war depositors who died in Nazi camps. When critics accused him of stirring anti-Semitic backlash by his tactics, Bronfman said:  “We may not earn the friendship of others, but we will demand their respect.”


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