by Dovid Efune
American Jewish leaders reacted with deep skepticism on Sunday to details of a deal reached overnight between Iran and world powers in Geneva. The deal calls for Iran to halt key parts of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief of approximately $7 billion dollars. But the interim agreement allows Iran to retain its nuclear production line, against the wishes of many Jewish groups who sought the dismantling of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice President of the B’nai B’rith, said, “The deal signed in Geneva does not go far enough in reversing Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon,” in an email to The Algemeiner. “The high speed centrifuges will still remain in place, and it remains unclear whether Tehran will permit full or only ‘managed’ access to all of its nuclear facilities. Its long history of deception on inspections is cause for much skepticism on this point...more
by Steven Chaitman
Israel and the United States have a little-known ally in an equally little-known region of the world – Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijan stands as a friend of the United States and a friend of Israel in a very difficult neighborhood,” said Elin Suleymanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States. Suleymanov was the guest speaker at a lunch meeting of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago on Nov. 21.
Azerbaijan, which gained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, is a secular-run country bordering Iran and Russia with a majority population of Shia Muslims. It has also supported a longstanding Jewish community, today numbering about 20,000. Suleymanov said that Ashkenazi Jews live in major urban centers such as the capital, Baku, and a Sephardic community has existed in Quba since before record.
Dan Mariaschin, Executive Vice President of B’nai B’rith, which has long worked closely with Suleymanov and Azerbaijan, introduced the ambassador and later said that the American Jewish community has long seen the country as a potential friend in the Middle East, as it was one of few safe havens for Soviet Jews...more
by Maureen Shamee
In a joint interview last week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Israel’s Channel 2 news and Palestine TV, Kerry predicted a ‘’nightmare scenario’’ if current peace talks break down. “The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos,” he said.
‘’Does Israel want a third intifada?” he asked. “I believe that if we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis, if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel, there will be an increasing campaign of the de-legitimization of Israel that has been taking place on an international basis,” he added.
“The Secretary introduced views that can only complicate the process. It would be more productive to exhort the parties to work toward compromise, rather than speculating on worst-case scenarios,” said Daniel Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International executive Vice President...more
by Dovid Efune
Top American Jewish leaders had harsh words Sunday for U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the Obama administration. Their comments came after recent remarks made by Kerry on Israeli-Palestinian Authority peace talks, and after the U.S. allegedly came within a hair’s breadth of signing a deal with Iran that would relieve sanctions on the country while allowing it to maintain its nuclear capability.
Kerry’s controversial comments were made in a joint interview with Israel’s Channel 2 news and Palestine TV. He predicted a nightmare scenario in the event that the current talks break down.Visibly agitated, Kerry berated Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying, “The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos.”
“The Secretary introduced views that can only complicate the process. It would be more productive to exhort the parties to work toward compromise, rather than speculating on worst-case scenarios,” said Daniel Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International executive vice president...more
B’nai B’rith International recognized Dr. Jeremy Levin for his commitment to improving global health care, having worked for numerous health care innovators such as Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Teva. His solid commitment to philanthropy, community service and industry leadership are to be commended. Here are excerpts from his acceptance speech.
Your Excellency, Ambassador Ron Prosor, Mr. Allan Jacobs, My Friend Mr. Dan Mariaschin, My Friend George Aaron, Friends and Family, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored to be here tonight to accept this prestigious award. I would like to thank you all for coming and for the generous support many of you have given to this event and to the B’nai B’rith. Allow me also to express my appreciation for the exceptionally kind words of George Aaron and allow me also to say how difficult it is to speak after the eloquent oratory of Ambassador Prosor.
This award is indeed prestigious and bestows a great honor on those who receive it. It is an incredible accolade, an indication of making it to the top of one’s profession.
At its very core Israel is a country imbued with the values you so generously support, values that can never be forgotten, ignored or taken for granted. Some of you may not know my background. My parents vigorously opposed apartheid in South Africa and Rhodesia in the 1960's, and twice we were forced to leave our home and country. On one occasion the family was forced to flee in the middle of the night when my father received word that he was to be arrested the next morning. As someone who fled Apartheid and political oppression and who is part of a family that has committed itself to human rights, I know exactly why those values mean so much.
…To make this economy a world‐leading economy, I believe Israel must commit itself to focusing on unique internal challenges. These include educating all sectors of the society and continuing that education through higher grades, bringing into the economy the minorities including the Haredi, the Arabs, Druze, Bedouin and Ethiopians, creating the economic opportunities and conditions to reverse the current brain drain, stopping the hemorrhage of intellectual property out of the country, resolving the tensions that exist between the free market economy and the socialist based institutions, cultivating conditions for the young families of Israel to own homes, driving for best practices in corporate and government operations including adopting more rigorous and accountable governance standards, developing and implementing a clear philosophy of taxation and capital allocation, and elevating the level of the press.
This array of goals may sound daunting. But I believe that they are key to achieving a sustainable Israeli economy, an economy that will generate growth though high value jobs , one that will have sufficient revenues to underwrite its defense and domestic
needs, one that will have enough educated workers with the knowledge of core subjects required to staff those jobs and one that will have enough democracy and fairness embedded in it to secure the stability of the economy. All sectors of the Israeli economy must flourish for Israel to flourish.
Israel, a democratic nation, is important not just for Jews but also for all those who believe in democracy. And Jewish values are at the heart of this nation – the values that B'nai B'rith supports and encourages. The values we all should stand for. B'nai B'rith has stood as the voice of the Jewish people worldwide and as a staunch supporter of the State of Israel. Your impact on the citizens and the State of Israel is profound. And it is because of this that I would like to thank Dan and the organization for this award tonight – I am proud to receive this recognition from an organization that so fundamentally supports and cherishes core values that so closely match mine.
La organización judía B’nai B’rith Internacional se manifestó “asombrada” de que el Comité Olímpico Internacional (COI) haya elegido a Thomas Bach como presidente y consideró que debería “renunciar de inmediato”, debido a que antes se desempañaba como titular de la Cámara de Comercio e Industria Germano-Arabe, una organización que realiza un sistemático boicot contra el comercio israelí.
Aunque haya dejado la Cámara de Comercio el 16 de septiembre, la asociación de Bach con “la discriminación anti israelí es inconsistente con los ideales olímpicos y se mezcla con una organización envuelta en escándalos y controversias”.
B´nai B´rith consideró que Bach no debería cumplir su mandato de 8 años, sino “renunciar de inmediato” para que alguien “adecuado al COI y a sus principios” ocupe el cargo...more
by Daniel S. Mariachin, executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International
Many people think of the United Nations as a forum of 193 member states, each of which operates as a free agent, and which coalesces around resolutions depending on national interest. That would be true, up to a point.
In fact, the United Nations is divided into regional groups and blocs that skew the voting, like the “Non-Aligned” nations (120 countries) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (57 countries). Such alignments often work against the notion of independent, fair policymaking by member states, and more in the direction of a herd mentality, which explains the routinely lopsided votes against Israel at the United Nations over the decades.
If all were right in the world, Israel would be a member of the Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations (known until 2011 as the Asian Group), which includes such countries as Iraq, Saudi Arabia—and Iran and Syria. Cyprus is also a member, as are such countries as Japan, India, and the Philippines. Notwithstanding some friends in the group, Israel’s inclusion has been repeatedly blocked by its incessant adversaries. Until 2000 Israel belonged to no regional group. It was an orphan in an organization whose internal deliberations often center on being able to hang your diplomatic hat inside a group of your neighbors.
After a sustained campaign over the course of several years, Israel, at the urging of the United States, was granted inclusion in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG, which includes the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, many of the European states and Turkey) – but only for meetings of the group in New York. Much was said at the time about this being a “first step,” with the assumption that Israel could later join the group for deliberations in Geneva, the site of the U.N. Human Rights Council, and other venues. That has not happened, as inclusion requires a consensus of the members, a few of which have blocked Israel from participating.
Being included is not just a matter of symbolism or prestige. Being at the table of fellow democracies (if not regional neighbors) when discussing policy positions on human rights violations in Iran, Zimbabwe, North Korea or Syria is vital. Not being allowed at the table sends a message of exclusion, which fits in with the efforts of the Palestinians and their friends to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state.
Israel’s marginalization as an effective outsider in Geneva is particularly egregious because the Human Rights Council has been a constant center of Israel-bashing within the U.N. system. Israel is the only country for which a special agenda item (Item 7) is reserved at each Council session. That invective-filled agenda item is constituted of a basket of resolutions relating to charges of human rights abuses by Israel against Palestinians. All this despite past and current efforts to bring Palestinians and Israelis to negotiate an end to the conflict.
Moreover, the retention by the Council of Richard Falk, a self-promoter who among other things supports Hamas and incessantly directs vitriol at both Israel and the United States as Special Rapporteur and the Council’s initiation and endorsement of the now-discredited Goldstone Report on the 2009 Israeli counterterrorism campaign in Gaza, have served as political weapons against Israel, resulting in zero objectivity by the U.N.’s primary human rights apparatus when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian divide.
A year-and-a-half ago, Israel, having thrown its hands up in frustration over the cold-shoulder it regularly experiences in Geneva, decided that it would suspend engagement with the Council. By pulling back, it sent a message that it would not continue to be bullied by blocs of antagonistic U.N. members, some of whom would prefer a world without a Jewish state. One result of this pullback was a postponement of Israel’s taking part in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), an assessment of human rights practices which, under the terms of the formation of the Council in 2007, each U.N. member state undergoes – though democracies are frequently scrutinized more harshly than tyrannies.
The rescheduled UPR for Israel is now set for late October. A number of countries have urged Israel to reengage with the Council, and subject itself to the review process, notwithstanding what will surely be especially withering opprobrium. The thinking goes that under the review protocol, Israel has the right to respond, and could do so, as part of the UPR.
Those who opine that it is time for Israel to once again participate in Geneva, if they are to have credibility, should also advocate for Israel to finally be admitted as a full participant in WEOG deliberations in Geneva and be freed from the second-class citizenship that has been thrust upon it by being a group participant only in New York. They should also insist that Item 7 be eliminated. Why should Israel be the only country which is singled out for a special item at the Human Rights Council, while real human rights abusers, from Teheran to Damascus to Pyongyang, manage to wheedle their way through the system without such “special” treatment?
And even if Item 7 were not yet to be eliminated, given the heavy anti-Israel sentiment at the Council, what about pledges from European countries and other democracies not to participate in discussions and voting falling under this discriminatory category? Surely, such a commitment would send a message demanding fairness if the United Nations is to be taken seriously.
The next session of the Human Rights Council begins on Monday. Will it seize the opportunity to stop treating Israel as both an orphan and a pariah? Or will it remain a largely irrelevant, and sometimes damaging, global actor, ignoring the lamentable state of human rights in so many places, while focusing on its traditional punching bag, Israel?
We won’t be waiting long for the answer.Read the story on TimesofIsrael.com
by Joshua Mitnick and Stewart Ain
Congress must support President Barack Obama’s call for a limited military attack on Syria if Obama’s pledge to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear nation is to be believed.
That was the message from American Jewish leaders this week even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli leaders remained mum following Obama’s surprise Saturday announcement that he had decided to request congressional approval to bomb Syria for its use of chemical weapons against its own people.
Dan Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, said the international community is “pretty certain that the Iranians are moving at full speed to create a nuclear weapon. Making a statement here — should Congress approve — I think will have an impact on the calculation being made in Tehran and other places, too.”...more