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.
Iton Gadol: B’nai B’rith pidió la renuncia del Presidente del Comité Olímpico por su boicot contra Israel (SPANISH)
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.
Approximately 1,400 members and guests from around the world, including over 600 students, came to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel for the Centennial celebrations and 100th anniversary convention of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi).
The historic series of events opened on Thursday, August 8, at New York University, the site of the Fraternity’s founding in 1913. Dr. John Sexton, president of NYU, and Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York and honorary AEPi brother, addressed a capacity audience at the campus’ Skirball Auditorium. The evening ended with a dinner cruise around lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
On Friday, August 9, nearly $200,000 of money raised by AEPi students throughout the world was given away to the seven official charities adopted by the Fraternity. Representatives of Save a Child’s Heart, Friends of the IDF, the Jewish National Fund, Sharsheret, Elem, Keshet, and Leket Israel attended a luncheon at the Waldorf, sponsored by AEPi partner B’nai B’rith International (BBI), and received checks from those student chapters which raised the most money. David Suissa, President of Tribe Media Group, Editor of the LA Jewish Journal and AEPi brother gave the opening speech, focusing on the meaning and importance of brotherhood. BBI Executive Vice President and AEPi alumnus Daniel S. Mariaschin addressed the audience and praised AEPi’s peerless record of philanthropy. “When one speaks of Jewish continuity, you think of AEPi. In training the leaders of tomorrow, promoting pro-Israel advocacy, and civic responsibility, AEPi has a proven formula for the present – and for the future. B’nai B’rith is proud to partner with it, and in our 170th year, wishes AEPi on its 100th, many more years of success –and of making a difference...more.
by Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International
The European Union seems to be going out of its way to shed any pretext of neutrality on the Israel-Palestinian peace process.
The latest affront is new guidelines from the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU. The measure would restrict funding, grants and overall cooperation by the EU with any Israeli institutions that operate in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that are beyond the lines established in the Six-Day War in 1967.
This ban impacts territories that should be discussed at negotiations between the two sides and is an attempt by the EU to pressure Israel to keep the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders.
Why now? Why would the EU go to such lengths to undermine recent movement in the peace talks?
US Secretary of State John Kerry has been back and forth to the region six times in the last few months trying to restart the stalled process. On July 19, the two sides agreed to meet to talk about the parameters for resuming actual peace talks. Though incremental, the attention greeting this step demonstrates the fundamental element in the entire peace process — two sides sitting down together.
If Kerry’s efforts are to succeed, then prejudging the outcome by the EU can only stiffen the backs of the Palestinians or lead them to believe they can talk to Kerry but always go to what has effectively become an “EU court of appeals” to make their case and change the outcome.
Even if Kerry is able to bring the Palestinians to the actual negotiating table, is the EU capable of an objective role, given its track record?
This EU effort undercuts his work, and leaves Israel out of the conversation entirely. The EU’s guidelines punish Israel and reward the Palestinians. We’ve seen a similar approach at the United Nations, where the international community continually holds Israel up to opprobrium and is not really interested in giving it a say in its future security, borders or other points that should be the subject of negotiation and compromise.
When the Palestinians know others will do the heavy lifting for them, they are much less likely to talk seriously with Israel. The EU and United Nations’ efforts provide a way for the Palestinians to continue to avoid confronting the notion of compromise with Israel. If they feel they can get what they want, without having to negotiate over it, it lessens their commitment to cooperate with Israel.
Seemingly, the EU and the United Nations have become spokesmen for the Palestinians—often representing their cause at the expense of pressing them to negotiate and compromise. This EU involvement raises Palestinian expectations to unreasonable and impossible levels—leaving them to believe that their demands will simply be endorsed in the court of global public opinion.
If the narrative is being laid out by the EU and the Palestinians, where does that leave Israel?
This new ruling defining how the Europeans are favoring the Palestinians will surely lessen Israeli confidence at a time when Israel’s neighborhood is torn by chaos, disarray and uncertainty. This is precisely the wrong impression to leave with Israel, which now faces increasing instability on its borders and is being asked to take ever-greater risks as a result of it.
If the EU is serious about its responsibilities as a member of the Quartet - together with the United States, Russia and the United Nations - it would be encouraging the Palestinians to move to the negotiating table, compromise and reach an agreement, rather than exacerbating the effort to get there.
On July 21, the EU designated the “military wing” of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, but determined that Hezbollah has a separate “political” section. This revelation underscored the unevenness of the EU’s efforts and approach when dealing with the Middle East situation.
Though acknowledging Hezbollah’s terrorist activities is a significant step, any talk of a distinction between Hezbollah’s “military” and “political” sides is contrived. With this dual—and misguided—designation, Hezbollah will continue its terror business as usual. The EU should be willing to do more.
The Venice Declaration of 1980 was an early expression of European preferences in this contentious dispute. Nine European nations concluded they needed to elevate the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—known for its terrorist activity—as a legitimate entity, while suggesting limits be placed on Israel’s security needs. This declaration took place at the height of the PLO’s central role in the control of a terrorist state-within-a-state in Lebanon.
The new EU guidelines continue in that tradition.
Brussels tips its hand to its true agenda by singling out for boycott specific non-governmental organizations, and also describing Gaza on a list of “territories occupied by Israel since June 1967,” despite the fact that Israel withdrew all presence from Gaza in 2005. These aspects of the document add evidence to the folly that the guidelines are balanced. The EU bias is clear.
A two-state solution can only be achieved when Israel and the Palestinians sit together to negotiate it, without preconditions. This move by the EU effectively eliminates that step and, in the process, annuls Israel’s right to have a say in its own future.
The EU should step back and re-evaluate its approach. It needs to decide whether it wants to be a mouthpiece for one side or a body which supports a peace process that has any chance of succeeding...more.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International, is quoted in the Shalom TV story about the 19th anniversary of the AMIA bombing in Argentina.
Iton Gadol: AMIA/Aniversario. B’nai B’rith Internacional recuerda a las víctimas del atentado a la AMIA y advierte que el acuerdo con Irán aleja la posibilidad de que se haga Justicia (SPANISH)
La organización B’nai B’rith Internacional recordó a las víctimas del atentado a la AMIA, en víspera de 19° aniversario al tiempo que transmitió su preocupación por el memorándum de entendimiento que la Argentina firmó con Irán en relación a la causa que investiga el brutal ataque terrorista.
A través de un comunicado de prensa enviado a la Agencia Judía de Noticias (AJN), B’nai B’rith Internacional consideró que el acuerdo transformado en ley por el Congreso argentino llevará a que “no se pueda hacer justicia jamás”.
“En enero del corriente año, Irán y Argentina acordaron crear una ‘Comisión de la Verdad’, un ‘grupo independiente’ que investigará el atentado donde murieron 85 personas y otras 300 fueron heridas, todo ello, a pesar que los lazos de Irán con la masacre son conocidos y están documentados”, apuntó la organización.
B’nai B’rith Internacional señaló que “en 2006, luego de una exhaustiva investigación, el fiscal Alberto Nisman detalló cómo conocidas autoridades iraníes dieron la orden a Hezbollah de cometer un atentado masivo contra la comunidad judía en Buenos Aires, y entre esas autoridades: Hashemi Rafsanjani, presidente de Irán entonces, y Ahmad Vahidi, hoy ministro de Defensa”...more.