<![CDATA[B'nai B'rith International - In the News]]>Wed, 25 Nov 2015 06:53:19 -0500EditMySite<![CDATA[JTA Op-Ed: Terror is Terror]]>Wed, 18 Nov 2015 18:59:43 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/jta-op-ed-terror-is-terror​B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin penned an op-ed that ran in JTA on Nov. 18 that discusses the global outcry against terrorism in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks and asks why the frequent terrorist attacks in Israel are not also universally condemned?

You can read the op-ed on JTA's website by clicking here.

(JTA) — The international outrage over the barbaric terrorist attacks in Paris is absolutely on target. But the absence of an outcry over the weeks of attacks against Jews in Israel — stabbings, shootings and car rammings are among the most common tactics — is equally outrageous.

More than a dozen Israelis have been killed during the past month. Yet these terror attacks against Jews have largely drawn silence from the civilized world, or worse, questions about whether Israel deployed “excessive force” to defend itself. If people were being stabbed indiscriminately on First Avenue outside U.N. headquarters in New York, does anyone think the diplomats inside would complain about the New York Police Department using “excessive force” to stop the perpetrators?

We stand with France. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Whether the weapons of choice are bombs and guns, as in Paris, or knives, as in Raanana and Jerusalem, the taking of innocent lives needs to be seen through the same prism.

President Francois Hollande of France has called what happened in Paris “an act of war” and promised the French response would be “merciless.” World leaders have condemned the horrific Paris terror attacks in no uncertain terms.

The knifings, shootings and car rammings of Jewish-Israelis deserve to be met with the same global outcry — but they haven’t been.

To defeat terror, the world must agree on a “common denominator” around which to develop a strategy. The killing of innocents is that common denominator. Yet in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, levelheadedness in identifying who the terrorists are has fallen victim to a pernicious moral equivalence.

Whatever the grievance, resorting to verbal gymnastics to explain wanton killing is unacceptable.

The U.N. Human Rights Council, in an adopted resolution on the Gaza War last year, did not mention Hamas once in the document, notwithstanding the fact that Hamas initiated the conflict by firing rockets indiscriminately into Israeli population centers. That’s terror, too. Only the United States voted against the resolution; all 10 European countries abstained.

Inconsistency in calling terrorism what it is sends the wrong message every time. Remember the European Union agonizing over whether to put Hezbollah on its terrorism list, with it winding up in 2013 creating a “military wing” and a “political wing” to describe the terrorist group? Since then, Iran has provided thousands of rockets to its Lebanese client. Clearly, neither Hezbollah nor Tehran took the EU seriously.

So if one must be “merciless” in defeating the terrorists, as Hollande pledges France will be, why can’t Israel act this way?

The way the world looks at terror demonstrates a double standard. Caught up in the politically correct morass of “evenhandedness,” Palestinian terror is getting a very large pass from the world.

It’s time to bury, once and for all, the “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” mentality that has given the Palestinians an excuse and even sympathy in too many international eyes to carry on a terror campaign against Israel.

For all of us — Americans, French, Israeli, British — to defeat the evil that has brought us this new reign of terror, we all need to be on the same page. Terror is terror.
<![CDATA[Letter to the editor: Alan Schneider Responds to AMI Magazine]]>Tue, 17 Nov 2015 16:26:35 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/letter-to-the-editor-alan-schneider-responds-to-ami-magazineB’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider responded to AMI Magazine and its questioning of whether Rabbi Moshe Shimon Pessach was truly worthy of the Jewish Rescuers Citation B’nai B’rith posthumously conferred upon him.

In the letter, Schneider writes: “I suggest that we give all the narratives equal credence and not unnecessarily undermine the brave record of Jewish heroes. It is easy enough to raise conjecture 70 years after the fact, but none of the evidence provided by Dr. Medoff has convinced me that our description of Rabbi Pessach’s Holocaust-era bravery needs to be amended.”

The full letter is posted below.
<![CDATA[World Center Director Alan Schneider Pens Piece on Jewish Rescue in "Mizkar"]]>Tue, 03 Nov 2015 22:19:15 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/world-center-director-alan-schneider-pens-piece-on-jewish-rescue-in-mizkarB'nai B'rith World Center Director Alan Schneider wrote a piece on Jewish rescue for the September issue of “Mizkar," a quarterly on the Holocaust, revival, memory and memorialization published by the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel that represents 50 organizations assisting Holocaust survivors.

The article (written in Hebrew) is a fantastic and largely unknown story of Jewish self-rescue during the Holocaust.
When we say Holocaust, we immediately envision the extermination of the Jews. The time has come to remember and memorialize the heroism of Jews who rescued their brethren while endangering their own lives.
<![CDATA[Knesset lobby for Sephardic Jews forcibly converted to Christianity]]>Fri, 16 Oct 2015 18:26:49 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/knesset-lobby-for-sephardic-jews-forcibly-converted-to-christianity
A new Knesset lobby known as the B’nai Anusim, was launched on Tuesday to assist the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity to explore their Jewish roots.

Spain and Portugal have made efforts to amend for gross mistreatment of the Sephardic Jewish community during the 1400s, including welcoming back descendants of those expelled from these countries for joint citizenship.

B'nai B'rith World Center Director Alan Schneider was quoted in a Jerusalem Post article commending the lobby and its mission to reconnect people with their Jewish roots. Read an excerpt from the article, below:

The Sephardic Memorial Center of Grenada exhibits the blending of Spanish and Jewish cultures.

In a letter read to the lobby’s inaugural gathering, President Reuven Rivlin stated that while in “Spain precious communities were forced leave their faith, their life and the values they grew up and raised their families” five hundred years ago, “Spanish Jews are still with us, and we must not forget them.”

According to lobby founders MK Robert Ilatov and Ashley Perry, increasing numbers of the descendants of Jews around the world have become interested in exploring their heritage and reconnecting with the Jewish people.

“For many of us in this room who are the descendants of those persecuted and forcibly converted in Spain and Portugal, we know that it would have been impossible for our ancestors to have even dreamed of this moment,” said Perry, a former advisor to erstwhile Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and the founder of the Reconnectar NGO.


According to Spanish Ambassador Fernando Carderera, more than the requests of more than 4,300 Sephardic Jews for citizenship have been approved since the recent passage of a bill providing the descendants of the expellees with the opportunity to reconnect with Spain.


B’nai B’rith’s Alan Schneider told the Post that he believes that the new initiative sends a message to interested parties that Israel and the Jewish people reciprocate their desires and that “its going to be easier for them now to investigate their Jewish roots, to find out about Jewish tradition, learn about their traditions and how they relate to Judaism and eventually to decide if they want to take the greater leap of rejoining in a formal way with the Jewish people.”

“I think it also sends a message to the Jews in Israel and Jews around the world that there potentially is a much deeper margin of potential supporters, of family actually, there who feel close toward the Jewish people and the state of Israel and eventually can be called upon to be our supporters even if they choose to stay in their current status,” he said.​
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<![CDATA[Australia: Local leaders condemn violence Against Jews in Israel]]>Fri, 16 Oct 2015 15:30:41 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/australia-local-leaders-condemn-violence-against-jews-in-israel
B'nai B'rith has been outspoken in condemning the violence against Jews and incitement of Palestinian terrorism in Israel. The organization has called on Palestinian leadership and the United Nations to do their parts in quelling the violence, and have asked major media outlets to cover the situation responsibly.

This week, International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin and B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (Australia) chairman Dvir Abramovich released a joint statement condemning the violence.

The Australian Jewish News included quotes from the release in an article recapping Australia's response to the attacks. Read excerpts from the article below:

In a joint statement, B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich and B’nai B’rith International executive vice-president Dan Mariaschin said the lack of outcry against the wave of terror was disturbing.

​“If a rash of terror broke out in any other democratic nation, most of the international community would be appalled,” they said.

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<![CDATA[B'nai B'rith Statue still stands for religious freedom in philadelphia]]>Tue, 22 Sep 2015 15:15:34 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/bnai-brith-statue-still-stands-for-religious-freedom-in-philadelphia
In 1876, when B'nai B'rith was only 33 years old, it commemorated America's centennial celebration by commissioning a statue, Religious Liberty, in Philadelphia that represented tolerance and religious freedom.

Nearly 140 years later, some things never change, as the statue remains a landmark in Philadelphia and B'nai B'rith International continues to promote education, religious freedom and tolerance for all groups.

With Pope Francis scheduled to visit Philadelphia this weekend, and address religious freedom in the vicinity of the statue, Religious Liberty was the subject of an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Read excerpts from the paper, below:

A statue representing religious freedom and immigration stands at the site where Pope Francis will deliver a speech on those themes.


It stood in Fairmount Park for more than 100 years before being moved to the grounds of the Jewish history museum in 1986. In 2010, the statue was moved again, down the block to the museum's current location on Fifth Street and Market.

The statue was crafted by prominent Jewish sculptor Moses Jacob Ezekiel, a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. He was the first Jewish cadet to attend the the Virginia Military Institute.

Ezekiel carved the sculpture from Carrara marble - Michelangelo used the same marble for his Pieta.

"The place to go to study was Italy, even [for] Moses, who was the first big American Jewish sculptor," said Cheryl Kempler, B'nai B'rith's archivist.

Immigration is an important topic for both the Pope and B'nai B'rith, according to Daniel Mariaschin, B'nai B'rith international executive vice president.

Mariaschin said B'nai B'rith sent a delegation to the Vatican in June to discuss with the pope religious liberty and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

"Our organization grew in this country as a result of immigration," Mariaschin said. "The pope's visit, with all this coming together, it is important."
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<![CDATA[Tucson B’nai B’rith properties safe havens for seniors]]>Wed, 16 Sep 2015 23:39:36 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/tucson-bnai-brith-properties-safe-havens-for-seniors
The Arizona Jewish Post highlights the pair of B'nai B'rith low income senior housing properties in Tucson, focusing on the quality of life enjoyed by its residents, as well as its visionaries, Holocaust survivors Gerd and Inge Strauss.

B'nai B'rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States. Our Senior Housing Network in the U.S. consists of 42 buildings in 26 communities, encompassing more than 4,000 apartment units and serving more than 8,000 people. 

Read more about these properties and their residents, below:

Many Tucsonans are surprised to learn that the Jewish community sponsors not one but two nationally recognized independent housing communities for low and very low income seniors: B’nai B’rith Covenant House of Tucson and the Gerd & Inge Strauss Manor on Pantano. 


Covenant House resident Carolyne Vogel feels gratitude and relief for the Covenant House. “For years, I worked all the time and didn’t have any close neighbors,” she says. “Now I have two really good friends here. At Covenant House, it’s very relaxing. I feel safe here.” A four-year resident, she feels so secure that her basic needs are met, she’s liberated to focus on her hobbies.

Liz Kanter Groskind, president of the Strauss Manor board, echoes the sentiments of her counterparts at Covenant House. “We get handwritten thank you notes from the residents all the time,” says Groskind. “They truly appreciate all the extras. We simply believe that those who have the least should live somewhere dignified, beautiful and safe. We’re not going to let you merely subsist.”

Although both facilities house residents from diverse backgrounds, the numerous Jewish residents, including several Holocaust survivors, appreciate the Jewish touches that the boards provide, from menorot in the spacious and elegantly decorated lobbies, to Jewish library materials, to brisket and latkes during Chanukah and more.


Both properties were the vision and work of longtime Tucsonan Gerd Strauss, who died in 2009.

Holocaust survivors Gerd and Inge Strauss, childhood sweethearts from Germany, immigrated to the United States in 1947 and relocated to Tucson in 1986. Strauss brought both properties to fruition in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and B’nai B’rith International, the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States. 

After building the 119-unit Covenant House in 1995, he went on to establish the 80-unit Strauss on Pantano facility that bears his name, which opened in 2006. Residents spend 30 percent of their income on rent; the rest is subsidized by HUD. Going into his 90s, Strauss was planning a third property in Sahuarita, which never materialized.

Tucson was lucky to benefit from the timing of Strauss’ vision and energy. “Section 202 program funding [HUD capital advances and operational subsidies] doesn’t exist anymore. It is difficult to recreate the types of programs our communities enjoy,” Olshan laments. B’nai B’rith continues to support the Tucson properties by providing technical and professional training to their supervisory boards and management and employment company, Biltmore Properties.
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<![CDATA[Australia: B'nai B'rith Aids Stamp of approval for Raoul Wallenberg]]>Wed, 16 Sep 2015 19:44:56 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/australia-bnai-brith-aids-stamp-of-approval-for-raoul-wallenberg
The B’nai B’rith Raoul Wallenberg Unit in Melbourne is commemorating its 30th anniversary in 2015 with a stamp that honors its namesake, available through the lodge and at post offices across the country.

Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat to Budapest during World War II, saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives by providing shelter and issuing papers that protected Jews from deportation to concentration camps. 

He disappeared while in Soviet custody in 1945, but his legacy has lived on in the Jewish community.
In April 2013, he was named Australia's first (and so far only) honorary citizen, after prolonged advocacy from members of the B'nai B'rith lodge. Advocacy efforts also produced several rounds of limited edition stamp sales, but the one set to be released in October is the first mass-distributed Wallenberg stamp in Australia.

Read more about his life and enduring legacy courtesy of The Australian Jewish News:

The 70c Wallenberg stamp will be available as a first-day cover and card, and will come in various groupings.

It is due to be issued on October 5. Israel, Argentina, Canada, Hungary, Sweden and the United States have already issued Wallenberg stamps.


A MASS-circulation Australian postage stamp honouring Raoul Wallenberg...is set to be issued next month, after a long personal campaign by Judi Schiff of Melbourne.


In 2010, Wallenberg appeared on a limited-edition stamp sheet issued in conjunction with Melbourne philately company Max Stern & Co, marking the 25th anniversary of B’nai B’rith’s Raoul Wallenberg Unit.

But Schiff campaigned for Wallenberg to be recognised on a standard Australian stamp, using online petitions platform Change.org, where she gathered more than 520 signatures. Her involvement with the B’nai B’rith Raoul Wallenberg Unit inspired her tireless drive for a Wallenberg stamp.

“I’m over the moon that this has finally happened after repeated submissions and requests over decades,” Schiff told The AJN, saying that for years she had been told it was Australia Post policy to only use Australians on stamps, with the exception of the Queen.
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<![CDATA[B'nai B'rith Leader Mingles With Israeli Ambassador at holiday Reception]]>Wed, 16 Sep 2015 16:33:28 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/bnai-brith-leader-mingles-with-israeli-ambassador-at-holiday-reception
Photo by JI Staff
Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin represented B'nai B'rith International at the home of Israel's Ambassador Ron Dermer during his annual Rosh Hashanah reception.

Mariaschin's presence was noted by Jewish Insider, which also offered the context of the gathering and a transcription of Dermer's toast to the New Year. Read excerpts from the article below:

Approximately 150 guests, including Jewish leaders, diplomats, journalists and members of Congress, gathered last night at the home of Israel's Ambassador Ron Dermer and his wife Rhoda in Chevy Chase to toast the upcoming Jewish New Year. 

Dermer began by joking: "I hope you all had a more uneventful summer than I (laughter)... I could do boring for while. It'd be fine for me. But we are obviously meeting at a time when everyone is discussing the deal with Iran, a few of you raised it with me tonight not surprisingly, and I want to take this opportunity to let you know that Israel is opposed to the deal (laughter). I know that comment is going to set the entire twitter-sphere ablaze.

"The right of Israel to convey its views about a deal with an Iranian regime that actively works and openly calls for our annihilation... should not be the subject of controversy. It should be self-evident. But to some, it’s not. Because while no one questions the right of the Ambassadors of the other P5+1 countries to meet with members of Congress and explain why they believe this is a good deal, some have questioned whether it is appropriate for Israel to make its case to those same members of Congress. That’s pretty disturbing. Because there is no country in the world that has a greater right than Israel to weigh in on this issue because there is no country in the world that has more at stake than Israel.

"But regardless of where you stand on the nuclear deal with Iran, on this Rosh Hashana, let us all raise a glass and toast the fact that the Jewish people are voiceless no more. Israel has provided us with a shofar, with a sovereign voice among the nations. Israel will continue to blow that shofar with pride. And on this Rosh Hashana, let us also toast a privilege we all have – the privilege to live at a time when the Jewish people not only have a voice but when we also have the power and will to defend ourselves – a will that no deal and no force on earth will ever break." [Transcript; Audio]
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<![CDATA[Iran Deal Filibuster is 'Horrible Idea Insulting to American Process']]>Thu, 10 Sep 2015 19:49:51 GMThttp://www.bnaibrith.org/in-the-news/iran-deal-filibuster-is-horrible-idea-insulting-to-american-process
The Senate has until Sept. 17 to consider the proposed Iran nuclear deal.

In an effort to derail the discussion on the Senate floor, Democratic leadership is now publicly discussing the filibuster option, claiming that the process has become obsolete with 42 Senators pledging to vote in line with the administration.

B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin told newspaper Algemeiner that filibustering would be a mistake. Read his full comments below:


Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai Birith International said it would be a “mistake” to close out the debate on an issue where “every [congressman] should be heard,” especially as the White House failed to whip up support among some of the most powerful Democrats in Congress.

While both groups acknowledged that the president has enough support to keep Congress from killing the deal...they called for legislation demanding accountability while registering the wide opposition to the deal.

Mariaschin called it “just the beginning of the process on the Iranian issue,” encouraging bipartisan measures to “ensure greater accountability.”

Jewish groups, pro-Israel lobbies and, of course, Israel, among others are concerned the nuclear deal will empower Iran to work toward carrying out its stated goals of occupying Jerusalem and destroying the Jewish state; just Wednesday morning Khamenei predicted the “Zionist regime” would no longer exist in 25 years, which also happens to be when the final provisions of the nuclear deal expire.

“One has to be extremely skeptical going forward. [The Iranians] say they got the better end of this deal,” said Mariaschin, noting Iranian claims to victory over the international sanctions regime that will disintegrate with the deal’s implementation. 
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