B’nai B’rith Joins Calls for a Walkout When Ahmadinejad Speaks
In meetings with various embassies, B’nai B’rith International is making the case that the inclusion of Iran at a United Nations nuclear non-proliferation conference that starts May 3 in New York is outrageous.
The 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is a five-year review “whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.”
“How does Iran fit into those goals? Iran’s reckless and relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons presents the biggest threats to world stability right now,” said B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick.
There is nothing Holocaust-denying Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can add to such a conference. Ahmadinejad denies Israel’s right to exist, and in fact, promises that it won’t. His regime is the largest state sponsor of terror globally, and though much of his venom and weapons have been aimed at Israel, Ahmadinejad’s anger and violence are indiscriminate.
“Stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is the world’s number one security challenge right now,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “When it comes to its own nuclear program, Iran has defied the United Nations at every turn. For the world body to give Tehran a platform makes this event a farce.”
B’nai B’rith is joining other Jewish groups in urging U.N. members to walk out when Ahmadinejad addresses the gathering.
B’nai B’rith International applauds the National Institutes of Health (NIH) decision to make 13 additional embryonic stem cell lines available for research funded by federal dollars. This will enable researchers to step up efforts to find treatments and cures for such diseases as diabetes and Parkinson’s, and holds the promise of helping those with severe nerve damage regain the use of paralyzed limbs.
Many aging Americans have a genuine respect for, and deep fear of, many degenerative diseases. An unfortunate side effect of many diseases is a high cost: medications and therapy put an enormous strain on our health care system. Taming or even curing some diseases could potentially make healthy aging the norm, and could lower the long-term burden on our heath care delivery system. The promise of stem cell research is, to a degree, limitless.
“Vital research cannot take place without federal funding,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Stem cell research is so specialized, and so expensive, that federal funding is imperative to moving forward. We commend NIH for opening up additional lines of stem cells for researchers who rely on federal funds.”
Embryonic stem cells can develop into all sorts of cells or tissues. A more open door policy will enable researchers to access more research material.
B’nai B’rith has long been a supporter of stem cell research. As a leading proponent, B’nai B’rith endeavors to teach the public about the promise of stem cell research. On Capitol Hill, B’nai B’rith has worked to reverse limits that had been placed on the use of federal funding on some stem cell lines. The long-awaited NIH announcement opens the field for original and ongoing research projects.
“We hope dedicated scientists can make quick use of these new stem cell lines,” Mark D. Olshan, B’nai B’rith associate executive vice president, said. “The potential and promise of stem cell research to help so many people with a wide variety of diseases and conditions is astounding. We look forward to dazzling advances in the field.”
In the wake of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s signing into law the nation’s toughest immigration law, B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is deeply disappointed that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law April 23 a deeply flawed measure to address the very real problem of illegal immigration. The law, which goes into effect in August, would, among other things, enable law enforcement officers to demand to see documentation of anyone whom they “reasonably suspect” might be in this country illegally.
Unfortunately, the potential for harassment and fear inducement under such a law is great. Since the law provides no guidelines as to whom an officer might reasonably suspect is living in the United States illegally, the measure would inevitably result in racial profiling. The law also unfairly punishes legal immigrants for failing to carry immigration documentation.
The very wide berth the measure appears to give law enforcement runs a real risk of creating a climate of fear and mistrust of government and law enforcement officials. That, in turn, could lead to lawlessness.
To be sure, there is an immigration crisis in this country. And Arizona is certainly bearing the brunt of problems that come with illegal immigration. According to the Associated Press, there are about 460,000 undocumented residents in Arizona.
But this law, meant to help law enforcement identify and eventually deport illegal immigrants, overreaches. The potential harm vastly outweighs any benefits.
B’nai B’rith International is in favor of immigration reform that would increase border security and place millions of undocumented workers on a legal path toward citizenship. Immigration reform must be uniform across the United States. Arizona has stepped into what should be the province of the federal government, which has the responsibility to protect our borders.
At the very foundation of America’s greatest accomplishments is the successful integration of immigrants into our society. B’nai B’rith will continue to work to ensure much-needed immigration reform at the federal level.
B’nai B’rith International Had Urged Member States to Reject Candidacy
Iran has reportedly withdrawn its bid, in advance of May 13 elections, for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council. Days earlier, B’nai B’rith International wrote to members of the United Nations General Assembly, urging them to vote against Iran’s quest for a seat on the council.
President Dennis W. Glick and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin wrote: “We strongly maintain that the election of Iran to this body would do profound, irreparable damage to the prospect of meaningfully reforming a vital but still greatly flawed institution and of redirecting the Council away from the current atmosphere of selectivity and politicization.”
The letter notes that if members consider, as they are expected to, how each nation-candidate promotes and protects human rights, they will conclude that Iran’s appalling record would preclude it from serving on a body charged with supervising human rights around the world. Glick and Mariaschin note that the brutal Iranian regime has “suppressed citizen's right to free assembly and free expression. Those whom the government has broadly defined as members of the opposition have been detained and, in many cases, subjected to torture. Human rights defenders in Iran have faced similar treatment for years. Iran has also been a persistent and particularly egregious violator of the rights of women, children, and minorities.”
The letter also notes: “Allowing such a Member State to win a seat at the Human Rights Council would serve as an added insult to the victims of the Iranian government and signal to the rest of the world that the Council is not serious about its mission to protect and promote universal human rights.”
> Click here to read the letter sent to General Assembly members
The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem has announced the winners of the 2010 Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage in Memory of Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf. This year’s winners are Anshel Pfeffer (Ha’aretz) for the print media category and television producer/director Shaul Mayzlish for two films that aired on Israel TV Channel 1. The panel also conferred a Lifetime Achievement Award on Avraham Tirosh (Ma’ariv), a Certificate of Merit on Ilan Goren (Channel 10), and a Certificate of Excellence on Shlomi Goldberg (Israel TV Channel 1).
Established in 1992, the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism recognizes excellence in reportage on contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities and on the state of Israel-Diaspora relations. The B'nai B'rith World Center Award is widely acknowledged in the media industry as the most prestigious prize of its kind in Israeli reportage. The award was established in the belief that media can strengthen Israel-Diaspora relations and to encourage a wider quality of reportage on the Jewish Diaspora in the Israeli media.
“The award is geared at strengthening Israel-Diaspora relations by recognizing those who excelled over the past year in reporting on Jewish communities around the world and their relationship with the State of Israel” B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz noted. “This is especially important in light of trends of disaffection and distancing that have been observed in some studies.”
Pfeffer, a Ha’aretz military correspondent, won the print media award for a series of eleven articles that appeared in the paper’s English edition. Pfeffer’s submissions spanned issues pertaining to Jewish organizations, the conversion crisis, immigration from Ethiopia, and the dearth of Diaspora reportage in the Israeli media.
Mayzlish, an independent film producer and director, won the broadcast media award for two films carried by Israel TV Channel 1—“Embrace Me,” which examines the life and times of Joe Amar, and “Rabbinate in Stormy Days,” which is about first Israeli Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog.
The distinguished award panel includes: Dan Pattir, political analyst and media advisor to prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin (chairman); Prof. Yehudith Auerbach, head of the Communication and Journalism Studies Division, Bar Ilan University; Sara Frenkel, Diaspora reporter, Israel Broadcast Authority and Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2002; Shlomo Nakdimon, journalist and columnist; and Asher Weill, publisher and editor of “Ariel” The Israel Review of Arts and Letters (1981-2003). Former Tel Aviv University President Professor Itamar Rabinovich serves as president of the award enterprise.
This year an essay competition in memory of Gutman Rabinovich was held for the first time, with awards presented to outstanding essays submitted by students registered at departments of communications at any Israeli institution of higher education. Winners of the contest are Liat Cohen (Bar Ilan University) and Renen Yezersky (Sapir College).
Tirosh, a journalist for Ma’ariv for 1967 to 2002, earned the Lifetime Achievement Award. After starting as a regional reporter, Tirosh later held numerous positions at the paper including reporter on immigration, absorption, and the Jewish world—a field he continued to cover both in Israel and abroad. Tirosh was also head of Ma’ariv’s news desk, a political and parliamentary reporter, managing editor, publicist, Op-ed contributor, and ombudsman. He remains a contributor to Ma’ariv and for 14 years lectured at the Journalism and Media Department, Bar Ilan University.
Ilan Goren, Channel 10 news correspondent in Europe, received a Certificate of Merit for his film “Lost in India,” which covers the return of the Tribe of Menashe to Judaism and its immigration to Israel. In his current position at Channel 10, Goren has presented feature reports, exclusive investigations, interviews, and live feeds from Germany, Sweden, Holland, Great Britain, Poland, and other countries.
Shlomi Goldberg, head of the Jewish Heritage and Culture Department at Israel TV Channel 1, received a Certificate of Excellence for two submissions: a segment of “The Jewish Home,” a weekly program of news and reports on Jewish themes in Israel and the Diaspora, and the film “Once Jews Lived Here,” which he produced with director Zvi Salfon on the grim history of Slovakian Jewry through the eyes of a child Holocaust survivor.
The awards are made possible through donations from Prof. Daniel Schydlowsky, a member of the B’nai B’rith World Center International Board of Governors, the Matsdorf family, and the Rabinovich family.
This year’s awards will be presented in cooperation with Beit Hatfutsot—The Museum of the Jewish People.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
We mourn the loss of civil rights icon and pioneer Dorothy I. Height. An incomparable force for civil rights and social justice, Height spoke up for all those without a voice.
Height spent the vast majority of her 98 years as an unrelenting champion of racial and gender equality. She played a prominent, if often overlooked, role in the historic height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She advocated self-reliance and the importance of a strong family and community.
Leading the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, Height was also a prominent staffer of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) system for more than 30 years. Her work helped pave the way for the YMCAs to become integrated.
Coming less than a week after the passing of another civil rights legend, Benjamin Hooks, a former director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), we are nearing the time when there will be no direct link to the individuals who prompted monumental social changes in our nation during the civil rights movement. We must ensure that their work for equality lives on in perpetuity.
Served as B’nai B’rith Public Relations Director for 23 Years
Bernard Simon, a member of the B’nai B’rith professional staff for more than 40 years, died of natural causes April 20, 2010 at his home in Olney, Md. He had served as director of public relations for the Jewish service organization from 1956 until shortly before his retirement in 1979.
Simon, a Weehawken, N.J., native, began his career as a reporter for several New Jersey dailies and worked for 10 years as associate public relations director and editor of a monthly magazine for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
Simon joined the parent organization, B’nai B’rith as director of public relations in 1956. From 1970-71 he served as editor of the B’nai B’rith International Jewish Monthly.
In 1958, he accompanied Philip M. Klutznick, then-president of B’nai B’rith, on a tour of Israel that resulted in a jointly written eight-article series, “This is Israel,” published by the Hearst newspaper chain and other major U.S. newspapers. He also served as editorial consultant on Klutznick’s book, No Easy Answers, and was the author of more than 200 magazine articles in publications ranging from the Saturday Evening Post to Coronet magazines.
Simon was a member of the B’nai B’rith delegation that toured Eastern Europe in 1961 to study the status of Jewish life behind what was then known as “the Iron Curtain.” Internal reports issued as a result of that tour are widely seen as being cornerstone documents that led to the beginning of the movement to free Soviet Jews. Early in 1971, Simon was in Vienna, Austria, as a major wave of Jews from the then-Soviet Union passed through the transfer point for émigrés bound for Tel Aviv.
When Hanafi terrorists occupied the B’nai B’rith headquarters and two other Washington, D.C., locations in 1977, holding more than 130 people hostage for 38 hours, Simon was one of the 10 captives designated as “old men” who were selected to feed their co-workers and escort them to the bathroom. That group was also threatened to be one of the first to be murdered if the terrorists’ demands were not met. Upon his release, he wrote a lengthy essay on the experience that was published on The New York Times opinion page.
Simon graduated from New York University in 1941 and served 42 months with the U.S. Army in World War II. After leaving the army, he worked for the Religious News Service, the forerunner to what is now the JTA (formerly Jewish Telegraphic Agency) and as a freelance journalist before joining the B’nai B’rith family.
“The contributions of Mr. Simon to helping the Jewish and general community know of the broad range of programs and services offered by B’nai B’rith, and our role on the world scene had an enormous impact on making B’nai B’rith a household name,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said.
“Bernie will always be remembered as one of the true pioneer leaders in the world of Jewish communal service,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin added. “In addition to his courageous and exemplary role in public relations, he was a tireless advocate for the staff of our organization, and was instrumental in developing our retirement plan.”
Simon is survived by his loving wife, Dorothy Simon, two sons Gary Simon of Potomac, Md., and David Simon, of Baltimore, as well as five grandchildren. His daughter, Linda Evans, passed away in 1990.
The family has asked that contributions be made to the Bernard and Dorothy Simon Philanthropic Fund of the B’nai B’rith Foundation of the U.S., 2020 K St., NW, Washington, DC 20006.
In remembrance of the atrocities of the Holocaust, B’nai B’rith International held numerous commemoration events around the globe in the days surrounding Yom HaShoah.
On April 13, the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem—in conjunction with the Jewish National Fund (JNF)—held a remembrance ceremony in memory of those who rescued fellow Jews from persecution in Europe during World War II. The ceremony took place at the Scroll of Fire Square located in the Martyrs Forest, a joint B’nai B’rith-JNF project located in the Jerusalem Hills where 6 million trees were planted by B’nai B’rith in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Six hundred people participated in the ceremony including 250 junior high school students and 250 Border Patrol recruits.
Speakers at the event included Zevulun Orlev, chairman of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee; Edward Iosiper, Romanian ambassador to Israel; Alexander Czoban-Srael, a Holocaust survivor from Poland and a Palmach veteran; Haim Roet, a Holocaust survivor from Holland and chairman of the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust; Efi Stenzler, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund world chairman; and B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Haim V. Katz.
B’nai B’rith Canada also held commemoration events in locations including Toronto, Montreal, and Winnipeg. In Toronto, the League for Human Rights of B’nai B’rith joined with the Law Society of Upper Canada to host a special forum on bringing war criminals to justice.
In addition to countless other events planned by B’nai B’rith International around the world, the organization is also the United States sponsor of the “Unto Every Person there is a Name” program developed by Yad Vashem. During the ceremony, which is held in numerous communities across America, participants read the names of victims of the Shoah, and where and when they were born and died.
On April 11, B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin participated in a Yom HaShoah community-wide memorial observance at B'nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, Md., co-sponsored by B'nai B'rith, the local Jewish Community Relations Council, and area Holocaust organizations. Prior to the formal ceremonies, Mariaschin and members of the B'nai B'rith Chesapeake Bay Region and the local community participated in the "Unto Every Person there is a Name" program, reading aloud the names of some of those lost during the Holocaust.
Ambassador of Israel to the United States Michael Oren spoke about how the Holocaust necessitated the State of Israel. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley also delivered greetings to the community. Also in attendance were El Salvadoran Ambassador Francisco Altschul; state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple; state Delegates Charniele Herring and David Englin; and representatives from the Chinese Embassy.
Also on April 11, in Alexandria, Va., at the Beth El Hebrew Congregation, B'nai B'rith International's Center for Human Rights and Public Policy Deputy Director Eric Fusfield joined members of the Chesapeake Bay Region and the local community in reading names. More than 15 of the many state legislators and foreign diplomats in attendance participated in reciting names.
Through its partnership with Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), the national Jewish fraternity, B’nai B’rith also held commemoration events on more than 70 university campuses across the nation. Along with the “Unto Every Person there is a Name” program, many participants also took part in the AEPi service, during which the brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi walked their respective campuses in silence, wearing signs that read “Never Forget” and handing out literature describing the meaning of this most solemn occasion.
B’nai B’rith sponsorship of the Unto Every Person there is a Name program through the Center for Jewish Identity is made possible by the generous support of Kurt and Tessye (of blessed memory) Simon.
B’nai B’rith International is outraged at a United Kingdom advertising board decision to ban an Israeli Government Tourist Office ad promoting Israel and calls on the Advertising Standards Authority, an independent government body, to reverse its own decision.
Displaying a shocking lack of judgment, the British Advertising Standards Authority deemed the print ads misleading because the site they promote, the Western Wall, also known as the Kotel, is in the Eastern part of Jerusalem, which the advertising board said was actually “occupied” and not part of Israel.
The Western Wall is the holiest site in Judaism. To suggest it is not part of Israel is as wrong-headed as it is dangerous to the well-being of the Jewish state. No peace agreement will ever take this area from Israel. But the ban could lead some to believe this cornerstone of Judaism and Jewish history is in dispute and could in turn prejudice future negotiations.
“This is one of the most egregious interpretations of Israel’s borders that I’ve seen in a long time,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the bible. For the British Advertising Standards Authority to suggest the area is not part of Israel is an exceptional misuse of office. No peace plan would ever ask Israel to hand over the Wall. It dismisses the symbolic and historic value to the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”
“The advertising board is trampling on reality,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “No peace agreement would ever exist that would remove the Western Wall from Israeli control. This decision will only serve to further delegitimize Israel.”
B’nai B’rith International is working with regional leaders in London to have this decision reversed.
Following discussions on international nuclear programs earlier this week in Washington, D.C., B’nai B’rith International strongly supports the 364 representatives and 78 senators who signed letters to President Obama urging unilateral “crippling sanctions” on Iran in light of the country’s nuclear program. B’nai B’rith took a leading role in engaging multiple senators and representatives, impressing upon them the importance of taking a strong stance against a nuclear Tehran regime.
The letters, which were presented by Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) in the House of Representatives and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the Senate, request United States sanctions without waiting for United Nations approval or agreement.
“We are writing you out of concern that Iran is growing ever closer to nuclear weapons capability, a fact demanding immediate action on the part of the United States,” the letter addressed to Obama reads. “We want to assure you of a strong bipartisan support for the tough and decisive measures that we hope you will undertake to address this grave problem.”
With an eye toward Middle East negotiations, the letter states that a nuclear Iran “would undercut prospects for peace between Israel and her neighbors, with emboldened Iranian surrogates enjoying the strategic backing of an Iranian nuclear umbrella. And it would pose an existential threat to the State of Israel.”
“It is imperative that we support a movement that would have the United States stand up against Iran,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “The threat that a nuclear Iran poses against both the United States and Israel is certainly to be taken seriously. We support the letters our elected officials have written and hope that President Obama heeds their requests.”
“The reality is that the United States needs to hold Iran accountable for the choices it has made and continues to make,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We are proud that senators and representatives from both sides of the aisle were able to come together and appeal to the president for swift and serious sanctions. Rather than wait for the United Nations to deliberate on the issue, we support Congress in its call for unilateral action against Iran.”