B’nai B’rith International condemns the June 8 racist statement against Israel by a Syrian representative, First Secretary Rania Al Rifaiy, and calls on the president of the United Nations Human Rights Council to speak out against such anti-Semitic language.
“Unfortunately, we hear rhetoric like this repeatedly with few-to-no consequences that follow,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Words of this kind inflict hate and incite violence, and that simply cannot be tolerated.”
Al Rifaiy’s stated the following: “Israel…is a state that is built on hatred…Let me quote a song that a group of children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they got to school and I quote ‘With my teeth I will rip your flesh. With my mouth I will suck your blood.’”
In a letter addressed to U.N. Human Rights Council President Alex Van Meeuwen, Glick and B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin wrote: “Hate-speech must be confronted at the council, especially when the perpetrator is a Member State of the United Nations, sworn to uphold the U.N. Charter.”
“It is shocking that thoughts such as these can exist in any human being, especially someone speaking within the United Nations,” Mariaschin said. “What is even more distressing and disappointing is that the president of the council stayed silent about it.”
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International commends the vast majority of foreign ministers at the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly meeting in Lima, Peru, who rejected a measure–proposed by Ecuador–to condemn Israel over the flotilla incident near Gaza in late May. Only 10 of the 33 ministers voted in favor of the biased measure.
In high-level meetings at the OAS just days earlier, a B'nai B'rith delegation had stressed the importance of keeping non-regional conflicts out of meetings and OAS business, especially when the region has so many important issues to deal with, such as poverty, discrimination, and the increase in local and trans-border crime. The failure of the Ecuador measure demonstrates a desire by OAS members to limit the group’s activities to issues directly relevant to the region.
Unfortunately Ecuador’s efforts once again demonstrate a frightening like-mindedness with Venezuela’s anti-Israel and anti-Semitic vitriol.
During a recent nationally televised address, President Hugo Chavez angrily denounced Israel as a “genocidal state” following the efforts of the Free Gaza Now movement to break the security blockade of Gaza. Using such words to describe Israel as a “cursed terrorist and murderous state,” Chavez once again solidified his credentials as a dangerous leader.
Chavez displayed his ferocious hatred of Israel when he told his countrymen, “Israel is financing the Venezuelan opposition. There are even groups of Israeli terrorists, of the Mossad, who are after me trying to kill me.”
Chavez has long-promoted and fostered antagonism against the Jewish population of Venezuela, as well as against the Jewish state. A series of attacks on synagogues in 2009 has left the Jewish community of Venezuela feeling threatened.
While B’nai B’rith is grateful the Ecuador motion failed, B’nai B’rith hopes that in the future the OAS is more pro-active in condemning such remarks.
B’nai B’rith International supports the June 9 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) vote, which imposes further sanctions on Iran to curtail its nuclear and ballistic missile program development. The measure passed 12-2 with Lebanon abstaining and Turkey and Brazil voting “no.” While pleased with the outcome, B’nai B’rith continues to push individual member states to pass tough bilateral sanctions, targeting Iran’s energy sector in particular.
“We welcome the latest UNSC sanctions on Iran and hope they will be effective in pressuring Tehran to stop enriching uranium,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “With this in mind, we caution that yet stronger measures may need to be implemented in the future if Iran continues to defy the international community.”
The Security Council sanctions impose financial and travel restrictions on approximately 40 Iranian entities and individuals linked to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
New sanctions would also include cargo inspection to and from Iran, and sanction its shipping lines. They would also expand and strengthen an arms embargo, toughen financial sanctions, and place a new emphasis on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. The vote was the fourth time the Security Council has imposed measures on Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions.
In a letter sent to the U.N. on March 5, Glick and B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin wrote: “Only sanctions that are comprehensive and deeply impactful retain the possibility of preventing a paramount danger to international peace and security.”
Although B’nai B’rith hopes the measures voted on will be effective, the international community should have a plan in place in case Iran continues to not comply with UNSC resolutions.
“The international community must be dedicated to implementing these sanctions for them to be effective at halting Iran’s ‘nuclearization’,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Harsh and thorough sanctions need the full support of the international community, to be followed by decisive international measures.”
B’nai B’rith International is pleased to congratulate Jared Genser for earning an international award recognizing humanitarian work. Genser, B’nai B’rith’s Chair of the Council on U.N. Affairs and founder of Freedom Now, was one of two recipients of The Charles Bronfman Prize 2010, which honors extraordinary work in the promotion of human rights. Genser is a Washington-based human rights attorney.
“On behalf of our entire organization, I want to congratulate Jared on this important award,” B’nai B’rith President Dennis W. Glick said. “Jared’s work exemplifies excellence in the field of human rights and his work exemplifies the values of B’nai B’rith.”
The Charles Bronfman Prize 2010 recognizes young humanitarians whose work is inspired by personal values and is of universal benefit to all people. Its goal is to bring public recognition to individuals whose Jewish values infuse their humanitarian accomplishments, and provide inspiration to future generations.
“The prize committee made an excellent selection with Jared,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “His devotion and dedication to Jewish issues is to be admired. Jared is a role model for young Jews seeking to get involved in important causes and issues.”
Sasha Chanoff, founder of Mapendo International was the second winner of the prize. Both recipients earn a $100,000 award.
B’nai B’rith International leaders attending the Organization of American States (OAS) 40th General Assembly discussed several topics of great concern to the hemisphere with world leaders attending the event in Lima, Peru.
B’nai B’rith President Dennis W. Glick and Latin American Director Eduardo Kohn, along with various civil society representatives, met with OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza. Glick and Kohn also took part in a dialogue between civil society and the heads of delegations.
The 35 independent states of the Americas that comprise the OAS work together at this annual meeting on political and social issues. “These meetings are vital for the promotion of strong democratic institutions across the hemisphere,” Glick said. “They give civil society a chance to present serious issues to world leaders in a forum designed to maximize input from groups with expertise on a variety of subjects.”
The B’nai B’rith representatives discussed the growing arms race in Latin America; the attacks against freedom of expression in some countries in the region; the need to protect minorities against discrimination; the status of the Inter American Convention against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance; the need not to import non-regional conflicts to the continent; and the importance of inter-religious dialogue. They also asked the secretary general about his recent participation in the U.N.-sponsored Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, which took place in Brazil in May.
Glick and Kohn, along with B’nai B’rith Lima President Benami Grobman, also attended the opening of the General Assembly, hosted by Peruvian President Alan García. After the ceremony, the B’nai B’rith delegates met with Panamanian Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Juan Carlos Varela; Panamanian Ambassador to the OAS Guillermo Cochéz; Costa Rican Foreign Minister René Castro; and Peruvian Minister of Foreign Affairs José García Belaunde, among others.
Prior to the OAS meetings, Glick, Kohn, and Grobman were received by President of the Peruvian Congress Luis Alva Castro and Congressman David Waisman. Among other issues, they discussed the increasing relations between Venezuela and Iran and the situation in Honduras.
Glick, Kohn, and Grobman also visited the prestigious Jewish College Leon Pinelo, spoke at the B’nai B’rith Lima Lodge, and met with other leaders of local Jewish communities. They also shared a Shabbat dinner with Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Latin American Director Dorit Shavit; Counselor for Political Affairs at the Embassy of Israel in Washington D.C. Oren Anolik; and Israeli Ambassador in Peru Yoav Bar On.
B’nai B’rith International, a long-time leader in the fields of senior advocacy and health care will take part in a national town hall meeting on June 8 with President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“This town hall offers a chance to discuss issues vital to seniors,” said Ira Bartfield, chairman of the Senior Advocacy Initiative, who will represent B’nai B’rith at the event. “The new health care law has left many seniors confused about their benefits, and this open forum will allow them to ask questions that will help them navigate the changes.”
The Affordable Care Act is the key component of the meeting, which invites public attendees nationwide to participate in town hall forums to call in with questions.
Long-time White House correspondent Helen Thomas announced today she is retiring from her role as a Hearst Corporation columnist after telling a documentary filmmaker that “Jews should go back to Poland…back to Germany…and America, and everywhere else.”
While B’nai B’rith International feels she has made the right decision in stepping down from her journalism post, her retirement does not undo the damage caused by her outrageous remarks. B’nai B’rith still hopes that Thomas will make a full apology for her deeply offensive comments about Israel and the Jewish people.
In the days following the wide-spread viewing of her remarks, Thomas gave an inadequate apology. But we are deeply troubled that she does not seem to understand the significance nor the magnitude of her remarks. Thomas did not ask forgiveness for hurting Jews and Israelis, but instead issued a vague call for all people to work together for peace in the Middle East.. The issue has taken on national prominence as various newspapers, blogs, and TV and radio programs have discussed the Thomas remarks CNN’s Reliable Sources devoted a segment on June 6 to Thomas’ remarks and possible actions that should be taken against her. Click here to see the discussion: http://www.bnaibrith.org/press_releases/helenThomasVid.cfm
B’nai B’rith commends the quick action by Nine Speakers, the company that represents Thomas in her speaking engagements, for dropping her as a client and Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md. for disinviting her as graduation speaker.
The original YouTube video, which can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQcQdWBqt14 demonstrates Thomas’ outrageous and complete lack of understanding of history. Thomas seems to have been schooled by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a belief that Jews appeared in Israel after the Holocaust. Thomas ignores historical facts that Jews have called the Land of Israel home for more than 3,000 years, long before any other group made a home on the land.
“Thomas’ comments are contemptible,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Her distortion of historical reality is astonishing. Her call for Jews to return to Poland and Germany—site of the worst genocide in modern history—is beyond offensive.”
Long-time White House correspondent and current Hearst Corporation columnist Helen Thomas told a documentary filmmaker at the White House that “Jews should go back to Poland…back to Germany…and America, and everywhere else.”
The YouTube video, which can be viewed here
, demonstrates an outrageous and complete lack of understanding of history. Thomas seems to have been schooled by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a belief that Jews appeared in Israel after the Holocaust. Thomas ignores historical facts that Jews have called the Land of Israel home for more than 3,000 years, long before any other group made a home in the land.
“Thomas’ comments are contemptible,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Her distortion of historical reality is astonishing. Her call for Jews to return to Poland and Germany—site of the Nazi genocide, the worst genocide in modern history—is beyond offensive.”
Time and again, the Palestinians have rejected a plan for a two-state solution. Time and again, the Palestinians have answered Israel’s peace concessions with rocket and mortar attacks. None of these facts factor into Thomas’ reality.
“These vile comments, unfortunately, are the culmination of Thomas’ ongoing anti-Israel sentiments that she kept thinly veiled over the years,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “There should be no place for her in a news organization. Her comments go beyond commentary and land well in the camp that will stop at nothing to delegitimize Israel.”
B’nai B’rith calls on Hearst to dismiss Thomas immediately.
In an outcome demonstrative of United Nations bias, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted on June 2 to condemn Israel for its interception of a flotilla trying to break the security blockade of Gaza.
The UNHRC, already in a scheduled session, began an “urgent debate” on the matter, interrupting its planned business.
With language such as “condemns in the strongest terms possible the outrageous attack,” the body once again demonstrated its obsession with Israel and bias against it. This is a guilty verdict in search of a commission to validate it.
“It’s a travesty that the Human Rights Council keeps living up to its deplorable record of prejudice against Israel,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Where is the mention of the true motives of the flotilla? This was no humanitarian mission. The Free Gaza Movement, funded by terrorists, sought a confrontation.”
The UNHRC resolution calls for a new “fact-finding” commission to investigate the incident. Thirty-two nations voted in favor, nine voted absent and three—the United States, Italy, and The Netherlands—voted against the resolution condemning Israel.
As the UNHRC now assembles this investigation, B’nai B’rith assumes the conclusions have already been reached. If the council holds to form, the report will condemn Israel and likely not even mention the flotilla’s terrorist funders or the passengers attacking the Navy SEALs, or the refusal of the flotilla organizers to accept a humanitarian request to deliver a letter from the father of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
“This typical rush to judgment by the council demonstrates, yet again, how far it has veered from its once-lofty premise,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “This myopic view of events ignores the flotilla’s sponsors’ goal: to provoke a confrontation and to delegitimize Israel. Where was the international outrage as Israel endured eight years of Hamas rocket and mortar fire directed at Israeli civilians?”