B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International urges the upper house of the Dutch Parliament to reject a measure to ban the ritual slaughter of animals. The measure passed the lower house on June 28.
The move is an assault on millennium-old practices that will force Dutch Jews and Muslims to choose between giving up meat or eating meat that does not conform to their dietary laws, marking an unacceptable assault on religious freedom.
Under the ban, animals would have to be stunned before they could be slaughtered. This practice would violate the rules of kashrut.
The Animal Rights Party backed the measure, claiming the ritual slaughter method is more painful to the animal. Many experts believe that religious slaughter, in which the animal is not stunned first, is more humane than stunned slaughter.
We urge the upper chamber of Parliament to consider the scientific evidence before it votes on the measure in September.
In a letter to the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), B’nai B’rith International noted its concerns over international travel restrictions that result when IATA airline members partner with such carriers as Saudi Arabian Airlines. On July 5, IATA responded in a letter to B’nai B’rith’s concerns.
Recent reports about a Delta Airlines relationship with Saudi Arabian Airlines brought attention to partnerships that are becoming more common in the international airline industry.
B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin wrote to IATA’s leadership that although airlines must adhere to visa requirements of the destination country, “…in this case, discriminatory practices of the Saudi Arabian government that interfere with the administration of visas to travelers with an Israeli passport stamp, or to travelers bearing non-Muslim religious items, are disconcerting.”
The B’nai B’rith letter also noted: “We assert that international travelers of whatever faith, race, or nationality, should not be discriminated against without just reason, and that no IATA member airline should enable the discriminatory visa block as a policy of practice.”
Finally, Jacobs and Mariaschin wrote: “We understand that IATA does not regulate its member airlines, but we call on you to exercise leadership in condemning practices that discriminate against travelers on the basis of religion or past travel. If IATA desires to maintain its long standing code of ethics and integrity, action must be taken on this matter. When airlines discriminate, their actions should be condemned, and all other airlines should be strongly discouraged from facilitating or enabling that discrimination.”
Antony Tyler, general director and CEO of the IATA responded to the concerns over discrimination on member airlines: “Regrettably, many states impose immigration and customs restrictions on international travel and commerce, restrictions that make it more challenging for our industry to fulfill this worthy economic and social role. IATA fights for the removal of these restrictions, using whichever channels we believe provide the greatest promise of success.”
B’nai B’rith will continue to monitor the situation and speak out against potential discrimination based on religion or a person’s travel history.
B’nai B’rith leaders from throughout Latin America met in Quito, Ecuador, June 26 and 27, to discuss important issues facing the Jewish communities in Latin America and around the world. Primary issues of focus included Durban III—the 10 year commemoration of a United Nations conference on racism that degenerated into an anti-Israel hate-fest—the question of a Palestinian state and B’nai B’rith’s present and future plans in the region.
B’nai B’rith Latin America President Pablo Grinstein, Vice Chair Denis Hernstadt, B’nai B’rith International Consultant Ram Tapia and Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn joined members of the local Jewish community at the meeting hosted by local Board of Governors Member Narciso Attia.
At a dinner hosted by the Jewish community on June 26, Grinstein spoke about challenges facing the B’nai B’rith Latin American community, highlighting Durban III and the question of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. The day-long session on June 27 focused on B’nai B’rith’s plan to work in conjunction with the congresses and foreign ministries of Latin American states in an effort to reverse the decision to recognize Palestinian statehood.
Former President of Ecuador Osvaldo Hurtado spoke at a luncheon on June 27 about the economic and political future of the region.
“Populist regimes practice an obsolete system and have no future,” Hurtado said. “They are supported in current favorable economic circumstances, but the [failures] of democracy in those regimes are unsustainable for the majority of the people.”
On the topic of the new coalition, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to be inaugurated on July 5, Hurtado said “CELAC has no meaning and no sense, and no future—but so far presidents sign agreements to build such organizations, and afterwards, no one knows [their] future or why they exist.”
B’nai B’rith International will hold its annual policy conference in Latin America in December. The Montevideo, Uruguay gathering will be the first time B’nai B’rith has held its policy conference in Latin America.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International condemns the anti-Semitic statements made by Polish priest Tadeusz Rydzyk during a meeting of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium on June 21.
Rydzyk, proprietor of the anti-Semitic, hard-line Catholic station Radio Maryja, made a thinly veiled attack on Jews by saying that Poland is “a totalitarian state” and that it “hasn't been ruled by Poles since 1939.” This is commonly understood to mean that he’s accusing Jews of running Poland.
B’nai B’rith urges the Vatican to take action against Rydzyk and repudiate his vitriolic hate speech.
B’nai B’rith International praises the Polish response to Rydzyk’s comments, and commends Prime Minister Donald Tusk for his swift action in condemning Rydzyk.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is outraged that a meeting convened supposedly under the auspices of the United Nations to discuss the Middle East peace process does not include official representatives of the State of Israel
The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People—the only U.N. body which is devoted to a specific population—is hosting what it is calling the United Nations International Meeting in Support of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process. This meeting, scheduled for June 28 and June 29 in Brussels, Belgium is titled: “The role of Europe in advancing Palestinian statehood and achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
How can the United Nations, a member of the Mideast Quartet, back a meeting with the explicit agenda of advancing Palestinian statehood? This goes to the very heart of the biased mechanism that the United Nations has become.
Efforts to achieve peace in the region must include direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. A meeting such as this circumvents the peace process and delegitimizes Israel. Marginalizing Israel will not lead to any breakthroughs in the peace process.
To support the peace process, the United Nations must engage both sides. For more than 35 years, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, with the full endorsement of the United Nations, has sought to undermine Israel. This meeting starts from a faulty premise. Its conclusions would be tainted.
B’nai B’rith International will monitor the meeting.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International stands with Israel in calling for the removal of a cell phone application, "ThirdIntifada," from Apple, Inc.’s App Store. The app, using the term “intifada” to reference two violent attacks against the state of Israel over the last 20 years, serves as a forum for anti-Zionist and anti-Israel discussion and to coordinate protests against Israel.
This application engenders hatemongering against Israel and its people and clearly delegitimizes the Jewish state. The open call to violent uprising encouraged by the use of this app poses real danger to Israel and its citizens.
The application is also in violation of Apple’s own application development guidelines which state: “apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected.”
B’nai B’rith urges Apple, Inc. to uphold its policies and immediately remove this application from all of its affiliated sites.
B’nai B’rith International notes the passage of a Lithuanian law that, over the course of 10 years, will channel $53 million into a fund to compensate the Jewish community for seizure of Jewish communal property during the Nazi regime. The money will be used to support programs of education, social and religious services for the approximately 5,000 Jews still living in Lithuania.
“The passage of this law is an important first step towards recognition of the needs of the Jewish population.” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “After a nearly eight year delay by Lithuania to address the issue, it is gratifying that the law can finally begin to serve the community.”
The 200,000-strong Jewish community living in Lithuania before World War II was decimated by the Nazis and their local collaborators. B’nai B’rith is hopeful that Lithuania’s acknowledgment of the need to support its remaining Jews demonstrates a commitment to improve conditions for the existing Jewish community.
“The horrific loss of 94 percent of the Lithuanian Jewish population during the Holocaust can never be forgotten,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The adoption of legislation to compensate the community begins to redress the past and hopefully will help to ensure the future of Jewish life in Lithuania.”
B’nai B’rith International has been actively involved in the process leading to the passage of the compensation law, and was involved in a previous negotiation with the Lithuanian government that led to the handover of hundreds of Torah scrolls, Megillot Esther and Haftarot for distribution to yeshivot, synagogues and other institutions worldwide.
Israelis have a very strong and personal connection to Diaspora Jewry with 65 percent responding that they have relatives living outside of Israel.
Among those who have relatives living abroad, 46 percent responded that those relatives were born in the Diaspora, while 39 percent were born in Israel, and 15 percent of the respondents who have relatives abroad have both Israel and Diaspora-born relatives. When looking at religious identification, Israelis identifying as “national religious” or “religious” were most likely to have Diaspora-born relatives with 62 percent and 55 percent respectively.
These are some of the findings contained in the 6th annual Survey of Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Toward Diaspora Jewry commissioned by the B’nai B’rith World Center—Jerusalem and conducted by KEEVOON Research.
The survey also found that a vast majority of Israelis—76 percent—feel strongly enough about the positive impact of Diaspora Jewry on the State of Israel to agree that one of the 12 torches lit by those honored by the Ministry of Education at the official state ceremony opening Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) on Mt. Herzl every year, should be reserved for a representative of Diaspora Jewry who has made a significant contribution to the State of Israel. Only 19 percent of Israelis would oppose this gesture.
Israelis also recognize the importance of visiting Diaspora communities and Jewish historical sites when traveling abroad for business or vacation. Of respondents, 69 percent said it is important for them to personally visit these sites, with 29 percent defining it as “very important.” Only 24 percent defined visiting Diaspora communities and historical sites as “not important.” National religious and ultra-orthodox (Haredi) Israelis are most likely to visit Diaspora communities and sites with 70 percent and 58 percent respectively defining it as “very important.”
Another significant finding of the survey: 71 percent of those polled supported the statement that “Representatives of the Israeli government should always be ready to meet and maintain contact with Diaspora Jewish organizations that criticize their policies,” while only 20 percent of Israelis believe that the government should refuse to meet with these organizations.
“The results of the survey were significant and really demonstrate the close connection between Israelis and Diaspora Jewry,” Alan Schneider, B’nai B’rith World Center director, said. “For the first time, we were able to establish not just strong support and identification of Israelis with the Diaspora that has been demonstrated in our earlier surveys, but to show the extent of actual family connections. This shows us that Diaspora Jewry is a part of most Israelis’ daily life and concerns.”
With Israeli expatriate communities making up a major part of the Jewish population in some Diaspora communities, the B’nai B’rith World Center also asked whether resident Israelis would want to allow non-resident citizens the right to vote in national elections. While Israelis seem closely connected to their Diaspora counterparts, and in some cases to their Israeli relatives living abroad, only 42 percent would give Israelis living abroad the right to vote in Knesset elections by absentee ballot (51 percent oppose such a move). When looking at responses based on religious self-identification, an interesting trend emerges: 70 percent of ultra-orthodox Israelis support absentee voting while only 36 percent of national religious Israelis do. Among the 42 percent supporting granting absentee voting to Israelis abroad, 72 percent would have them vote for the regular Knesset lists while 18 percent favor designating a number of mandates that would directly represent expatriate Israelis in the Knesset.
In the past few years, Israel has successfully reached out to the Christian Zionist community in America who are ardent supporters of Israel. Of those polled, 50 percent of Israelis support the continued development of this relationship, while 40 percent of those polled said that Israel should limit its courting of Christian Zionists because it is opposed by some U.S. Jews.
Regarding attitudes on the future of European Jewry, Israelis are strongly in favor of relocating communities whose numbers are shrinking and experiencing anti-Semitism to Israel. The majority, 61 percent, responded that the government of Israel should provide support and assistance so they can immigrate to Israel. Only 22 percent responded that the government should help strengthen their community while 10 percent said the government should both strengthen these shrinking communities and encourage immigration to Israel.
In the case of Jonathan Pollard, 75 percent of those polled said that the American Jewish community should advocate actively for his release while 12 percent said it should not. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 representing intensive effort and 1 representing no effort at all), nearly 80 percent of the Israelis polled give the American Jewish community a six or less regarding its efforts on behalf of Pollard while only 21 percent give it seven or greater.
Only two percent of those surveyed said that American Jews should not criticize President Obama’s recent speeches in which he presented a vision of a Palestinian state based on “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Among respondents, 27 percent said such criticism was “very justified” and 34 percent said it was “justified” while only 15 percent felt that it was “unjustified.”
The telephone survey was conducted June 13-16 and included 500 people within the Jewish population age 18 and older, and there is a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent. The survey was conducted by KEEVOON Research.
The B’nai B’rith World Center, established in 1980, is the permanent and official presence of B’nai B’rith International in Jerusalem and serves as its public affairs arm in Israel.
For additional information please contact Alan Schneider, director, B’nai B’rith World Center at 02-6251743, 052-5536441 or firstname.lastname@example.org
New York Teen Winner of Book Writing Contest Announced
Winning Entry Published; Scholarships Awarded
"The Mystery Gift” took top prize in the 2011 B’nai B’rith International Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge. Gidget Irizarry of Far Rockaway, a senior at Channel View School for Research in Rockaway Park, earned a $5,000 college scholarship and her book was professionally published.
In the story, which Irizarry also illustrated, students try to guess what is in a special box their teacher brings to class, each hoping it’s something for their favorite holiday. The gift turns out to be a photo of the class, and the teacher tells them: “during this season, you celebrate different things, but it’s a gift that every day you celebrate your differences.”
The contest challenges teens to write and illustrate children’s books that explain diversity and tolerance to elementary school-aged children. This education and awareness initiative was created in conjunction with B’nai B’rith programs that promote tolerance and communicate a message of equality. The contest aims to enlighten, inspire and educate America's young people and their families in an effort to destroy prejudices and strengthen the future of our youth.
The winners were announced June 14 at the New York Stock Exchange.
A panel of judges from the New York worlds of education, the arts and government, as well as the executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, reviewed the submissions and selected the winners.
Rena Parisi, a Staten Island senior at Tottenville High School wrote and illustrated “Incredible Quane and the Regular Somethings” to earn second place. She took home a $2,000 scholarship.
Third place went to Sophia Philip of Manhattan for “Pepper and the Super Sparkle Sneakers.” A senior at The Spence School, Philip earned a $1,000 scholarship.
In addition, Jennifer Walters, the teacher who oversaw the creation of “The Mystery Gift” earned a $500 stipend to use for classroom or organizational materials, and Channel View School for Research also received a $500 grant.
“These book entries demonstrate that today’s youth not only recognize the melting pot we live in but appreciate its benefits,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
“After reading all of the creative and meaningful submissions, I have great hope that this generation is one of acceptance and tolerance,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The authors truly made B’nai B’rith International’s core values and ideals come to life.”
The contest, which is also held this year in Memphis, is now in its fifth year.
B’nai B’rith was pleased to work in partnership with The New York Stock Exchange Foundation for the fourth consecutive year.
Additional program information can be found at www.bnaibrith.org/diverseminds
B’nai B’rith International, in partnership with IsraAID, a humanitarian coalition of which B’nai B’rith is a founding member, provided kits to 100 children in six shelters in the city of Watari as part of a continuing effort to help Japan recover from the devastating earthquake that hit the country in March. The kits included school supplies, computers and printers for the shelters, educational equipment for teachers, games and musical instruments. The distribution took place during a ceremony at a local school with the mayor of Watari in attendance.
The recovery intervention process is twofold: providing basic relief supplies and children’s kits and providing post trauma training to the teachers and local government officials who operate and head relief programs and facilities. Due to thesuccess of the program and partnership with the local community, five additional towns have requested similar assistance.
B’nai B’rith has been engaged in international disaster relief since 1865. The B’nai B’rith International Disaster Relief Fund has provided aid to populations affected by natural and man-made catastrophes around the world, including the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes of 2010 and the tornadoes and flooding that wracked the American South and Midwest.
To help us continue to aid Japan, donate online at our secure website: http://bbi.convio.net/site/Donation2?df_id=1520&1520.donation=form1
Donations may also be made by mail to: B’nai B’rith International Disaster Relief Fund, Attn: Japan Earthquake, 2020 K Street, NW, 7th Floor, Washington, D.C., 20006