B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s welcome vote to invalidate three of the four onerous provisions of the 2010 Arizona immigration law, B’nai B’rith International continues to call for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.
The high court’s ruling underscores the need for Congress to pass immigration reform. The state-by-state approach initiated by Arizona and other states with similar laws is a poor alternative.
The court invalidated the provisions that made the failure to complete a federal alien registration document, as well as an attempt by an undocumented resident to apply for work, a state misdemeanor. Also stricken is language that enabled a state official to arrest, without a warrant, someone he suspects has committed an offense that makes him removable from the United States.
However, the provision that requires state officers to reasonably attempt to determine the immigration status of any person they detain on some other legitimate basis—if they suspect that person is undocumented—remains intact.
B’nai B’rith is concerned that this troubling section of the legislation encourages Arizona officials to regularly engage in profiling. We will continue to monitor the situation closely as the law takes effect.
The Supreme Court decision that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional could facilitate lifelong access to affordable health care for most Americans.
The ACA makes important improvements to Medicare, authorizes funding for prevention programs, expands Medicaid, and ends insurance practices that made insurance unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions. This ruling puts to rest some of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the ACA.
Those who do not have health care coverage in their working years are more likely to have multiple, chronic, expensive conditions by the time they reach Medicare age. The coverage expansion provisions are critical to healthy aging.
To account for the elimination of lifetime maximum payouts, annual limits, pre-existing conditions exclusions, health status pricing and reductions of age-related pricing in insurance, the ACA includes an individual mandate—requiring everyone to purchase insurance—to make sure that younger healthier people are also part of the insurance market. “B’nai B’rith has long supported comprehensive health care reform. This ruling will help us move forward to ensure lifelong access to affordable health care,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
The individual mandate had been defended as a use of the commerce clause authority as well as a tax preference for those who buy insurance, like tax preferences for those who have children, or buy energy efficient appliances. The court narrowly rejected the commerce argument and treated it as allowable under the taxation power.
Health care reform has already had immediate results for millions of older Americans on Medicare—12 million people have already taken advantage of free Medicare preventive services and Medicare beneficiaries have saved about $3.7 billion on prescription drug costs.
“Seniors have benefited greatly from health care reforms that have already been implemented. A better health care system has economic advantages across the board, and has the potential to make healthy aging a reality for millions of people for whom it had been out of reach,” B’nai B’rith Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg, Ph.D., said.
“The American people deserve to know that this decision is the final word on the ACA. We urge congress to continue to focus on implementation of this vital law,” said B’nai B’rith Associate Executive Vice President Mark D. Olshan, Ph.D.
In a resounding keynote address delivered June 24 at the 20th annual B'nai B'rith Award for Journalism entitled “The Future of the Jews: How Global Forces are Impacting the Jewish People, Israel, and its Relationship with the United States,” Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, former U.S. under secretary of state and deputy secretary of the Treasury, called on Israel to take responsibility for the collective Jewish future now that it is the largest Jewish community in the world [Click here to read the address]. More than 200 people attended the event in the presence of B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz chaired the event.
At the event, Channel 2 News reporter Lee Abramovich received the award for her report “American Jewry makes living kidney donations to Israeli patients” broadcast on the July 9, 2011 weekend news. The moving report reveals the little-known phenomenon of Orthodox American Jews who make live kidney donations to Israelis, their motivations and support structure. In her acceptance speech, Lee noted that the report prompted an upsurge in live kidney donations in Israel.
For the first time in the Award’s 20-year history a Foreign Correspondent Citation was presented. Winner in the general media category in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky was AP correspondent Diaa Hadid for her June 18, 2011 article about the ruins of the Dar al-Bishi synagogue in Tripoli that she visited during the revolution in Libya, as a backdrop to recounting the illustrious past of that country’s Jewish community.
Also, a Foreign Correspondent Citation (Jewish media category) was conferred upon Jana Beris (Jerozolimski), editor of the Uruguayan Jewish weekly newspaper Semanario Hebreo, for her interview with Jewish Agency Chairnman Natan Sharansky, published on March 24, 2011, and her longtime commitment to Diaspora Jewish journalism. Semanario Hebreo was established in 1960 by Beris’ father, Joseph Jerozolimski. Since his death in 2004 Jana has edited the newspaper from Israel. It is distributed in Uruguay 50 weeks a year.
Since its establishment in 1992, the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reportaģe on contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities and on the state of Israel-Diaspora relations today in the Israeli print, electronic and on-line media. It is widely acknowledged by the media industry as the most prestigious prize in of its kind in Israel. Members of the distinguished award jury are: Prof. Yehudith Auerbach, Head of the Communication and Journalism Studies Division, Bar Ilan University; David Horovitz, Founding Editor, The Times of Israel; Sara Frenkel, Diaspora Reporter, Broadcast Authority and Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2002; Shalom Kital, former General Director, News Company, Channel 2; Bambi Sheleg, founder and editor-in-chief, “Eretz Acheret” and award winner for 2011 and Asher Weill, publisher and editor of “Ariel” The Israel Review of Arts and Letters (1981-2003).
The award ceremony was covered in broadcast, print and Internet media.
Watch the Event
B’nai B’rith International decries the patently anti-Semitic comments made June 26 by Iran’s vice president at an international anti-drug conference and urges the United Nations and international officials to deplore these statements.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, has since condemned the comments and reaffirmed Europe's commitment to fighting racism and anti-Semitism. B’nai B’rith commends Ashton’s remarks, in which she reiterated the “"EU's absolute commitment to combating racism and anti-Semitism."
At the event in Tehran, co-sponsored by the United Nations and Iran, Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi said the Talmud teaches Jews that they are a superior race. He also blamed the Talmud for the worldwide spread of illicit drugs, reportedly claiming that “Zionists” firmly control illegal drug trade. He is quoted as saying: “The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict. They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade.”
Rahimi also claimed that Zionists ordered gynecologists to kill black babies and that Jews started the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution—an uprising in which, he says, mysteriously, no Jews died.
“This was an anti-drug conference, not a platform for hatred. But once again, the U.N. stage has been exploited by a regime which continues to spew hatred, abuse human rights, deny the Holocaust and seeks to destroy the Jewish state,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
Strengthening Connection Between Diaspora Jewry and Israel Remains Key
The seventh annual B’nai B’rith World Center Survey on Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Toward Diaspora Jewry found that the Israeli public is equally divided on the effect of United States involvement in the Mideast peace process over the last few years.
One-third answered that the United States has impeded progress, and one-third said the United States has promoted progress in the peace process over the last few years, with the final third saying they did not know.
Most of the survey focused on attitudes regarding relations between Israel and the Diaspora. An overwhelming 80 percent of Israelis strongly favored the use of their tax money to promote programs like Birthright or Masa that build support for Israel in the Diaspora by bringing Jewish youth and young adults to Israel. When asked the best way for the State of Israel to deal with violence against Jews in Europe, a majority felt it would be more effective to encourage aliyah (51 percent) than to work with local governments (38 percent) or to train the Jewish community in self-defense tactics (7 percent).
“This survey has shown the significant connection between the two communities and the extent to which they are willing to help each other,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “There clearly is a strong interest in further building the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.”
Israelis were almost equally split on whether Israeli tax money should be used to help members of Diaspora Jewry during times of economic crisis in the Diaspora, with 46 percent supporting and 43 percent opposing. When asked the same question in 2009, nearly 60 percent supported the measure.
Israelis seem to strongly favor finding an instrument by which to better represent Diaspora issues in Israel, with 56 percent in support of creating a “Jewish Parliament” that would represent Diaspora Jews (23 percent oppose). Eighteen percent would give the body the right to propose legislation to the Knesset and 25 percent would give it mandatory consultative status, while 40 percent favor the body having only voluntary consultative status. However, more oppose formal representation in the Knesset, with 63 percent opposing allowing Diaspora Jews to elect “a few” Knesset members to represent their interests (with 21 percent supporting) and 49 percent opposed to establishing a mechanism requiring the Knesset to hold debate on issues relevant to Diaspora Jews.
Israelis also strongly oppose allowing its citizens living outside of Israel to elect Knesset members (51 percent oppose, 29 percent support and 20 percent don’t know).
“This survey has demonstrated the enduring connection between Israelis and Diaspora Jews. Clearly, Israelis are committed to finding a vehicle for including and expanding the opinions and participation of Diaspora Jews in Israel,” said B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider.
In his book, “Crisis of Zionism,” Peter Beinart advocates the implementation of what he terms a “Zionist boycott” against the settlements by American Jews. When asked whether American Jews should boycott Israeli settlements, 76 percent of Israelis disagreed and only 13 percent were in agreement.
The Internet survey was conducted June 20 with 507 Israeli Jews age 18 or 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.
> Click here for the PDF in English
> Click here for the PDF in Hebrew
Concerns Remain About European Voting Record and Rhetoric on Mideast-Related Issues
In testimony before the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel, B’nai B’rith outlined the core principles for U.S.-E.U.-Israel cooperation on Middle East peace, including that the Palestinians must end their campaign for a unilateral declaration of independence, systematic incitement against Israel, and the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state.
Eric Fusfield, deputy director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, explained that despite frequent instances of the European Union criticizing Israel and voting in favor of one-sided resolutions that unfairly target the Jewish state for blame, “the United States and European Union, by uniting around several core principles, can facilitate a long-anticipated return to the negotiating table and a potential end to a decades-long conflict.”
In his remarks, Fusfield said that the Palestinians’ campaign for a unilateral declaration of independence at the United Nations demonstrates their leadership’s attempt to have the world body give them something for nothing. “Unfortunately E.U. member states have fed the perception that such an outcome is possible by consistently voting for, or abstaining from, one-sided U.N. resolutions that castigate Israel without holding Palestinians accountable for their actions.”
Fusfield pointed out that the issue of Israeli settlements is frequently used as a diversion from Palestinian incitement and the refusal of many Arab leaders to recognize Israel’s right to exist. It is framed as the primary obstacle to Middle East peace, when in fact “construction in previously built-up areas should not reduce the chances of a peace agreement.” Fusfield cited one example: “On May 14, E.U. foreign ministers issued a regrettably one-sided statement identifying Israeli settlements and settler incitement as threats to a two-state solution.”
Fusfield emphasized the B’nai B’rith view that the uniting principles he outlined “are among the building blocks of an approach that can help restore trust, foster good will, and refocus the attention of the parties on the steps necessary to repair the peace process.”
Eric Fusfield, deputy director of the B'nai B'rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, testifies before the European Parliament about how U.S.-E.U. cooperation can help move along the Middle East peace process.
Jews represented a disproportionate number of those whites who participated in the civil rights struggle in the South during the 1960s. As a minority that had known firsthand the horrors of persecution, they were motivated by the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, the obligation to help repair the world, and they risked their lives in the fight against racism.
In this issue, Dina Weinstein interviews Jews who, as young adults half a century ago, came from all over the country to battle against racial injustice by protesting segregation and helping African Americans register to vote. Facing constant threats of violence and frequent arrests, they did not shy away from the challenge. Over subsequent decades, many have continued to work for social justice and equality.
Willy Leventhal, among the Jewish freedom fighters, provides a riveting first-person account of what he faced as a young college student from California working for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia in 1965. Leventhal was verbally harassed, jailed and shot at numerous times for his efforts. In the years since, Leventhal has maintained his tireless devotion to the civil rights movement.
Elsewhere in the issue, Gary G. Yerkey reports on the centennial celebrations held by the Swedish government to celebrate the anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth. The Swedish government hopes that honoring Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, might help curb a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the country.
Also read about B’nai B’rith International’s own history of pursuing justice in President Allan J. Jacobs’ column. Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin shares his perspective on Israelis’ remarkable ability to live their lives in the midst of perpetual conflict in his column.
Read all this and more in the summer 2012 issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine by clicking here
B’nai B’rith Magazine received three awards June 13, 2012, at the ceremony for the American Jewish Press Association’s 31st annual Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism. The ceremony was held at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, Pa.
Wendie Lubic, B’nai B’rith Magazine graphic designer, took home a first place award for excellence in overall graphic design for magazines/special sections and supplements/websites for her work on the spring, fall and winter 2011 issues.
The David Frank Award for Excellence in Personality Profiles second place award for magazines/special sections and supplements/websites went to Hillel Kuttler for his profile “Omri Casspi: Our Man in Sacramento” in the spring 2011 issue.
Dina Kraft received the second place award for excellence in writing about women for her summer 2011 article “Welfare to Well-Being: Helping Israeli Women Help Themselves.”
“As the oldest continuously published Jewish periodical in the country, B’nai B’rith Magazine is honored to be recognized by the American Jewish Press Association for the magazine’s hard work and dedication to producing a quarterly publication of the highest quality,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
“B’nai B’rith Magazine continues to inform its readers on matters of interest and import to the Jewish community at home and abroad,” said B’nai B’rith International Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “We are proud of our publication and glad to see it given the recognition we feel it deserves.”
B’nai B’rith Urges Brazilian President Not to Meet with Iranian Leader
B’nai B’rith International is outraged that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil next week.
This conference, scheduled for June 20-22, is a follow-up to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that was also held in Rio de Janeiro.
While reports indicate a bilateral meeting between Ahmadinejad and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has not yet been confirmed, B’nai B’rith urges the Brazilian president not to meet with the Iranian leader.
“That this human rights abuser is likely to be given a featured speaking role at the United Nations conference is inexcusable. The presence of a president whose country is seeking to develop nuclear weapons appearing at an environmental conference smacks of hypocrisy. This man who spews hatred and denies the Holocaust has no place at a conference meant to discuss poverty, social equity and environmental protection,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
“This is a conference meant to discuss environmental issues. The presence of Ahmadinejad will surely derail the conference and change the focus to an attack on Israel, the United States and the Western world. Protection of the environment is too important an issue to allow it to be overshadowed by what is likely to be a venomous diatribe by a human rights violator,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
B’nai B’rith International congratulates Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, on his election as one of the 20 vice presidents of the 67th U.N. General Assembly, which begins in September.
Prosor is the third Israeli diplomat to be elected to this position, following Abba Eban in 1952 and Danny Gillerman in 2005.
“With representatives at the United Nations since its founding in San Francisco in 1945, and a presence in Israel since 1888, we very much look forward to continuing our work with Ambassador Prosor as he assumes this new position in the world body,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
This year’s U.N. General Assembly is likely to face another bid by the Palestinians for unilateral statehood, as well as focus on Syria and the Iranian nuclear program.
“As we monitor continuing efforts at the United Nations to delegitimize the Jewish state, it’s important to have Ambassador Prosor at the table to navigate these threatening tides,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “He is the perfect candidate to articulate the sentiments of the Jewish community.”