B’nai B’rith International commends the United States for reiterating its stance against a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.
At a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said, “The only place where permanent status issues can be resolved, including borders and territory, is in negotiations between the parties—not in international fora such as the United Nations.” DiCarlo went on to call attention to the terrorist actions of Hamas as a road block to lasting peace in the area.
“We commend Ambassador DiCarlo for her clear statements against unilateral declaration,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “This reaffirmation of the United States’ stance against a unilaterally declared Palestinian state at the United Nations will hopefully inspire other nations in the world body to recognize the need for direct, bilateral negotiations as the only way to achieve peace.”
The Palestinians seek to make an end-run around direct talks by this attempt to force recognition of a Palestinian state, the result of which can only be a prescription for a perpetuation of the conflict. Foisting a declaration of statehood at the U.N. will only further isolate Israel and continue to marginalize its status in the world body.
DiCarlo also called for the release of Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas for more than five years. She also mentioned recent rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza as a clear indication of the need for security measures surrounding transports to Gaza.
“The United States recognizes that the only way forward is for the Palestinians to meet Israel at the negotiating table,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The threats facing Israel are too great to leave to a forced and uncertain ‘peace’ to ensure safety and security for Israeli citizens.”
B’nai B’rith International welcomes a judge’s decision that would remove a San Francisco ballot initiative to ban circumcision.
In San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta M. Giorgi’s ruling on a June lawsuit complaining that municipalities cannot ban medical practices under state law, she notes: “the evidence presented is overwhelmingly persuasive that circumcision is a widely practiced medical procedure.”
“We are relieved to see this measure will not stand on the November ballot,” B’nai B’rith President Allan J. Jacobs said. “This measure to ban one of the most fundamental tenets of Judaism undermines our cherished American value of religious freedom.”
“The ballot initiative would have directly impinged on Jews’ ability to carry out a basic pillar of our faith,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
B’nai B’rith hopes that this successful legal challenge to the ballot initiative will weaken any efforts to take this initiative nationwide.
B’nai B’rith International has opened its disaster relief fund to help the victims of the worst drought to hit East Africa in more than 50 years. Some 11 million people in Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia are in dire need of humanitarian relief.
Failed rains combined with increasing food prices, continuing conflict and limited humanitarian access have resulted in food and water shortages, acute malnutrition and mass displacement throughout the region. It is estimated that 2,000 people are crossing the Kenyan-Somalia border daily seeking assistance. The United Nations has designated the situation as a famine, highlighting the desperate need for food and potable water.
B'nai B'rith will support projects in cooperation with the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief.
“The breadth of this crisis is staggering, with millions of people whose basic needs are not being met,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “We must band together as an international community to provide food and water to a population utterly devastated by conflict and drought.”
In March 2007 B'nai B'rith provided funds for relief teams to provide humanitarian assistance to the Somali refugees fleeing violent conflict to Kenya. Relief items were distributed in the Daadab camps, home to more than 160,000 refugees.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this devastating famine,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “B’nai B’rith is poised to respond by providing immediate assistance to the drought-stricken population.”
To help, donate online at our secure website: http://bbi.convio.net/site/Donation2?1580.donation=form1&df_id=1580
Donations may also be made by mail to: B’nai B’rith International Disaster Relief Fund, Attn: East Africa, 2020 K Street, NW, 7th Floor, Washington, D.C., 20006.
B’nai B’rith International is deeply concerned by a law passed by the Knesset that would allow Israelis negatively affected by boycotts to sue supporters for monetary compensation.
The Knesset passed the law on July 11, sparking opposition from Israeli groups and pro-Israel advocacy groups around the world.
Despite the day-to-day struggles Israel faces, and the incessant threats against it from abroad, it remains a flourishing democracy that allows all views to be expressed. This law can only harm the free dialogue that Israel has always nourished and that has made it an exemplary state in the region.
Free expression is the hallmark of a democratic society. The threat of a legal action measure would undermine Israel’s treasured freedoms by limiting free speech.
B'nai B'rith International issued the following news release:
B'nai B'rith International praises the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Italy for refusing to attend the commemoration of the biased World Conference against Racism at the United Nations in September. The event is set to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the first conference, which was rife with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate mongering.
The goal of addressing and combating racism has been replaced by attempts to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state, isolating Israel--furthering its already marginalized position in the world body.
The second conference, which took place in 2009, featured Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a speaker, and only furthered the vilification of Israel. With such a history, this year's conference cannot be expected to yield different results, and makes a mockery of the ideals it purports to represent.
The Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Italy join the ranks of Canada, Israel and the United States in their decision not to participate in the conference. B'nai B'rith is hopeful that other nations will follow their example in standing together against an event that promotes intolerance and bigotry.
The B'nai B'rith Board of Governors passed a resolution earlier this year urging all nations to reject the prejudiced objectives of the World Conference.
Demonization and delegitimization of Israel takes many forms, including the recent onslaught of cultural boycotts by celebrities who profess a desire for a two-state solution while disproportionately condemning Israel. But it is encouraging that although the Jewish state confronts many obstacles, it continues to achieve greatness both at home and abroad, going well beyond what is sometimes portrayed in the mainstream media. B’nai B’rith Magazine devotes its summer issue to exploring the spectrum of what Israel has to offer.
As Carol Sorgen reports, over the last few years more and more celebrities have cancelled performances in Israel to express unhappiness over West Bank settlements and take a stand against what some deem “Israeli apartheid.” However, these concert cancellations are part of a larger Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) strategy that attempts to make Israel an international outcast.
In the story, B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin notes that refusing to perform in Israel is not the only problem. “People who ‘follow’ these entertainers—whether at their concerts, on their blogs, on Facebook or on Twitter—further spread the word, and none of them has a real connection to the issue either. This issue is particularly bad because in today’s technological times it has a long shelf life.
He adds: “To call for a boycott because Israel is supposedly an ‘apartheid’ state is not only wrong and unfair, but lacks any objectivity, and worsens an already difficult situation,” says Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International.
In another arena, as reported by regular contributor Uriel Heilman, Israel continues to produce technologies that are changing the medical world, including a camera embedded inside a pill capsule and the Israeli bandage—which can apply the equivalent of 30 pounds of pressure to a wound—used in the aftermath of the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six and injured 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Israel has been one of the top producers of patents per capita for medical devices, and has produced drugs to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
Elsewhere in the summer issue, reporter Jeannie Counce explores the first English-speaking sports radio station in Israel which was created by two Americans who made aliyah. In addition, Dina Kraft shares a new program at The Jaffa Institute in Tel Aviv that works to teach women the skills needed to find work and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
On a lighter note, Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin writes about his personal connection to Yiddish, and seniors advocate Rachel Goldberg explains why she does what she does.
To read the magazine visit: www.bnaibrith.org/magazines
Following reports of terrorist attacks in Norway, B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International condemns in the strongest terms possible the terrorist attacks perpetrated against the citizens of Norway. The first attack occurred at 3:30 local time on July 22, when a vehicle bomb exploded outside of the office of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, killing seven people and leaving an unknown number injured.
A second attack occurred on the island of Utoeya less than an hour later, when an unidentified man dressed as a police officer opened fire at a youth camp, which was set to host the prime minister on July 23. Reports indicate that between 25-30 people were killed.
The New York Times reported that Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (the Helpers of the Global Jihad), a group that says it is connected to al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
This reminds us that terror can strike anywhere, and there is a need for those in the international community who are repulsed by these acts to redouble their efforts to combat the threat.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.
B’nai B’rith International condemns the editorial that ran in the July 18 edition of the Utusan Malaysia daily, a government-backed publication, warning against a possible attempt by “foreign Jews” to use a domestic reform movement to interfere in government affairs.
This attempt cites the July 9 march in Kuala Lumpur of some 20,000 people advocating for election reforms as an opportunity for Jewish groups to undermine government initiatives in Malaysia.
The editorial states that Malaysians: “cannot allow anyone, especially the Jews, to interfere secretly in this country’s business,” and that: “Muslims and Malaysians should not allow any party, especially the Jews, to discreetly interfere in the country’s administration.”
Though no specific plot was mentioned in the editorial, the accusation of a possible Jewish interference in Malaysia’s internal affairs is an outlandish claim that promotes anti-Semitic attitudes. As many Malaysians rely on government-backed media outlets for news and information, this destructive claim is likely the only information some citizens receive on this issue.
“This claim is preposterous and offensive, made especially harmful by the legitimacy imparted by its dissemination in a government-backed newspaper,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Turning an internal call for reform into a forum for religious prejudice is unacceptable, and serves only to induce anti-Semitic sentiments.”
Malaysia, an Islamic country, maintains no diplomatic ties with Israel. The Malaysian government strongly supports the Palestinian Authority and has been strongly critical of Israel’s actions in the region.
“The reference to ‘foreign Jews’ within the editorial is anti-Semitic and a clear attempt to demonize and delegitimize Israel—and is a completely foundationless attempt to vilify Jews totally unaffiliated with an internal reform movement,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “It is unacceptable that such hateful accusations are propagated through government-backed media.”
B’nai B’rith International once again marks the anniversary of the bomb attack on the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building. The July 18, 1994 terror attack on the heart of the Argentinean Jewish community killed 85 and wounded 300. Seventeen years later, no one has been brought to justice, though Iranian officials have been tied to the attack.
Iran’s ties to the attack are well known. Five years ago, an Argentine prosecutor detailed how top Iranian leaders including Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s president at the time, ordered Hezbollah to kill Jews in Buenos Aires.
This makes the embrace of Tehran by some of Argentina’s neighbors all the more troubling.
“Iran is more dangerous now than it was in 1994,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “AMIA should serve as a cautionary tale to the far too many Latin American nations seeking closer ties with Tehran.”
The recent official visit to Bolivia of Iranian Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi, a suspect in the AMIA case, was a travesty. Vahidi has been on an Interpol wanted list for his connection with the horrendous attack. Soon after the start of the trip, Bolivia asked Vahidi to leave the country and the Bolivian government apologized to Argentina’s government, saying the Defense Ministry was not aware of Vahidi’s affiliation with the bombing.
“Way too much time has passed, but it’s not too late to bring the perpetrators to justice,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We must stay vigilant. This act of terror cannot go unanswered.”
For 17 years, B’nai B’rith, with its deep ties throughout Latin America, has called for those responsible for this attack to be brought to justice.
B’nai B’rith International praises members of the European Parliament for joining together to send a letter to Baroness Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, urging rejection of a Palestinian initiative to achieve unilaterally declared independence at the United Nations General Assembly in September. The letter goes on to push for the 27 European Union member states to stand against such recognition.
The letter’s signatories call for direct, bilateral negotiations—affirming agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians as the only way to create lasting peace.
“The European Parliament members’ support of direct negotiation strengthens the argument against a unilateral declaration of independence by the Palestinians,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “We are hopeful that the nations of the European Union and around the world will heed this call to deny this initiative.”
The letter also outlines the invalidity of a unilateral declaration in the United Nations, citing the Oslo Accords’ requirement of negotiation between the Israelis and the Palestinians to form the basis of a resolution on the statehood issue.
“It is encouraging that so many European countries have spoken out against a Palestinian unilateral declaration,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “European political figures are recognizing that unilateral declaration at the U.N. General Assembly can only hinder peace.”