B’nai B’rith International commends the Canadian and Romanian governments for joining other nations in rejecting a Palestinian initiative to achieve unilaterally declared independence at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Both nations call for direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and rejected the United Nations as a venue for promoting unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.
“The support of countries such as Canada and Romania as committed friends of Israel serves to increase a notable opposition to the Palestinian attempt to avoid direct negotiation,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Making an end-run around such negotiations can only damage the kind of meaningful progress that can come from Israelis and Palestinians coming to the table together to make peace a reality.”
The Canadian government is carefully monitoring the situation, and opposes talks of returning to pre-1967 borders. The Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he is committed to increasing the already strong relationship between Israel and Romania.
“A unilateral declaration is not a viable solution for lasting peace in the region,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “As more countries come to recognize the need for bilateral peace efforts, the Palestinian effort to circumvent direct negotiations will be further discredited.”
B’nai B’rith International denounces the recent blog posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon by Richard Falk, special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories for the United Nations Human Rights Council. The cartoon, which appeared on Falk’s personal blog on June 29, depicts an angry dog with Hasidic sidecurls urinating on a statue representing justice; the dog wears a coat labeled “USA” and a skullcap with a Star of David as it devours a pile of blood-covered human bones.
Upon being challenged over the anti-Semitic cartoon, Falk first strongly denied its existence, later pulling the cartoon from his website but questioning whether it was anti-Semitic. Ultimately, he apologized, offering that he only intended to highlight the “anti-American” message of the drawing.
“The image in the cartoon chosen for promotion by Richard Falk expresses a vile and vitriolic anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American message,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Sadly, however, it only reflects commonplace incitement in the Middle East against Israel – incitement that fundamentally violates international agreements and prevents progress toward peace in the region.”
Falk’s blog posting is the latest in a long and disturbing trend of radical anti-Israel and other positions Falk has demonstrated in both personal and professional contexts. He has suggested flirtation with 9/11 conspiracy theories, advocated anti-Israel agitation over peace talks, and used the terms “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” to describe Israeli policies. Indeed, in his blog entry of June 16, he equated Syria’s domestic massacre of citizens with Israel’s response to mass, violent attempts to overrun its borders, and he cited both Nazi death camps and Israeli efforts to curb terrorism emanating from Gaza as examples of the “coldness” of state governments.
“Falk’s perverse, distorted worldview remains on open display,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “His radicalism prevents him from credibly filling his U.N. role, and it further discredits the Human Rights Council itself. Falk must finally, and immediately, be removed from his position as rapporteur before he does further damage while holding this U.N. mandate.”
B’nai B’rith has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International praises Ukraine for adopting International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27 as its official day of commemoration. Some 900,000 Ukrainian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Ukraine now joins many European and other countries that mark the observance of an annual Holocaust day of remembrance, first declared by the U.N. General Assembly in 2005.
In addition to the Ukraine parliament’s institution of a day to remember Holocaust victims, representatives also voted to memorialize the 70th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre in early October. In September of 1941, 100,000 people were murdered and buried at Babi Yar, near Kiev; with 33,000 Jews murdered during the course of two days, Sept. 29-30.
B’nai B’rith commends Ukraine for recognizing the importance of remembering and honoring the lives of those who were brutally murdered during the Holocaust and the tragedy of the immense losses inflicted on Ukraine's Jewish community.
South Sudan is scheduled to become an independent nation on Saturday, July 9. B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith welcomes the Republic of South Sudan as the world’s 193rd country as it formally declares independence on July 9. South Sudan’s independence is a peaceful outgrowth of a political negotiating process years in the making.
Decades of brutal civil war between the North and South, followed by a 2005 ceasefire and a January 2011 vote, have led to this moment.
The achievement of independence is truly noteworthy. The civil war left more than two million people dead and millions more displaced.
We hope that South Sudan will live up to democratic ideals and principles and that it will have good relations with fellow democracies around the world.
B’nai B’rith extends wishes of peace and prosperity to the fledgling nation.
B’nai B’rith International is deeply disappointed by a White House willingness, as reported by The Washington Post among other news organizations, to include cuts to Social Security benefits in addition to potentially devastating cuts to Medicare and other programs in deficit reduction efforts. Social Security does not contribute to the federal deficit—by law, it simply cannot. Social Security benefits come from payroll contributions. By law, it’s a self-funding program which cannot touch general revenue or, therefore, drive the deficit up. Including it in these deficit talks could make an already disturbing set of options even worse.
Social Security is a vital, irreplaceable safety net for seniors and people with disabilities. Benefits are already slim, with the average beneficiary receiving just $13,000 a year. By reducing the already badly calculated and insufficient cost of living adjustment (COLA), the program would be less effective even for current beneficiaries. And the damage would be compounded annually, hurting future retirees and the very elderly even more.
“That these rumored COLA cuts would be piled on top of expected changes to Medicare that could shift costs to seniors is especially worrisome,” Allan J. Jacobs, B’nai B’rith International President said. “Eventually middle class retirees could find their most reliable income stream consumed by their rising health care costs.”
The reported White House plan would recalculate the COLA using a mechanism chosen because it reduces the size of the increase. This COLA cut would accumulate over time, eventually leaving social security benefits far behind inflation and smaller for each successive generation.
B’nai B’rith International understands that the president feels obliged to "put everything on the table" in order to avoid being accused of being unwilling to compromise and to increase the chance for a responsible deal. But as the president's spokesperson reiterated today, Social Security is not part of the federal deficit and is funded outside the budget. It is difficult to believe that the government could justify collecting the same rate of taxes from today's workers while agreeing to erode their benefits into the future.
“This plan makes no sense,” B’nai B’rith Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg, Ph.D., said. “Social Security has no impact on the deficit. To include cuts to beneficiaries as part of a deficit reduction deal flies in the face of sound fiscal policy and disregards a population segment in most need of assistance. And in the face of the possible cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or other critical programs on which seniors and the disabled rely, Social Security cuts could be disastrous.”
In a letter to Greek Ambassador Vassilis Kaskarelis, B’nai B’rith International expressed gratitude for the Greek government’s decision to ban one of the Gaza-bound “freedom flotilla” ships from leaving Greek ports.
This decision was followed by Greek authorities’ detention of three activists after a ship set sail despite the government’s prohibition.
B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin wrote to the ambassador that, “Beginning with the Foreign Ministry’s statement last week, intended to discourage those engaged in this activity, and then with the firm statements and actions of your Homeland Security ministry and other agencies of the government, particularly the prevention of the boats from leaving port, Greece has underscored the destructive, and negative objectives of those seeking to ‘break the blockade’ of Gaza.”
The letter continues: “Only with a return to negotiations, without preconditions, can the peace process hope to succeed. Diversions and provocations, such as those planned by the flotilla’s organizers, are surely not that path.”
B’nai B’rith will continue to monitor the situation and speak out against those who seek to interfere with Israel’s right to defend itself.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International commends King Mohammed VI of Morocco on the passage of constitutional reforms on July 1 which include recognition of national diversity and reflect the positive relationship between Morocco and its Jewish population. Among wider reforms, provisions guaranteeing freedom of religion and human rights are supported by The Council of Israelite Communities of Morocco.
The newlaws are meant to improve understanding between different cultural and religious groups in Morocco—an important step in continuing to build on the existing goodwill between Morocco and its Jewish community.
B’nai B’rith Also Praises the Dutch Government for Defunding Non Profit Organizations Engaging in Anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Activities
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International commends the Dutch government for joining other nations in rejecting a Palestinian plan to achieve a unilaterally declared statehood at the United Nations. In a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on June 30, Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said the Netherlands would not support a push for statehood recognition at the General Assembly in September.
The Netherlands calls for direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and rejected the United Nations as a venue for promoting unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state—a view B’nai B’rith has long supported.
B’nai B’rith also praises the Dutch government for its plans to implement restrictions on Dutch humanitarian programs that fund anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions programs (BDS) and that seek to delegitimize the Jewish state. This move from the Dutch foreign ministry would prevent non profit organizations from using taxpayer money to fund anti-Zionist and anti-Israel initiatives.
Additionally, the Netherlands will enter into a partnership with Israel, the Dutch-Israeli Cooperation Council, by January 2012, to strengthen political ties and increase economic investment between the two countries.
These positive developments come on the heels of a government assault on religious freedom when the lower house of the Dutch Parliament voted to ban ritual slaughter of animals, which would prohibit Dutch Jews and Muslims from adhering to their religious dietary laws. B’nai B’rith urges the upper house to reject the ban when it votes on the measure in September.