B’nai B’rith International welcomes the long-awaited passage of a Chilean anti-discrimination law.
On Friday, July 13, the Chilean Congress passed the anti-discrimination law that B’nai B’rith, the local Jewish community, as well as other groups have long been advocating. This comes just a few months after a young gay Chilean man was brutally assaulted—and eventually died—in a homophobic attack.
“We are pleased to witness the passage of this law, which will provide legal protection from discrimination for all of Chile’s citizens,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
“The Chilean Jewish community has long advocated for legislation that would protect all victims of discrimination and bigotry without any distinctions. We wholeheartedly welcome this much-needed law,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
B’nai B’rith has been working for years to promote the passage of anti-discrimination legislation in many countries. In the United States, B’nai B’rith International supported the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that was passed in 2009 and will continue to speak out against discrimination and hate crimes worldwide.
B’nai B’rith has also been cooperating for years with an Organization of American States (OAS) working group that is preparing a draft Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance. If approved, the convention will serve as a fundamental tool to combat hatred and intolerance at the hemispheric level.
B’nai B’rith International is dismayed by the decision made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to establish a UNESCO chair of Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the Islamic University of Gaza—an institution inextricably linked with the terrorist organization Hamas.
“To so strongly associate an organization meant to promote peaceful goals with a terrorist organization is yet another contributor to the world body’s tarnished reputation in the international community,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
The Hamas-controlled University promulgates anti-Semitic, racist, anti-Israel ideologies and is believed to have served as a storage facility for weapons used against Israel. Since the beginning of 2012, hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into the Jewish state, adding to the thousands of such indiscriminate attacks against civilians since Israel fully withdrew from the territory in 2005.
“Establishing this special UNESCO scientific chair in effect legitimates an anti-Semitic institution so closely associated with a terrorist organization. This decision flies in the face of rational thought, and once again gravely politicizes an agency that should be dealing with education, science and culture,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
B’nai B’rith International extends its appreciation to the delegates at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church for endorsing positive investment in the Holy Land, rather than divestment from companies singled out for doing business with Israel.
As an organization with a profound, longstanding commitment to promoting Christian-Jewish friendship worldwide, as well as peace and coexistence in the Middle East, B’nai B’rith extends thanks to partners who contribute to these vital aims.
The church’s General Convention was held July 5-12 in Indianapolis. In considering ongoing Palestinian-Israeli tensions, senior Episcopalian leaders and the Anglican bishop in Jerusalem have affirmed an approach fostering productivity, rather than divisive or punitive measures.
Episcopalians have further demonstrated a desire for nuance and fairness by eschewing biased materials on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Such materials include the Palestinian document “Kairos” and “Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace,” a narrative that demonizes the Jewish state and distorts its history.
Delegates to the General Convention also decided to direct the church’s “Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to continue to collect, review, and disseminate materials to address Christian anti-Judaism expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian scriptures and liturgical texts.” B’nai B’rith commends Episcopalians for signaling determination to identify and grapple with any lingering expressions of theological antagonism to Jews and their faith.
Smarter Kids - Safer Kids Booklet a Crucial Resource as School Year Approaches
As the beginning of the school year approaches and students across the country prepare to settle into their classes and extracurricular activity routines, it is as important as ever that children are educated about potential dangers such as stranger danger and sexual assault. With that in mind, we encourage you to download the free Smarter Kids - Safer Kids booklet on the B’nai B’rith International website in an easy-to-read format.
The booklet includes information about online security, practical information about what to do when alone at home, what to do if a child is lost or when he or she is faced with a situation that involves improper actions by someone they know. There are role-playing exercises and guided discussions that parents and guardians can use as a starting point to teach their children about how to stay safe. As the brochure says, “If one abduction is prevented, one life saved, this program will be a success.”
The guide has been used in communities across the United States at school assemblies as well as by parent groups. It is a tool that every parent should have about a subject that can be difficult and uncomfortable to discuss. Sometimes parents, who have been sure their children would never do something unsafe, are often surprised to learn that their children can be easily manipulated by offenders or misplace their trust.
The recently revised booklet was first introduced to communities in New Jersey in the late 1980s with material prepared by Ralph Froehlich, sheriff of Union County, N.J. The first version with a B’nai B’rith copyright was distributed in 1998.
You can find the free Smarter Kids - Safer Kids booklet by clicking here
. The booklet is also available in Spanish by request. Simply contact the B’nai B’rith Center for Community Action at firstname.lastname@example.org
B’nai B’rith International commends a Parliamentary Assembly committee in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for rejecting a Palestinian bid for observer status on July 7.
“The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s First Committee made the right decision. However, we remain concerned about the sustained Palestinian intention to bypass direct negotiations in favor of unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
Twenty-eight parliamentarians voted against observer status for the Palestinians, with 22 voting in favor and seven abstaining. The vote was taken at a meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s General Committee on Political Affairs and Security, or First Committee.
“This decision demonstrates that many officials in the OSCE region understand the need for the Palestinians to sit down at the negotiating table with Israel to discuss and resolve borders, security, and other crucial issues before the international community can consider recognition of a Palestinian state,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
Church, However, Recommended that Countries Disallow Settlement Products
B’nai B’rith International commends the commissioners at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for again resisting a formidable campaign for punitive, one-sided action on the Middle East. They chose positive investment instead of divestment, voting against a resolution supporting divestment from three American companies engaged in business with Israel. They also rejected the slurring of Israeli policy with the label of “apartheid.” However, the church did separately encourage countries to prohibit products made by Israelis in disputed territories.
From June 30 through July 7, the PC(USA) is convening in Pittsburgh for its General Assembly, the primary policymaking body of the 2 million-member mainline Protestant denomination.
By a vote of 333-331-2, delegates opted on July 5 to replace a church overture for divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard with one on constructive investment. This motion was later adopted by a vote of 369-290-8.
Although deliberations at the assembly continue, and some resolutions—including the one on goods made by Ahava and other companies producing in Palestinian-claimed territories—signal areas of important disagreement with our organization on Israel’s record and circumstances, a significant number of Presbyterians have continued to show their desire to avoid many of the most immoderate and harmful proposals.
They have done so in the face of assertions by some speakers that Israel is guilty of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing” and “the worst form of terrorism,” responsible for inspiring 9/11. One speaker, hinting at Presbyterian-Jewish relations, said that Jesus didn’t worry about relations with the Pharisees when he cleansed the Temple and challenged tax-collectors and priests.
Presbyterians working to enhance understanding of the complex conditions in the Middle East deserve appreciation for their efforts.
Several mainline Protestant denominations have debated and declined proposals to single out companies doing business with Israel for economic sanctions. Today, July 6, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, although not scheduled to consider divestment, will discuss resolutions on the Middle East, including several on investment issues and on adopting for study “Kairos Palestine,” an inflammatory 2009 Palestinian Christian document that called for indiscriminate boycotts of the Jewish state.
On July 2, B’nai B’rith International delivered an intervention at the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding the session’s deliberations on the patently anti-Israel agenda item 7, which addressed the “Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories.”
In his statement, Klaus Netter, B’nai B’rith International’s main Geneva representative, referred to the latest report by U.N. Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, which, “provides more evidence to justify the concerns we have repeatedly voiced about the inherent bias of his mandate, and the particular problem posed by having Mr. Falk carry out the reporting duty. He claims fairness in this report that he has made every effort to represent Israel's positions on the various issues fairly, but no truly objective reader would confirm that the text of the report, and in particular its recommendations, meets any standard of fairness.”
Netter continued that: “The report compares a jailed operative of the Islamic Jihad to Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi championed non-violence and peaceful coexistence; Islamic Jihad prefers suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians to achieve its objective of wiping Israel off the map.
“The report also again treats the terrorist organization Hamas with kid gloves. The Special Rapporteur gives Hamas a pass on the rocket fire continually raining down on Israeli civilians in an ever-expanding area. Since the start of this very session, Hamas launched dozens of rockets toward Israeli communities.
“Moreover, the Special Rapporteur volunteers utterly unsubstantiated claims about the alleged greater international media interest in Israelis' suffering, as compared to the Palestinians.
“Last but not least, we must again ask: For how long will the daily terrorism that Israeli civilians face continue to be ignored or minimized by this council, and by its Special Rapporteur?”
Click here to view a video of the B’nai B’rith intervention.
On June 29, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee voted to inscribe on an “emergency” basis the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as a site in “Palestine” on the agency’s World Heritage List. B’nai B’rith International condemns those who voted for this measure, among them France—which, unlike virtually all its counterparts, publicly announced its support for the measure in advance.
The Palestinians brought this to a vote on an “emergency” basis, insinuating that Israel had caused the site to become endangered. However, a World Heritage panel of experts determined that the church does not qualify for emergency consideration and recommended that the committee’s 21 member countries reject the Palestinian bid. Senior Christian leaders in the Holy Land had themselves quietly expressed opposition to the measure.
“The Palestinians have defamed Israel, and misappropriated a Christian holy site to this end, by insinuating that the wellbeing of the Church of the Nativity is threatened by Israel,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
The church, which remains in ongoing use and receives millions of tourists, is under the direct control of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians, then, should be expected to exercise their ability to provide the ancient site with the care it needs, if it needs care.
The measure passed by a vote of 13-6, with two abstentions. Though the vote was held by secret ballot, eligible voting members included Algeria, Cambodia, Colombia, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Iraq, Japan, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
“The Palestinians have once again successfully politicized the U.N. system to serve their goals, importing tension and conflict into the world body and devaluing the World Heritage process,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
At the same meeting, among other sites added to the World Heritage List were a series of four adjacent caves in the Mount Carmel region in northern Israel. These caves join six other Israeli sites already on the World Heritage List in the cultural category.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, who died June 30 at age 96, represents an indelible link to the founding of Israel. Mr. Shamir devoted his life to the Jewish State from its founding through to modern times.
Many major events in Israel’s short history include the participation of Mr. Shamir.
B’nai B’rith leaders worked with Mr. Shamir and his close advisors during his years as prime minister, and later as an elder statesman, on issues related to the security of Israel.
May his memory be a blessing.
B’nai B’rith International has opened its Disaster Relief Fund to help the victims of the unprecedented Colorado wildfires that have brought devastation to countless communities. Since the wildfires began, the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs has destroyed nearly 350 homes, the High Park fire has destroyed nearly 260 homes, and others have damaged dozens more. More than 30,000 residents have been forced to evacuate.
The U.S. Forest Service has warned that the fires may not be under control until mid-July.
“B’nai B’rith has helped disaster victims since 1865. We carefully evaluate needs and provide assistance during the immediate threat, but, just as importantly, we are there to help after the threat has subsided and when the rebuilding begins,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund aided victims of the 2012 tornadoes in the South and Midwest; supplied aid to victims of the famine in East Africa, the 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti; and provided humanitarian assistance to the Somali refugees fleeing violent conflict to Kenya.
“Our hearts go to all those affected in Colorado. As the United States and many parts of the world face extreme weather conditions that can impact our communities through natural disasters, B’nai B’rith is poised to respond. We will work with representatives of agencies and our members on the ground, to provide assistance,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
To help, donate online at our secure website by clicking here
. Or mail donations to B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief, 2020 K Street, NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20006.