In light of the destruction Hurricane Irene has wrought on the United States’ East Coast, B’nai B’rith International has opened its disaster relief fund to help those affected by this natural catastrophe. As the hurricane barreled along the coast its accompanying gale-force winds and heavy rains forced prolonged evacuations, massive flooding, extensive power outages and widespread damage.
“Helping those affected by disasters has been integral to B’nai B’rith’s mission for more than 150 years,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “During this time of widespread flooding and resulting damage, we must band together to help those in the greatest need.”
The B’nai B’rith International Disaster Relief Fund has provided aid to populations affected by natural and man-made catastrophes domestically and around the world since 1865, including the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes of 2010, the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., and the 2011 earthquake in Japan. We continue to collect funds to help with the devastating famine in East Africa.
Tax deductible donations can be made via the B’nai B’rith secure server by clicking here
Donations may also be made by mail to: B’nai B’rith International Disaster Relief Fund, Attn: Hurricane Irene Disaster Relief Fund, 2020 K Street, NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20006.
B’nai B’rith International praises Australia for deciding to boycott the commemoration of the World Conference against Racism at the United Nations in September in New York. The event will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the first conference, which Australia did not attend. Although meant to combat global racism, the conference was reduced to a racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate fest. This was followed in 2009 by a review conference, which Australia also did not attend.
The conference’s initial goal of addressing and combating racism has been replaced by attempts to isolate Israel in the international community by demonizing and delegitimizing the Jewish state.
The second conference, in 2009, featured Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a speaker, and only furthered the denigration of Israel. This year’s commemoration, by affirming the original Durban Declaration and Programme of Action that had singled out Israel for implied characterization as racist, can unfortunately be expected to yield similar disdain of the ideals it claims to represent.
Australia joins the ranks of Canada, Israel, the United States, the Czech Republic, Italy and The Netherlands in their decision not to attend 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.
B’nai B’rith International has condemned Lebanon for preventing the U.N. Security Council from issuing a presidential statement formally denouncing the Aug. 18 terrorist attacks in southern Israel. The Security Council statement was thwarted when Lebanon, a non-permanent member of the council, demanded it include criticism of Israeli “bombardment” of Gaza. Security Council presidential statements can only be issued with unanimous consent of all 15 council members.
“Israel has the basic right of any sovereign state to defend itself. To assert an equivalency in which the victim is challenged for defending itself is patently absurd,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “This is yet another example of the United Nations turning a blind eye when it comes to attacks against the Jewish state and to portray her as an aggressor rather than the aggrieved party.”
The attacks last Thursday, which killed eight—including a family of four and Israeli soldiers—and injured at least 25, began when Palestinian terrorists from Gaza struck a bus near Eilat, followed shortly thereafter by the detonation of two nearby roadside bombs.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin called the actions of Lebanon “one more example of the hideous campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel. One could expect nothing less to come from a country controlled by the terrorist organization Hezbollah.”
B’nai B’rith International commends the White House for calling for the immediate resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad and announcing what it called “unprecedented sanctions” against the regime. Syria’s ruling regime has perpetrated a brutal crackdown against the Syrian people, killing 2,000 since March.
“President Assad has shown a chilling disregard for human rights. B’nai B’rith stands with the international community in calling for maximal action against the Syrian regime,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
Even though Assad has claimed actions against pro-democracy protestors have stopped, these assertions belie today’s reports of the shooting of protesters. His calls for reform, as President Obama stated, “have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering his own people.” The United Kingdom, France and Germany issued simultaneous statements calling for Assad’s resignation, followed shortly after by the European Union. Several Arab nations have also denounced Assad’s actions.
U.N. human rights investigators also released a report charging that Assad’s actions “may amount to crimes against humanity.” The United Nations plans to hold an emergency session Aug. 22 to address the escalating violence.
“Assad has violated international law. For the sake of his citizens, we hope the U.N. Security Council will indeed refer his case to the International Criminal Court,” said Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
B’nai B’rith International has been active at the United Nations since its inception and has a full-time office dedicated to U.N. affairs.
Egyptian Authorities Must Drastically Increase Security in Sinai
B’nai B’rith International condemns the Aug. 18 terrorist attacks along Israel’s border with Egypt and calls upon the Egyptian government to drastically increase security in the Sinai Peninsula. The attacks, which killed at least seven—including a family of four and Israeli soldiers—and injured at least 25, began when Palestinian gunmen from Gaza struck a bus near Eilat, followed shortly thereafter by the detonation of two nearby roadside bombs.
“The ability of these infiltrators from Gaza to perpetrate these attacks suggests Egypt’s decreasing attention to enforcing security in Sinai,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “We call upon Egypt to ensure there is no safe haven for terrorists inside its borders. Terrorists must not be allowed to use the Sinai as a launching ground for attacks against Israel.”
Israel and Egypt have had diplomatic relations for nearly 30 years. These attacks represent an appalling disregard for human life and only seek to worsen tensions in the Middle East.
“We cannot tolerate a situation that allows extremists to spread both terrorism and hatred in the area,” said Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “Those in the international community who recognize the threat posed by these acts of terror must redouble their efforts to fight against such atrocities.”
Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) Fraternity members participated in a B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund-sponsored service project to help victims of the tornadoes and flooding that hit the U.S. South and Midwest last spring at the organization’s annual convention. A group of 575 Jewish fraternity students from across the United States, Canada, Israel and St Andrews, Scotland, met in Orlando at the Alpha fraternity’s annual convention, which took place from Aug. 10-15.
The brothers created 1,000 disaster relief kits that contained home accessories, personal hygiene items, children activity materials and school supplies. The kits are being sent to agencies that assist children and their families impacted by the disasters in several states. Boxes are currently on their way to Missouri and Tennessee. Every kit contained a personal message from the convention attendees, sending their good wishes for recovery from this disaster and a start of a new year in school.
“Our partnership with AEPi allows us to continue the B’nai B’rith tradition of service with the next generation of Jewish leaders,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The brothers of AEPi are committed to the Jewish religious tradition of tikkum olam, repairing the world.”
This is the second year that disaster relief has been a focus of the convention’s community service project. In New Orleans, 350 AEPi brothers cleaned and planted trees in City Park, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
AEPi’s 98th Anniversary Convention activities included the honorary initiation of B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs, where he was presented with the fraternity pin. Andy Borans, AEPi director, B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, Vice President of Programming Rhonda Love, Young Leadership Director Renee Howard and Cary Wolovick, program coordinator for B’nai B’rith’s Midwest Region, were also present. Mariaschin spoke at the convention’s Friday night Shabbat dinner.
“We are so proud to work with the AEPi Fraternity,” Mariaschin said. “Their mission combines Jewish community heritage and a desire to make the world a better place is in line with B’nai B’rith’s core values of service and advocacy.
B’nai B’rith supports a demonstration organized by the Youth Zionist Federation and co-sponsored by the Israelite Central Committee, the local B’nai B’rith chapter, and other local Jewish organizations, rallying against Holocaust denial statements recently made by Iranian Ambassadorto Uruguay Hojjatollaj Soltani. Soltani’s statement, made at a public meeting, included the claim “Maybe some thousand Jews died, were murdered. But that figure of two million, four million, six million, that is a lie…”
The rally’s slogan “Against the Extermination of Memory,” embodies the reaction against Iranian attempts to deny the existence of the horrors of the Holocaust. In addition to Soltani’s words, the demonstration is also a reaction to the Iranian Minister of External Relations for Europe and America Ali Ahani's announced trip to Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay.
“The visit of Iran's Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi to Bolivia a few months ago—a man who is on an INTERPOL wanted list for his role in the planning of the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994— and Ahani’s upcoming visit to the region shows that Iran continues with its plan to dangerously expand its influence in the region,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
Though the Uruguayan government condemned the statements, many in the community feel that Soltani should have also been declared persona non grata, to prevent the continuation of the anti-Semitic agenda Iran is trying to promote in the region.
“It is difficult to understand why even democratic and peace loving countries in Latin America are willing to welcome the leaders of a regime that not only denies the Holocaust and sponsors terrorism but also terrorizes its own population,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
B’nai B’rith will continue to monitor Iran’s incursions into Latin America.
Healy Was Instrumental in Getting Israel Accepted into International Red Cross
Upon learning of the death of NIH, American Red Cross and American Heart Association leader Dr. Bernadine Healy, B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International mourns the loss of Bernadine Healy, a leader and advocate for the National Institutes of Health, American Red Cross, and American Heart Association.
In addition to initiating many reforms and improvements to the domestic and international health landscape, Healy strongly advocated for the inclusion of Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s emergency services agency, into the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
As president of the American Red Cross, Healy spoke out in support of MDA in Geneva, headquarters of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, urging the latter to discontinue its discriminatory policy of excluding the Israeli humanitarian organization from its ranks.
Healy withheld American Red Cross dues from the International Committee of the Red Cross in protest of the Committee’s decision to continue to bar MDA from inclusion. This courageous and principled decision met with opposition from her own board and ultimately led to her ouster, she later said.
Magen David Adom was admitted to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in 2006. Healy’s tireless work toward the realization of this goal is a testament to the power of one person to make a significant and lasting contribution to the world.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith urges the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution addressing the myriad human rights abuses by the Syrian regime in the face of the country’s popular uprising. Such a resolution, which the council rejected this week, would have condemned the violent and oppressive regime in Syria and ordered a U.N. investigation of that country.
A statement issued by the presidency of the Security Council condemned the brutal Syrian crackdown, but did not go nearly far enough in rectifying the horrific situation imposed on the people of Syria by the ruling regime. It is necessary to escalate U.N. involvement in Syria to prevent such atrocities from continuing.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International Latin America leaders met with Vice Prime Minister of Israel Moshe Ya’alon during his visit to Lima, Peru, for the July 25 inauguration of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala.
In the meeting with Benami Grobman, president of B’nai B’rith Peru, Daniel Schydlowsky, past president of B’nai B’rith Peru, the Israeli Ambassador Yoav Baron and other Jewish leaders, the group discussed the Palestinians’ push for unilateral recognition of statehood before the next U.N. General Assembly and the situation in the Middle East.
Ya’alon also met with Humala, Peruvian Prime Minister Salomon Lerner, Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo and Defense Minister Daniel Mora.
Ya’alon will be a featured speaker at the 2011 B’nai B’rith Policy Conference in Montevideo, Uruguay,