During the opening weeks of the 65th session of the General Assembly, B’nai B’rith International met with world leaders to help them better understand the organization’s views on Israel, Middle East peace, human rights, and other issues facing the global community. Among the countries we met with were: Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belgium, Italy, Croatia, Russia, France, Hungary, Slovak Republic, India, Czech Republic, Romania, United Kingdom, Egypt, Oman, Chile, and also attended a meeting of Jewish leaders with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.
B'nai B'rith International was represented by: President Dennis W. Glick, Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, Senior Vice President Bruce Pascal, Board of Governors Member Dan Tartakovski, Honorary President Seymour Reich, Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn, Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels, Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Fusfield, and U.N. Affairs Program Officer Oren Drori.
B’nai B’rith has had an active presence in the United Nations since the world body was founded in San Francisco in 1945.
Minister Boris Borissov, of Bulgaria (left), Bulgarian Ambassador Elena Poptodorova (center), and Daniel S. Mariaschin (right).
Daniel S. Mariaschin, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, with President Dennis W. Glick (far right).
David Michaels, Daniel S. Mariaschin, and Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Fusfield with Mr. Edmond Haxhinasto (rear right) and Mal Berisha, Director of the General Directorate of Regional Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (rear left).
B’nai B’rith International welcomes United States Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe’s assessment of a biased and disproportionate U. N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) focus on Israel, in light of two new reports. The UNHRC received new prejudicial reports on Israel during its current session—including one on the Turkish flotilla incident of May 31 and a follow-up to the demands of last year’s Goldstone report on hostilities in Gaza.Specifically, Donahoe cited the flotilla fact-finding mission’s “flawed mandate” and “unbalanced language, tone and conclusions,” while reiterating the U.S. administration’s original opposition to the creation of a UNHRC committee monitoring compliance with the demands of the “deeply flawed” Goldstone report.
The report on the flotilla of activists seeking to violate a blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip ignores evidence of a violent, premeditated ambush of Israeli service members seeking to peacefully redirect the vessel and inspect its cargo. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in New York, Susan E. Rice, said in August that Israel’s agreement to participate in a panel of inquiry on the flotilla initiated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and complementing domestic Israeli investigations underway, “obviat[es] the need for any overlapping international inquiry.”
Yet Arab and Muslim members of the UNHRC recommend extension of the Goldstone “committee of experts” and that the U.N. General Assembly consider the latest council report on the May flotilla, and solicit new commentaries by High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. B’nai B’rith strongly appeals to member states to reject these transparent political maneuvers.
In a formal intervention before the UNHRC, B’nai B’rith agreed with President Obama’s assertion at this month’s General Assembly opening that “nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security.”
“The Human Rights Council continues to ignore genuine atrocities and systematic abuse around the world,” said B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick. “In choosing to dwell compulsively on maligning one side of one conflict, it violates the principle of non-partiality and betrays its use as a political tool.”
“The council has proven itself impervious to new, painstaking efforts toward peace,” said B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “Indeed, by exacerbating tensions and seeking to prevent any Israeli attempt to protect its citizens, the council only makes peace even more elusive.”
B’nai B’rith International has sent a letter to Royal Dutch Shell to express its deep disappointment that the oil giant has resumed business with the Iranian regime, despite recent international sanctions against Iran. In the letter, President Dennis W. Glick and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin wrote:
“In the spring, Royal Dutch Shell announced it had not supplied gasoline to Iran since 2009, and B’nai B’rith commended the company. But at the time, B’nai B’rith also expressed concern that Shell had not severed all ties with Tehran.
It appears now that Shell is continuing to do business with Iran, and is doing so on a major scale. Troubling new reports find that Shell did more than a billion dollars in business with Iran’s state-owned oil company in recent months.
B’nai B’rith has long viewed comprehensive, deep international sanctions against Iran as a vital component in efforts to stop Tehran’s development of nuclear weapons.
We sincerely hope that your company reconsiders doing business with Iran. The potential for international instability as a result of an Iranian nuclear weapons program should suggest to multinational corporations like yours that complying with international sanctions is the most responsible approach to this threat.”
Ahmadinejad Again Proves His Pariah Credentials
B’nai B’rith International commends the many nations that matched their convictions with action by walking out in protest as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered his latest hateful speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23.
Iran, with its unrelenting pursuit of nuclear weapons, poses perhaps the biggest threat to world security today. The principled stand taken by the nations that protested his speech reminds us that there are world leaders who won’t be complicit as the Tehran regime grows more belligerent.
During his sixth appearance on this global stage, Ahmadinejad stuck with his familiar anti-American and anti-Israel script and said the United States played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks in order to bolster its own economy and gain sympathy for Israel. Ahmadinejad said of Israel: "This regime, which enjoys the absolute support of some Western countries, regularly threatens the countries in the region and continues publicly announced assassination of Palestinian figures and others, while Palestinian defenders...are labeled as terrorists and anti-Semites.” His anti-Israel diatribe also included: "All values, even the freedom of expression, in Europe and the United States are being sacrificed at the altar of Zionism.”
Fortunately, many nations recognized his intentional and malicious misrepresentation of history and current events and chose not to listen. “It is an outrage that the United Nations continues to give Ahmadinejad a platform year after year,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “This man makes a mockery of the founding principles and guidelines of the United Nations. We commend those nations that said ‘enough’ and walked out.”
B’nai B’rith was encouraged to see the United States and many European nations leave the hall as Ahmadinejad spouted his conspiracy theories.
“For Iran to have this megaphone year after year is at odds with the purpose of the United Nations,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Ahmadinejad and his regime do not in any way abide by the U.N.’s human rights code which includes a commitment to the respect for human life. His contempt for global consensus is palpable. His deceit seems to know no bounds. Ahmadinejad oversees the largest and most active state-sponsored terrorism on earth. What is he doing speaking at the General Assembly?”
During the opening weeks of the 65th session of the General Assembly, B’nai B’rith International is meeting with world leaders to help them better understand the organization’s views on Israel, Middle East peace, human rights, and other issues facing the global community.
B’nai B’rith has had an active presence in the United Nations since the world body was founded in San Francisco in 1945.
Citing a new United Nations reprimand of Iran’s intransigence in persisting with nuclear activities, B’nai B’rith International sent letters to 186 U.N. missions expressing dismay over the Iranian president’s now-annual appearance before the General Assembly.In the letter, B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin say: “We are writing to urge your country’s delegation to the U.N. General Assembly to absent itself during any address by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
Ahmadinejad has addressed the General Assembly every year since 2005. On Sept. 13, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano again cited Iranian hampering of efforts to inspect the country’s multiplying nuclear facilities.
B’nai B’rith International says the U.N. should deny Ahmadinejad any platform to air his offensive and dangerous rhetoric. Glick and Mariaschin wrote: “In the past, we have asked government representatives to walk out upon any provocation—the likes of which, in the form of Holocaust-denial, anti-Semitism and threats of Israel’s destruction, have sadly come with great regularity—during speeches by Ahmadinejad. [W]e believe that Ahmadinejad’s amassed record of rhetoric, his policies of antidemocratic repression at home and vigorous sponsorship of terrorism abroad, and above all his accelerated nuclear program in violation of international obligations, make it imperative that Iran’s regime, and particularly its most visible and incendiary political figure, face consistent isolation and global opprobrium.”
B’nai B’rith commends those nations that have protested Ahmadinejad’s speeches in the past, and urges their continued resolve. “Over the past 18 months, many key governments have responded in a principled manner to appeals for denying Ahmadinejad the audience and credibility he seeks—thus sending an important public message. Now, as direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resume despite the violent obstructionists, we urge your country’s representatives to be absent during any appearance by Ahmadinejad, not least at the General Assembly in New York.”
Iranian cartoons mocking or denying the Holocaust—now forwarded to the U.N. missions by B’nai B’rith—are especially contemptible, and serve as a backdrop for the fanatical animosity that Ahmadinejad demonstrates toward the Jewish state. These materials reflect “the Iranian regime’s unrelenting anti-Zionism, which seamlessly presents a narrative denying past genocide—in contravention of General Assembly Resolution 61/255—while threatening a new one against a U.N. member state.”
B’nai B’rith International leaders are currently preparing for numerous high-level meetings with international delegations during the first two weeks of the General Assembly.
B’nai B’rith International welcomes the first face-to-face peace talks in nearly two years. It is encouraging to see the parties sit down together. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for a peace agreement that will enable “both peoples to live in peace, security, and dignity,” is one all sides should work to fulfill.“Israel wants peace,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Israel has never known a time when its neighbors didn’t threaten. Has never known a time when its sons and daughters didn’t have to wear a military uniform to protect the nation; when walking into a restaurant or a shopping mall or boarding a bus did not have some inherent danger. The opportunity provided by direct negotiations to change that is welcome.”
A summit of this magnitude hopefully will establish a level of trust. But as always in talk of peace, the Palestinians have to prove they are willing to compromise in order to effectuate an agreement.
Palestinians must once and for all address the issue of incitement and work to educate for peace. Even amid peace talks in Washington, back in the Middle East too many aspects of Palestinian life are dominated by denigrating Jews. There are still streets and squares being named after suicide bombers, speeches in mosques railing against Jews and Israel, children’s television programs still feed young minds hateful messages, and school textbooks still don’t acknowledge Israel’s existence.
And of course there is the ever-present question of what these negotiations mean, since the other half of Palestinians are represented by a terrorist group—Hamas—which does not recognize Israel, calls for its destruction, and engages in terror attacks against the Jewish people.
“As Jews we have to be optimistic, skeptical, and cynical, all at the same time,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The resumption of peace talks represents a good start. Early indications seem to point to some breakthroughs, especially the agreement to meet again. Hopefully this new beginning in Washington will lead to something positive and lasting.”
Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet in two weeks, and then hold bi-monthly meetings after that.
B’nai B’rith International commends The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and representatives of Holocaust survivors for coming to an amicable agreement regarding the troubling issue of posthumous baptisms of Holocaust victims. The practice by individual Mormons of proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims has been an ongoing source of contention between the LDS Church and the Jewish community. Expanding upon previous insistence that baptisms of Holocaust victims not be performed by those not closely related to the deceased, or lacking the permission of their family members, technology will be used to certify compliance with this policy or the removal of inappropriate entries. As a joint Mormon-Jewish statement said, this commitment to respecting the sensitivities of Holocaust survivors and their families will aid in advancing cooperation on humanitarian work and building on Israeli hospitality for young Mormons studying in Jerusalem.
“The LDS Church has taken positive steps in solidifying its commitment to friendship with the Jewish people,” said B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick. “Respect for the Jewish identity of Holocaust victims is naturally a highly sensitive matter, and we are glad to see new movement in resolving the problems of the past.”
“With proper oversight and continued goodwill, these measures should go a considerable way toward deepening interreligious understanding,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Mormons and Jews harbor theological differences, but also have a great deal of core values in common.”
B’nai B’rith leaders and staff made two trips to Salt Lake City to meet with church leaders and visit LDS institutions last year.