B’nai B’rith meets with dozens of heads of state and government to urge constructive approach to peace, immediate stop to Iran’s nuclear program
At the start of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed that the Palestinians will pursue non-member observer state status at the world body, following an abortive attempt at full recognition of statehood at the Security Council last year.
B’nai B’rith International—which has coordinated communal leadership meetings this week with dozens of presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other national delegation heads—condemns efforts by Palestinians to unilaterally advance a statehood drive outside of the direct negotiations with Israel required by previous agreements.
Among the many countries whose leaders B’nai B’rith is meeting this week are those from Russia, Jordan, Germany, France, Hungary, Chile, Greece, Azerbaijan and Italy.
“Palestine,” a not-yet-existent state, would only need the approval of the General Assembly to be upgraded to non-member observer state status, in contrast with the need for Security Council endorsement for full-fledged U.N. membership. In his speech, Abbas slandered Israel by accusing it of a “system of apartheid” and “campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people.” He also insisted that the Palestinians have continually tried to engage the Israelis in talks to peacefully end the conflict, but to no avail. In fact, it is Israel that has repeatedly pleaded for serious, direct negotiations without preconditions.
“It is senseless that Abbas has returned to the United Nations with a pyrrhic plan to elevate ‘Palestine’ within the organization, rather than seeking peace through meaningful, comprehensive bilateral talks and real compromise,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “He’s undermining and trying to avoid a negotiations process the Palestinians have now rejected for years. He also again engaged in demonization of his Israeli neighbors and counterparts. There should be no place for lies, such as those he uttered at the United Nations.”
Shortly following Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly. He said, “We won’t solve our conflicts with libelous speeches at the U.N.” and called for a “demilitarized Palestine to recognize the one and only Jewish state.”
In his remarks, Netanyahu emphasized the acute urgency of addressing Iran’s ongoing, illicit nuclear pursuit and delineated the point at which definitive international intervention in the nuclear program would become essential.
“At this late hour, there’s only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs and that’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program,” Netanyahu said. Using an illustration, he pointed to three stages of uranium enrichment needed for nuclear weapons development and drew a red line between the second and third stages. The Iranians are well into the second stage of uranium enrichment, the prime minister noted, and will soon be ready to move on to, and expedite, the third.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu was right to set a clear point of no return for the international community in its response to Iranian uranium enrichment,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, who joined Jacobs and other B’nai B’rith leaders in conducting the organization’s marathon engagement with senior government officials this week.
“Israel’s existential security, along with the stability of the Middle East and the world beyond, hinges upon whether Iran can be prevented from reaching the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. Again this week in New York, Iran’s president—reflecting leadership consensus in Tehran—expressly reiterated his anticipation of Israel’s demise.”
Active at the United Nations since its inception, B’nai B’rith will continue over the coming days to meet with world leaders in an effort to highlight priority Jewish concerns, beginning with Iran’s dangerous policies as well as Palestinian refusal to engage in constructive peacemaking with the Jewish state.
The process of transferring our pension to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has been going on for well over a year. We were relieved when the PBGC accepted our claim.
The ability to meet pension obligations is wholly separate from our capability to fully continue with our programs and projects here at home and around the world.
A number of non-profits with defined pension plans, as well as for-profit organizations, have asked for the assistance of the PBGC and continue to thrive. With the help of the PBGC, B’nai B’rith is now on sound financial footing to move forward with our mission.
It was not an easy decision to ask the PBGC for help. But the request was made for a greater good—to continue the good works we do, and to ensure former employees and current pension-eligible employees will have their pensions when they need them.
The PBGC was created to ensure people are covered in their retirement, and B’nai B’rith paid insurance to the PBGC to help the agency meet its obligations.
The world economic situation dating to 2008 took a toll on B’nai B’rith and countless other non-profit organizations. That, coupled with new Pension Protection Act regulations which inadvertently placed an insurmountable burden on B’nai B’rith and countless other organizations, meant we had to act.
Even the PBGC told JTA: “In this case they really tried their best to support this pension plan,” the PBGC spokesman said. “What with the economy being what it is for charitable organizations and donations, it’s difficult. They applied for protection from us and we were there to support them as we should be.”
The pension decision allows us to look ahead and focus on the kind of work we have been rightly recognized for the world over during nearly 170 years of service.
B’nai B’rith’s appeal to the PBGC was a strategic decision that allows us to focus on our mission. Our work in pro-Israel advocacy, human rights, public policy, seniors issues and disaster and humanitarian assistance continues. At our recent spectacular policy conference the full range of what B’nai B’rith can do was on impressive display.
The economy worldwide is still struggling. That has impacted charitable giving across the board—suppressing giving while increasing need. B’nai B’rith, the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organization, is launching its 170th year of service. We move forward with a strong sense of purpose, and knowing that our tough decision on the pension has lead to long-term greater stability.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International condemns in the strongest possible terms the fire bombing of a Kosher supermarket in the Parisian suburb of Sarcelles. The deplorable act was committed on Sept. 19 when two men dressed in black threw what is reported to be Molotov cocktails into the busy market. At least one person was wounded. The attack took place one day after Rosh Hashanah and a week before Yom Kippur when the supermarket would undoubtedly be bustling.
This senseless act is intolerable. B’nai B’rith supports the French authorities in their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
These widely celebrated authors, well-known for their outspoken political views, are not merely polemicists, however, the article by Deputy Editor Seth Shapiro notes. They are above all literary stylists whose themes are universal, transcending sectarian and national boundaries.
In addition to describing the appeal of Israeli literature to readers in other countries, the fall 2012 issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine includes a feature by writer Hillel Kuttler on the Kibbutz Lavi furniture factory, which exports its customized pews, lecterns and various other wooden products to synagogues worldwide.
Bruce H. Wolk tells the little-known story of North American World War II veterans who secretly participated in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. Known as Machalniks, they skirted U.S. government restrictions to aid the Israeli cause, clandestinely traveling to Israel to serve in the hastily-formed Israeli Air Force that desperately needed their skills.
Modern-day Jewish communities are taking innovative approaches to bolstering their numbers. Writer Uriel Heilman looks at the growing trend of Jewish communities offering financial incentives to new families.
Elsewhere in the magazine, B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin delves into B’nai B’rith’s history and presence across Europe. Writer Deborah Rubin Fields explores her family history in Europe through a trove of early 20th-century postcards discovered by her British cousin.
to read the fall 2012 issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine.
Israeli authors Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua are widely considered the pre-eminent Israeli authors to have penetrated the global book market. In this issue, B’nai B’rith Magazine looks at their careers and their work that often blends the personal and political to examine the complexity of life in the Jewish state.
B’nai B’rith has issued the following statement.
B’nai B’rith International deplores the rocket attack in Benghazi, Libya on the U.S. consulate that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American security staff. Stevens was the main United States representative in Tripoli and served as the envoy to the rebel movement in Libya that overthrew Moammar Gadhafi.
This attack, along with the attack on the U.S. consulate in Cairo, Egypt hours earlier, is unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest words possible. There is absolutely no justification for these barbaric acts.
Some have cited inflammatory video material as justification for the attack. The video in question is offensive and contrary to the ideals of religious tolerance, but it cannot be used to substantiate such acts of violence.
Stevens honored the United States with his long and devoted service.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) talked about the “ideological rigidity that makes it hard to get things done in Washington,” but noted the one issue that seems to transcend party lines is Iran.
Lieberman favors tougher sanctions against Iran. But, he said that if those harsher sanctions do not work, and with all options on the table, a more formal international coalition led by the United States should address the issue. The Israel-U.S. Relationship Today: Ambassador Michael Oren
Michael Oren, ambassador of Israel to the United States, outlined the “array” and “magnitude” of threats currently facing the State of Israel.
He called Iran’s nuclear ambitions “the greatest threat looming over our horizon…of monumental proportions.”
Oren also said, “Israel is in a better geopolitical strategic situation today than it has been [before].” He noted Israel’s “excellent relations” with countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. He mentioned Israel’s expanding economic relationships with India, China and the United States.
Oren expressed his gratitude to B’nai B’rith for its devotion to the State of Israel in good times and bad. “You’ve always been there with us,” Oren said, and he has “full confidence that Israel and B’nai B’rith will always be together.” Allan J. Jacobs Re-Elected President of B’nai B’rith International
Allan J. Jacobs of Lake Forest, Ill., was re-elected president of B’nai B’rith International and immediately begins a three-year term.
During his first term, Jacobs led numerous B’nai B’rith delegations on global missions that included meetings with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Pope Benedict XVI and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, among others.
Jacobs has spoken out against Iran’s relentless quest for nuclear weapons as well as the Iranian infiltration into Latin America. He has called for the fair treatment of Israel at all U.N. venues, spoken out against global human rights abuses and advocated for senior citizens. Gary P. Saltzman of Centennial, Colo., Reappointed Chairman of the Executive Committee
Gary P. Saltzman was reappointed chairman of the Executive Committee of B’nai B’rith International.
The chairman of the Executive Committee (COE) is the No. 2 volunteer leadership position in the organization. It is the COE’s responsibility to serve as direct liaison between staff and volunteers and carry out other internal and external responsibilities of the organization. Jonathan Sarna, Author of “When General Grant Expelled the Jews”
Jonathan Sarna signed copies of his book and discussed the idea of Jewish unity. He said all Jews are part of one group; they’re interrelated and part of an extended family. Sarna also spoke of the “mutual sense of responsibility” in the Jewish community. Sarna said his latest book was greatly impacted by the B’nai B’rith archives. The Jewish Community and the 2012 Presidential Election: Democratic and Republican Perspectives Michael Levy, board member of the National Jewish Democratic Council, and Mark Isakowitz, board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, debated the merits of the Democratic and Republican candidates in the upcoming presidential election. B’nai B’rith also hosted former congressman
Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), speaking on behalf of Barack Obama’s campaign, and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), speaking on behalf of Mitt Romney’s campaign. Homeland Security and the Faith-Based Community: John Cohen
John Cohen, the principal deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, spoke about the evolving threat to the Jewish community in America. Information-sharing partnerships with organizations like B’nai B’rith and local synagogues, Cohen said, enable his department to ensure the safety of Jewish communities across the country. Righting the Wrongs of the Holocaust: Ambassador Douglas Davidson
Douglas Davidson, State Department special envoy for Holocaust issues, discussed continued efforts to attain a measure of justice by compensating Holocaust victims for the moral and criminal atrocities perpetrated against them. He spoke about his efforts to circumvent costly and time-consuming litigation as a means of compensation for the remaining survivors. Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights
Michael Posner said he is disturbed by the reports of anti-Semitism around the world and that the State Department is teaching its employees how to monitor and respond to them. Posner said the most effective way to combat anti-Semitism and root it out from future generations is to encourage responsible leadership and change hateful teaching curriculums.
“We must brace ourselves for a long struggle,” Posner said. “The fight against anti-Semitism is a marathon, not a sprint.” Click here to read the full remarks. Housing Conference
The policy conference was held in conjunction with the B’nai B’rith conference on senior housing. The speakers included: Candi Atkins, housing consultant; Michael Bodaken, president of the National Housing Trust; Marvin Siflinger, chair of the B’nai B’rith Senior Housing Committee; Conrad Egan, senior adviser of the Affordable Housing Institute; Greg Case, director of the Office for Supportive and Caregiving Services, U.S. Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Nancy Libson, associate director of Housing Strategy and Leading Age.
At the conclusion of the policy conference, those in attendance met with members of Congress and their staffs on Capitol Hill to discuss the issues of the day.
B’nai B’rith members and supporters from across the United States and the world gathered in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8 to 11 to discuss what the state of the Jewish world will be in five years and to kick off the 170th anniversary of the organization. B’nai B’rith hosted Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, among other speakers, and Allan J. Jacobs was re-elected president of B’nai B’rith.
Michael Oren, ambassador of Israel to the United States, outlined the “array” and “magnitude” of threats currently facing the State of Israel at the B’nai B’rith policy conference.
Calling Iran’s nuclear ambitions “the greatest threat looming over our horizon…of monumental proportions,” Oren outlined the multifaceted nature of the threat. A nuclear-armed Iran would not only have the ability to target any Israeli city, but it could open the door for terrorists and other Middle Eastern nations to access nuclear arms as well. Should Iran develop nuclear weapons, “[it] presents not one, but an assortment of existential threats to the Jewish state,” Oren said.
Closer to Israel’s borders, Oren detailed developing concerns with the Sinai Peninsula and Syria. After witnessing an influx of terrorist activity, Israel has taken measures to secure its border with the Sinai and curb missile fire into its southern cities. As the civil war continues to rage in Syria, Oren expressed worry that Syria’s stockpile of chemical and biological weapons could fall into Hezbollah’s possession and be used against Israel.
While recognizing the continuing threats facing Israel, Oren expressed optimism regarding the Jewish state’s ability to counter those threats both militarily and diplomatically. In curbing the effectiveness of rocket fire into Israel, he noted the success rate of the iron dome, the first anti-ballistic missile system in military history.
Oren also said, “Israel is in a better geopolitical strategic situation today than it has been [before].” He noted Israel’s “excellent relations” with countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. He mentioned Israel’s expanding economic relationships with India, China and the United States. “Today, Israel is a powerhouse,” Oren said in terms of the Jewish state’s technological achievements and economic advancements.
Regarding Israel’s relationship with the United States, Oren said the two nations are “intensely close” and “see eye to eye” on most issues. Both the United States and Israel are committed to a two-state solution that guarantees Israel’s security and oppose the unilateral declarations of statehood pursued by the Palestinians at the United Nations.
Oren expressed his gratitude to B’nai B’rith for its devotion to the State of Israel in good times and bad. “You’ve always been there with us,” Oren said, and he has “full confidence that Israel and B’nai B’rith will always be together.”
Watch Ambassador Oren's Keynote Address
At the B’nai B’rith International Policy Conference, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) talked about the “ideological rigidity that makes it hard to get things done in Washington,” but noted the one issue that seems to transcend party lines is Iran.
In a diverse nation, you cannot expect to get 100 percent of what you want; that’s where compromise comes in, Lieberman said. But that is not happening in Washington, and therefore problems are not getting solved.
“The future is compromised if the sides can’t get together,” Lieberman said. He also said “bipartisan leadership is more essential than ever.”
Lieberman lamented that one of the worst effects of partisanship makes political leaders risk averse. He says you can’t be a leader if you are worried about everyone liking you.
In noting how rare bipartisan spirit is in Congress, he said Iran is a point if agreement.
Lieberman favors tough sanctions against Iran. But he said that while harsher sanctions are necessary, if they do not work, and with all options on the table, a more formal international coalition led by the United States should address the issue. He noted that the Iranian nuclear program is moving forward and that Iran is pushing ahead with its uranium enrichment program.
After saying that Iran is the greatest threat to world security today, calling it a fanatical regime and the top state-sponsor of terror—he noted that there could be a cascade of proliferation in the world if Iran has nuclear weapons.
Lieberman described the issue of Iran as an exception to the rule of partisanship in Washington, calling Iran a unique bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill.
B’nai B’rith International presented Lieberman with the Excellence in Statesmanship Award.
Watch Senator Lieberman's Keynote Address
Allan J. Jacobs of Lake Forest, Ill., was re-elected president of B’nai B’rith International, the world’s oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organization, by the Board of Governors at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
Jacobs immediately begins a three-year term.
During his first term, Jacobs led numerous B’nai B’rith delegations on global missions that included meetings with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Pope Benedict XVI and Jordan’s King Abdullah II, among others.
Jacobs has spoken out against Iran’s relentless quest for nuclear weapons as well as the Iranian infiltration into Latin America. He has called for the fair treatment of Israel at all U.N. venues, spoken out against global human rights abuses and advocated for senior citizens.
Jacobs has been an active B’nai B’rith member for nearly 50 years. Beginning at his local lodge, Jacobs has advanced within the organization to serve as international treasurer, chairman of the Executive Committee and a senior vice president prior to ascending to the international presidency.
“I’m honored to continue leading an organization that means so much to me,” Jacobs said. “During my time as president, I have been steadfast in my commitment to the values and mission of B’nai B’rith. I pledge to continue the nearly 170-year B’nai B’rith mission, promoting human rights around the world, speaking out on behalf of the global Jewish community and Israel, providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief and advocating on behalf of seniors.
A CPA by training, Jacobs works as counsel at Evoy, Kamschulte Jacobs and Co., LLP Certified Public Accountants, in Lake Forest. He is also chairman of the board of Northern States Financial Corporation and NorStates Bank, a member of the American Institute of CPAs and past president of the Lake County Estate Planning Council. Jacobs also served as chairman of the audit committee for the city of Lake Forest from 2006 to 2012.
Joining Jacobs in B’nai B’rith’s leadership administration are senior vice presidents Ira Bartfield, Arlington, Va.; Leon Birbragher, Bogota, Colombia; Daniel Citone, Rome; Haim Katz, Jerusalem; Charles Kaufman, Austin, Texas; Rosalind Klein, Northridge, Calif.; Chairman of the Executive Committee Gary P. Saltzman, Centennial, Colo.; Treasurer Seth. J. Riklin, Sugar Land, Texas; and B’nai B’rith International Court of Appeals Chief Justice William K. Peirez, Great Neck, N.Y.
Gary P. Saltzman, of Centennial, Colo., was re-appointed chairman of the Executive Committee of B’nai B’rith International, the world’s oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organization, by President Allan J. Jacobs at the annual Board of Governors meeting in Washington, D.C.
The chairman of the Executive Committee (COE) is the No. 2 volunteer leadership position in the organization. It is the COE’s responsibility to serve as direct liaison between staff and volunteers and carry out other internal and external responsibilities of the organization.
During his first term, Saltzman represented B’nai B’rith at a variety of domestic and international venues.
“It’s been a true privilege to serve in this position for an organization that has been such a big part of my life for so long,” Saltzman said. “B’nai B’rith has evolved over the years and yet still stays true to its founding principles.”
Saltzman has been an active member of B’nai B’rith for more than 35 years. Prior to his current role as chairman of the Executive Committee, Saltzman held numerous leadership positions, including active involvement in the leadership of BBYO on behalf of B’nai B’rith International. He remains a member of the Denver Lodge board.
Professionally, Saltzman is a Certified Public Accountant with the Wenner Group, LLC and a registered investment advisor with Transitions Wealth Management, LLC.
Saltzman’s leadership skills were spotted early. In 1989 he was named a Label A. Katz Young Leadership Award winner, which is given annually to individuals under 45 who have demonstrated outstanding service to the totality of B'nai B'rith and have worked to achieve the goals of the B'nai B'rith Young Leadership program.
This year, Rebecca Saltzman, Gary’s daughter, earned the Label A. Katz Young