B’nai B’rith International has opened its Disaster Relief Fund to help the victims of the massive and powerful Hurricane Sandy, that has cut a deadly and destructive path across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast United States.
The storm packed high winds and incredible sea surges as it downed trees and cut power to about six million people along the most densely packed portion of the country.
“Even with detailed advance warnings, the destruction Hurricane Sandy has left behind is extraordinary. B’nai B’rith has helped disaster victims since 1865. Each disaster we help with has its own unique challenges. As always, we will carefully evaluate needs and provide assistance to address immediate needs and longer term rebuilding efforts,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund aided victims of the 2012 tornadoes in the South and Midwest; provided 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.
“Each disaster demonstrates how we all must work together to help our fellow citizens. We will work with representatives of agencies and our members on the ground to provide assistance where it is needed in the wake of this unprecedented storm,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
To help, donate online at our secure website by clicking here
Or mail a donation to B'nai B'rith Disaster Relief, 2020 K Street, NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20006.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
It is deeply troubling to see Argentine officials meeting with Iranian leaders for the second time this month in what could be a short-circuiting of justice, to discuss the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded 300.
The first meeting took place at the United Nations in New York; the Oct. 29 meeting at the United Nations in Geneva.
Iran, the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror, is widely acknowledged to be behind the AMIA attack. Officials from the top levels of the government were named by an Argentine prosecutor’s report as being responsible for the bombing. Interpol issued arrest warrants for the attack, but no arrests have been made.
At the time of the first meeting, we noted it was clear Tehran was using the encounter to advance its own interests in the region.
After the first meeting, Argentina stated it would negotiate with Iran to find a solution acceptable to both parties in the AMIA case. But such a political negotiation could violate Argentina’s own constitution, which calls for the extradition of those accused in the attack. Accordingly, no political negotiation can be done while there is a judicial investigation.
It has been 18 years, and still no one has ever been brought to justice in the gruesome attack. These meetings will only serve to bury any investigation in negotiations that are unlikely to result in any justice.
Iran has steadily infiltrated Latin America, creating strong and dangerous ties with Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador. These meetings Argentina is holding give undue legitimacy to a terror-sponsoring regime.
If Tehran were truly interested in aiding the investigation, it would surrender to Interpol or Argentine officials those named as responsible for the AMIA attack.
B’nai B’rith International is outraged by United Nations Human Rights Council special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories Richard Falk’s advocacy of boycotts against multiple companies engaged in business with Israel.
In a report to the U.N. General Assembly, Falk alleged that such major businesses as Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Motorola and Volvo have violated international law through perceived complicity in Israeli policies of which he stridently disapproves. These include efforts to protect Israeli communities in Palestinian-claimed territories. Falk “calls on civil society to vigorously pursue initiatives to boycott, divest and sanction” those companies and added that “further investigations... may lead to additional attention” directed at other companies.
“All reasonable people should reject Falk’s newest acts of division and discrimination,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Once again, his aim is to unfairly single out Israel and to undercut both its security and those who are engaged constructively with it. In turn, he poses a threat to progress and to peace.”
Falk’s latest report follows a history of outrageous statements and actions, including suggestions that the U.S. government may have had involvement in the 9/11 attacks and his posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog. In recent posts, he has written that “Israeli insistence upon treating Hamas as ‘a terrorist organization’ has blocked a political solution” and that the governing process in the United States is under a “threefold bondage to Wall Street, the Pentagon and Israel.”
“Falk has a track record of baseless, vile attacks on Israel, so his latest attempt to harm and isolate the Jewish state isn’t a surprise,” Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “What is especially disturbing is that he still has a platform to do so. It is disgraceful that he is allowed to present his ‘recommendations’ to the U.N.”
Falk’s biased mandate at the United Nations, and his exploitation of it to malign and delegitimize Israel, remain a tragic but accurate reflection of the Human Rights Council’s record in the Middle East. The council, situated in Geneva, has provided for Falk’s continuing role at the world body.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International commends the European Parliament for voting in favor of the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA), a technical agreement within the European Union-Israel Trade Agreement designed to facilitate and ease pharmaceutical trade.
The ACAA will allow Israeli pharmaceutical companies to export their products to the EU without having to obtain additional certification outside of domestic approval. This is recognition of the high standards of the Israeli pharmaceutical industry, an area where Israel has been a pioneer of quality and excellence.
B’nai B’rith International also applauds the Members of the European Parliament who passed the ACAA with a total of 379 votes in favor.
The ACAA was stuck in the international trade committee for two years and the rapporteur for the agreement pushed to delay the vote, saying Israel should not be awarded with improved trade relations given the EU’s “condemnation of the Israeli government's policy regarding the occupied territories.”
It eventually passed by a wide margin through the persistence of several Members of the European Parliament. These Members not only saw an opportunity to strengthen EU-Israeli relations, but also an opportunity to benefit EU citizens with Israel’s cutting-edge expertise in this field. The agreement will result in reduced costs for European patients and Israeli manufacturers, faster access to EU markets, availability of a wider range of medications and enhanced quality control of pharmaceuticals produced in non-EU countries.
Top Teen Book Entry Wins $5,000 Scholarship and Book Gets Published
Disagreeing dragons, angry insects, a city made of soap and colorful chameleons have all been called to duty to help children learn the value of tolerance and diversity during the six years of the B’nai B’rith International Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge
In this, the seventh year, the contest returns to Washington, D.C., where local high school students will once again get the chance to write and illustrate original books to help grade school children celebrate tolerance and diversity. The winning author earns a $5,000 scholarship and has his or her book professionally published and distributed to local schools and libraries.
Winners will be announced, and the book unveiled, at an awards ceremony in the spring.
This education and awareness initiative was created in conjunction with B’nai B’rith programs that promote tolerance and communicate a message of equality among all citizens. The contest aims to enlighten, inspire and educate America's young people and their families in an effort to abolish prejudices and strengthen ties among today’s youth.
The second place winner receives a $2,000 scholarship, and the third place winner earns a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, the teacher who oversees the creation of the first place submission will receive a $500 stipend to use for classroom or organizational materials, and the school will win a $500 grant.
A diverse panel of judges from the Washington, D.C. worlds of education, the arts, business and government, along with B’nai B’rith International leaders, will review the submissions and select the winners. B’nai B’rith is pleased to work in partnership with PEPCO for the 2012-2013 Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge
.Learn more about this contest that can change the lives of young people in our community at the contest kick-off event: Thursday, Nov. 1, from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. at PEPCO Edison Place Gallery, 702 Eighth Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20068. Gallery Entrance Between G and H Streets behind PEPCO headquarters entrance.PLEASE NOTE THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO HURRICANE SANDY.
The deadline for contest submissions is March 22, 2013. Students in grades 9-12 enrolled in D.C. public schools, Montgomery County public schools and Prince George's County public schools are welcome to participate. Additional program information can be found at www.bnaibrith.org/diverseminds
The Social Security Administration announced an increase of 1.7 percent to the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2013 on Oct. 16. Though the increase is amongst the lowest ever, B’nai B’rith is pleased to see any rise at all after the COLA was unmoved in 2010 and 2011 (there was a modest increase in 2012), yielding no hike in monthly Social Security payments.
The increase in COLA will only result in about $20 more for the average senior per month and is a reminder that the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), on which the COLA is based, is not an accurate reflection of senior spending. Seniors spend almost exclusively on housing, utilities, food and health care, in sharp contrast to the urban worker’s spending habits on which this measure is based.
This minor increase serves as a reminder of how easily the current formula can be outpaced by real increases in Medicare premiums and other out-of-pocket Medicare costs. It also shows how devastating the proposed switch to using Chained Consumer Price Index (C-CPI) to calculate COLA--as a means to reduce the federal deficit, rather than to accurately reflect the costs seniors face--would be for the financial security of the nation’s seniors. C-CPI operates on the theory that when the prices in goods increase, consumers find cheaper goods to substitute. Because so much of senior spending is for things like health care, which cannot be swapped out like electronics or cable service, the C-CPI is an even less accurate measure for seniors than the current one.
As an advocate for seniors, B’nai B’rith does not support deficit cutting efforts that target the elderly.
Fourteen European Union parliamentary members are slated to make a five-day trip to Tehran on Oct. 27 for what is being called a “bridge building exercise.” B’nai B’rith International calls on the E.U. to cancel the proposed visit.
“If this delegation goes to Tehran it would be counterproductive to the efforts being made to isolate Iran,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Going over there with the intention of ‘bridge building’ is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. Instead the E.U. must continue to press Iran to hold its government accountable for efforts to create nuclear weapons.”
The announcement of the parliamentary trip comes just days after the E.U. imposed further sanctions against Iran, banning the importation of natural gas, among other things.
“Engaging the Iranians in this way only kicks the can further down the road,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “It sends the wrong message to a country that has no regard for its own people and no regard for international peace or stability. Better to increase sanctions as the E.U. announced yesterday.”
The last time the E.U. sent a parliamentary delegation to Iran was in 2007. Several people were hanged in public during their visit in a clear showing of disregard for the European representatives.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith mourns the loss of Arlen Specter. During his 30 years representing Pennsylvania in the United States Senate, Specter proved himself a true and unwavering friend of Israel. Specter was also among those in the Senate who led on the issue of Soviet Jewry.
During his long tenure in the Senate, Specter demonstrated acumen in both foreign affairs as well as on various domestic issues and was often known for bipartisan collegiality.
Specter died Oct. 14 at age 82 after battling cancer.
B’nai B’rith International is deeply concerned by a letter sent to Congress by 15 leaders of various Christian denominations calling for an investigation of Israel’s use of U.S. aid. In the letter they claim “widespread Israeli human rights violations” which would result in breaches of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act.
These acts both prohibit aid to countries that display a consistent pattern of human rights violations. B’nai B’rith takes exception to the accusations of human rights violations as they are unfounded, inflammatory and one-sided.
“B’nai B’rith is highly critical of this attempt to undermine the relationship between the United States and Israel,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “U.S. aid is extremely important in protecting the people of Israel... Suggesting that aid is used to violate human rights only serves the purpose of demonizing the Jewish state.”
The letter puts some blame on the Palestinians, but never holds the Palestinian Authority accountable for refusing to re-enter direct negotiations with Israel, the only true path to peace.
“This letter is a thinly veiled attempt to try to harm Israel, and U.S.-Israel relations,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “It unfairly singles Israel out despite the fact it is the only country in the region that embraces our shared values of democracy and freedom of religion. It also ignores the mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries that is widely supported in the United States.”
B’nai B’rith firmly believes that by calling for an investigation of Israel’s use of U.S. aid, these leaders have embraced an approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that does not promote peace and reconciliation, but rather the heightening of tensions between all parties.
Despite being billed as a way to promote economic cooperation and to exchange ideas, the third South America-Arab Summit (ASPA) once again veered off course and dragged Israel onto its agenda.
The topic of a future Palestinian state prevailed as a key issue at the summit and appears as a point in the concluding document, the Declaration of Lima.
The Declaration of Lima emphasized the Palestinians’ right to statehood and outlined the borders of a Palestinian state. The summit’s resolutions come on the heels of a bid for non-member state status at the United Nations made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Because the ASPA released this document with a focus on “statehood,” it undeservedly thrusts the Palestinian bid at the United Nations back into the spotlight and ignores the need for bi-lateral negotiations to address peace issues.
Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner even tried to draw a parallel between the “occupation of the Malvinas [Islands] by England” with the situation the “Palestinians are going through.”
“The heavy focus of this summit on the Palestinians is misplaced,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The Arab countries clearly came to the summit with the agenda of pushing the Palestinian’s statehood bid at the United Nations.”
“Not withstanding the reported intentions of economic cooperation and dealing with other multi-lateral issues at this meeting, both the South American and Arab countries have once again sought to politicize the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “This can only further move the question away from negations, which is the only path to peace.”
Despite including Palestinian statehood among other resolutions, the assembly of heads of states and ambassadors could not come to an agreement to include anything productive on the Syrian civil war in the final declaration.