Partnership with AEPi Fraternity Vital to Ensuring Holocaust Remembrance
B’nai B’rith International is observing Holocaust Remembrance Day with its annual program “Unto Every Person There is a Name,” now in its 24th year. B’nai B’rith is the official North American sponsor of the program created by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Participants name the victims of the Shoah and where and when they were born and died. The ceremonies occur on the 27th day of the month of Nissan on the Jewish calendar. These observances honor more victims each year, as the project collects more names.
Yad Vashem’s—Israel’s official Holocaust museum and research center—suggested theme for this year’s Yom Hashoah is “Defiance and Rebellion during the Holocaust: 70 Years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.” Throughout the week of April 8, B’nai B’rith groups and committees will hold programs across North America that include speakers and readings in synagogues, Jewish community centers and public places such as Holocaust Memorials and community parks.
“It’s incredible to watch how ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ has grown since its inception in 1989,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “It is important that we never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust and individually recognize all those who perished.”
In addition to community observances, B’nai B’rith partners with the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity for “We Walk to Remember” on 110 college campuses throughout the United States, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom. Members of AEPi will participate in both the walk and “Unto Every Person There is a Name” programming.
Speaking from the Walk at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said, “I’m honored to take part in ‘We Walk to Remember.’ B’nai B’rith has a great partnership with AEPi and we’re wholly behind its efforts to make sure the Holocaust is never forgotten by today’s youth.”
This is the 5th year B’nai B’rith and AEPi have worked together on Holocaust Remembrance Day programming. The combination of the two powerful programs has created a lasting impact on campuses across the globe. It demonstrates that young people on campus understand the importance of remembering and have taken on the responsibility to tell the story of the victims of the Holocaust.
“‘We Walk to Remember’ is a program that quintessentially represents what it means to be in Alpha Epsilon Pi,” said AEPi Howard M. Lorber Director of Jewish and Philanthropy Programming Adam Maslia. “Stepping up as leaders in the Jewish community in partnership with B'nai B'rith International, the brothers of AEPi have crafted the world's largest on-campus Holocaust commemoration event that is so simple, yet so impactful and effective in ensuring that the world never forgets the atrocities of the Shoah."
On the morning of April 8, the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) held a unique joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony dedicated to the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. Taking place at the Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza with about 900 people in attendance, 29 Rescuers Citations were awarded to Jews who employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that some Jews survived the Holocaust in Europe or assisted them in escaping to a safe haven.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith mourns the loss of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died April 8 at the age of 87.
Thatcher was a leading and reliable voice supporting free emigration for Soviet Jews. She spoke forcefully on behalf of Jews prevented from leaving the Soviet Union and demanded that restrictions be lifted.
Thatcher served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990—the only woman to ever hold the post.
B'nai B'rith joins the British people in mourning her loss.
Ceremony dedicated to commemorating the efforts of rescuer Otto Komoly, president of the Zionist Federation in Hungary during the Holocaust
28 additional rescuers to receive “Jewish Rescuers Citation”
The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) will hold a unique joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day/Yom HaShoah (April 8). The ceremony is the only one dedicated annually to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. Some 200 Border Patrol Cadets—who will provide an honor guard—and 200 high school students will participate along with Jewish rescuers and survivors. The ceremony will take place at the Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza at 10:00 a.m.
This year’s event—the 11th annual ceremony—will memorialize the rescue activities of Otto Komoly, president of the Zionist Federation in Hungary during the Holocaust, chairman of the Hungarian Jewish community’s clandestine Rescue Committee and later also director of the International Red Cross “Department A” responsible for rescuing Jewish children. Komoly oversaw the rescue of 5,000 Jewish children through the establishment of 52 shelters that were staffed by members of the Zionist Youth Movement and protected by Red Cross sponsorship. He also supported the legal—and later the clandestine—escape of Jews from Hungary to Palestine via Romania through which an estimated 15,000 Jews were saved. Komoly was the Jewish community’s principle interlocutor with Hungarian leaders and with the neutral foreign entities that operated in Budapest. On Jan. 1, 1945—barely two weeks before the liberation of Pest by the Red Army— Komoly was kidnapped from his Red Cross offices by members of the Arrow Cross regime and never heard from again. He is assumed to have been murdered, along with thousands of other Jews, on the banks of the Danube.
At the ceremony Otto Komoly will be represented by his granddaughter Orna Barnea. Outgoing Minister of Science and Technology Rabbi Daniel Hershkowitz and Hungarian Ambassador Zoltán Szentgyörgyi will attend. Also speaking: KKL-JNF Chairman Effi Stenzler and B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Haim V. Katz.
Prior to the ceremony, a “Jewish Rescuers Citation” will be conferred by the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust (JRJ) and the B’nai B’rith World Center on 28 additional rescuers who operated in the underground Zionist Youth Movement in Hungary. Forty citations have been presented since the citation’s establishment in 2011 to rescuers who operated in France, Germany, Holland and Hungary.
The event will be held at the Martyr's Forest—a joint KKL-JNF-B’nai B’rith project which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust in six million trees planted in the picturesque Jerusalem Mountains near Moshav Kisalon. At the pinnacle of the forest stands the “Scroll of Fire” by the renowned sculptor Nathan Rapoport, which invokes the destruction of the Jewish people in the Holocaust and their establishment in the State of Israel in a moving base relief. The event will commence with personal testimonies by Holocaust survivors and classes of soldiers.
The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe are yet to receive appropriate public recognition and resonance. Many who could have tried to flee chose to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives. With great heroism, Jews in every country in occupied Europe employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that some Jews survived the Holocaust in Europe or assisted them in escaping to a safe haven. The few rescuers who are still alive have often been reluctant to recount their stories, satisfied in the knowledge that they were able to overcome the Nazis and their collaborators.
Considering the fact that many of the rescuers were young at the time of their activity, the organizers of the ceremony view it as especially important to expose Jewish youth to the phenomena of Jewish rescue during the Holocaust as a model for Jewish solidarity and courage.
For further details please contact Golan Yossifon 052-5625135
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith welcomes the restoration of full relations between Israel and Turkey—hopefully renewing a longstanding partnership.
The normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey—the region’s only two democracies—sends a strong message of stability in a troubled part of the world.
In a March 22 phone call, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to restore full relations between the two countries, which will include the exchange of ambassadors once again, and hopefully open the door to a resumption of cooperation in many spheres.
This positive development comes amid the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria, where human rights groups estimate 70,000 Syrians have been killed in the two years since the uprising against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and countless thousands have been displaced.
A delegation of leaders from B’nai B’rith International met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on March 20 to discuss such pressing issues as Israel’s treatment at the United Nations, the growing nuclear threat Iran poses to the world and the situation in Syria, among other subjects.
B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin led the delegation.
“We had an opportunity to have an open conversation with the secretary-general about issues of great concern to Israel,” Jacobs said.
At United Nations offices in New York, Paris, Geneva, Santiago and Vienna B’nai B’rith has engaged U.N. officials and representatives of dozens of nations, advocating for Israel and speaking out for the advancement of human rights.
After the meeting with Ban, Mariaschin noted: “B’nai B’rith has been active at the United Nations since its founding. In that time, we’ve had the opportunity to advocate for human rights and the fair treatment of Israel at U.N. forums. It was important to meet with the secretary-general to ensure certain issues stay at the forefront of the United Nations’ attention.”
Joining Jacobs and Mariaschin in the delegation: Joel S. Kaplan, Woodmere, N.Y.; Seymour D. Reich, New York; Gary P. Saltzman, Centennial, Colo.; Charles O. Kaufman, Austin, Texas; Bruce Pascal, North Potomac, Md.; and Matthew Waas, Arlington, Va.
One day after attending the formal installation of Pope Francis as the new head of the Catholic Church, B’nai B’rith International Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels attended an interreligious meeting with the pope in Clementine Hall at the Vatican.
At the meeting, Pope Francis greeted Christian and non-Christian leaders alike, with representatives in attendance from several major religions. At his installation, the pope publicly offered special greetings to Jews, who were seated in close proximity to Francis. In meeting with religious leaders he affirmed his commitment to Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council declaration that transformed Catholic-Jewish relations, and to the path of his predecessors.
“I’m very pleased to hear that on the first day of his papacy, Pope Francis is already picking up where Pope Benedict left off with regard to the church’s relations to the Jews,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Today really demonstrates that the relationship between our religions is important to him. We look forward to working with him in the future.”
Though Pope Francis did not delve deeply into his plans for Catholic relations with any religion, his actions as a cardinal in Argentina forecast well for the Jewish community. In November, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the keynote speaker at B’nai B’rith’s Kristallnacht commemoration in Buenos Aires, where he helped light a candle in commemoration of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. He has also consistently addressed Jews with affinity as “elder brothers.”
Michaels warmly greeted the pope and conveyed the good wishes of B’nai B’rith members around the world, expressing hope in Francis' friendship with Israel and the Jewish people.
“It’s encouraging that the Jewish people, including our organization, already have ties to the new pope,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “I think this bodes well for the future as we continue to advance the interreligious dialogue between the two communities.”
B’nai B’rith International’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva Klaus Netter spoke before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) addressing the anti-Israel bias that has consumed the council, its latest reports and resolutions.
In February, a council-ordered “fact-finding mission” report stated that Israel must withdraw from all settlements or Israelis could be tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court. The panel also suggested that businesses cut ties to business interests in the settlements.
The settlements issue is a complex one and the “fact-finding” by the UNHRC has lacked any semblance of nuance. The predictable content of the report simply singles out one final-status issue of many, which the Quartet (The United Nations itself is a member along with the United States, European Union and Russia) has said must be resolved only through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. It has also warned against the parties taking unilateral actions outside face-to-face talks, which is clearly what the UNHCR does in case after case by adopting positions that are detrimental to the process.
Israel suspended all contact with the UNHRC following the creation of this “fact-finding mission.”
Addressing the council on the reasons for Israel’s suspension of ties with the UNHRC, Netter said: “After a full day devoted exclusively to a tirade of anti-Israel condemnations at each and every Council session under item seven [focused on Israel alone] as well as an untold number of resolutions and special sessions singling out Israel for a variety of alleged human rights violations, the [fact-finding mission] resolution constituted the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.”
He continued: “Far from advancing the peace process between the two main parties, the FFM report has only reinforced Israel’s doubts about returning to active participation in this Council and produced yet another source of conflict that may occupy this Council’s attention for months or years to come.” Click here to read the full B’nai B’rith statement to the UNHRC.
During the week of March 11, B’nai B’rith International sent its annual leadership delegation to Geneva to address key issues facing the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), including the council’s continued obsessive focus on Israel, Iran’s appalling domestic human rights record and its repeated threats against Israel and the devastating fighting in Syria.
B’nai B’rith International Director of Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels is in Rome to attend the installation of Pope Francis. Michaels will also take part in an audience with the new pope for interreligious leaders. For interviews from Rome, contact: Sbender@bnaibrith.org or 202-857-6699
B’nai B’rith welcomed the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to his new role when he was elected on March 13. Supporting strong Catholic-Jewish relations in Buenos Aires, where the new pope served as cardinal, has been an important hallmark of his tenure as a church leader.
In November, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was the keynote speaker at B’nai B’rith’s Kristallnacht commemoration in Buenos Aires, where he helped light a candle in commemoration of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
Michaels will attend the Papal inauguration on March 19 at St. Peter’s Square. On March 20 he will take part in an audience for interfaith leaders at Clementine Hall at the Vatican. Michaels previously met with Pope Benedict XVI on numerous occasions.
Commemoration Puts Renewed Focus on Argentina-Iran Agreement on AMIA Bombing
B’nai B’rith International remembers the 21st anniversary of the Israeli Embassy bombing in Buenos Aires. On the afternoon of March 17, 1992, a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into the corner of the embassy and then detonated multiple bombs. The attack killed 29 people, injured 242 and also destroyed a church and a school. It was the deadliest terror attack in Argentina until the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building was bombed in 1994. That attack killed 85 people and wounded 300. Iran has been linked to both bombings, but none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice.
“When you think about the attacks in ’92 and ’94, you think of the shock and sadness they instilled. These attacks helped show the world the far reach of Iranian terror,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The in-roads made by Iran to perpetrate the first attack helped open the door for the second.”
With two horrific attacks on Argentina credited to Iran’s terror arm, Hezbollah, it’s shocking that the Argentine government has entered into an agreement with Tehran to “investigate” the AMIA bombing. An official report from the Argentine prosecutor’s office already named Iran as responsible for the AMIA attack. Since 2007, an INTERPOL “red notice” (indicating that Argentina is seeking the arrest and extradition of a particular person) has been issued for Iran’s current defense minister.
Despite Argentina’s own reports blaming Iran, it has now entered into an agreement with Iran which purports to cooperate in finding the attackers. In January the Argentine and Iranian foreign ministers agreed to create the “Commission of Truth,” that will investigate the 1994 AMIA bombing. The deal was approved on Feb. 28 by the Argentine Congress. It is shocking to think Argentina expects Iran to be a fair partner in the search for justice.
“Had there been a serious investigation of the ‘92 bombing of the Israeli embassy and then had the perpetrators been brought to justice, it might have sent a clear message to Iran and its Hezbollah operatives,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Iran, through Hezbollah, has carried out global terror attacks for decades. They need to be held accountable. If anything, these attacks show how dangerous Iran can be and its refusal to cooperate during the 21 years since the embassy attack should be enough proof to Argentina and other countries that Iran will continue to stonewall and obfuscate its crimes.”
B’nai B’rith International sent its annual leadership delegation to Geneva to address key issues facing the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), including the council’s continued obsessive focus on Israel, Iran’s appalling domestic human rights record and its repeated threats against Israel and the devastating fighting in Syria.
Sixteen B’nai B’rith International leaders and supporters led by President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin met with representatives from some 40 countries.
Recently, the UNHRC released a report that was yet another example of its anti-Israel bias. The council-ordered “fact-finding mission” report stated that Israel must withdraw from all settlements or Israelis could be tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court should “Palestine” sign on to the Rome treaty, as Palestinian leaders have repeatedly threatened to do. The panel also suggested that businesses cut ties to business interests in the settlements. The report is to be presented at the current session of the council and a follow-up resolution on the matter is expected later in the session.
“It’s this kind of bias that we’re here in Geneva to address,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “It’s completely unacceptable that time and time again this council has unfairly trained its eye on Israel, while ignoring many member states’ countless human rights abuses.”
The B’nai B’rith delegation also emphasized the negative effects of decisions and resolutions taken at the United Nations on the peace process.
“As long as U.N. bodies continue to pass biased resolutions against Israel, you can certainly bet that the Palestinians will prefer to internationalize its conflict with Israel instead of returning to negotiations without preconditions,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We’re here to make sure that the Human Rights Council members understand that the actions of the council only aid in the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to circumvent direct peace talks.”
On March 13, B’nai B’rith leadership held a reception at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva, hosting numerous ambassadors. Joshua Lincoln representing Director-General of the U.N. Office in Geneva Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, addressed the delegation and its guests, as did Peter Mulrean, deputy permanent representative of the United States to the U.N. Office in Geneva.
In addition to Jacobs and Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith was represented by: Helene Briskman of London; Matthew Caplan of Washington, D.C.; Jay Feldman of Washington, D.C.; Michael Gellman of Washington, D.C.; Ralph Hofmann of Frankfurt, Germany; Jacques Jacubert of Paris; Yves Kamami of Paris; Charles Kaufman of Austin, Texas; David Matas of Winnipeg, Canada; David Michaels of New York; Joëlle Perelberg of Nice, France; Ada Sadoun of Grenoble, France; Gary Saltzman of Denver, Colo.; and Stéphane Teicher of Paris.