An IsraAID fact-finding mission to Bulgaria in March, led by B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider, provided emergency aid to Syrian refugees and developed a proposal for long-term assistance to Bulgaria as it deals with the large influx of Syrian refugees.
The program is a joint-effort between B’nai B’rith International, the American Jewish Committee and the Shai Fund, under the IsraAID banner.
The IsraAID mission was sparked after Bulgaria, overwhelmed by the mass of people – primarily Syrian – crossing through Turkey into the country, appealed for international aid, while the United Nations declared a “human emergency” along its border. About 11,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Bulgaria, many taking up residence in deteriorating, overcrowded camps.
B’nai B’rith and its IsraAID partners provided food and hygienic supplies for immediate relief to the Syrians, as well as support for Bulgarian authorities by launching a psycho-social training program.
(More of this story here).
The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem hosted a mission of high level executives from the Argentinian branch of Securitas – a multinational security company with 300,000 employees in 53 counties – March 21-31.
The mission was initiated by B’nai B’rith Argentina that has maintained a long relationship with the company through its extensive corporate responsibility programs.
B’nai B’rith Argentina Treasurer David Petliuk and Development Director Sergio Skliavski joined the group of nine corporate executives for the mission. The intensive program planned and implemented by the World Center included meetings with twelve Israeli security-oriented high-tech companies coordinated by the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute.
Site visits were also made to leading Israeli defense and security firms: Magal Security Systems, Elbit Systems and Aeronautics Defense Systems. The group also visited major security-sensitive sites such as the Separation Barrier, Ben Gurion Airport, Ashdod Maritime Port, Bank Leumi’s security headquarters and the Israel Police’s “Mabat 2000” Jerusalem Old City surveillance center to get a sense of how Israel copes with varied security challenges.
While in the country, the group visited the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, toured the border with Lebanon with IDF commanders and view the strategic importance of the Samaria mountain range.
The ten-day program included in-depth visits to historic and national sites including Jerusalem’s Old City, Caesarea, Old Jaffa, Nazareth, Golan Heights, Bethlehem, Israel Museum, Knesset and Yad Vashem.
Howard Jacobson at B’nai B’rith World Center “Jerusalem Address:” Jews will never be forgiven the Holocaust
Award-winning British novelist and columnist Howard Jacobson delivered the B’nai B’rith World Center 'Jerusalem Address' entitled "When will Jews be forgiven the Holocaust?" on October 7 in Jerusalem. The event was chaired by B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman, Dr. Haim V. Katz and concluding remarks were made by British Ambassador H.E. Matthew Gould.
In his address, Jacobson argued that anti-Semites sought to deny the Holocaust and hid behind criticism of Israel, to both disguise and excuse the guilt of their anti-Jewish sentiment. The 2010 Man Booker Prize winner stated that “The shocking psychological truth is that man rejects the burden of guilt by turning the tables on those we have wronged and portraying ourselves as the victims of their suffering. The Roman historian Tacitus spells it out. 'It is part of human life,' he wrote,' to hate the man you have hurt.' Those we harm, we blame - mobilizing dislike and even hatred in order to justify, after the event, the harm we did. From which it must follow that those who are harmed the most, as in the case of the Shoah – are blamed the most.” He said that, "Anyone who cannot bear to look at the reflection of his conscience in the mirror of a crime, has only to smash the mirror to feel innocent." (More of this story here).
The Liaison Committee – a joint forum of the B’nai B'rith World Center and the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel - met in September in Jerusalem to discuss the advent of an independent Christian voice in Israel calling on their community to turn away from past antagonism and alienation towards the State of Israel and to integrate fully into the civic life of the Jewish state.
The symposium took place in light of new activism among the minority Christian population in northern Israel encouraging Christian youth to volunteer for military and civil service. "The Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum" was founded in 2012 by Christians in Nazareth in reaction to anti-Christian persecution and negation of the rights of Christians in neighboring countries and throughout the Middle East. According to figures recently released by the Prime Minister's, the activities of the Forum have tripled Christian volunteer enlistment into the IDF from 35 to 100 while 500 young members of the community have volunteered for National Service. Among the most enthusiastic supporters of the integration of Christians into state institutions and military service is Father Gabriel Naddaf, a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church in Nazareth and spiritual leader of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum. Speaking at the Liaison Committee meeting, Naddaf said that the vast majority of Israeli Christian want to be better integrated into the life of Israel despite opposition from the much larger Arab Moslem population that, in effect dominates them: “Our plan is to integrate the Christian population, not just in words, but in action. (More of this story here)
B'nai B'rith World Center director Alan Schneider was on hand on August 28 for a moving unveiling ceremony of a renovated tombstone on the grave of David Salata in the historic cemetery of Zichron Yaacov, one of the earliest Jewish settlements established in the modern era in pre-state Israel and known for its Carmel winery. The tombstone was placed by his only surviving child, Aviva (75) in a moving ceremony with the participation of family members, friends and the Chief Rabbi of Zichron Yaacov.
David Salata, a Mandatory gendarme, died of a sudden heart attack at a young age on 18 Sept 1946 during a wave of Arab violence leaving a widow, two boys Simcha and Eliezer and Aviva, the youngest (8).
Due to the security situation and the family's abject poverty, only a wet slab of concrete was hastily laid over the grave with the name "Salata" drawn by fellow gendarme with his finger. (More of this story here)
B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider represented B’nai B’rith at an 9/11 commemoration ceremony held at the 9/11 Living Memorial in the Arazim Valley near Jerusalem along with members of the diplomatic corps and US-based Jewish organizations.
In this comments at the event, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Dov Shefi, whose son Hagai was among the five Israelis who died in the Islamic-inspired al Qaida attack in New York, warned that the militant Islam that brought down the Twin Towers and damaged the Pentagon on 9/11 is still bent on conquering the world.
Focusing part of his comments on the current situation in Syria, US ambassador Daniel Shapiro said: “Our resolve should not be in doubt: that the people of Syria can live without the shadow of terror.” (More of this story here)
B'nai B'rith World Center director Alan Schneider participated in July in the inaugural meeting of the Knesset Lobby for the Struggle Against Antisemitism. At the beginning of the meeting Lobby chairman MK Shimon Ohayon (Likud Yisrael Beitenu) pointed to recent indents of antisemitism, such as the display of a Star of David on a pig by former Pink Floyd vocalist Roger Waters during a concert and the rise of the Jobbik party in Hungary. He said that one of the responsibilities of the lobby will be to promote the passage of legislation in foreign parliaments that will criminalize anti-Semitic behavior such as this. Minister for Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett (HaBayit HaYehudi) noted that antisemitism is not new but has plagued the Jewish people since the Exodus from Egypt when the ancient Hebrews were attacked by Amalek. (More of this story here)
B'nai B'rith World Center Director Alan Schneider and Haim Roet, Chairman of the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescused Fellow Jews During The Holocaust (JRJ) presented a Jewish Rescuers Citation in July to Dina "Donia" Ostrover (90) at her home in Ramat Gan.
Dina Ostrover was born in Stryi, Ukraine as Donia Pickholz, the youngest of four children in an Orthodox Jewish family. The Germans captured the area in June 1941 and assembled the Jews in a ghetto. 1,000 Jews from the city were murdered in a nearby forest in September 1941. A year later the Germans conducted the first Aktion in the city, rounding up and deporting some 5,000 Jews to the Belzec death camp. In the second Aktion in October 1942, the Germans discovered the Ostrover family in hiding and they were loaded onto cattle cars along with other Jews. During the journey, Donia’s father encouraged her to jump from the moving train. She lost consciousness in the fall, but fortunately landed behind a bush that concealed her, returning to the ghetto psychologically broken. Donia's uncle managed to procure a counterfeit Ukrainian birth certificate for her and Donia stole out of the ghetto incognito. Posing as a non-Jewish Ukrainian orphan, she found work as a laborer at an inn which served German officers next to the town of Bolechow, not far from Stryi. (More of this story here).
B'nai B'rith World Center director Alan Schneider met in July with Bishara Shlayan – an Israeli Greek Orthodox merchant marine captain who initiated earlier this year the "Forum for the Enlistment of the Christian Community".
The meeting was held together with Rev. Petra Heldt, director of the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel, as part of their joint "Liaison Committee" activities, and Christian scholar Malcolm Lowe. The four toured Christian sites in Nazareth and discussed the effect of recent demographic changes in the city – which some thirty years ago had a strong Christian majority and Moslem minority – have had on its Christian residents.
The forum was established to help local Christian to become totally integrated into Israeli society by shouldering their fair share of the burden of national service. Shlayan said that his community's future as a Christian minority in intertwined with that of the State of Israel and that they want to contribute their share. He and the group's spiritual leader, Greek Orthodox priest Gavriel Nadaf, are being persecuted by the Arab-Israeli political establishment that has historically prevented the 120,000 strong indigenous Christian community from taking a position independent of the much larger Arab-Moslem population in the country.
B’nai B’rith World Center director Alan Schneider traveled from Jerusalem in July to the capital of Israel’s southern region, Beer Sheva, to present the 2013 grant from the B’nai B’rith Edith “Pat” Wolfson Endowment for Israeli orphans to the children of Anat Even Haim (34) - Liron (12) and twins Guy and Agam (4) - who was murdered by gunman Itamar Alon in a shooting attack at a branch of Bank Hapoalim in the city on May 20.
Branch manager Avner Cohen (44) and deputy manager Meir Zeitoun (40) and another customer, Idan Sabari (22), were murdered and five other people wounded in the rage attack before Alon (40) committed suicide.
Schneider presented the grant to Anat's former husband, Shimon Even Haim, who is now raising the children after custody was granted to their mother following the couple's divorce seven months before the shooting. The presentation was made at Shimon's mother's apartment located in a working-class neighborhood of Beer Sheva where Shimon has been living since
the divorce. (More of this story here).