On Thursday, July 17, staff, leadership, volunteers and supporters of B'nai B'rith International joined the Stand Strong For Israel rally of solidarity at Farragut Square in Washington, D.C.
The event was organized by The JCRC of Greater Washington and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, and featured comments from members of Congress, the Israeli embassy to the United States and various leaders in the Jewish and political community.
See photos and video from the event:
In the 20 years since the tragic bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires, no progress has been made to hold the Iranians accountable.
That is the premise of an op-ed penned by B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, which appeared in the Times of Israel the day before the 20th anniversary.
Mariaschin walks through the timeline and the politics surrounding the event, which remains the most devastating terrorist act ever in Latin America.
Read his full op-ed below:
Buenos Aires: The other Iranian crime
The deadline for reaching an accord between the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, China, France and Russia, plus Germany) and Iran on the country’s secretive nuclear program — July 20 – is fast approaching. Reports in recent days have indicated the usual foot-dragging and prevarication on Iran’s part, which we have come to know over the years, reinforcing skepticism that a genuine deal to move Tehran from its objective of developing nuclear weapons can actually take place.
But there is another July date focusing on Iran, important in its own way, which may escape international attention in the midst of the meltdown of Iraq: July 18 marks the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish social service center in Buenos Aires. On that day in 1994, a massive terror bombing in the heart of the Argentine capitol killed 85 and wounded another 300. It stands as the most devastating terrorist act ever in Latin America.
In the aftermath of the bombing, the international community was led down a primrose path of arrests and a trial. It came to naught when it was clear that all of this was based on a faulty investigation and trumped-up charges. The masterminds and perpetrators of the crime — now universally believed to be Iranian agents and their higher-ups in Tehran — nor any local accomplices, have to date been brought to justice.
In 2005 then-President Néstor Kirchner’s government issued a decree formally accepting a share in the blame for the abject failure of the investigation, calling it a “national disgrace” and a widespread cover-up of the facts. That was followed by the appointment of a highly competent prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who set out, in some detail, how top Iranian leaders had ordered Hezbollah to carry out the attack.
Nisman, working quickly, formally charged Hezbollah and its Iranian masters with the bombing, and called for the arrest of then-Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and seven others, including Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s defense minister and former commander of the Revolutionary Guards. Nisman’s case was compelling, and in 2007, Argentine authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants for five Iranians and a Lebanese national. With these Interpol “Red Notices” issued, some assumed the case was on its way to being resolved.
Even a casual observer of Iranian behavior would have come to the quick conclusion that Tehran never had any intention of arresting, extraditing or otherwise cooperating on the AMIA case. Matters stalled for five additional years, until Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, in a U.N. General Assembly speech in 2012, inexplicably announced that meetings with Iran would take place on the sidelines of the United Nations to resolve the matter, as if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had undergone veracity transplants.
And then, the ultimate Iranian ruse: Early last year came the announcement that the governments of Iran and Argentina had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a “truth commission” to investigate the bombing. Defending the agreement, Argentine authorities explained that while trials in absentia cannot be held in the country, prosecutors could travel to Tehran to depose witnesses.
Sounds good if you’re going to Canada or the Netherlands to gather evidence. But did anyone remotely familiar with how Iran conducts business really think that, for example, it would serve up Vahidi to be questioned by a visiting Argentinian judicial official?
By a narrow vote, the Argentine Chamber of Deputies approved the MOU. Shortly thereafter, the indefatigable and undaunted Nisman, now working under the weight of the ill-conceived MOU, published a 502-page indictment, accusing Iran of establishing terrorist networks throughout Latin America, dating back to the 1980s.
Earlier this year, the Argentine Federal Criminal Appeals Court struck down the MOU, stating that it conflicts with, and undermines an on-going investigation approved years ago by the government’s executive and legislative branches, an order both the Kirchners endorsed. The court ruled the agreement with Iran unconstitutional. The government recently appealed the ruling. Some Argentinian legislators and legal experts make the case that trials in absentia are indeed constitutional. But those suggestions will now be on hold while the appeal process soaks up valuable time, further stalling the drive to bring much-needed closure to this horrific act.
A year-and-a-half later, the MOU has produced zero results. No surprise in that. A country that seeks nuclear weapons, threatens its neighbors, sends rockets to terrorist organizations, supports the ruling regime in Damascus and is a serial abuser of human rights, would not likely own up to the murder and mayhem in caused on that July day in Buenos Aires in 1994. And because of that, 20-years and counting, there continues to be no justice for the victims and their families.
B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin was interviewed for a recent article appearing in The Jewish Week, concerning the recent outbreaks of violence against Jews in the United States and Europe.
The rise in anti-Semitism comes as world headlines continue to feature the escalating violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Read excerpts of his quotes from The Jewish Week.
Such violent and vicious anti-Israel protests are not unique to Europe. In Los Angeles last weekend, four people were arrested for allegedly brandishing sticks and interfering with a pro-Israel demonstration. And in Boston, anti-Israel protestors physically assaulted Jews.
Alarmed that such extremist demonstrations and violence has spread to American shores, senior Homeland Security officials spoke with Jewish leaders in a conference call Monday.
Daniel Mariaschin, international executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, said the “latest attacks on the French Jewish community remind us that our vigilance in protecting the global Jewish community cannot wane.”
Referring to the scuffles in Los Angeles and Boston, he said, “Perhaps we are importing here the kind of lawless mob-driven way of conducting these so-called demonstrations.”
Mariaschin suggested that one reason for the large demonstrations is the “absolute access people have today to all kinds of media. Anyone can access French TV or media coming out of the Middle East and can see unbridled bias. That has to account for some of this activity.”
Asked about the two violent demonstrations in the U.S. last weekend, he replied: “The level of audacity has risen to a dangerous point. In this country we have been very fortunate that we have not had those kind of European or Middle Eastern-style of demonstration, but one has to be concerned about it.”
On the latest edition of Radio JAI, Eduardo Kohn, B'nai B'rith director of Latin American Affairs, discusses several important issues facing the continent's Jewish population.
Topics include: the double speech of the Palestinian president, the hypocrisy of the radical left in Latin America with regards to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and the failed Fatah-Hamas agreement that proves that they cannot be partners for peace.
Listen to the full podcast below:
El director ejecutivo de la Bnai Brith Latinoamerica, Eduardo Kohn, habló en Raidio Jai sobre la hipocresía de la izquierda latinoamericana sobre la situación actual del Estado Judío y el doble discurso del lider palestino Mahmoud Abbas ante la prensa internacional, que acusa constantemente el accionar defensivo del país. "No tienen idea de lo que es vivir bajo constantes ataques, solo están para acusar a Israel," aseguró.
After Charter School of Wilmington student Monica Keszler was named winner of the B'nai B'rith International Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge for the Delmarva region on May 27, she signed copies of her winning book, "Kira Kiwi, How Will School Be?"
In the coming weeks, Keszler will visit libraries in her northern Delaware community, sharing her story, reading to younger students and signing copies for those in attendance.
More details about the book tour can be found below, courtesy of an article in DelawareOnline.com:
High school student Monica Keszler will read her award-winning book, “Kira Kiwi, How Will School Be?” at 9:30 a.m. at the Elsmere Library at 30 Spruce Ave., New Castle County Executive Thomas P. Gordon announced Friday.
Readings also are set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Kirkwood Highway Library at 6000 Kirkwood Highway and 2 p.m. July 29 at the Woodlawn Library, 2020 W. Ninth St. in Wilmington.
“We are excited to have a young, talented author like Monica Keszler conduct a reading in our libraries,” Gordon said in a statement.
Keszler, a Charter School of Wilmington student, created her book as part of the B’nai B’rith International Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge in the Delmarva Peninsula. Ninth- through 12th-graders in Delaware and 10 Maryland counties entered by writing and illustrating books about tolerance and diversity for readers up to fifth grade.
Keszler’s was announced as the first-place winner in May. She won a $5,000 scholarship, her book’s publication and $500 stipends for her school and classroom materials for the teacher who oversaw its creation.
Her book – about a flightless kiwi who moves to a school full of birds that fly – is being given to schools, libraries, community groups and the “Today” show’s holiday toy drive. It is available for free download in the iBooks Store.
Many Americans are still feeling the effects of the economic recession that began in 2008. Even with the decline in unemployment rates and the recovery of the stock market, one segment that was hardest hit may never fully recover: senior citizens.
The Baltimore Jewish Times published an article on the Jewish senior citizen community in Baltimore, and how 27 percent are living below 200 percent of the poverty line.
B'nai B'rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States with 42 buildings in 27 communities.
Mark Olshan, associate executive vice president, and Rachel Goldberg, director of aging policy at B’nai B’rith International, were reached for comment in the article, excerpts of which can be found below:
Today, said Rachel Goldberg, director of aging policy at B’nai B’rith International, shrinking pensions and retirement accounts are contributing to a greater need than ever before.
“People retire and are often living at a much lower standard than they did before,” said Goldberg, “so even in communities where you think of the people you know as being comfortable, there’s a real question as to how comfortable they’re going to be when it becomes time to retire, whether it’s because you want to or because physically, you have to.”
B’nai B’rith officials, who have been reaching out to Jews in need for more than 170 years, say stereotypes have hurt their organization in the past.
Part of their work involves helping ensure Jewish seniors have a home to live in, something that has become increasingly difficult for many elderly citizens across the United States, as the cost of living has skyrocketed alongside an increasing life expectancy. With a fixed income and little to no access to additional sources of funds, many seniors turn to B’nai B’rith for their affordable senior apartments.
“Obviously there are a lot of images of Jews in media as ostentatiously wealthy and all these ideas about running the entertainment industry and what not,” said B’nai B’rith’s Goldberg. “Those stereotypes about what Jews are and what Jews have still really do exist, and it affects not only public perception and anti-Semitism, but it makes it a little bit more difficult for low-income older adults who are Jewish to reach out for the services they need because people internalize those kinds of things. It’s one reason, in this community, that people are a little uncomfortable asking for help.”
Mark Olshan, associate executive vice president at B’nai B’rith, can recall one not-so-distant memory of a town in southern Florida denying the organization’s zoning request to build affordable senior housing there because, town officials and community members said, “there’s no poverty in the Jewish community here.”
A nearby town got wind of what happened and offered land for the units, but the experience was a wake-up call, said Olshan.