B'nai B'rith International is a proud member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which recently organized a strategic mission to Europe and Israel to meet with political leaders.
B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin were notable members of the mission, introducing key speakers in Europe and meeting with senior leadership in Israel.
Below is a recap of some of the news items to surface from the mission:
Mariaschin: The first distinguishing factor is that B’nai B’rith is the oldest of the Jewish organizations – we’re now into our 172nd year. We’re also an international organization made up of members in nearly 50 countries around the world.
We concentrate on three main areas: One is pro-Israel advocacy and fighting global anti-Semitism. We've had credentials at the United Nations since 1947, and we spend a good deal of our time there fighting bias against Israel.
The second area is senior housing and advocacy. The Jewish community has probably the largest proportion of senior citizens of any ethnic group in this country, so for more than 40 years now we have been sponsoring affordable housing for seniors in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development – we have more than 40 properties around the United States. We’re also involved in senior advocacy – issues like Social Security, Medicare, etc.
The third area is disaster relief. We help victims of hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis – all kinds of natural disasters around the world.
You were recently involved in fighting HarperCollins after a Catholic news website reported that the publisher had omitted Israel in atlases it was selling in the Middle East. What’s your take on the story?
This is only the latest in a long series of these kinds of omissions. We’ve seen it particularly with airlines omitting Israel on route maps, for example. But HarperCollins’s omission was especially egregious because it is a major general and educational publisher. You know, if we’re going to talk about peace and a peace process, it’s not only for diplomats – it’s for everybody. When a major publisher leaves Israel off a map, what kind of message does that send to schoolchildren in the Arab world?
This incident ended well for a change.
Yes, HarperCollins decided to call the atlases back and pulp the rest, as they say. Hopefully it will serve as a lesson for others because this was just a microcosm of the larger issue of the delegitimization of Israel. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a speech at the United Nations; it can be a decision made in an editorial office somewhere to say, “Look, we don’t want to offend our readers so we think we’ll just leave Israel off.” Hopefully the firestorm around this story will send a message to others that a) it’s unacceptable and b) there are people out there watching who will raise the red flag when they do this kind of thing.
What kind of work does B’nai B’rith do at the UN?
We were actually present in 1945 when the UN was founded in San Francisco, and we received our first credentials as an NGO in 1947.
What has happened over the last 25 years, unfortunately, is that much of our UN activity relates to the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. We feel very strongly about trying to keep the UN honest on this issue. So, for example, in March every year we go for a week to Geneva where the UN Human Rights Council is based and meet with ambassadors. We’re also in Paris at UNESCO.
B'nai B'rith International was one of several Jewish organizations that weighed in on the results of the Greek parliament elections, after victories by the extreme Syriza, Independent Greeks (ANEL) and Golden Dawn parties.
Greece has long struggled to combat anti-Semitism, and B'nai B'rith has followed the situation closely, engaging with government leaders to advocate for tolerance and help diffuse tensions.
Here are notable events from the last three years:
B'nai B'rith International was quoted in an article on JNS.org, which reflected the organization's concerns for the election outcomes.
Read excerpts from the article below:
Jewish leaders have expressed both hope and concern over the outcome of the Greek election on Sunday, in which the radical left-wing Syriza party won 149 parliament seats and 36.3 percent of the vote.
Syriza officials have called for the end of Israel’s “brutality against Palestinians,” and Panos Kammenos—the leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, with whom Syriza formed a majority coalition—garnered accusations of anti-Semitism last December for claiming that Greek Jews do not pay taxes.
Golden Dawn, an extreme-right neo-Nazi party, placed third in results that polls suggested were driven largely by voters’ economic concerns.
The Greek Jewish community consists of about 5,000 people out of the country’s total population of 11.2 million, according to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
The community has experienced rising anti-Semitic sentiment that is correlated with both the country’s economic crisis as well as escalations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such as last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
B’nai Brith International told JNS.org in a statement that the group is concerned by some “past statements about Israel made by [Syriza] party leaders,” but hopes “that the relationship with Israel, which had been building over the past decade in many fields, will be unaffected by the outcome.”
B'nai B'rith International live tweeted U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, responding to items of particular interest to the organization's policy advocacy.
Read a recap of the tweets, below:
The maps label Gaza and the West Bank but do not demarcate Israel, instead depicting Jordan and Syria as extending all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
“HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas,” the publishing company said. “This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologizes for this omission and for any offense caused.”
“The willful error was exacerbated by the initial tone-deaf defense by HarperCollins of its decision. … Does the publisher’s acquiescence to ‘local preferences’ take into account that many of Israel’s neighbors have the singular goal of destroying Israel and its people?” B’nai B’rith International said in a statement.
Last week's announcement that the European Court of Justice had ruled that the terrorist group Hamas be removed from the European Union terror list on “procedural grounds,” was met with staunch opposition from B'nai B'rith International.
The court's assertion is that Hamas was placed on the list because of "factual imputations derived from the press and the internet," instead of the actions of the organization.
B'nai B'rith was featured in Spanish-speaking publication Vis-a-Vis. Read the article, below (Spanish):
La B`nai B`rith internacional lanzó un comunicando expresando su descontento por la decisión que tomo el Tribunal Europeo de Justicia, y expresó que sí no se hace ningún esfuerzo por colocar a Hamás en la lista de organizaciones terroristas, "sería otro ejemplo flagrante de la manera hipócrita y profundamente destructiva en la que Israel es tratado a menudo en la Unión Europea". A continuación el comunicado
B'nai B'rith Internacional expresa su indignación por el dictamen del Tribunal Europeo de Justicia que indicó que el grupo terrorista Hamas debe ser retirado de la lista de organizaciones terroristas de la Unión Europea. El tribunal basó su decisión de eliminar Hamas de dicha lista en " razones de procedimiento ", En un comunicado manifestó que el organismo europeo no colocó a Hamas en la lista después de examinar las decisiones y acciones del liderazgo de la organización , sino a causa de " imputaciones de hechos derivados de la prensa y la internet ".
A pesar de que esta sentencia ha sido declarada una cuestión técnica por el Servicio Europeo de Acción Exterior (SEAE ) inaceptablemente abrirá la puerta al cuestionamiento de la existencia de Hamas como un grupo terrorista . No debe haber ninguna duda de que Hamas es una organización cuyo mandato es el terror y que en repetidas ocasiones ha declarado su compromiso con la destrucción de Israel. La conclusión a la que arriba el tribunal de que Ha mas fue colocado en la lista de terroristas simplemente debido a informes de los medios es absurda.
B'nai B'rith insta a todas las partes afectadas por esta decisión a actuar con rapidez para considerar a Hamas como una organización terrorista. El tribunal decidió continuar con el embargo de activos de Hamas en Europa , así como otras restricciones impuestas al grupo terrorista por un lapso de tres meses para permitir una apelación u otra acción por parte de la Unión Europea. . B'nai B'rith alienta al SEAE a actuar en consecuencia , y con urgencia, con el fin de ayudar a que el Tribunal Europeo de Justicia pueda resolver este tema . Si no hay ningún esfuerzo para volver a colocar a Hamas en la lista de organizaciones terroristas, sería otro ejemplo flagrante de la manera hipócrita y profundamente destructiva en la que Israel es tratado a menudo en la Unión Europea.
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 fallout of Hosni Mubarak's acquittal in Egypt, Mahmoud Abbas' latest slander against Israel, and the common link of hatred toward Israel and Jews that impedes the Middle East peace process.
Listen to the full podcast below:
El director ejecutivo de la Bnai Brith Latinoamérica, Eduardo Kohn explicó en Radio Jai la situación actual entre Israel y sus vecinos. “Israel no está dispuesto a que sus ciudadanos reciban eternamente misiles. Hamás ha dicho que no reconocerá nunca a Israel y Mahmmud Abbas ha optado por la confrontación y al apoyo de los terroristas. Cuando se considera al otro como un enemigo, cuando asesinar es una misión sagrada, cuando los asesinos son mártires y las madres glorifican a sus hijos por inmolarse y cuando el terrorismo es convertido en movimiento político, el camino a la paz es una utopía”, sentenció.
The following letter was sent to the editor at Reuters, following their publication of an article entitled “Palestinian woman stabs Israeli, shot by security forces.”
To the Editor:
From top to bottom, “Palestinian woman stabs Israeli, shot by security forces” follows Reuters ongoing bias against Israel.
Starting with your carefully crafted headline, Reuters displays a false equivalence between the Palestinian terrorist who attacked an Israeli civilian and the fate of the attacker.
Through your selective memory, you are fueling a false narrative of Israel oppressing Palestinians, with no regard for relentless terror attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists.
This story fits in with a long-standing Reuters narrative, casting Israel as the aggressor and Palestinians as victims. Where is any mention of the recent spate of attacks on Jews at train stations and street corners? Where is a recap of the four rabbis murdered as they prayed at a synagogue last month by axe-toting terrorists? Where is discussion of constant Palestinian incitement?
This summer, Israel embarked on a defensive military operation, launched in the aftermath of relentless Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. But the Reuters narrative omits that fact and focuses on a false game of casualty counting.
As a global news agency, Reuters has a powerful platform. Unfortunately, it continues to shape global public opinion according to its own narrative rather than the facts.
Allan J. Jacobs Daniel S. Mariaschin
B’nai B’rith International President B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President