B'nai B'rith leaders meet with MP Tarun Vijay. From left to right: Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels, Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, MP Tarun Vijay, International President Allan J. Jacobs,
Honorary President Kent E. Schiner, Executive Board of Directors Member Jorge Stainfeld.
A 20-member multinational B’nai B’rith International leadership delegation has concluded a mission to India featuring an array of meetings with senior government officials, religious leaders, foreign diplomats, civil-society figures and Jewish community representatives. Coming as India's relations with Israel and the United States continue to deepen significantly—and on the heels of a first-time visit to the Jewish state by an Indian president, in advance of one expected to follow by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi—the mission was organized to further strengthen ties with a vital and singularly diverse emerging global power and to encourage India's blossoming friendship with key fellow democracies.
B'nai B'rith is distinguished by a record of engagement with India going back to 1966, when it first established a branch there. Since then, B’nai B’rith has promoted awareness of historical intercommunal coexistence in the Indian city of Cochin, cosponsored holiday celebrations with the embassy of India in Washington, D.C., urged religious freedom for Hindus and others, dispatched humanitarian aid after natural disasters in south Asia, engaged with the Indian-American and other Diaspora communities and honored prominent Indian figures including businessman and philanthropist Ratan Tata. Last year, B’nai B’rith joined in meeting Modi on the sidelines of his first visit as prime minister to the United Nations.
While in India, the B’nai B’rith delegation met with key members of parliament as well as senior foreign ministry and other government officials; preeminent Muslim and other religious leaders; members of the royal families of Udaipur and Cochin; the ambassadors of the United States and Israel; leaders and members of Jewish communities in several cities; and prominent business and think-tank leaders. The visit of the group, which paid tribute to victims of the 2008 terrorist attacks at the Chabad House and other sites in Mumbai, has been reported by major Indian news outlets including The Times of India, The Hindu, Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi.
Among the issues discussed by B’nai B’rith leaders with officials in India were international terrorism, Israel's search for peace with its neighbors, the Iranian nuclear program, the United Nations’ posture on the Middle East and the need to promote interreligious tolerance globally.
Those participating in the mission were B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Judith B. Jacobs, Lake Forest, Ill.; Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin and Michal Mazal Mariaschin, Washington, D.C.; Honorary President Kent E. Schiner and Barbara L. Schiner, Baltimore, Md.; Senior Vice President Charles O. Kaufman and Jennifer R. Kaufman, Austin, Texas; Center for Human Rights and Public Policy and the Office of United Nations Affairs Chairman Joseph E. Harari and Joyce Nazli Beyda de Harari, Panama City, Panama; Executive Board of Directors Member Eric T. Engelmayer, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg; B’nai B’rith Panama Members Sion George Harari and Frida Abadi de Harari, Panama City, Panama; Executive Board of Directors Member Irving Silver and Frances G. Silver, Mobile, Ala.; Midwest Region President Steven L. Horowitz and Sandra W. Horowitz, Chicago, Ill.; Executive Board of Directors Member Jorge Elias Stainfeld Lieblein and Miriam Link, Montevideo, Uruguay; as well as staff facilitator and Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels, New York, N.Y.