(Washington, D.C., March 15, 2019)–B’nai B’rith International is concluding its annual leadership visit to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where top volunteer leaders and staff fought against the council’s anti-Israel bias and advocated on behalf of global human rights.
From March 13 to March 15, some 15 B’nai B’rith leaders and supporters met with senior diplomats from 33 countries, including Canada, Australia, Hungary, Togo, France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Chile and Jordan. B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin led the delegation. Anita Winter, a B’nai B’rith representative in Geneva, delivered a statement on anti-Semitism to the Human Rights Council. Her statement can be viewed here (chapter 90) .
During the trip, the delegation met with member states to discuss serial human rights abusers, including Iran and Syria, and the UNHRC’s obsessive focus on Israel under “Item 7” — a permanent agenda item aimed only at Israel, while all other country situations are handled under a different agenda item. This session, a thoroughly flawed “commission of inquiry” report falsely accusing Israel of possible “war crimes” has also been discussed, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been under pressure to publish an unprecedented blacklist of companies deemed to be tied to Israeli settlements in disputed territory.
“The U.N. Human Rights Council disproportionately spends its time demonizing Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” Kaufman and Mariaschin said from Geneva. “We urge the UNHRC to shift its focus to the real human rights abuses around the world, rather than continuing to focus obsessively on the region’s only democracy, the State of Israel.”
The delegation also hosted a diplomatic reception at the Palais des Nations, the U.N.’s European hub, with an array of ambassadors. U.N. Office in Geneva Director-General Michael Møller and Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Aviva Raz Shechter addressed the reception.
In addition to Kaufman and Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith was represented by: Seth Riklin, chairman of the executive; Stéphane Teicher, senior vice president and chair of the International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy; Brad Adolph, senior vice president; Scott Knapp, senior vice president; Andrew Borans, member of the Executive Board of Directors; David Matas, B’nai B’rith Canada senior honorary counsel; Jeremy Havardi, director of the London Bureau of International Affairs; Ada Sadoun, president of the Mordecai Lodge Grenoble; David Calo of B’nai B’rith Milan; Winter; Zary Acher, Richard Sadoune and Nurit Braun of B’nai B’rith’s local Geneva team; members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity; David Michaels, director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs; and Ben Naegele, director of EU Affairs.
Michaels coordinated the meetings in Geneva together with U.N. Affairs Program Officer Oren Drori, from New York.
Days after B’nai B’rith concluded its formal mission to the human rights council, Michaels addressed the UNHRC during a debate on Agenda Item 7, an agenda item dedicated to condemning Israel. Click here to see his remarks.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org