B’nai B’rith International has concluded its annual leadership delegation visit to Geneva, where the group advocated on critical issues facing the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The delegation discussed the persistent bias against Israel at the UNHRC.
From March 6 to March 11, nearly 20 B’nai B’rith International leaders and supporters met with senior diplomats from 35 countries including the United States, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Japan, Jordan and Russia.
Three representatives from the national Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) also participated in the mission. The delegation was led by B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
“Facing constant unfair treatment of Israel, it is imperative that B’nai B’rith maintains close scrutiny of the Human Rights Council. The Council relentlessly accuses Israel—the only democracy in the Middle East—of human rights violations, even while unsurpassed human rights abusers, such as Syria and Iran, get minimal attention,” Saltzman said. “We need to hold the Council accountable for its hypocrisy.”
Throughout the week the delegation conducted private meetings with ambassadors and discussed the UNHRC’s ritualistic condemnatory resolutions and reports under the Council’s Item 7—which singles out Israel for scrutiny—as well as human rights crises in Iran, Syria and other countries. The delegation also hosted a diplomatic reception at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva. Michael Møller, director-general of the U.N. Office at Geneva, Israeli Ambassador Eviatar Manor and U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper addressed the audience, which included some two-dozen ambassadors and other diplomats.
“The systemic bias against Israel at the Human Rights Council is unacceptable. B’nai B’rith conducts bilateral meetings with ambassadors and other key diplomats because the Council’s prejudiced resolutions against Israel obstruct truth and distract from genuine human rights calamities,” Mariaschin said. “These resolutions only act as one more obstacle to peace in the region.”
In addition to Saltzman and Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith was represented by: Chairman of the Executive Peter Perlman, Detroit, Mich.; Senior Vice President Eric Engelmayer, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg; B’nai B’rith Europe President Daniel Citone, Rome, Italy; Director for EU Affairs Ben Naegele, Brussels, Belgium; Treasurer A. Michael Gellman, Potomac, Md.; David Matas, Winnipeg, Canada; Stéphane Teicher, Paris, France; Zary Acher, Geneva, Switzerland; Nurit Braun, Geneva, Switzerland; Klaus Netter, Geneva, Switzerland; Ada Sadoun, Geneva, Switzerland; Richard Sadoune, Geneva, Switzerland and Anita Winter, Zurich, Switzerland. Eden Adler, Ezra Gontownik and Jonathan Kamel represented AEPi.
B’nai B’rith International’s Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels coordinated the visit in Geneva together with U.N. Affairs Program Officer Oren Drori, from New York.