B'nai B'rith World Center Award for Journalism 2021
Professor Yedidia Z. Stern, president of the Jewish People Policy Institute, delivered the keynote address, entitled "The Israeli Identity Crisis," at the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage for 2021. The ceremony took place on Thursday, July 1 at the Konrad Adenauer Conference Center, Mishkenot Sha'ananim in Jerusalem.
In a video recording, President of the State Reuven Rivlin congratulated the winners of the important award and emphasized his special connection to B'nai B'rith thanks to his father, Professor Yosef Yoel Rivlin, who served as president of B'nai B'rith Israel.
Nachman Shai, Israel’s recently appointed minister of Diaspora affairs, delivered a speech via Zoom—one of his first speeches in his new position. He stated that The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs has three main tasks in strengthening the connection between Israel and the Diaspora: increasing solidarity, mutual commitment and a pluralistic approach to all streams of Judaism. Shai stressed that no stream has a monopoly on authentic Judaism.
Alan Schneider, director of the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem, stated that the award is widely recognized as the most prestigious prize in the Israeli media industry for Diaspora reportage and was established to help strengthen the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora. Referencing findings in a recently released Pew Research Center survey of Jewish Americans, Schneider pointed to evidence of a growing distancing of American Jews from Israel – the major challenge to Israel-Diaspora relations in the future.
Winners of the Award for 2021 are: Nurit Canetti, anchorwoman, editor-in-chief and producer of Galey Zahal—IDF Army Public Radio (broadcast media category) and Dan Lavie, Diaspora Affairs correspondent of Yisrael Hayom (print media category). In addition, Greer Fay Cashman, who has appeared in the Jerusalem Post for more than 45 years, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the author of the popular “Grapevine” column and the newspaper’s correspondent at the Office of the President of Israel. A special citation for Fostering Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts was presented to famous singer, songwriter and author Danny Sanderson. The citation was established in 2014 and has been presented to Nurit Hirsh, David D’Or, Idan Raichel, David Broza, Yehoram Gaon and the Shalva Band.
Since its establishment in 1992, the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reporting on contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities and on the state of Israel-Diaspora relations in the Israeli print, broadcast and online media. The award highlights the important contributions the media can make toward strengthening the relationship between Israel and world Jewry by encouraging quality reporting on Diaspora communities and Israel-Diaspora relations and is the most prestigious prize in this category. News of the ceremony was carried in major news outlets. The ceremony can be watched in its entirety here.
The distinguished members of the award jury are: Ya'akov Ahimeir, past editor and anchor, Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation and Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2016; Professor Yehudith Auerbach, School of Communication, Bar Ilan University; Professor Sergio DellaPergola, The Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University; Sallai Meridor, former Israeli ambassador to the United States and former chairman of the Zionist Executive and Jewish Agency for Israel; Professor Gabriela Shalev, Higher Academic Council, Ono Academic College and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations; journalist Yair Sheleg; Asher Weill, publisher and editor of “Ariel” The Israel Review of Arts and Letters (1981-2003).
B’nai B’rith Represented at Events Marking the 80th Anniversary of the Iasi Pogrom
B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider represented B’nai B’rith at events in Romania on June 28-29 marking the 80th anniversary of the June 1941 Iasi pogrom, the most deadly atrocity until then during World War II and one of the worst massacres in the Holocaust. An estimated 13,000 Jews were murdered between June 26 and July 6 on two death trains, at the police station and in the streets of Iasi. Prior to the Holocaust, one-third of the city's population was Jewish. The victims were buried in mass graves in three Jewish cemeteries.
Speaking at the Targu Frumos site, Schneider noted B’nai B’rith’s long history in Romania, going back to 1873 when International President Benjamine Pixotto was appointed U.S. consul to Romania by President Grant at the urging of B’nai B’rith with the express intention of helping the Jewish community overcome oppressive discrimination and anti-Semitism. Thirteen lodges had been established by 1887. These were closed by order of the Goga-Cuza regime in 1937 but continued to operate clandestinely until 1948 when B’nai B’rith Romania President Akiva Ornstein was arrested and tortured in jail, where he died in 1954. Schneider also praised the national, regional and local governments for accepting responsibility for the atrocities committed by police and army, taking orders from dictator Ion Antonescu. He called on the assembled to support the State of Israel as a homeland and heaven for the Jewish People.
The commemorative events included a two-day international conference at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, organized by the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania; entitled “Remembrance, Acknowledgement, Oblivion;” a concert; the dedication of a museum of the pogrom at the notorious former police station and ceremonies at the three cemeteries.
Participants in the events included Dr. Daniel Holtgen, special representative on anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and other forms of religious intolerance and hate crimes at the Council of Europe; Dr. Felix Klein, commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the fight against anti-Semitism; Alexandru Muraru, special representative of the Romanian Government for promoting the policies of memory, for fighting against anti-Semitism and xenophobia and adviser to the Romanian Prime Minister; the Israeli and Swiss ambassadors and U.S. chargé d’affaires to Romania and the presidents of the Romanian and Iasi Jewish communities. Schneider was invited to attend the events at the invitation of Romanian ambassador to Israel, Radu Ioanid.
World Center Holds Virtual Meeting of the Israel-Hellenic Forum
The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem held on June 16 an off-the-record Zoom session of the Israel-Hellenic Forum on “Great Power Competition in the Eastern Mediterranean” in cooperation with the Maritime Policy & Strategy Research Center, University of Haifa (HMS).
The keynote address was delivered by Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew A. Palmer, Bureau of European Affairs, U.S. Department of State and responses were made by Lt. General (ret.) Savvas Kolokouris, Honorary Commander of the 1st Division, Hellenic Armed Forces (Greece); Professor Rear Admiral (ret.) Shaul Chorev, Director, HMS (Israel) and MP Dr. Eleni Stavrou, former member of the Cypriot House of Representatives (Cyprus). Opening and closing statements were made by Forum co-conveners B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin and Dr. George Tzogopoulos.
The session covered a wide range of topics including the U.S. role in Eastern Mediterranean, challenges from China, Russia and Turkey to stability in the region, the persecution of Christian minorities in the Middle East and economic and military cooperation between “3+1” countries: Israel, Greece, Cyprus and the U.S. The meeting included a lively Q&A session and discussion.
Participants included Dr. Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, MP Dr. Dimitris Keridis, chairman of the Greece-Israel Friendship Committee of Greece’s parliament and Professor Amikam Nachmani of Bar-Ilan University.
The Israel-Hellenic Forum was founded by the B’nai B’rith World Center in 2019 to further the relationship between the three democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean and includes some 90 leading academics, government and elected officials, public figures and journalists from Israel, Greece and Cyprus.
The forum was launched in November 2019 in Jerusalem at an inaugural conference with the participation of over 60 participants from Israel, Greece, Cyprus and the US. Its activities have continued since with events in Athens and on-line consultations. For more information: https://israelhellenicforum.org/.
B’nai B’rith World Center and Bar-Ilan University Finkler Center of Holocaust Research Hold Virtual Book Launch
The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University’s Finkler Center of Holocaust Research held on June 14 a virtual book launch for their new volume, “All Our Brothers and Sisters: Jews Saving Jews During the Holocaust,” published by Peter Lang (Bern). The book was edited by Finkler Center Director Professor Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz and World Center Director Alan Schneider.
The event included a special presentation by Rabbi Professor (emeritus) Simon Schwarzfuchs, a member of the Jewish Resistance in France in 1942-44 and opening remarks by Att. Aryeh Barnea, Chairman, Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust. Six of the book’s contributors held a panel discussion, moderated by Professor Gideon Greif, senior lecturer and researcher, Faculty for Judaic Studies, Ono Academic College and Chief Historian and Researcher, “Shem Olam” Institute, on the topic “Has the Concept of ‘Jews Saving Jews’ become Part of Collective Holocaust Memory?”
Panelists included Professor Patrick Henry, Cushing Eells Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Literature, Whitman College; Dr. Tsilla Hershco, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), Bar-Ilan University; Professor Dalia Ofer, Max and Rita Haber Professor of Holocaust and East European Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (emeritus); Dr. Mordecai Paldiel, Yeshiva University-Stern College and Touro College, former director of the Righteous Among the National Department, Yad Vashem and Professor Raymond C. Sun, Associate Professor of History, Washington State University.
Interview on Jews Saving Jews during the Holocaust
CEO Dan Mariaschin interviewed on June 15 Professor Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz and B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider about the new book they've co-edited, “All Our Brothers and Sisters: Jews Saving Jews During the Holocaust." Baumel-Schwartz and Schneider reflect on the heroism of Jews throughout Europe who put their own lives in jeopardy to rescue other Jews from the hands of the Nazis and why their courageous actions deserve our recognition.
B’nai B’rith Meets with Incoming Canadian Ambassador to Israel
B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider met on May 20 with incoming Canadian Ambassador to Israel Lisa Stadelbauer at her residence in advance of presentation of credentials to President Reuven Rivlin. The meeting focused on Hamas’ aggression against Israel during Operation Guardian of the Wall, the outbreak of wanton violence among Israeli Arabs aimed at Jews during the conflict in sympathy with Hamas and increased anti-Semitic violence against Jews in Canada and elsewhere around the world.
B’nai B’rith Presents Endowment to Support Israeli Children Who Lost One or Both Parents to Terror Attacks or Disease
B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider presented on May 13 the B’nai B’rith Edith “Pat” Wolfson Endowment in support of Israeli orphans for 2021 to Elyashiv Horgan (13), the youngest child of Esther Horgan (52), who was murdered by terrorist Muhammad Marwah Kabha on Dec. 20, 2020 while jogging in the Shaked Forest, near the family home. Kabha, who was apprehended by security forces on Dec. 24 following an intensive manhunt, told interrogators that he had ethno-religious reasons for killing Horgan.
Schneider made the presentation at the family home in the northern Samaria village of Tal Menashe.
In addition to Elyashiv, Esther left her parents, aged 93 and 92, three elder sisters, her husband Benjamin, five grownup children and two grandchildren. Subsequent to the murder, the government approved plans to nearly double the population of Tal Menashe—where Esther and Benjamin were among the founders some 20 years ago—to 250 families.
Horgan worked as an artist, focusing her activities on Judaica and children’s books illustrations, and as a marriage counselor and coach in Hadera, Netanya and Jerusalem. She also contributed articles on psychology and couples therapy to the weekly French-language magazine Le P’tit Hebdo. In Horgan’s memory, the family announced a project to build a fitness and recreation park in the Shaked Forest that will bear witness and tell the story of Esther’s life, for which they are currently raising funds. “Our goal is that we will help visitors play a role in living out Esther’s life by simply celebrating life in nature,” the family said.
The presentation was made as part of the World Center’s project to support Israeli children who have lost a parent or both parents to terror or disease. The World Center has been charged with administering the Edith “Pat” Wolfson Endowment grant since its inception in 2005.
Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security VP and World Center Director Brief B’nai B’rith Leaders on Israel Situation
During a briefing for B’nai B’rith leaders about the latest on the situation in Israel on May 12 , Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, summarized the situation: “Why is Hamas doing it? Answers are fairly straight forward: It has been cornered. They pinned their hopes on the Palestinian elections.” He continued that “Hamas is livid with [Palestinian leader Mahmoud] Abbas and these rocket attacks and violence are part of the internal Palestinian power play.”
He addressed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strategic decisions for its defensive response, noting that the idea to remove some high-level—but not top-level—Hamas operatives is to disrupt Hamas capabilities and send a powerful message.
In response to a question from President Charles O. Kaufman about the future of Gaza, Lerman said that the IDF does not want to rule over millions of additional Palestinians. That the IDF can defeat Hamas “at any moment of our choice” but if it does so, then Israel “will inherit the Gaza strip for a prolonged period of time.”
Lerman also said that part of this strategy is to keep an eye on Iran. Israel does not want to tie up its forces fighting Hamas when Tehran’s ceaseless threats against Israel continue.
Lerman and Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem, agreed there is perhaps a bigger issue to be considered beyond the current violence. Lerman also said that beyond the rocket fire and the attacks on synagogues, which he likened to pogroms, there is a serious long-term issue of a “profound rift” that may set back many years “in terms of Jewish-Arab relations,” and that this issue is one of Israel’s political future. He said that the deeper problem is “how to restore Jewish-Arab relations. That will take more work and more complicated work than anyone anticipated.”
Schneider added that it is vital to “put Hamas back in the box,” but that the ongoing issue is “the Arabs we live with.” The need to deal with that intercommunal issue is a serious problem, he said.
Lerman noted that Hamas is clearly committing war crimes and that Israel should welcome an International Criminal Court investigation, but he does not expect the ICC to investigate Hamas.
Lerman and Schneider agreed that Israelis have yet to feel the presence of American Jewry’s support, in a much louder and clearer manner.
CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, who moderated the briefing, said of B’nai B’rith, “We count ourselves among Israel’s staunchest supporters.” He added that we will continue to work day and night to advocate for a strong and secure Israel.
2021 B'nai B'rith Yom HaShoah Ceremony From Jerusalem
B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael - Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) hosted the 20th annual ceremony commemorating the heroism of Jewish rescuers during the Holocaust on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, April 8, 2021 at the B’nai B’rith Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza. The Jewish Rescuers Citation was conferred at the ceremony on 13 heroes from across Europe. Speakers at the ceremony included Radu Ioanid, Romanian Ambassador to Israel, Noam Semel, director of Habima National Theatre and son-in-law of Jewish rescuer Itschak Artzi, World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz and KKL Chairman Avraham Duvdevani.
B’nai B’rith Assists in Coastal Cleanup
B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider joined other representatives of the Zionist Executive, World Zionist Organization employees and youth group members in a day of volunteer cleanup efforts on the Bat Yam beach, south of Tel Aviv. In one of the country’s worst ecological disasters to date, Israel’s beaches along nearly all of its 190-kilometer Mediterranean cost were polluted on February in a major oil spill caused by a pirate Libyan tanker that was loaded in Iran, according to Israeli Minister of Environmental Affairs Gila Gamliel.
The WZO delegation to the cleanup efforts was organized by Dror Morag, head of the WZO Department for Social Activism, Tikkun Olam and Preservation of Zionist Heritage. A heavy storm and unusually high waves prevented an early detection of the approaching tar and its removal at sea. All of Israel's beaches have been closed as a result of the pollution and a call was made to not go swimming or to play sports on the beach. Experts predict it will take months or even years to clean the beaches from the tar that has killed and injured wildlife on the coast, including birds and turtles.
The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust presented their joint Jewish Rescuers Citation in honor of 18 heroes at a moving virtual ceremony on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27).
The ceremony, which took place mainly in Hebrew (see here), included presentations by relatives of all of the recipients —in one case a span of four generations.
Other speakers at the ceremony were B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim Katz and Director Alan Schneider, Committee Chairman Aryeh Barnea and Vice-Chairman Yuval Alpan, and Dr. Mordecai Paldiel, former director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem.
Only two of the recipients—Professor Simon Schwarzfuchs and Professor Arnold Arthur Einhorn, who were active in the Jewish underground in France in rescuing Jews - are still alive in Jerusalem and Washington, D.C., respectively. To date, 344 Jewish rescuers who risked their lives to save other Jews in Germany and Austria, and across Nazi-allied and occupied Europe and North Africa, have been recognized through the citation since its inception in 2011.
Until the Jewish Rescuer Citation, there had been virtually no attention paid to the phenomena of Jewish rescue. Even with over 300 honorees, we still are working to bring more attention to these heroes.
Many who could have tried to flee preferred to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives. With great heroism, Jews in every country in occupied Europe employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that Jews survived the Holocaust, or assisted them in escaping to a safe heaven, and in doing so foiled the Nazi goal of total genocide against the Jews.
The Jewish Rescuers Citation was established to help correct the generally held misconception that Jews failed to come to the aid of fellow Jews during the Holocaust. Until the Jewish Rescuer Citation, there had been virtually no attention paid to the phenomena of Jewish rescue. Even with 344 honorees, we still are working to bring more attention to these heroes. Many who could have tried to flee preferred to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives. With great heroism, Jews in every country in occupied Europe employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that Jews survived the Holocaust, or assisted them in escaping to a safe haven, and in doing so foiled the Nazi goal of total genocide against the Jews.
Ben-Gurion University and B'nai B'rith Undertake Joint Course on Israel-Greece-Cyprus Relations
In a historic first, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the University of Cyprus in Nicoria and the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki offered a joint online course in Greek and Hebrew for the 2021 spring semester on the legacy of diplomatic relations between Israel, Cyprus and Greece from the late 1940s to the present. B'nai B'rith International initiated and sponsored the course as part of its efforts to connect public officials, academics and others from Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the Greek expatriate community in the United States. Over 60 students from the three countries completed the course.
Professor Paula Kabalo, director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute said, "It is time for Cyprus to fully embody what it really means to us — the good neighbor to the west. The one we could always count on. The one who shares a climate, culture and historical experiences. The good neighbor that you do not just knock on the door to ask for a glass of milk but one with which you share your life. We hope that this unique course will lead to additional varied collaborations."
"Over the last decade, the State of Israel, Greece and the Republic of Cyprus have created collaborations in a variety of areas. An academic course that reflects the significance and potential of these collaborations fits neatly into B'nai B'rith's policy to connect communities," said Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem. "B'nai B'rith's participation in this initiative came about through the Israel-Hellenic Forum we founded. The founding conference was held in Jerusalem in November 2019 with the participation of leading public officials from the three countries."
The coursed covered the mutual past of the three countries helping students to understanding the countries' foreign policies and acquire the necessary skills to advance Israeli-Cypriot-Greek relations. The students learned about the major issues through primary sources — official documents, diplomatic reports, and Israeli, Greek and Cypriot newspaper articles.
The course was taught by Dr. Gabriel Haritos - a Greek postdoctoral researcher at the Azrieli Center for Israel Studies at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism on BGU's Sde Boker campus, and is fluent in Greek and Hebrew.
"Despite the close geographic proximity and the coexistence between Jews and Greeks for hundreds of years, this is perhaps the first time that the Israeli and Cypriot academies are collaborating to illuminate the recent history of diplomatic relations between Israel, Cyprus and Greece. There is no doubt that we will go far thanks to this pioneering spirit," Haritos said.
The course will be presented again next year with Pantheon University as the Greek partner institution.
Three Cabinet Ministers Address B’nai B’rith World Center’s “Israel-Hellenic Forum”
The Israel-Hellenic Forum – a program of the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem – held on December 17 an exclusive briefing by Zoom for its members with the participation of three government ministers: Greek Minister for Development and Investment Adonis Georgiadis, Cypriot Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Natasa Pilides and Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Ofir Akunis.
The meeting focused on recent developments in areas of trade, investment and cooperation between Israel, Greece and Cyprus and beyond. The meeting also provided a platform for forum members to present their initiatives to promote bilateral, trilateral and multilateral collaboration. Expressing support for Israel’s expanding diplomatic relations with Muslim countries under the Abraham Accords, Minister Georgiadis said that, “These are things that encourage that the future will be much better for all of us. We want to make this process deeper and accelerate, and the economy will play a key role in that.”
Minister Pilides provided a detailed presentation on post-Covid-19 regional cooperation and Cyprus’ recovery plans for energy, commerce and industry. She said that cooperation between countries in the region is extremely important and is a policy that has been pursued by Greece, Israel and Cyprus with real tangible results.
Minister Akunis opened his presentation by noting that, as the grandson of Jews who made aliya in the 1930’s from Saloniki, the Greek-Israeli relationship is important to him not only as a minister and member of parliament, but on a personal level. He expressed the hope that the Regional Economic Forum will bring a vision of prosperity to the region. He predicted that one additional state will announce their intention to forge diplomatic relations with the State of Israel.