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.”
Five years ago, B'nai B'rith International commemorated the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, in part, by urging the United States government to help support the Auschwitz Memorial that had fallen critically short of funding.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum serves as a tribute to the lives lost at the most notorious of Nazi concentration camps, and also serves as a crucial reminder of the danger of hatred and intolerance to future generations.
B'nai B'rith asked President Barack Obama and the Senate Appropriations Committee to consider a $5 million budget item that could be designated to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation Perpetual Fund to help restore and maintain the memorial facilities.
Highlights of the statement can be read below:
The 2010 budget, released that July, reflected that the United States government was listening.
Rather than the $5 million B'nai B'rith International requested, the United States devoted $15 million to the fund:
As president and chief executive officer, Thompson is responsible for the overall operation of UHC. Under her leadership UHC’s membership has grown significantly to 117 academic medical centers and nearly 330 of their affiliated hospitals. UHC represents the majority of the nation’s nonprofit academic medical centers to help them improve clinical, operational and financial performance.
Thompson is a member and the immediate past chair of the American Heart Association Midwest Affiliate Board of Directors and a member of the American Heart Association National Corporate Operations Committee. She also serves on the boards of directors for America’s Essential Hospitals and the National Center for Healthcare Leadership. Previously, Thompson served as board chair for UHC and for the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems. She was president of the Kansas City, Kan., Chamber of Commerce and has served on numerous other community not-for-profit boards. In 2013 and 2007, Thompson was named one of Modern Healthcare Magazine’s Top 25 Women in Healthcare.
“With her current position overseeing UHC and all of its affiliates, combined with her work at the American Heart Association and a number of other non-profits, it’s clear that Irene Thompson is truly a leader in the field of health care. Not only is her track record impressive, but the number of leaders in her field endorsing her with the announcement of this award speaks to how deserving a recipient she is,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
The recipients of the B’nai B’rith National Healthcare Award have shown a history of dedicated leadership and outstanding civic involvement in the health care field and in the broader community. Award winners support philanthropic causes benefiting health, youth, seniors and education programs.
The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh, Pa. takes an in-depth look at a local chapter of the B'nai B'rith Bowling Association, which has been rolling in western Pennsylvania for nearly 40 years.
The club bowls every Wednesday night at Fun Fest in Harmarville, Pa., beginning at 8 p.m. Current league members range in age from 20-75.
Read highlights from the article, below:
In Harmarville on Wednesday nights, a group of Jewish men bowl. For many of them, this has been common practice for well over three decades.
The bowlers are affiliated with the International B’nai B’rith Bowling Association. For years, between 10 and 15 members of the local group traveled to the International B’nai B’rith Bowling Tournament.
Throughout the year, the group throws multiple social events. In the past, bowling-themed stag parties have occurred at Congregation Beth Shalom in Squirrel Hill, area restaurants or Rivers Casino. At the end of the year, the group hosts a banquet and awards prize money to members.
During the season, bowling occurs on Wednesday nights at Fun Fest in Harmarville, 2525 Freeport Road. Prospective members can contact Neustein at 412-422-2782 for more information.
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:
On this date in 1965, B'nai B'rith International was cited in an article in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for its efforts to end all religious intolerance in the United Nations.
The advocacy efforts were later detailed by Dr. William E. Korey, director of the New York Bureau of the B'nai B'rith International Council, in the February 1965 issue of the National Jewish Monthly, a publication produced by B'nai B'rith:
This month, the United Nations General Assembly will be deeply involved in creating a historic and powerful legal instrument directed against discrimination on racial and ethnic grounds. The so-called 'Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination' will bind all states that ratify it to take specific measures aimed at removing barriers to human dignity.
The end goal of the Convention was to ensure religious freedom throughout the world. This is a policy upon which the organization has made great strides, and is still vigorously pursued by B'nai B'rith International 50 years later.
Read the JTA article in its entirety, below:
U. N. Body Hears More Jewish Pleas to Protect Religious Rights
January 20, 1965
Two international organizations–one of which has the American Jewish Committee as an affiliate, and the other representing B’nai B’rith and the Board of Deputies of British Jews–urged a United Nations body here today not only to adopt an international convention calling for the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, but also to formulate procedures of implementation which would put enforcement teeth into a UN document guaranteeing religious freedom throughout the world.
The steps were taken here before the United Nations Sub commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. This 14 member body has before it several preliminary drafts of a religious freedoms convention which became international law when finally adopted by the UN General Assembly and ratified by a sufficient number of member states.
The statements were submitted by the International League for the Rights of Man, represented here by Sidney Liskofsky, a staff member of the American Jewish Committee, which is affiliated with the League; and by Gustav Warburg, representing the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, comprised of the B’nai B’rith and the British Board.
It was a devastating start to the new year in France, as a total of 17 innocent civilians were executed by Islamic terrorists in four separate incidents in Paris.
After a major attack on the satirical publisher Charlie Hebdo on Thursday, the Jewish community was specifically targeted with a deadly hostage situation on Friday in the kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher.
While anti-Semitic attacks in France have largely flown under the radar in recent years, they are increasingly common for the French Jewish community.
B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin was quoted in an article in the Jewish News Service, urging European leaders to be proactive against fanatical Islam.
Read excerpts from the story, below:
Since the March 2012 attack in which Mohammed Merah killed three children and a rabbi at Jewish school in Toulouse, the threat of Islamic terrorism has not let up for Jews and the general public in France.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin told JNS.org that those outside of France and Europe should “call on leadership to really begin to address this growing menace” of Islamism.
“These threats are threats [not only to Jews but also] to the democratic fabric of post-war Europe,” and European leaders cannot go on much longer without well-organized efforts to deal with the problem, Mariaschin said.
The United Nations Security Council Tuesday rejected a Palestinian resolution demanding Israel withdraw from disputed territories within three years. The motion fell one short of the minimum nine “yes” votes in the Security Council. It received eight “yes” votes, two “no” votes and five abstentions:
No: The United States and Australia
Yes: Russia, China, France, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg.
Abstain: The United Kingdom, Lithuania Nigeria, South Korea and Rwanda.
Nevertheless, Abbas continues to pin the Palestinian Authority’s hopes on the United Nations instead of engaging in serious negotiations with Israel.
A day after the Palestinian bid for a mandatory Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines failed at the UN Security Council, Mahmoud Abbas signed a Palestinian request to join the International Criminal Court. He plans to bring Israeli officials before the court for alleged war crimes.
Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says “That step will be blocked too. If anyone needs to fear facing the international court, it is the Palestinians.”
B’nai B’rith International says Abbas’ machinations have made patently clear its unpreparedness to make the hard decisions necessary to finally achieve peace and coexistence.
Abbas’ path of confrontation and unilateralism gravely violates his responsibility to end the conflict through meaningful
direct negotiations and compromise with Israel. His path also denies Israel basic guarantees of its security and
recognition as a Jewish state.
Cuban security arrested Gross in December 2009, sending a strong message to the U.S. government and collecting a bargaining chip to help in negotiations over Cuba’s biggest grievance with Washington: the 1998 arrest in Miami of the “Cuban Five,” spies convicted of contributing to the deaths of four Americans.
It is likely that Gross was targeted because he is Jewish—not out of anti-Semitism, but because his identity would make him a more valuable asset during negotiations.
Soon after Gross was jailed, a campaign to win his release took shape. The American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Orthodox Union all played a role.
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