In its coverage of Amnesty International UK's new anti-Israel report, JNS included B'nai B'rith International's statement condemning such a blatant attempt to exile and eliminate the only Jewish nation in the world.
(January 31, 2022 / JNS) A new report by Amnesty International UK set to be published on Feb. 1 accuses Israel of “apartheid” and “institutionalized and systematic discrimination against Palestinians.” Amnesty said it has “concluded that Israel has perpetrated the international wrong of apartheid as a human-rights violation and a violation of public international law.”
The report accuses “almost all of Israel’s civilian administration and military authorities, as well as governmental and quasi-governmental institutions” as being involved “in the enforcement of the system of apartheid against Palestinians across Israel and the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories] and against Palestinian refugees and their descendants outside the territory.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was quick to condemn the report in a press release on Monday. He said Amnesty is “another radical organization that echoes propaganda with no serious examination. Instead of seeking facts, Amnesty quotes lies spread by terrorist organizations.”
He said the accusations against Israel are “a delusion divorced from reality.”
“Israel is not perfect, but it is a democracy committed to international law and open to scrutiny, with a free press and strong Supreme Court,” said Lapid, noting that Amnesty does not make the same accusation against Syria “an ‘apartheid state’—a country whose government murdered half a million of its own citizens—nor Iran, or any other corrupt and murderous regime in Africa or Latin America.”
“I hate to use the argument that if Israel were not a Jewish state, nobody in Amnesty would dare argue against it, but in this case, there is no other possibility,” he said.
The organization said it has based its findings on decades of field research “collecting evidence of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Israel and the OPT, and on publications by Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations in addition to academic studies, monitoring by grassroots activist groups, reports by U.N. agencies, experts and human rights bodies and media articles.”
The report, titled “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity,” accuses Israel of “institutionalized segregation and discrimination against Palestinians, as a racial group, in all areas under its control amounts to a system of apartheid, and a serious violation of Israel’s human-rights obligations.”
Amnesty UK is not the only organization to accuse Israel of apartheid.
In April, Human Rights Watch released a similar 213-page report titled, “A Threshold Crossed,” which accused Israel of committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.
That report also came under heavy criticism for its anti-Israel bias, ignoring of Palestinian rejectionism, downplaying the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the application of double standards when discussing Israel.
‘Pour more oil on the fire of anti-Semitism’
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the report “consolidates and recycles lies, inconsistencies and unfounded assertions that originate from well-known anti-Israeli hate organizations, all with the aim of reselling damaged goods in new packaging. Repeating the same lies of hate organizations over and over does not make the lies reality, but rather makes Amnesty illegitimate.”
B’nai B’rith International president Seth Riklin and CEO Daniel Mariaschin also condemned the report in a statement, saying, “The reality is that Israeli Arabs sit in Israel’s current government and on Israel’s Supreme Court. They have the same right to vote as all Israelis. They have their own media. Arabic is an official language of Israel. Amnesty’s libelous claim of ‘apartheid’ is simply baseless.”
In advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, B'nai B'rith International hosted a global program focused on collective responsibility to remember and educate about the Shoah.
We were joined by distinguished guests, including new German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Canadian Special Envoy Irwin Cotler and Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan. Read more about the event and rewatch our commemoration.
See how media outlets covered the ceremony:
BILD (in German)
Baerbock Speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day
German Federal Foreign Office
Speech by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the virtual event “International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Responsibilities for All of Society” hosted by B’nai B’rith International
Watch live as German foreign minister speaks at Holocaust memorial event
Anti-Semitism is toxic to democracies’: B’nai B’rith Holocaust event draws world leaders to hear crucial message
Jüdische Allgemeine (in German)
Israel's security is and remains a matter of state
Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger/KSTA (in German)
Day of Remembrance: Baerbock "ashamed" of increase in anti-Semitism in Germany
Political and General News Events from Jan. 21-24
Radio Constanta (in Romanian)
Calendar – January 24
Rador - Altfel (in Romanian)
Forecasts for the week of January 24-30, 2022
RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland/RND (in German)
This is unbearable”: Baerbock “ashamed” of increasing anti-Semitism in Germany
United Nations Holocaust memorial ceremony (Live Stream of B'nai B'rith Event)
WELT (in German)
"People wearing yellow stars that say 'unvaccinated' - unbearable"
Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa wrote an op-ed for The Jerusalem Post in conjunction with CAM's International Holocaust Remembrance Day event honoring two Greek Righteous Among the Nations, during which B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin delivered opening remarks. B'nai B'rith International was also a partner for CAM's program.
When historian and Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer spoke before the Bundestag in 1998, he declared that it was important to add three additional commandments to the original ten. Before the room of German politicians, he said:
That was over 20 years ago, and despite the protestations, it is clear that there remain many atrocities and massacres still being perpetrated around the world.
The questions we have to ask ourselves is how we ensure that these types of events are not repeated and ensure that future generations neither perpetrate nor passively stand by while others are involved in such egregious horrors.
Like every generation, today’s youth look to musicians, actors and athletes as their heroes in an ever-encompassing social media-driven world. These ‘heroes’ do not provide the next generations with the ability to distinguish between good and bad, or the moral fiber to face the ethical global challenges of the day.
Instead, social media influencers could be utilizing their power, impact and the ability to inspire younger generations for good. They could celebrate and disseminate the great stories of heroism of those who, during the greatest mass slaughter in modern history, chose to stand up to evil.
That is why the Combat Antisemitism Movement, on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with our partners, B’nai B’rith International, the National Hellenic Society, European March of The Living and the Hellenic American Women’s Council, will be celebrating the remarkable heroism of Loukas Karrer and Dimitrios Chrysostomos.
Before the Second World War, 275 Jews lived on the island of Zakynthos off the coast of mainland Greece. Nazi forces arrived in Zakynthos on September 9th, 1943 and demanded a complete list of the island’s Jews from mayor Loukas Karrer.
Unsure of how to proceed, Karrer turned to the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church on the island, Metropolitan Dimitrios Chrysostomos, for assistance. Chrysostomos assured Karrer that he would negotiate with the Nazis and ensure the protection of the Jewish community of Zakynthos.
After hesitating for months, the Nazis confronted Karrer at gunpoint to give up the names and locations of Zakynthos’s Jews. At this point, Chrysostomos handed the island’s Nazi leadership a list of the island’s Jews with two names on it: Loukas Karrer and Dimitrios Chrysostomos.
The two leaders then mobilized the island’s citizens to hide all of the town’s Jewish people in rural villages, allowing them to escape deportation. While more than 80% of Greek Jews were killed during the Holocaust, the entire Jewish community of Zakynthos was saved. Loukas Karrer and Dimitrios Chrysostomos were honored in 1977 with the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for saving their island’s Jewish community.
THIS IS AN extraordinary episode which amply highlights the ability of individuals to make a difference and save lives. There are now generations of people who are alive just because of the actions of these two courageous leaders, one political and one religious.
They understood that their leadership positions did not just give them authority, but also responsibility. When confronted with a choice between endangering themselves and saving many people, most of whom it is doubtful they knew intimately, they placed the welfare of others above their own.
This story of heroism, and many others like it, should be widely known and recognized. They should be honored for their actions and their strong moral and ethical stands.
Especially in Greece, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) – which brings together governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance – it is important to show how fellow nationals nobly acted during a time when so many did not.
However, the lessons go far beyond space and time and are as applicable today as they were in 1943. The way we ensure ‘Never Again’ is to make sure the lessons of the past are clearly understood.
Of course, we must raise the alarm when we hear hate speech gaining ground, the scapegoating of populations and the call to harm people because of their race, religion or background. But we must also teach about the meaning of heroism so there will be good people who can stand up when the moment necessitates action.
Those like Karrer and Chrysostomos should not just be honored but celebrated, and their rousing stories should be spread much further than the latest YouTube sensation.
On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we should be thinking of how to celebrate heroism, specifically those of the Righteous Among the Nations. They are a vital part of Holocaust and education, but they are an even greater antidote to the possibility of the next mass murder or genocide.
Social media can become a source of positive impact, and those who wield extraordinary influence on its platforms can use their following to ensure the heroes of the Holocaust – those who stood against ultimate and industrial-scale evil – become the standard-bearers for today’s global challenges against hate and intolerance.
Then, we can truly say we are fulfilling Bauer’s three extra commandments.
Coverage of B'nai B'rith Awarding Teddy Kollek a Jewish Rescuers Citation Posthumously in Advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day
A Jewish Rescuers Citation was presented in memory of Teddy Kollek (1911-2007), former mayor of Jerusalem, at a ceremony held in Hebrew at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. The citation, a joint project of the B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust, was conferred in recognition of Kollek’s heroic efforts to rescue fellow Jews in Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria. Read more about the event.
The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust (JRJ) created the Jewish Rescuer Citation in 2011 to honor and pay respect Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. Since then, nearly 600 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, Holland, France, Slovakia, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Belarus, Italy, Poland, Morocco, Algiers, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Belgium.
See how media outlets covered the ceremony:
Israel National News - Arutz Sheva
"The sign of the Jewish savior" – To the late Teddy Kollek
Grapevine January 21, 2022: Herzog weighs in on Meron tragedy
Legendary Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek will be memorialized yet again through a Jewish Rescuers’ Citation to be presented in his memory by the B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust. BBWC has for several years now, honored Jews who saved Jews. The citation will be presented this coming Sunday, January 23 at 6.30 p.m. at the Jerusalem Cinematheque in recognition of Kollek’s heroic efforts to rescue fellow Jews in Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria.
In the spring of 1939, Kollek left England for German-occupied Czechoslovakia to undertake a complex and dangerous mission to allow Jews to transfer assets to Great Britain. From Czechoslovakia, Kollek, carrying a great many certificates for Austrian Jews, continued to Vienna for a meeting with Adolf Eichmann, who at the time was head of Jewish Affairs at the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst – SD). The meeting took place in April 1939 at SD headquarter in Villa Rothschild, which had been nationalized by the Nazis. Taking considerable personal risk at so dangerous a time, Kollek succeeded in convincing Eichmann to apply to Austrian Jews the same regulations that allowed Jews to still leave Germany with entry permits from foreign countries. In doing so, he saved many lives.
The citation will be presented in conjunction with the premiere screening of the film Recognition, directed by Shoshi Ben Hamo and produced and initiated by Avraham Huli. The film tells the exceptional story of rescue of Jews by fellow Jews who endangered their lives to do so during the Holocaust. The rescuers operated in cities, villages, ghettos, and camps and employed resourcefulness, tenacity and courage, risking their lives to save others. Some paid with their lives and those of their families. The film was shot in Israel, France, Poland, Greece, Holland and Hungary, beginning in 2016.
Speakers at the event will be Osnat Kollek, the daughter of Teddy and Tamar Kollek; Arie Barnea, chairman of the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust; BBWC Director Alan Schneider; Huli and the film’s historical adviser Prof. Gideon Greif.
Grapevine: Talking Teddy Kollek
No signs, no recognition: the Jews who saved Jews in the Holocaust (in Hebrew)
Tornos News covered our virtual forum – co-hosted with the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA), American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations – with the American ambassadors to Israel, Greece and Cyprus.
Associated Press reports from Washington DC that the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA), American Hellenic Institute (AHI), B’nai B’rith International, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, on January 19, held a virtual Ambassadors Forum with the US ambassadors to Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus Judith Garber, and U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt briefed the leadership of each of the four organizations on the 3+1 framework in the Eastern Mediterranean, touching on developments in sectors such as energy, defense and security, commerce, and tourism.
Following the briefing, the organizations issued the following statement:
“We sincerely thank Ambassadors Nides, Garber, and Pyatt for their generous time and for highlighting the importance of the trilateral partnership and the engagement of the United States as part of the 3+1 framework.
“The 3+1 framework is in the best of interest of the United States as it fosters peace, security, stability, and shared democratic values and ideals, in a vital region. We will continue to lend our broad diaspora support, ideas, and encouragement for advancing the framework, especially as we plan our fifth Leadership Mission to Israel, Cyprus, and Greece, later this year.”
The participants were AHEPA Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas and Executive Director Basil Mossaidis, AHI President Nick Larigakis, AHI Foundation President Leon Andris, AHI Foundation Board Member James Lagos, AHI Board Member Kostas Alexakis, B’nai B’rith International President Seth J. Riklin, CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, Director of B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Alan Schneider, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chair Dianne Lob, CEO William C. Daroff, and Vice-Chair Malcolm Hoenlein.
The Jewish Journal covered our tweet, along with tweets and statements made by other Jewish organizations, regarding the hostage situation at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.
A gunman has taken a rabbi and three others hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, TX on January 15.
The hostage situation started toward the end of Shabbat services at Congregation Beth Israel; the suspect is reportedly calling for sister, Aafia Siddiqui, to be released from prison. Authorities have yet to confirm that the suspect is in fact Siddiqui’s brother. Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, was sentenced to 86 years in prison in 2010 for attempting to kill United States soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan. She is currently serving her sentence at Federal Medical Center Carswell prison in Fort Worth. The gunman reportedly said during a live stream of the services he is “going to die doing this” and that the hostages are “going to die.”
As of this writing, no one has been injured inside the synagogue. SWAT and the FBI are at the scene and the White House is monitoring the situation. The situation is ongoing.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also tweeted that he is monitoring the situation. “We pray for the safety of the hostages and rescuers,” he wrote.
Various Jewish groups voiced their prayers for the hostages and called for a peaceful resolution.
B'nai B'rith tweeted: "We are closely monitoring reports of a possible hostage situation unfolding at Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. We are praying for a swift and peaceful outcome."
The rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, has been the rabbi of the congregation since 2006 and was previously the president of the South West Association of Reform Rabbis, according to the synagogue’s website. He also previously worked for Focus: HOPE, a Detroit-based organization focusing on ending racism and poverty, and Amherst Survival Center, a Massachusetts-based organization providing food for the needy. Cytron-Walker is the first full-time rabbi at the synagogue and Congregation Beth Israel is a reform synagogue that was first established in 1998.
A 2014 Foreign Policy article stated that Siddiqui is known as “Lady Al Qaeda” over her alleged ties to the terror group. According to Jewish News Syndicate, Siddiqui was initially arrested by Afghan police in 2008 for carrying sodium cyanide and a flash drive filled with instructions on how to build Weapons of Mass Destruction. While detained, Siddiqui allegedly grabbed a rifle on the floor and fired it at U.S. military personnel. Siddiqui has denied the allegations and over the years various activists have called for her freedom, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR did condemn the ongoing hostage situation.
As Texas synagogue hostage situation unfolded, Jewish community worried, prayed and sought solidarity
The Forward noted our call, along with other Jewish organizations and elected officials, for solidarity and a peaceful outcome to the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. The hostages were eventually released later that day, January 15, 2022.
As the hostage situation at a synagogue near Fort Worth, Texas, continued into Saturday night, Jewish leaders shared calls for solidarity and prayers for the hostages and their community.
A man took four people hostage in Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel late Saturday morning, professing to be the brother of Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence in a facility near the synagogue. Siddiqui, a relative by marriage of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, a primary organizer of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is serving time for an attempt on the lives of American military personnel after her 2008 arrest in Afghanistan on suspicion of planning attacks in New York.
Just after 7:30 Eastern time, one of the hostages was released, uninjured. Texas governor Greg Abbott announced just after 10:30 that the other three, including the synagogue’s rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, had been successfully rescued and were safe.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson shared that the city was taking extra precautions to secure Jewish sites in the area. While the man, who was reportedly armed, is believed to have made bomb threats, Michael Masters, director of the Secure Community Network — which offers security consultations to Jewish organizations — said his team had not found credible threats to other synagogues.
Jewish organizations and leaders in Texas, as well as across the country and world, shared on social media that they were monitoring the situation and praying for those within the synagogue. But as the country awaited a resolution to the ongoing situation, many abstained from offering further comments.
Elected officials, including Jewish senator Jacky Rosen and Jewish representatives Jerry Nadler, Jamie Raskin, Lee Zeldin and Josh Gottheimer, weighed in as well.
Some drew a connection between the situation and other recent antisemitic attacks on Jewish communal spaces, especially the 2018 Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh, Pa.
And some remembered that Cytron-Walker had himself shared powerful words after the tragedy at the Tree of Life.
Journalist Lauren Zakalik, who reported on a memorial service Congregation Beth Israel held for the 11 victims of the massacre, particularly remembered Cytron-Walker’s perspective on the long impact of such tragedies: “Jewish tradition tells us that when we see tragedy, we come together,” he told her.
And a Facebook post that Cytron-Walker published after that event also began to circulate, shared by organizations like Bend the Arc.
“When it comes to hatred and violence,” he wrote, “we all must stand together.”
CEO and Dir. of U.N. Affairs Op-ed in Newsweek: Holocaust Comparisons Are Holocaust Denial. It Has to Stop.
Newsweek published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels urging members of Congress and all others to stop trivializing the Holocaust to score cheap political points.
The Holocaust is once again being trivialized in the name of the politics. On Wednesday, Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson compared COVID restrictions to the Nazis' treatment of Jews. "This has been done before. #DoNotComply," he tweeted.
The Congressman joins a long list of those reaching for the Holocaust for such cheap political points. In June, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene compared wearing a mask to wearing a yellow star and had to apologize. In November, Lara Logan compared Dr. Anthony Fauci to Joseph Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor who did cruel experiments on Jews in concentration camps.
Across the globe, things are even worse; outright Holocaust denial is spreading like a virus. Earlier this week, outside a church in central Rome, a funeral concluded with a coffin draped in a Nazi flag, surrounded by participants giving Nazi salutes. In Iran, the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, often tweets things like "why is it a crime to raise doubts about the Holocaust?" and "#Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain." In 2019, right before attempting a mass-carnage attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur, a gunman livestreamed a video in which he said, "I think the Holocaust never happened."
The Holocaust—the most documented and systematic genocide in history—took the lives of two-thirds of European Jews. Among our own family members, in Poland and Lithuania, most were wiped out: innocent men, women and children.
Of the Jews who managed to survive, all are now at least 77 years old, and thousands are dying each year. That trend has likely been accelerated by the ongoing pandemic. And if Holocaust-denial can persist even as first-hand witnesses to the atrocities are among us, we can only imagine how malignant these pathologies will become once the survivors pass on.
The correlation between denial of past atrocities and indifference to new atrocities is clear. Whether it comes from the extreme right or radical Islamists, antisemites uniquely belittle or justify the Holocaust while also belittling or justifying current and prospective violence against Jews.
Of course, distortion or instrumentalization of the Holocaust is not new. Among white supremacists, denial of the Nazi gas chambers' existence has been an article of faith. Even in America, certain local legislators or educators were recently found to have urged "neutrality" in teaching about Nazism. In parts of the Baltics, the whitewashing and lionizing of Nazi collaborators has been commonplace. And through much of the Middle East, the Holocaust has long been tarred as a "Zionist myth" alongside a false narrative that Palestinians paid the price for Germans' misdeeds with the invention of a "colonial" Israel by foreigners.
And whether at the United Nations or street demonstrations, bigots wholly rejecting the history and legitimacy of a Jewish minority presence in the Middle East have sought to add insult to injury by weaponizing the Holocaust, saying Hitler hadn't gone far enough or that Israel is guilty of Nazi-like practices.
At a 2001 U.N. conference against racism in Durban, South Africa, activists asserted both. A decade later, Iran's president hosted Holocaust-denial conferences and cartoon competitions, attracting such luminaries as former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, a newfound champion of Palestinian nationalism.
A few years later, Malaysia's then-prime minister—a self-identified antisemite who had called Jews "hook-nosed" and said they "rule the world by proxy"—questioned the number of Holocaust victims. And during outbreaks of Hamas or Hezbollah hostilities with Israel, social media platforms have facilitated an unprecedented spread of hateful lies concerning Israelis, Jews and the Holocaust, with negligible intervention by those profiting from them.
Next week, the U.N. will have an opportunity to help more seriously address the scourge of historical revisionism. 15 years after the U.N. began marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a resolution on Holocaust-denial and distortion will come up for a vote. We hope member states will join in adopting an important working definition of Holocaust-denial, as well as, ultimately, an equally vital working definition of antisemitism.
While combating trivialization of the Holocaust is only one element of strengthening basic societal norms, it is a critical one. Let it be said once more: those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
Jewish Insider noted that together with other American Jewish organizations, we sent a letter urging Senate leaders to fund Iron Dome, which is crucial to saving lives and protecting innocent Israelis from terrorist rocket attacks.
A coalition of pro-Israel organizations sent a letter to Senate leadership on Tuesday taking aim at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for blocking supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system and arguing that folding the funding into a larger package would “undermine Israel’s security.”
The funding passed the House by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in September of last year, but Paul has repeatedly blocked passage in the Senate, insisting that funding be reallocated from Afghanistan aid to pay for the $1 billion Iron Dome supplement.
A second letter, from some overlapping groups — the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Agudath Israel of America, Ameinu, B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, the Israel Policy Forum, Jewish Women International, Rabbinical Assembly, Orthodox Union, Union for Reform Judaism and Zionist Organization of America — was also sent to the Senate leaders on Tuesday.
That letter does not directly attack Paul, but instead decries “unfortunate gamesmanship that is taking place right now in the Senate.” The signatories also do not directly criticize the omnibus strategy and instead “implore [Schumer and McConnell] to not allow any more needless delays in passing this legislation. Blocking immediate consideration of the legislation weakens our entire nation’s commitment to our Israeli ally’s security.”
A statement about the letter from the American Jewish Congress highlighted that it includes a “diverse array of Jewish organizations spanning diverse religious, political, and policy spectrums” and “shows the strong support that exists across the Jewish community for getting the funding approved.”
The Jerusalem Post spoke with B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin about our organization's top priorities on Capitol Hill in 2022.
As Congress prepares to return to its second session later this week, and with the midterm election in November on the horizon, Jewish organizations are working on their legislative agenda for 2022, deciding what they should promote and what they should oppose before the 117th Congress is dissolved.
The main priority for 2022, as several organizations noted, is securing $1 billion to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome system.
The funding has been blocked in the Senate for three months over the opposition of Senator Rand Paul. The Republican from Kentucky said last month that he would support the bill if it would be offset with spending cuts elsewhere.
Some organizations reiterated the need for a permanent envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. In July, US President Joe Biden announced he would appoint Deborah Lipstadt to the position, but she is still awaiting her confirmation vote in the Senate.
Another item that is receiving wide support is the Israel Relations Normalization Act.
Marshall Wittmann, spokesperson for AIPAC, said that the pro-Israel lobby’s immediate priorities in the new year are “working to gain final congressional approval of $1 billion to replenish the Iron Dome system and $3.8 billion dollars in security assistance funding for Israel.
“We also will be urging quick final passage of the Israel Relations Normalization Act. We will continue to urge Congress and the administration to confront the Iranian push for a nuclear weapon and combine diplomacy with added economic pressure and the credible threat of military force. We will be developing additional legislative initiatives to enhance US-Israel bilateral cooperation, and to ensure that Israel has the necessary resources to defend itself against the threat of Iranian aggression.”
Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, said “High on our agenda for 2022 is the need to secure Iron Dome funding. It’s our top priority on Capitol Hill for the moment.”
He noted that Congress has passed legislation mandating the appointment at the State Department of a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism.
“The administration has nominated Professor Deborah Lipstadt to fill the position,” Mariaschin said. “The Senate now needs to confirm her so that she can carry out the important work of this job in the fight against global antisemitism. We are also supporting bipartisan legislation in Congress that would impose sanctions on foreign individuals and agencies that support the terrorist activities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
Mariaschin noted that B’nai B’rith will also be advocating for adopting the Israel Relations Normalization Act, which mandates a government-wide strategy to expand and strengthen the Abraham Accords.
“On the domestic side, we are supporting the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act, because of funds appropriated for affordable housing for seniors,” he said. “Senior housing is a major project of B’nai B’rith. As the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors, we sponsor nearly 40 residential facilities with over 5,000 residents around the United States.”
Jason Isaacson, chief policy and political affairs officer at AJCommittee, said his organization is focused on advancing the various items from its legislative advocacy agenda, including funding for the replenishment of Iron Dome; Senate confirmation of key presidential nominees including Lipstadt and Ambassador Barbara Leaf as assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Sarah Margon as assistant secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and Tamara Wittes as USAID assistant administrator for the Middle East.
Another item, he noted, is the passage of S.Res.377/H.Res.558, urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in its entirety.
“With our ongoing national focus on raising awareness and providing necessary tools for the fight against antisemitism, we’ll continue working across the country to ensure adequate hate crimes reporting, reaching out to and securing commitments from governors, mayors, and other officials, and we’ll continue to press for the adoption by state and local authorities of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism,” said Isaacson.
The Jewish Federation of North America has a busy schedule as well. Among the items on its agenda: securing $360 million in funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program; securing $10 million for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program; and advocating for investment in home-based health care for older adults and people with disabilities through the Better Care Better Jobs Act.
JFNA will also focus on Holocaust education and addressing online antisemitism, including fighting the delegitimization of Israel and supporting the implementation of No Hate Act.
“We have important legislative work to do this year in order to ensure that our community is safe, healthy, and inclusive, and that our society protects the most vulnerable,” said Jewish Federations SVP for Public Affairs, Elana Broitman. “The pandemic continues to show how important the national system of local nonprofit services is to supporting our communities, and the need for strong, bipartisan support behind our priorities to continue enabling these services.”
Sam Markstein, national political director for the Republican Jewish Coalition, said that “RJC’s focus this year will continue to be opposing the Biden administration’s wrong-headed efforts, most notably their plan to revive a dangerously flawed nuclear deal with Iran, their scheme to open a US consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem, and their disastrous ‘Build Back Better’ bill.
“RJC will also be supporting measures to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome, broaden and strengthen the Abraham Accords, and compel the Palestinian Authority to end ‘pay for slay’ subsidies for terrorism.”
Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said that one of JDCA’s top legislative priorities for 2022 is passage of federal voting rights legislation “to defend our democracy and combat widespread Republican-led voter suppression. JDCA strongly supports the Freedom to Vote Act, which has the support of all 50 Democrats in the Senate, as well as efforts to abolish or reform the Senate filibuster in order to ensure its passage.
“Jewish Dems will also continue to support Democratic efforts to protect and expand abortion access, working with coalitions to advocate for passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act in the Senate, and to pursue reproductive justice,” said Soifer. “JDCA will continue to advocate for the confirmation of key Biden administration nominees in 2022, including Sarah Margon as assistant secretary of state for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Dilawar Syed as deputy administrator for the Small Business Administration; and Deborah Lipstadt as special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.”
Michael Koplow, policy director for the Israel Policy Forum, emphasized that while the organization is not a lobbying group and does not lobby Congress on legislation, it “absolutely has a policy agenda. There are a few policy items we hope that Congress takes up in the new year, including normalization between Israel and regional states that is furthered, and that is also leveraged to make progress on Israeli-Palestinian issues; continuing to robustly support Israeli security needs; Israel-Palestinian security coordination; and funding to the Palestinian Authority Security Forces that prevents terrorism and violence against Israelis.
Koplow said that the IPF also supports “people-to-people ties that further a viable peace process through continued support for Lowey funding, and continued support for UNRWA as the only entity currently able to provide critical humanitarian services in Gaza, predicated on its continued pledges to the US on transparency, accountability, and neutrality.”
CEO & AJIRI-BBI Chairman Letter to the Editor of the WSJ: Israel Is Always on Trial at the U.N. Star Chamber
B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin and AJIRI-BBI Chairman Richard Schifter sent a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal regarding a recent op-ed it published rightly calling out the creation of yet another one-sided U.N. commission, set up solely to vilify Israel.
The verdict is already in, writes B’nai B’rith.
Your editorial “The U.N.’s Libel Machine Expands” (Dec. 28) correctly calls out the outrageous creation of yet another one-sided, permanent, standing United Nations commission, set up solely to investigate and castigate Israel. The U.N. already has three incongruous bodies (the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division for Palestinian Rights and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Human Rights Practices) whose sole purpose is to vilify Israel. With all the crises, conflicts and catastrophes facing the world, no other U.N. member state merits the “honor” of such unique treatment.
Despite the new commission’s theatrical public “call for submissions,” there is no hope of transparency or due process. The verdict is already in: Israel is guilty as charged, of every manner of war crime and abuse.
The irony of this continuing and absurd star chamber proceeding is that the presumed victims on whose behalf this is all being done – the Palestinian people – will gain nothing tangible from these machinations. The road to peace between Israelis and Palestinians still lies through honest, good faith direct negotiations, not through yet another hypocritical, ill-conceived and biased U.N. body.
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