The Jerusalem Post covered B'nai B'rith International's role along with several other Jewish organizations in presenting the European Union with the first-ever action plan to combat anti-Semitism.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) has called on EU Member States to adopt in full the IHRA Working Definition on Antisemitism as part of a joint Action Plan to Combat Antisemitism on the continent.
As a steep rise antisemitism continues to plague the Europe, the EJC together with the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute and B’nai B’rith International, have presented a first-ever action plan to combat antisemitism to the Council of the European Union and the EU’s Coordinator on combating antisemitism Katharina von Schnurbein.
This comes after the Council Declaration of December 6 on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe.
In November, CNN released a poll, which found that antisemitism was alive and kicking throughout Europe. According to the CNN survey, one in five said Jews have too much influence in the media and too much influence in politics, while more than a quarter of Europeans polled believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Seven countries were surveyed including Austria, Germany, the UK and Poland.
The document makes several recommendations to the EU and its Member States, which include using the IHRA Working Definition on Antisemitism “as a reference tool to better grasp all manifestations of contemporary antisemitism”, bettering its assistance to Member States “in providing hate crime training to law enforcement”, having closer cooperation with communities on security issues, and creating common guidelines “for countering antisemitism in education that will provide long-term positive effects for Jewish communities in Europe.”
Following the plan announcement, EJC president Dr. Moshe Kantor called the action plan “an excellent and detailed document which we hope the EU Council will adopt in order to make our communities safer and more secure.
“This is what we, European Jewry, require to reverse the disturbing trend of rapidly and horrifyingly increasing antisemitism across our continent,” exclaiming that this document is “our answer to hate and intolerance against Jews.
“If there is to be an end to the current deluge of antisemitism then it requires a holistic, strategic and forward-looking response,” Kantor emphasized.
Part of the plan also encourages the European Union to address antisemitism within its Human Rights Dialogues with third countries. “Regular and timely reporting and monitoring of antisemitism in third countries, especially where Jewish communities are under threat,” is needed to “help to increase awareness internally.”
It added that “strengthening the collaboration with Israel and the US in countering antisemitism worldwide” could play a large role, adding that “condemning systematically antisemitic remarks publicly at international forums such as the UN.”
Meanwhile, November’s CNN poll also found that one in twenty Europeans surveyed knew nothing or very little about the Holocaust, especially among those aged between 18 to 34.
Such concerns prompted the action plan to include suggestions that will ensure the EU and its Member States properly address Holocaust education and remembrance in the next MFF, and that “support for projects currently funded through the remembrance strand of the Europe for Citizens Programme is increased.”
With Holocaust denial also on the up, the proposal says that “every threat to the remembrance of the Holocaust, such as Holocaust denial and distortion, should be rigorously called out and academic research be encouraged. Implementation of the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia should be strictly monitored in this particular aspect.”
Kantor explained that as is the case “with all other minorities, the Jewish community should have the right to define hatred against it and assist in addressing ways to end discrimination at all levels and in all manner of new and manifold methods.
“If our leaders are serious about combating antisemitism then we cannot allow any gaps or loopholes for discrimination and exclusion,” he said, adding that “the battle against hate and intolerance needs to take place in the political, educational, legal, law enforcement, judicial and diplomatic arenas.”
The Advocate covered the B'nai B'rith Mitzvah Makers and the annual Mardi Gras parade that they organize for medical patients.
The Touro Medical Plaza is a labyrinth of office doors, painted in soothing shades of blue and gray. But Suite 48, the office of Dr. Hilton Marx Title, stands out. It’s festooned with shimmery purple, green and gold garland and two tiny Mardi Gras flags. A narrow, vertical window offers a glimpse of the Carnival decor inside.
Title, a family dentist, is the chairman of the B'nai B'rith Mardi Gras Mitzvah Makers — a group of costumed revelers and musicians who parade through medical centers every year and hand out Carnival throws and king cakes to the patients, their families and the staff.
“We bring Mardi Gras to people that can't make it to Mardi Gras,” said Title, a trumpeter in the troop’s brass band.
The Mardi Gras Mitzvah Makers will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their hospital parade when they meet Sunday morning in the lobby of Touro Infirmary on Foucher Street, off Prytania. From there, they’ll follow a parade route that winds through the hospital’s rehabilitation floors, the nearby Curahealth Hospital on Coliseum Street, and HomeLife in the Gardens on Aline Street.
“The event is not just for the children and the patients, although they're the primary mover, but the staff at the hospitals. They truly appreciate us,” said Andrew Polmer, who co-chairs the group with Avrom Denn.
“Some of the patients we see don’t seem responsive; they can't communicate,” he said. “But their families are there, and they appreciate the break in the solitude of sitting by a loved one who's in a vegetative state, or recovering.”
The Mardi Gras Mitzvah Makers were formerly known as B'nai B'rith, Unit No. 182. B’nai B’rith is an international Jewish service organization based in Washington, D.C. The organization helped operate an Uptown home for orphans from the mid-1870s through the 1940s and continues to sponsor local volunteer projects.
Title began running the hospital parade in 2005, when B’nai B’rith leader Dr. Emil Koretzky left New Orleans. Soon afterward, the Carnival krewe — a group of about 40 people — began calling themselves the B’nai B’rith Mardi Gras Mitzvah Makers. Mitzvah — a Hebrew word — refers to a good deed. The group kept “B’nai B’rith” for historical perspective, Title said, noting that they welcome participants of all faiths.
The parades were initially held on the pediatric floors of Charity Hospital and later University Hospital, which flooded after Hurricane Katrina. The krewe briefly paraded through Children’s Hospital before moving to their present Uptown route in and around Touro Infirmary.
Producing the jamboree is a team effort, Title and Polmer agreed.
Paper Doll Promotions lends the group Mardi Gras costumes, similar to the satiny, sequined costumes worn by float riders. Haydel’s Bakery donates king cakes.
The members gather on parade day with a collection of Mardi Gras beads, plush toys and other trinkets.
“It's a nice way to reconnect with friends that we've known over the years,” Title said.
His favorite part of the event, however, is witnessing the joyful reactions coming from people within the crowd, and sharing their excitement. One interaction in particular stands out, Title said.
“There was an amputee patient in a wheelchair,” he recalled. “All he had was a stub, and that stub was beating to the music, as if that person was just dancing away. And to me, that just made everything so worthwhile.”
Polmer said part of the fun is surprising the health centers’ staff.
“All of a sudden, there's music, and there’s people dressed up in these Mardi Gras costumes," he said. "And there's king cake.”
Within minutes, employees from different parts of the hospital show up and join in, clapping and dancing to the live music. Doctors, nurses, administrators and janitors become part of the party, Polmer said.
“It’s really about bringing the spirit of Mardi Gras to everybody,” he added.
JNS - Growing Chorus of Leaders Calls for Punitive Action against Omar for Continued Anti-Semitic Tropes
JNS.org interviewed B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin about Rep. Ilhan Omar's use of anti-Semitic tropes in her tweets regarding Israel.
In response to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s latest anti-Semitic tweets, some groups have already called for official action against her by the U.S. House of Representatives, similar to that against Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) over his remarks on white nationalism.
On Sunday, Omar accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest pro-Israel lobbying organization, of paying members of Congress to back Israel.
“Anti-Semitism in any form is unacceptable, and it’s shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money,’” said Rep. Elliot Engel, in a statement Monday. Engel is also the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which Omar sits on.
Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Elaine Luria (D-Va.) called on House Democratic leadership to condemn Omar.
“As Members of Congress, we are deeply alarmed by recent rhetoric from certain members within our Caucus, including just last night, that has disparaged some members and called into question their loyalty to our nation,” they said in a letter. “We urge you to join us in calling on each member of our Caucus to unite against anti-Semitism and hateful tropes and stereotypes.”
“In recent weeks, we have had conversations with multiple members of our Caucus who share our concerns about this rhetoric; we have also raised these concerns with Democratic leadership,” they added. “We must speak out when any Member—Democrat or Republican—uses harmful tropes and stereotypes, levels accusations of dual loyalty, or makes reckless statements like those yesterday.”
House Democratic leadership responded and labeled Omar’s “anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters” as “deeply offensive” and called on her to “immediately apologize for these hurtful comments,” but fell short of calling for her to be censured.
“Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján, Caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Caucus vice chair Katherine Clark in a statement.
“We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests,” they continued. “Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share.”
“As Democrats and as Americans, the entire Congress must be fully engaged in denouncing and rejecting all forms of hatred, racism, prejudice and discrimination wherever they are encountered,” they added.
Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, Democratic Majority for Israel, the Jewish Democratic Council of America, the Zionist Organization of America and B’nai B’rith condemned Omar’s latest anti-Semitic remarks.
“We call on the House leadership to take immediate action, so that the message is clear: Anti-Semitism will not be tolerated,” said ADL CEO and national director Jonathan Greenblatt.
“Unfortunately, making insensitive statements toward the Jewish community is not new for Rep. Omar,” he continued. “These tweets are part of a disturbing pattern of behavior that must end. The congresswoman needs to understand that these comments promote dangerous stereotypes and are hurtful to her Jewish constituents and Jewish Americans throughout the country.”
The ZOA called for punitive action against Omar.
“These tweets below from Rep. Ilhan Omar, along with several comments that she has made over the years, are pure, unadulterated, evil, frighteningly dangerous anti-Semitism,” said ZOA national president Mort Klein.
“The Zionist Organization of America calls on House Democrat leadership to (i) immediately remove Rep. Omar from her committee assignments; and (ii) call an immediate vote on Rep. Lee Zeldin’s H.Res 72, rejecting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the United States and around the world,” he continued.
“We call on the House leadership to publicly rebuke Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for her anti-Semitic tweets implying pro-Israel lawmakers are paid by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,” said B’nai B’rith international president Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Dan Mariaschin. “Members of Congress are pro-Israel because the constituents they represent, like Americans across the country, overwhelmingly support the Jewish state.”
“Her anti-Israel stance is merely political cover for her anti-Semitic beliefs,” they added.
Mark Mellman, president and CEO of Democratic Majority for Israel, said: “Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s recent statement reveals both woeful ignorance and flagrant bigotry. America’s long-standing support for Israel reflects shared interests, shared values and the wishes of the majority the American people.”
He added that “by suggesting pro-Israel views are paid for, Congresswoman Omar has driven headlong into the gutter, slandering America’s pro-Israel community and the vast majority of her colleagues of both parties, in the House and the Senate, who back a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”
“Rep. Ilhan Omar’s decision to publicly repeat an anti-Semitic trope suggesting that Jewish money is directly correlated with political influence is deeply offensive and painful,” said JDCA executive director Halie Soifer. “At a time when anti-Semitism is increasing at home and abroad, it is vital that members of Congress speak out against bigotry in all its forms, and not repeat hateful conspiracy theories and tropes targeting any one religious or ethnic group. We have repeatedly condemned [U.S. President] Donald Trump and other Republicans for condoning and encouraging anti-Semitism, as well as other forms of discrimination, and we hold all public officials to the same standard.”
On Monday afternoon, Omar apologized: “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.”
“We have to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity,” she continued. “This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
“At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry,” added the congresswoman. “It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”
JBS reported on B'nai B'rith International's participation in a conference focused on anti-Semitism in Europe, held in Brussels under the auspices of the Romanian presidency of the European Union (EU) Council. B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin provided the opening remarks, which directly confronted modern European anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism.
JNS - Declassified Report on UNRWA Accuses State Department of Misleading Congress on Palestinian Textbooks
JNS.org interviewed B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in the wake of a new report indicating that the State Department misled Congress regarding the dissemination of textbooks encouraging Palestinian violence against the State of Israel by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office accuses the U.S. State Department of misleading Congress over recent couple years regarding actions by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, over the distribution of textbooks that promote Palestinian violence against Israel, evidence that has long been documented.
UNRWA was established by the U.N. General Assembly in 1949 to assist Arabs who became refugees during Israel’s War of Independence the previous year.
Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top storiesFor months, the GAO blocked the report’s release due to the State Department requesting it be classified.
JNS filed a Freedom of Information Act request in December for a copy of the 65-page report titled “West Bank and Gaza: State Monitors Textbook Content but Should Improve Its Reporting to Congress GAO-18-227C,” but was unsuccessful.
In a letter to JNS, the GAO Chief Quality Officer Timothy Bowling said: “As an agency responsible to the Congress, GAO is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. However, GAO’s disclosure policy follows the spirit of the act consistent with GAO’s duties and functions as an agency with primary responsibility to the Congress.”
Bowling added that the GAO does not have the legal authority to declassify material.
However, the GAO report was released this week after Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) requested in August for its declassification.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch (R-Idaho) also advocated for its declassification and publicization.
According to the report, while the State Department submitted its required reports to Congress, in accordance with annual appropriations acts for fiscal years 2015 through 2017, it “included inaccurate information in all three reports.”
“In its 2017 report, State noted incorrectly that UNRWA had completed training teachers and distributed complementary teaching materials to address textbook content that UNRWA deemed as not complying with U.N. values,” it continued. “In all three of the reports, State omitted information concerning whether UNRWA found that any educational materials used in its schools do not comply with 2 of 4 elements, dignity and not inducing incitement.”
In a joint statement, Zeldin and Perry hailed the report’s declassification and release, emphasizing the adverse nature behind content distributed by UNRWA, which the Trump administration slashed all U.S. funding to last August.
“The declassification of the UNRWA textbook report proves to the American people what we have known all along: The UNRWA textbook initiative is a sham,” said Zeldin. “Supplementary material purchased using U.S. tax dollars to counter the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias injected by the P.A., is being rejected and not utilized on the ground.
“It is unacceptable the textbooks that are used delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people, it is unacceptable this program attempts to engrain this hatred in the hearts of children, it is unacceptable American’s hard earned[sic]money went towards its funding and its unacceptable the State Department lied to Congress about these very realities,” he continued.
Zeldin added, “We must ensure funding for UNRWA remains frozen while this and other important issues remain uncorrected, and, going forward, employ greater, accurate oversight and accountability internally within the State Department as well as over these foreign assistance programs ensuring those utilizing U.S. funding are aligned with our nation’s values.”
Perry echoed Zeldin: “The declassification of this report is a win for government transparency and the American public. The UNRWA textbook report sheds light on how misreporting from the Department of State directly interfered with the ability of the US Congress to conduct its constitutionally vested oversight.”
“The failures of the State Department and UNRWA allowed systematic anti-Semitic and anti-Israel ideas to flourish in UNRWA schools in the West Bank and Gaza,” continued Perry. “The harsh reality is that the American taxpayers were unknowingly funding this systematic hatred because key information was withheld from the American public, including my constituents.”
‘This problem is not just confined to textbooks’
Pro-Israel organizations cheered the report’s declassification and release.
“After years of trying, we are deeply grateful to chairman [Risch] and to congressman [Zeldin] for getting the State Department report on the UNRWA textbooks in the schools declassified and released,” Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), told JNS.
“The report reveals that UNRWA has not been sowing the seeds for peace within the population, as is their mandate, but in reality, is doing quite the opposite,” she continued. “We will never have peace as long as our institutions, which carry the gravitas and imprimatur of the United Nations continue to educate young hearts and minds towards hatred of the Jew, the Christian and the Israeli. Unfortunately, UNRWA, which should be part of the solution, is part of the problem.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO Dan Mariaschin said to JNS that “incitement in Palestinian textbooks for too long has been minimized and not only in this report. Raising generations of Palestinians to hate Israel and to hate Jews only prolongs any possible resolution of the conflict. This problem is not just confined to textbooks. Incitement in Palestinian media and in statements by public figures adds fuel to this fire.”
“It has long been a problem that the State Department sanitizes the actions of the Palestinian Authority,” Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein told JNS. “During the years of the Oslo process, it made a political decision to ignore or avoid confirming Palestinian Authority violations of Oslo agreements.”
“Here, we have it accepting UNRWA declarations at face value, without proper departmental investigation. The reason is the same: to sanitize the P.A. so that the P.A. can be shown to be a supposedly genuine peace partner,” he continued. “This is a politicized fiction and its long past time something was done about it. The State Department’s job is to ascertain and report the reality, not to bend and distort it for political reasons.”
“This is yet another disturbing example of UNRWA’s corruption, which harms Israelis and Palestinians alike. They not only allow violent and racist indoctrination in their schools, but lie about it in order to preserve their sources of funding,” Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, told JNS. “The U.N., State Department and Congress must not allow UNRWA to continue supplying false information and perpetuating this unjust, decades-long conflict.”
The Algemeiner interviewed B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin about President Trump's 2019 State of the Union Address. Read the article below.
US President Donald Trump’s annual State of the Union address on Tuesday drew a wide range of responses from American Jewish groups.
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) praised Trump’s speech, which featured several noteworthy Jewish-related moments, and accused Democrats of using their guest invitations to “highlight radical positions their base wants to hear, but which are out of step with mainstream America on things like transgender issues, climate change activism, ‘open borders’ immigration reforms, gun control, and the ‘resistance.’”
“The State of the Union is an opportunity reflect on the freedom we enjoy as Americans and the heavy responsibility our elected leaders bear to defend our freedom. Democratic members of Congress could have focused, as President Trump did, on what unites and strengthens us. Instead they chose to put forward divisiveness and partisanship,” the RJC charged in a statement.
Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) Executive Director Halie Soifer, on the other hand, asserted that Trump had delivered a message “characterized by fear and empty words.”
“Tonight was a missed opportunity for the president to lead and unify the country after a painful period of obstruction and a 35-day government shutdown,” she said. “There is no onslaught of immigrants or security crisis on our southern border, and the US military must not be used for political purposes. We reject the president’s ongoing obfuscation of the truth.”
“In response to the president’s call for unity, we are unified in support of political change that will restore moral leadership and credibility to the White House, and our mission is more important now than ever before,” Soifer concluded.
B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said, “We are encouraged that the president expressed his support for the longstanding US-Israel alliance and highlighted the 2018 move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Israel’s rightful capital. We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s hegemonic tendencies in the Middle East and the existential threat it poses to Israel. We welcome the president’s forceful commitment to keep Iran and the threat it poses globally in check.”
“We appreciate the special attention given during the address to the frightening rise of antisemitism in the U.S. with the inclusion of Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting survivors Judah Samet and injured police officer Timothy Matson as special White House guests in the House gallery,” they added.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted, “On #SOTU: Thank you @POTUS for your strong condemnation of anti-Semitism and commitment to protecting the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
The AJC also highlighted the moving gesture of Congress members singing “Happy Birthday” to Samet, who turned 81 on Tuesday.
World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder stated his organization was “grateful for the president’s unambiguous declaration that ‘we must never ignore the vile poison of antisemitism, or those who spread its venomous creed. With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs,’ and for the public recognition he accorded to Holocaust survivors Judah Samet and Joshua Kaufman as well as the US Army veterans who liberated the Nazi concentration camps 74 years ago.”
“We send our great appreciation and thanks to President Trump and hope his words resonate everywhere,” Lauder said.
Jewish Broadcasting Service - Appointment of U.S. State Department Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism
The Jewish Broadcasting Service covered B'nai B'rith International's response to the appointment of Elan Carr as the U.S. State Department Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism.
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