The New York Jewish Week cited B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of the violent protests at the border of Israel and the Gaza Strip in the wake of the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
At the opening ceremony for the American embassy in Jerusalem Monday, speakers intoned about the desire for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. At about the same time, and 40 miles away, tens of thousands of Palestinians were attempting to breach the Gaza Strip’s border fence with Israel. Israeli snipers reportedly killed 61 Palestinians during the violent protests Monday and Tuesday, and a Palestinian official later said that 50 of them were members of the Hamas terrorist group.
The Gaza Health Ministry said another 1,360 Palestinians were wounded. There were initial reports that an eight or nine-month-old infant had died from inhaling tear gas, but another doctor said the infant died of a pre-existing condition. The child’s family said the baby presence near the protest was the result of a mix-up.
The violence overshadowed news coverage of the embassy opening and cast the future of any Palestinian-Israel peace accord deeper in doubt. Still, the administration maintains that it will reveal its peace plan in the next several months.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News that Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip had pushed “civilians — women, children — into the line of fire with a view of getting casualties. We’ve tried to minimize casualties, they are trying to incur casualties in order to put pressure on Israel, which is horrible. These things are avoidable. If Hamas had not pushed them there, nothing would happen. Hamas holds responsibility for doing this and they’re deliberately doing it.”
In a statement the next day, the European Union called for both sides to exercise “utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life.”
There were also media reports that Hamas and other militant factions had urged Palestinians to rush the border fence, falsely claiming that it had been breached and that Palestinians were flooding into Israel.
A number of countries criticized Israel for using “excessive force” but the United States fully defended Israel’s actions. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” said White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah, who blamed the terrorist group for “intentionally and cynically provoking this response.” He added that Israel has the right to defend itself.
At the embassy ceremony, President Trump told the 800 guests in a video message, “Our greatest hope is for peace. The United States remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement … . We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians and to all of their neighbors.”
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who is leading the administration’s efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, spoke of his belief that it is “possible for both sides to gain more than they give so that all people can live in peace, safe from danger, free from fear, and able to pursue their dreams.”
And Netanyahu said he hoped the embassy move would “advance a lasting peace between Israel and all our neighbors.”
But there have been no Israeli-Palestinian talks since September 2010, when they collapsed following a meeting between Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that had been intended to help “resolve all final-status issues.” Mideast experts acknowledge that the situation is at a low point with no indications of progress anytime soon.
The Trump administration has yet to unveil its own long-awaited peace proposal. Media reports have quoted senior White House officials as saying the plan is nearing completion and that it would be revealed within the next month or two. One of the officials was quoted as saying the administration hopes the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be “clarifying” for the Palestinians — a “recognition … that Israel isn’t going away.”
But Abbas greeted Trump’s decision with a declaration that any peace plan he puts forth would be dead on arrival, saying: “We will not accept anything from them.”
Sources insist that the Trump administration is not going to try to push the Palestinians to come to the peace table. Rather, it will seek to enlist the support of other Arab countries — including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — to cajole the Palestinians to engage. It is said that the peace plan would not have a set of guiding principles, unlike the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, nor would it mandate a two-state solution. It would, however, suggest ways to deal with the issue of Palestinian refugees.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, who as president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding has visited with leaders of the Persian Gulf states, said “the Trump administration has moved mountains to bring Israel and the Gulf states closer together,” and that this “new paradigm could be used to bring the Israelis and Palestinians closer.”
In interviews with more than a dozen Jewish leaders, former American and Israeli diplomats and leaders of advocacy groups, only a few believe the time is right to seek an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Wilson Center and a former adviser to six U.S. secretaries of state, said it all depends what the administration’s peace plan contains.
“If it says the Trump administration recognizes east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state and that it intends to put an embassy there, that could help get the Palestinians back” to the negotiating table, he said.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was reportedly told by U.S. officials two weeks ago that the Trump administration would be demanding that Israel make “painful concessions,” including transferring control to the Palestinians of four Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem (Jebl Mukabar, Issawiya, Shuafat and Abu Dis), so that they could become the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Asked about Lieberman’s comment, David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, told NPR: “We don’t look at things in terms of price. There’s either a better opportunity for Israel and a better opportunity for the Palestinians, such that they both look at it and say we’re better off with something new than the status quo, or it doesn’t work. And when he [Lieberman] talked about it in terms of prices, compensation, it sounds like a punishment, and then why would anybody do that?”
Miller questioned what the Trump peace plan is designed to accomplish “given the gaps and mistrust” between the two sides.
“What is the purpose in knowing that the gaps are Grand Canyon ones?” he asked. “Is it to get serious negotiations going? What do they believe the chances of success are? Right now, they are slim to none.”
Zalman Shoval, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, said flatly: “I don’t think the time is propitious [for talks] because the Palestinians have not yet gotten around to realizing that this may be the worst moment in the history of their national struggle. They have lost the support of major parts of the Arab world and they started a quarrel with the United States that started long before the move of the embassy [from Tel Aviv]. Abu Mazen [Abbas’ nom de guerre] is an ineffective leader and the rest of the world no longer puts it [the Palestinian issue] at the top of their agenda.
“If Trump wants to make progress [towards peace], there would have to be a change [in leadership] on the Palestinian side, not to mention the troubles with Hamas,” he added. “How do you negotiate with the Palestinians if half of them are under a completely different regime that in a Palestinian state might become the dominant one?”
Hamas has reportedly expressed a willingness, through several backdoor channels, to enter into talks with Israel in an effort to arrange a long-term “cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. It said Hamas was seeking in return a significant easing of Israel’s blockade over Gaza, the approval of large-scale infrastructure projects and a possible prisoner swap. An Israeli official confirmed the report this week but said Israel did not pursue the initiative because Hamas was not offering any concessions.
Daniel Mariaschin, executive vice president and CEO of B’nai B’rith International, pointed out that “Hamas has agreed to ceasefires in the past and each time used them to their advantage. The main issue is not whether you create a 12-month ceasefire, it is Hamas’ continued call for the destruction of Israel. And sending women and children to walk into the line of fire” this week, after Israel dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to stay away from the border fence and “called bus companies telling them not to bring people to the fence …. Buying time is not the answer.”
A Lebanese newspaper reported last month that Egypt had worked out a prisoner swap with Hamas on Israel’s behalf. But although Hamas’ Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, was interested, Hamas’ overall leader, Ismail Haniyeh, opposed it, leading to a screaming match between the two men, according to the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom.
A spokesman for J Street, Logan Bayroff, said the dovish group believes the relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem “has completely alienated the Palestinian leadership by unilaterally adopting the position of Prime Minister Netanyahu.” The action, he said, indicates that “the Trump administration is not seriously interested in reaching a two-state solution or putting forth proposals about how to get to a two-state solution. Any plan that does not include the creation of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital living alongside Israel in peace and security as its final goal has no chance of generating meaningful progress.”
A spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, Ori Nir, agreed, saying he doesn’t believe “anything the Trump administration will come up with will be constructive, and since the atmosphere is so polarized, it is probably better not to play with fire.”
That view was echoed by Josh Ruebner, policy director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a national coalition of hundreds of groups advocating for Palestinian rights.
“By moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem … to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian’s commemoration of the Nakba [Israel’s declaration of independence referred to by Palestinians as a catastrophe], has green-lighted not only Israel’s continued apartheid control but the horrific massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.”
And to put forth a peace plan that would not go anywhere “would needlessly raise expectations that a final status agreement can be reached,” said David Halperin, executive director of the Israel Policy Forum.
“To unveil a plan now that would almost certainly end in failure would suggest that a two-state solution is unachievable,” he said. “You have a weak and divided Palestinian leadership, an Israeli cabinet with a majority publicly opposed to the two-state vision, and a U.S. that is deeply mistrusted by the Palestinians and has not been coordinating its moves with its European allies, let alone its Arab allies outside of perhaps Saudi Arabia. Jordan and Egypt by all accounts have remained in the dark. … Not acknowledging political realities on the ground creates the danger of failure.”
But Yael Eckstein, global executive vice president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said the peace plan should be released, explaining: “You have to do what is right without waiting for the perfect time.”
Richard Heideman, president of the American Zionist Movement, said what he heard from the Trump administration at the embassy ceremony convinced him that “the time for peace is now, the interest for peace is now and the need for peace is now. … The leadership of Hamas is doing a great disservice to its people. It’s a violation of humanitarian and international law to use young people to accomplish their political goal” by sacrificing their lives.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of the Latin American countries that are moving their embassies to Jerusalem in the wake of the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the White House.
President Donald Trump’s decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital drew wide international criticism, with 128 countries including the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada voting in favor of a United Nations resolution condemning it.
But several countries saw Trump’s decision in a different light: as an example to follow.
Shortly after the United States officially moves its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday, it will be joined by Guatemala and Paraguay. Both countries are planning to make the move this month, and Honduras may be next: Its Congress recently passed a resolution urging its foreign ministry to move its embassy.
Along with the Czech Republic, whose president said last month it will begin the process of moving its embassy to Jerusalem, these countries belong to a small club (albeit one with a superpower). On a visit to Venezuela on Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged other Latin American countries not to move their embassies.
So how come? Why do these Latin American countries go where others fear to tread?
Observers suggest a number of reasons, or a combination thereof: The countries are likely motivated by a desire to curry favor with the Trump administration, their leaders’ personal views of the Jewish state and strong historic ties to Israel.
In the cases of Guatemala and Honduras, both countries are facing or recently faced political crises — Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is mired in a corruption scandal and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s recent re-election was dogged by allegations of voter fraud. Their leaders are looking to the U.S. for support, said Arie Kacowicz, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem specializing in Latin America.
Paraguay President Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, left, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 19, 2016. (Emil Salman/Pool/Flash90)
“They pretty much need and want support and legitimacy from the U.S. and one way of achieving that is by being on friendly, cordial or even extraordinary terms with Israel,” he told JTA. “So if the U.S. is showing the way on this particular issue of Jerusalem, the natural candidates to follow would be those two Central American countries.”
Though the countries are looking to strengthen ties with Israel, that is not their primary focus, Kacowicz said.
“For Guatemala and Honduras, the U.S. is primordial. It’s much more important than Israel,” he said.
The two countries also have large immigrant populations in the U.S. that are facing threats of deportation. Those immigrants contribute to their home countries’ economies — for example, a tenth of Guatemala’s gross domestic product comes from remittances sent back by Guatemalans living abroad. It makes sense to want to be on the Trump administration’s good side.
Moving their embassies or expressing support for doing so is “a show of good will” to Trump and the U.S., agreed Mariano de Alba, associate director of the Adrianne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, a think tank focusing on international affairs.
The embassies of Guatemala, Paraguay and Honduras in Washington, D.C., did not respond to requests for comment by JTA in time for publication.
Trump has signaled that it cares about how other countries respond to its policies regarding Jerusalem. In December, the president said the U.S. was watching the votes of its allies on the U.N. condemning his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. One hundred twenty eight countries voted to pass the resolution with only nine — including Guatemala and Honduras — voting against it and 35 countries abstaining — including Paraguay. The resolution asserted the traditional position that “Jerusalem is a final status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions.”
Following the vote, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley even threw a party for the 65 countries that did not support the resolution. The event was labeled as a means to thank the countries for “their friendship to the United States,” according to a copy of the invite obtained by CNN.
But it’s not all about Trump. The three countries have ties to Israel that date back to its founding.
Latin American countries were largely sympathetic to Israel in its early days, said Dina Siegel Vann, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meeting with Juan Orlando Hernandez, president of the Republic of Honduras, in Jerusalem, Oct. 29, 2015. (Kobi Gideon /GPO via Getty Images)
“Most Latin American countries are relatively young, and they were very much captivated by Israel’s story, a young country beating the odds after destruction in the Holocaust, and trying to make it in a very hostile environment,” Vann said.
Guatemala and its U.N. ambassador Jorge Garcia Granados played a crucial role in the adoption of the U.N. partition plan for Palestine in 1947, which recommended creating a Jewish and an Arab state in prestate Israel. In 1948, Guatemala became the first in Latin America to recognize Israel, setting off a domino effect in the region.
Following Israel’s establishment, the country focused on achieving international recognition of Jerusalem as its capital, said Jonathan Grossman, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He has researched ties between Israel and Latin America.
“Latin America was a major target in this struggle because they were mostly very friendly toward Israel,” Grossman said.
The campaign was successful and some 11 Latin American countries opened up embassies in Jerusalem, starting with Guatemala in 1948.
But ties soured in 1967, following the Six-Day War, which drew wide international condemnation. Then in 1980, when the Knesset passed a law that declared the entire city of Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, all the Latin American countries as well as the Netherlands and Haiti, decided to move their embassies out of Jerusalem. Venezuela turned hostile under its late dictator, Hugo Chavez, and ties between Argentina and Israel have blown hit and cold since the the 1992 terrorist attack on Israel’s embassy in and the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center, both in Buenos Aires.
The last 15 years have once again seen improved ties between Israel and some Latin American countries, including Guatemala, Honduras and Paraguay, said Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, which has projects in Latin America.
“The leadership in these countries in this past 15-year period has made the point of reaching out to Israel, as Israel has reached out to them,” Mariaschin said.
In addition to trade interests, each of the countries’ leaders also have personal reasons for supporting Israel.
Morales of Guatemala is an evangelical Christian, as is 40 percent of Guatemala’s population, and evangelicals have strong religious attachments to Israel. Paraguay’s president, Horacio Cartes, has close ties with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and one of his campaign advisors, Ari Harow, is an Israeli-American who previously served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff.
Hernandez of Honduras participated early in his career in an outreach program by Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.
Grossman said that Trump’s decision opened the door for Latin American countries that have good relations with Israel to follow suit.
“This move kind of removes the barrier for many of those small countries who have excellent relations with Israel, very developed trade relations and security cooperation,” he said.
Will the upcoming moves by Guatemala and Paraguay spark a trend? De Alba said it is “very highly unlikely” that a large number of Latin American countries will follow suit because such a move is seen as “too forceful.”
“The position of the majority of the Latin American countries will be not to do so and try not to take sides on the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict,” he said.
Meanwhile Mariaschin thinks the Latin American countries’ decisions may lead others to at least rethink their policies.
“I think these moves will spur other countries to reconsider because there’s a critical mass which is assembling here, not only in Latin America but in other places as well.”
Jewish Broadcasting Service: b'nai B'rith International's Reaction to the Announcement that the U.S. Is Leaving the Iran Deal
The Jewish Broadcasting Service quoted B'nai B'rith International's response to the announcement from the White House that the United States would be exiting the Iran deal.
The Times of Israel published B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin's op-ed about the United Nations' willingness to overlook Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' vociferous Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic comments.
Mahmoud Abbas, he of Holocaust denial fame, was saved by the bell last week when Kuwait, a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, prevented a U.S-sponsored condemnatory statement of the Palestinian leader for his anti-Semitic comments from moving forward.
Kuwait cited an apology by Abbas as mitigating any action against the president of the Palestinian Authority. It also called the measure “one-sided,” which, given the anti-Semitic tropes put forward by Abbas in a “history lesson” speech in Ramallah, it certainly was — against Jews.
The Security Council statement, introduced by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, called out Abbas for “vile anti-Semitic slurs and baseless conspiracy theories, and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East.”
Given Abbas’ history of Holocaust denial and minimization, his remarks came as less a surprise than a confirmation that his views about history’s worst crimes have not changed. He said very clearly that Jews had brought the Holocaust on themselves. He then leavened his remarks with other charges that have increasingly been a part of his public utterances, including Israel being a “colonialist” enterprise, and that Ashkenazi Jews are interlopers, and not real Jews.
To be sure, Abbas’ comments, when they became known, were roundly criticized. Britain’s top foreign office official called them “deeply disturbing,” while Germany’s new foreign minister issued a strong statement, calling Abbas’ “anti-Semitic remarks” unacceptable; the new UNESCO secretary general termed “all forms of anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial and relativization unacceptable.” Even the New York Times Editorial Board, which in the past had promoted Abbas as a worthy partner for peace, said that “by succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office.”
Which brings us back to the stymied effort to adopt a Security Council statement. Kuwait cited Abbas’ May 3rd “apology” as the principal reason for tossing the U.S. effort aside. As a statement of contrition, the apology was rather boilerplate: “If people were offended,” said Abbas, “especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them.” He pledged “full respect for the Jewish faith and other monotheistic faiths.”
“If” people were offended?
The Abbas apology had the look and feel of a quickly-done throw-away that could have come from a damage control team at a public relations firm. For 50 years, he’s been dismissing the Jewish people’s connection to its historic homeland, encouraging his minions to utilize the United Nations and its agencies to erase Jewish history (next up: the Dead Sea Scrolls, whose ownership will be challenged at the World Heritage Committee next month); allowing Palestinian schools to inculcate raw hatred against Jews; and minimizing the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. Indeed, his now well-publicized doctoral dissertation on the subject seems to have been nothing but a warm-up for his most recent barrage of offensive comments.
For decades, many of the same folks who finally saw fit to criticize Abbas were mum on years of anti-Jewish incitement from the official Palestinian camp. It was either written off as just rhetoric for home consumption, or ignored altogether. Abbas is not the first Palestinian leader to engage in this kind of language; Yasser Arafat, his predecessor and mentor at the Palestine Liberation Organization, was a full-time peddler of revisionist history and inflammatory rhetoric.
But Abbas has repeatedly been presented as the last, best hope for peace and a partner on the way to a two-state solution. Over the decades, as each attempt at effectuating an agreement fell by the side of the road, international opprobrium has largely been heaped on Israel. Like Arafat, who is said to have told U.S. President Bill Clinton that the Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount, Abbas has for years made the same kinds of outrageous comments, which have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears in the international community, and been left off the hook.
Hopefully, no more.
If you deny the Holocaust, or say Jews brought it on themselves because of their “social behavior;” if you allow children to be taught that Jews are hiding behind rocks and trees waiting to kill Palestinians; if you write Jews out of their own history because you say your narrative in the region is the only one that counts; and if, after being caught in public saying all of this for the umpteenth time, you then “apologize” to those who might be offended, then what kind of partner for peace can you be?
Shame on the other members of the Security Council for trying to wish this all away by accepting Abbas’ hollow apology.
The statement introduced by Haley called for a “firm and unequivocal rejection of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial,” and demanded that Abbas “refrain from anti-Semitic comments.”
Why would one now believe this apology after a lifetime of engaging in this type of rhetoric? The only difference is, this time he got caught. The Security Council should not have let him off the hook.
Was that too much to ask?
Israeli News Coverage for 2018 B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage
The below news organizations in Israel covered the 2018 B'nai B'rith World Center-Jersualem Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage.
Israel news Corporation
The Israel News Corporation covered the prize during its telecast; you can watch the clip here.
יאיר שרקי זכה בפרס על סיקור יהדות התפוצות ויחסי ישראלבזכות סדרת הכתבות "ברוקלין של קודש", כתב הדתות של חדשות 2 הוכרז כזוכה בפרס מצוינות עיתונאית בתקשורת הישראלית של המרכז העולמי של בני ברית ל-2018; תכנית הרדיו "יהיה בסדר" בגלי צה"ל זכתה באות מקדם הנגישות בתקשורת הישראליתיאיר שרקי, כתב הדתות של חברת החדשות, הוכרז כזוכה בפרס מצוינות עיתונאית בתקשורת הישראלית בסקירת יהדות התפוצות ויחסי ישראל והתפוצות, של המרכז העולמי של בני ברית לשנת 2018 על סדרת הכתבות "ברוקלין של קודש".
לצד שרקי יזכה בפרס בתחום התקשורת המודפסת אמוץ עשהאל, עורך בכיר בג'רוזלם פוסט. ציון לשבח יינתן לבני טיטלבוים, כתב תאגיד השידור.
סדרת הכתבות "ברוקלין של קודש" עסקה בקהילה החרדית בניו יורק, ושודרה ב"המהדורה המרכזית" של חברת החדשות בקשת ורשת. בספטמבר 2016 פורסם בוואלה ברנז'ה כי שרקי חוזר לשמש ככתב הדתות של חדשות 2, לאחר גיחה קצרה של מספר חודשים בתאגיד.
בתוך כך, תכנית הרדיו "יהיה בסדר" בגלי צה"ל זכתה היום באות מקדם הנגישות בתקשורת הישראלית. האות הוענק בוועדת נגישות ישראל. ממחקר שנערך בשיתוף חברת יפעת בשנה האחרונה עולה כי "יהיה בסדר" מובילה בפער משמעותי את סיקור הנגישות.
שמעון אלקבץ, מפקד גלי צה"ל, מסר: "גלי צה"ל גאה בצוות התכנית, בעורכת מאיה כהן, בתחקירניות שקד הילה שובל, חן אדלה ושי קרני, ובמגישים אביב לביא, לינוי בר גפן ונעמי רביע, על עבודת הקודש שהם מבצעים יום יום, בטיפול בעוולות ובמתן עזרה וסיוע לאזרחי ישראל. אני נרגש לחזות במסירות הנפש של צוות התכנית שלא נח, והופך כל אבן בדרך למציאת פתרון לפניות המגיעות לסף דלתו. נמשיך לפעול .לקידום תרומה לחברה הישראלית ולדאוג שיהיה בסדר
יאיר שרקי זכה בפרס מצוינות עיתונאית בתקשורת הישראלית
יאיר שרקי, כתב הדתות של חברת החדשות, הוכרז זוכה פרס המרכז העולמי של בני ברית לשנת 2018 על סדרת הכתבות "ברוקלין של קודש".
המרכז העולמי של בני ברית הודיע על זכייתו של יאיר שרקי בפרס מצוינות עיתונאית בתקשורת הישראלית בסקירת יהדות התפוצות ויחסי ישראל והתפוצות - זאת על סדרת הכתבות "ברוקלין של קודש", בת חמישה פרקים אודות הקהילה החרדית בניו יורק ובסביבותיה, ששודרה במסגרת "המהדורה המרכזית" של חברת החדשות בערוצים 12 ו-13. שרקי החל את דרכו העיתונאית ככתב הדתות של גלי צה"ל ולאחר סיום שירותו הצבאי הצטרף לצוות "חדשות 2" ומשמש ככתב הדתות.
לצד שרקי יזכה בפרס בתחום התקשורת המודפסת, אמוץ עשהאל עורך בכיר בג'רוזלם רפורט. ציון לשבח יינתן לבני טייטלבוים כתב תאגיד השידור הציבורי.
the Algemeiner: U.S. Jewish Groups from Across Political Spectrum Blast Palestinian Leader Abbas over Antisemitism
The Algemeiner cited B'nai B'rith International's response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' anti-Semitic and hate-filled speech to the Palestinian National Council.
US Jewish groups from across the political spectrum have issued condemnations of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ antisemitic statements made in a speech to the Palestinian National Council earlier this week.
In the address on Monday, Abbas blamed the Jews for bringing the Holocaust upon themselves because of their practice of usuary and other aspects of their “social behavior.” He also claimed Ashkenazi Jews were not real Jews and therefore had no right to the Land of Israel.
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein stated, “We are outraged by the comments of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in which he placed responsibility for the Holocaust on its Jewish victims. This goes beyond Holocaust denial — which was the subject of Abbas’ dissertation. This is Holocaust glorification, exonerating the perpetrators and condemning the innocent Jewish martyrs.”
“His obscene comments deserve the strongest condemnation from leaders around the world as he exposes once again his true bigoted beliefs and hatred,” they went on to say. “There can be no more excuses or obfuscations for such blasphemous lies. Once again he proves he cannot be a partner for peace or coexistence.”
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) said it “unequivocally condemns Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ despicable and outrageous exploitation of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the book, going so low as to accuse Jews of bringing genocide upon themselves in some twisted attempt to disprove the Jewish historical connection to the Land of Israel.”
“Abbas’ address was nothing short of a repugnant litany of propaganda and conspiracies dripping of sheer anti-Semitic incitement,” the WJC statement noted. “We urge the international community to hear these remarks for what they are, and to denounce them in the strongest possible terms, rather than allowing itself to be lured into the Palestinian leader’s façade of intentions. This kind of anti-Semitism will encourage only further violence and hatred, not peace.”
B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin stated, “Abbas’ anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric is the height of maliciousness, and no one can expect to arrive at an agreement with a leader who peddles such anti-Semitic tropes. Abbas perpetuating vile conspiracy theories and falsifying history does nothing for the Middle East peace process. It does, however, elevate hatred to a new level.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, national director and CEO of the ADL, said, “Laden with ahistorical and pseudo-academic assertions, the Palestinian president’s latest diatribe reflects once again the depth and persistency of the anti-Semitic attitudes he harbors.”
“With public speeches like these,” Greenblatt continued, “it is not surprising that under Abbas’ leadership, the Palestinian Authority has failed to renounce and combat Palestinian antisemitic incitement, including narratives that Jews are to blame for the Holocaust and other anti-Semitic persecution, and which deny or diminish the millennial Jewish presence in and connection to the Land of Israel.”
Abbas was also not immune from criticism from groups on the left, who are generally more sympathetic to him.
J Street said, “There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of incendiary rhetoric. With diatribes like this, President Abbas only undermines the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Palestinian people, and distracts from the need for international action to help alleviate the crisis in Gaza and advance the two-state solution.”
Americans for Peace Now stated, “There is no other way to say it: Mahmoud Abbas’ speech yesterday, yet again, included vile antisemitic statements, which are completely unacceptable and are inconsistent with efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
Truah, a coalition of left-wing rabbis, called Abbas’ words “ridiculous and offensive.”
“It’s troubling that in 2018 we have to remind people that Jews aren’t to blame for the Holocaust and that we have a historic connection to the Land of Israel,” the group added.
The New York Jewish Week quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's televised presentation in which he offered evidence that Iran is lying about its adherence to its international nuclear deal.
Israel’s theft of Iran’s nuclear archives from a secret bunker in the country’s capital was hailed this week as a “stunning achievement” that underscores Israel’s importance to America’s own national security.
“Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has our back and is able to penetrate hard targets like Iran,” said Josh Block, CEO and president of the Israel Project, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that provides information to the media and policymakers.
David Makovsky, an expert on the Middle East, characterized the theft as a “stunning achievement.”
“That they could walk into a warehouse inside Tehran and have access to the most sensitive material of the state — I wonder if it will lead to a purge in Iran’s security system,” said Makovsky, director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “This is clearly an achievement on the level of Stuxnet [the 2010 cyberattack against Iran’s nuclear program]. If it had been written by a Hollywood writer, it would have been sent back as unrealistic.”
The theft of the nuclear blueprints — which weighed a half-ton and included 55,000 pages of records, another 55,000 files on 183 CDs, photos and videos — was revealed in dramatic fashion by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a prime-time Israeli telecast Monday night that was seen around the world. He disclosed that the Iranian documents showed that Iran had been working to develop ballistic missiles capable of holding five warheads each with 10 kiloton TNT yields.
“That’s like five Hiroshima bombs to be put on ballistic missiles,” Netanyahu said.
The takeaway from all of the documents is open to interpretation. Those who opposed the 2015 Iran deal assert the findings prove Iran lied in the past, lies now and cannot be trusted in the future. Supporters of the agreement say it is a given that Iran lied about their nuclear program but that no new information has surfaced to suggest Tehran is not abiding by the substance of the deal now.
Netanyahu’s presentation, according to media reports, was designed to “support” President Donald Trump in the belief he has already decided to withdraw the U.S. by May 12 from the Iran nuclear agreement. “People who are derisive about what Israel has done say it is old news because the files are from 2003,” Makovsky observed. “But access to these documents gives an idea of how Iran obscures going forward. I have to believe there is value here in what Israel found. And it should serve as a warning that if Israel could get inside a warehouse in Tehran, you can run but you can’t hide.”
On the other hand, Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Jewish Policy Center, said everyone knew Iran was lying when it repeatedly insisted that it had no ambitions to build a nuclear weapon when it signed the pact.
“You knew they weren’t telling the truth, so none of this is new,” she said. “He [Netanyahu] laid it out in a way that makes clear how difficult it would be if people agreed to try to fix the deal. It’s not the kind of thing you can paper over; it’s fundamentally flawed. And once you know they lied, why take their word for anything else?”
[The Iranians have repeatedly said they would not agree to “fix” the agreement and would be prepared to immediately resume their nuclear weapons program should the United States withdraw from the deal.]
While agreeing that it was widely believed Iran “was cheating and was after nuclear weapons,” Ilan Berman said the Israeli theft now provides “archival documentary evidence that it is true in terms of software and classified memos; now we have the proof to confirm our assumptions.”
The Israeli action also demonstrates, said Berman, senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, that the “current status quo is not sustainable. … International monitoring is imperfect and the Iranians can cheat if they want. We have already missed a tremendous amount. … I think the [Netanyahu] presentation was effective precisely because it conveyed the message that it is not possible to fix the deal. It is a broken deal, which does not account for the fact that the Iranians are lying and cheating.”
Berman noted that the Europeans acknowledge the deal’s flaws “but believe they can make it tougher. We are saying that what was just discovered is that the original deal is so flawed that Iranians are OK with it because we can’t see what they are doing militarily. Any new proposal will be so strict the Iranians will reject it.”
Michael Koplow, policy director of the Israel Policy Forum, questioned why the deal allowed the Iranians to enrich uranium “even to a low level if they were intent on truly eliminating their [nuclear] weapons program. That was a problem with the deal from the beginning.”
“My strong hunch is that Trump has decided he is going to have the U.S. back away from the deal,” he said. “The question then is what the European countries, Russia and China will decide to do. I don’t think they will walk away as readily as the U.S.”
Another flaw in the deal is that it does not put a stop to Iran’s quest for hegemony in the region, said Daniel Mariaschin, CEO and executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International.
“There was a headlong desire to conclude a nuclear agreement and in doing it a number of important provisions were completely left out,” he said. “While they have everyone swearing to their compliance [with the agreement], they are creating havoc in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon. … They are using the nuclear agreement as a fig leaf for their behavior. Iran’s behavior in the Middle East … is a threat to Europe and to the West more broadly that must be addressed going forward.”
The Iranians are following the North Korean playbook, said Berman.
“The North Koreans promised a whole bunch of things and did not abide by them,” he explained, referring to its nuclear program. “But they received economic benefits as a result of their promises. This is an important teachable moment for the White House. Let’s hope that the North Koreans have turned over a new leaf. North Korea says it is looking for a nuclear deal like the Iranians got. The big lesson learned here is that the Iran deal is terribly deficient because it doesn’t irreversibly denuclearize. If that is what Trump wants to accomplish with North Korea, this is not the model to follow.”
Berman said what happened with the Iran deal “makes the president more skeptical about how solid any agreement made with a rogue state will be. It makes him more realistic about what can be achieved, and the inspections and verifications have to be more robust than before.
“The IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency, an autonomous international organization within the United Nations charged with monitoring Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal] needs a more robust mandate so it can see whatever it wants.”
To Elliot Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations who served in foreign policy positions for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, the stolen documents “show that the claims made by [then-Secretary of State] John Kerry and others in the previous administration that we have perfect knowledge of the Iranian nuclear program is false. There is plenty still to discover, and it is striking that we did not discover it but that Israel did. It is an important reminder that the Iranians have been lying about their nuclear program forever.
“Kerry promised 24-7 inspections and that is not true – and there have been zero inspections of [Iranian] military sites,” he added. “It is generally a reminder of how terrific the Mossad [Israel’s national intelligence agency] is, how much the Iranians lie and the need for really tough verification.”
Abrams added that should President Donald Trump decide by May 12 to keep the U.S. within the Iranian nuclear agreement, “you will see a significant increase in investment in Iran that has not yet taken place. If he [Trump] gets out and sanctions are imposed now and later, no businessman will invest in Iran — it would be too risky and we want it to be risky. The Iranian economy is under enormous stress and we want to increase it. The way to do that is to get out of [the deal] and try to negotiate a better deal.”
Noting that Trump is expected to meet in the coming weeks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the hope of negotiating a denuclearization agreement with North Korea, Middle East analyst Aaron David Miller said he would like to see Trump sit down with Iranian leaders to work out a new nuclear weapons agreement.
“He [Kim] probably has more blood on his hands than any Iranian leader,” said Miller, Middle East program director at the Wilson Center. “If the Iranian deal is fundamentally flawed, why not sit with the Iranians to see how to fix it. … Walking away is not going to be good for us.”
The Order of AHEPA's spring 2018 issue of its magazine The AHEPAN publicized the third leadership mission of leading representatives from B'nai B'rith and other top American Hellenic and American Jewish organizations to Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
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