Our fascinating B’nai B’rith Magazine cover story won two prestigious Rockower Awards for journalism last night! Our story by Beryl Lieff Benderly, Secret Shabbes: How the ‘Sabbath Delight’ hid an astonishing archive” details how a brave and dedicated group of Jews chronicled the atrocities in the Warsaw Ghetto.
The judges noted: “This is a sad, moving, and graceful story that pays homage to true visionaries and their heroic acts.”
Thank you to the American Jewish Press Association for recognizing the story in TWO categories: an Honorable Mention Award for Excellence in Feature Writing AND a 2nd place Award for Excellence in Writing About Jewish Heritage and Jewish Peoplehood in Europe.
Read the compelling story here: www.bnaibrith.org/2020-winter-bnai-brith-magazine.html
We also interviewed Benderly on our Conversations series with our CEO Dan Mariaschin: Check it out! https://youtu.be/hzjXjXNndfc
Major American Jewish Organizations Urge Biden to Send More COVID Vaccines to India Before Third Wave
The Algemeiner noted B'nai B'rith International as one of the major American Jewish organizations urging the U.S. administration (in a letter sent by the Conference of Presidents) to immediately provide surplus vaccine doses to India ahead of a third wave.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations transmitted an open letter to the White House on Tuesday calling on the Biden administration to immediately provide surplus vaccine doses to India.
The letter, sent to White House chief of staff Ron Klain and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, was signed by 22 Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, and the Zionist Organization of America.
Citing the devastation India has recently experienced due to the “Delta variant” of COVID-19, the letter asserted, “As India emerges from this latest wave, there is a crucial window of time available. It is imperative that India be given the opportunity to vaccinate as much of its population as possible in order to avoid future and further catastrophe.”
The letter noted that the US has a stockpile of the Astra Zeneca vaccine that will likely not be distributed and could easily be transferred to India.
“We urge the administration to rapidly allocate an additional and greatly increased share of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to India,” the signatories said. “It is essential that the world’s largest democracy be provided the opportunity to stave off another disaster.”
“The Indian government came to the aid of the United States in its time of need during the first wave of Spring 2020 and has been a stalwart ally and friend,” the letter pointed out. “So too, the four million strong Indian expatriate community plays an integral role through United States society.”
“We believe that an enhanced US allocation of valuable COVID-19 vaccines to India would be an enormous boon to a democracy that has been ravaged by disease and is in danger of facing another wave,” it concluded.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Fusfield as part of its reporting on Jewish organizations pushing the U.S. administration to swiftly appoint a White House Jewish liaison and nominate a Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism at the State Department.
(June 22, 2021 / JNS) For months, Jewish organizations in the United States have been lobbying to appoint a White House Jewish liaison. And after numerous meetings between Jewish organizational leaders and administration officials when violence erupted last month between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip—followed by a wave of anti-Semitic attacks—that role and that of the State Department Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism have yet to be filled.
Most who spoke to JNS said that it was a matter of days or weeks before appointments are made, although they declined to speculate on particular nominees.
Jewish issues have gained a new urgency after first taking a back seat to other concerns—namely, the coronavirus pandemic and the distribution of vaccines in the five months since the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden.
Eric Fusfield, director of legislative affairs for B’nai B’rith International, said in addition to the Mideast conflict in May, concerns include the Iranian nuclear threat and ongoing discussions towards U.S. re-entry into a deal, Israel’s new leadership and, just this week, new Iranian leadership in the form of President-elect Ebrahim Raisi. American Jewish organizations want to make the White House aware of its opinions to make sure the U.S.-Israel relationship remains strong, as well as address how Jews are being treated in the United States.
“Our community is feeling some urgency right now about several things in particular, like combating anti-Semitism, because anti-Semitism in this country has taken a very disturbing turn lately, with more violence against Jewish individuals and institutions,” said Fusfield.
The liaison’s position, he said, serves as a focal point for Jewish organizations to contact the White House to make sure their message is heard by those who have the power to augment change.
While he said that every administration has a settling-in period where it works to nominate individuals for key positions, the six-month window is approaching, and the Jewish community is experiencing urgent needs.
“We need a mailing address for voicing our concerns, and the liaison fills that need for us,” he said. “We’re feeling a great deal of anxiety about certain issues right now, and having a conduit in the administration would help further communication and help us get our point across.”
Read the full article on JNS.org.
The Jerusalem Post covered the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem awarding a special citation to Israeli musician and author Danny Sanderson for his contributions to Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts during his 50-year career.
Israeli singer-songwriter and author Danny Sanderson is being awarded a special citation for Fostering Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts by the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem.
The citation is set to be presented at a special event in Hebrew on July 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Konrad Adenauer Conference Center in Jerusalem's Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood.
Sanderson was noted for the citation due to his career spanning over 50 years as one of the most beloved artists in Israel. He made waves in rock bands like Gazoz, Doda and the famous Kaveret and performed in some of the country's most iconic venues.
This marks the seventh time this particular citation was awarded since its creation in 2014. Since then, it has been awarded to a number of prominent Israeli artists such as Nurit Hirsh, Idan Raichel, David Broza and the Shalva Band.
Also being given an award at the ceremony is The Jerusalem Post's own Greer Fay Cashman, who will receive a lifetime achievement award for her many decades of journalism.
Israel Hayom covered the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem awarding a special citation to Israeli musician and author Danny Sanderson for his contributions to Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts during his 50-year career.
The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem announced Sunday that Israeli singer, songwriter and author Danny Sanderson will receive a special citation for Fostering Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts.
The citation was established in 2014 and has been presented to Nurit Hirsh, David D'Or, Idan Raichel, David Broza, Yehoram Gaon and the Shalva Band.
B'nai B'rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843.
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International's tweet congratulating Switzerland on adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism in its roundup of responses from world Jewish groups.
Leading Jewish groups in Europe and around the world welcomed the Friday decision by Switzerland’s executive body to approve the working definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
At a meeting Friday of the Swiss Federal Council, the country’s seven-member executive authority adopted a report on applying the IHRA, now recognized by 29 countries around the world.
“The Federal Council firmly and unequivocally opposes any form of antisemitism,” the council said in a statement. “It recognizes the value and practical relevance of the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism, which can provide further guidance in identifying antisemitic incidents while also serving as a basis for more specific definitions aimed at particular areas or purposes.”
The Council report also made recommendations for measures to combat antisemitism in Switzerland.
“It is very gratifying that the Federal Council also wants to strengthen the measures against antisemitism and racism,” said two umbrella organizations, the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) and the Platform of Liberal Jews Switzerland, adding that they would seek to cooperate with the government on specific action plans.
The decision was cheered by the European Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress, which both called it “an important step” in fighting antisemitism.
“Congratulations to #Switzerland for adopting @TheIHRA working definition of #antisemitism! This is an important tool to help governments identify, monitor and address anti-Jewish hatred,” said B’nai B’rith International on Twitter.
The antisemitism report was initiated by Swiss council member Paul Rechsteiner, according to SIG.
Introduced in 2016, the IHRA definition has been adopted by the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Parliament, as well as a growing number of educational and other institutions.
Its full text reads, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin as part of its report on American Jewish organizations supporting Israel through the latest round of violence against the Jewish state (and increased anti-Jewish backlash).
(June 2, 2021 / JNS) The flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas lasted 11 days until a ceasefire was negotiated, but for Jewish community organizations, the fight continues within the United States. Recent weeks have seen a surge in violence against Jews and unlike during previous conflicts, Jews and Jewish groups this time around saw the emergence of a better-organized campaign by pro-Palestinian groups to smear Israel in the public sphere, leading to increased anti-Semitism.
The result is that American Jewish organizations—both new and traditional—see the need to work together to properly combat the new threats.
Shoham Nicolet, co-founder and CEO of the Israeli-American Council, said that as tensions were ramping up in Jerusalem, he and IAC staff held a virtual meeting to decide whether or not to hold rallies in support of the Jewish state.
They already knew that the escalation of violence looked like it was going to be serious. As they contemplated dates and times for their first round of rallies, each member began receiving messages on their WhatsApp Messenger from family and friends in Israel. Hamas had begun launching rockets into the center of the country.
The participants took a break from the meeting to call their relatives, and when they returned, they said, each was motivated to proceed with rallies as soon as possible. While they originally were planning to hold rallies in a few days’ time or on the nearest Sunday, they decided to organize them within the next 24 hours.
During and after the conflict, the IAC was instrumental in hosting a number of large, in-person rallies throughout the United States, in many places joined by local Jewish organizations such as the Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Councils and Jewish Community Centers.
In Los Angeles, where Nicolet lives, they held a rally in Beverly Hills, which he said was one of the largest he had ever seen. Another rally in New Jersey brought together some 3,000 people.
For the second round of rallies, another decision had to be made, said Nicolet, as the ceasefire had already been announced.
‘The community feels much less safe’
The staff had another serious discussion, realized that while the Israeli conflict was winding down, one within North America was heating up against Jewish people and those Israelis living in the Diaspora, prompting another round of rallies with the organized Jewish community.
“First of all, the demonization of Israel is getting into the mainstream, and this is a big issue that we have to deal with because these are lies and blood libels we didn’t hear at such level. It’s really extensive and on social networks, but not only,” explained Nicolet. “And the second part is that, again, it’s not a secret … the community feels much less safe.”
The violence, he continued, was not just anti-Israel. “We hear anti-Semitic statements and anti-Zionist statements, and these are concerns,” said Nicolet. “It went way beyond the military conflict that was taking place in Israel.”
Contrasting with previous times when Israel was involved in a conflict against Iranian terror proxies Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, the anti-Israel presence both in the media and on the street has been far better organized and outspoken.
“If there ever was a moment where our community needs to come together, it is now. Many in our community have been stunned by the rapidity of assaults on us as supporters of Israel and as Jews,” said Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International in an email. “Unlike the past, the Internet has been the force multiplier that spreads this particular virus in ways never before. But this perfect storm of Jew-hatred knows no political or ideological nuance. Each of us—organizations and individuals alike—has an obligation to stand up now against this dangerous, ominous, and unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism.”
Unlike in other conflicts, Jewish organizations faced hurdles in organizing. First, the speed of the conflict, lasting only 11 days—as opposed to the 51 in the summer of 2014 against Hamas in Gaza—gave organizations less time to coordinate a response, especially with the Shavuot holiday in the middle of the rocket-launching.
Read the full article on JNS.org.
The Jewish Journal included B'nai B'rith International's tweet calling out Kamau Bobb, Google’s Global Lead for Diversity Strategy and Research, for his offensive 2007 blog post, "If I Were A Jew."
Kamau Bobb, Google’s Global Lead for Diversity Strategy and Research, is under fire for a 2007 blog post in which he said if he were Jewish, he would be concerned about Israel’s “insatiable appetite for vengeful violence.”
The post, which was first unearthed by the Washington Free Beacon, began with the following: “If I were a Jew today, my sensibilities would be tormented. I would find it increasingly difficult to reconcile the long cycles of oppression that Jewish people have endured and the insatiable appetite for vengeful violence that Israel, my homeland, has now acquired. This reconciliation would be particularly difficult now, in November, 79 years after Kristallnacht – the Night of Broken Glass.”
Bobb’s post went on to criticize Israel for invoking “collective punishment” against the Gaza Strip and for “destroying buildings and breaking the glass” in the West Bank. The post eventually concluded: “If I were a Jew I would be concerned about my insatiable appetite for war and killing in defense of myself. Self defense is undoubtedly an instinct, but I would be afraid of my increasing insensitivity to the suffering others. My greatest torment would be that I’ve misinterpreted the identity offered by my history and transposed spiritual and human compassion with self righteous impunity.”
Jewish groups condemned Bobb’s blog post. The Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted that Google should “fire this #antisemite.” Stop Antisemitism similarly tweeted, “How is the obscene, antisemitic bigot still employed there?”
B’nai Brith International similarly tweeted that Bobb’s post was “appalling.” “How did #Google promote someone with such hateful, anti-Semitic views to lead their diversity strategy?”
StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson tweeted that Bobb also wrote a blog post about how if he were an Arab, “the ability of the United States and Israel to not only dictate the terms of my subjugation, but characterize my desire to be free as rooted in hatred would burn.” The post also stated that “you cannot beat a people and demand that they not fight back in order to peacefully negotiate an end to the beating.”
“All of this begs the question whether (1) @Google did due diligence when selecting @kamaubobb for the sensitive position of global Google DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) Director and (2) whether he should remain in these positions,” Dickson tweeted. “@Google – what say you?”
Meghan McCain, co-host of ABC’s “The View,” said during a June 2 segment that Google “should’ve googled him” and that she’s tired of “having the conversation over and over about why antisemitism is the last passable form of bigotry in the United States.” “If they said this about Black people, or Asian people, or LGBT people, he would be fired already. And he’s not, which says that Google’s okay with a little bit of soft antisemitism.”
Tablet Magazine senior writer Yair Rosenberg, on the other hand, argued that Bobb should have been “given a chance to account for how he’s changed/grown over the last 10 years when it comes to understanding Jewish people” and he could have “emerged as a better ally… instead, we get gotcha pieces in conservative outlets that aren’t interested in helping people empathize with each other and move beyond past problems, but rather in fashioning 10-year-old errors into the latest ammo in a culture war.”
The New York Post reported that they obtained an email from Bobb to Google’s “Jewgler” Employee Resource Group stating that he was “deeply sorry” for the post. “What I wrote crudely characterized the entire jewish community. what was intended as a critique of particular military action fed into antisemitic tropes and prejudice. i think we can all agree, there is no easy solution to this situation. but that’s beside the point. the way I expressed my views on that conflict were hurtful.”
Google did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
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