While a truce may have halted the conflict in Gaza, the cultural conflict continues in much of the world, as Jewish communities have been subject to increased anti-Semitism since the war began.
In Australia, several threatening incidences toward Jewish children, particularly a bomb threat at a Jewish school, has the continent's 110,000-member Jewish population on edge.
The story was covered in Haaretz, quoting Dr. Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission. A sampling of the story can be found below:
Prof. Danny Ben-Moshe, another Melbourne-based academic who analyzes anti-Semitism, agreed there had been a shift within Australian Jewry but stopped short of describing it as “seismic.”
“The collective well-being of Australian Jewry has been adversely affected,” Ben-Moshe told Haaretz. “Jews are neither as free nor as safe as they were prior to this war.”
More than 200 Jewish pupils were evacuated for several hours while the bomb squad sent a remote-controlled robot to an abandoned car outside the school after community security officials had called police.
In the wake of the incident on Jewish pupils on a school bus in Sydney, Dr. Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, wrote earlier this month: “There are alarming developments and chilling signs that are making the Jewish community here less comfortable, less confident and very worried that the flames of anti-Semitism are burning more furiously at home.”
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin and Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels penned an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times on Aug. 27.
The piece urged the United Nations to place Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish year, on the list of officially recognized holidays. A committee will convene on the matter next month.
Read the op-ed in its entirety, below:
THE emblem of the United Nations shows the planet brought together in the embrace of two olive branches. Its charter affirms the “equal rights” of “nations large and small.” But in the “family of nations,” some members are more equal than others. No example of this inequity is starker than that of Israel.
The State of Israel was created, in the Jewish ancestral homeland, as a result of a United Nations resolution. Its 1948 proclamation of independence refers to the United Nations seven times. Israel tries to contribute to international peace in every area in which it can help, from disaster relief to medical innovation to agricultural technology. Jewish hope in the organization — created in the aftermath of the Holocaust — can be discerned in the words from Isaiah inscribed beside the Sharansky Steps, which face the United Nations headquarters in New York City: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
But over time, Israel has been a target for exceptional mistreatment at the United Nations. A pluralistic democracy facing extremists sworn to its destruction, Israel is routinely condemned by the body’s Human Rights Council, more than any other member state. Israel’s assailants at the United Nations often assert that they respect Jews and Judaism — and reserve their shrill disdain only for Israeli policies and Zionism. But the demonization of Israel calls their motives into question.
The United Nations is headquartered in the United States, the country with the most Jews outside Israel, and in New York City, which has the single largest Jewish population in the Diaspora. Judaism, of course, is an ancient, biblical religion — a precursor of the two dominant world faiths — and Jewish communities can be found in at least 120 member states.
In 1997, the General Assembly added two Muslim holidays (Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr) to the official calendar of the United Nations headquarters. Two of the 10 holidays are Christian (Good Friday and Christmas) and the other six are American federal holidays. None is Jewish.
Important United Nations events — even, sometimes, meetings related to Israel — have repeatedly been scheduled on major Jewish holidays, forcing Jewish diplomats and representatives of civil society to choose between their professional duties and their faith and families.
Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish year, unites Jews of all nationalities, political orientations and degrees of observance. The Day of Atonement, as it is known — traditionally spent in fasting, prayer and introspection — represents the universal aspiration to self-improvement and to making amends. Last month, 32 nations — including Argentina, Canada, Israel, Nigeria and the United States — declared their support for adding Yom Kippur (Oct. 3-4 this year) to the United Nations calendar. Next month, a committee will take up the matter.
In 1999, Secretary General Kofi Annan acknowledged that, to observers, “it has sometimes seemed as if the United Nations serves all the world’s peoples but one: the Jews.” In 2006, his successor, Ban Ki-moon, told our organization, B’nai B’rith, that the United Nations should always be “a place where Jews and the State of Israel can feel at home.” Recently, Mr. Ban felt compelled to condemn an “upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks.”
One way to combat bigotry is by demonstrating respect. The Yom Kippur proposal is a nonpolitical one — unrelated to Israel’s recent hostilities with Hamas — and a test of inclusiveness. All 193 United Nations members, including the 56 in the Muslim bloc, should support it.
Low-income seniors living at B'nai B'rith's Homecrest House in Silver Spring, Md. will benefit from a new grant designed to provide the elderly with part time jobs to build their resumes and maintain independence.
The grant, from Senior Service America to The Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington, is good for $768,784 and will fund programs for more than 40 nonprofits and government agencies.
Read more about the grant, courtesy of an article in Gazette.net:
The money will be used to help provide older workers in Montgomery and Frederick counties with temporary part-time jobs to help them expand their resumes.
The grant will fund a program that has been operating for 40 years, said David Gamse, CEO of the Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington.
Older people face longer periods of unemployment, and age discrimination is “alive and well and living in Montgomery and Frederick counties,” he said.
To be eligible, participants must be at least 55 years old and earn less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level.
The program has a long waiting list, with about 300 people for the 30 to 60 new slots that open up each year, said Rivka Yerushalmi, director of senior employment services for the council.
The average wait is a few years, she said, but there are priorities for people such as veterans, people with disabilities, those who are 75 years of age or older, and people who have received eviction notices, she said.
Many of the people in the program may have poor language skills or don’t know how to communicate effectively in the modern workplace, but many are well-educated and speak multiple languages, Gamse said.
Everyone in the program is trying very hard to get off government support programs and wants to be independent, he said.
Between 2006 and 2012, the program moved 118 participants into unsubsidized full- and part-time jobs.
“The bottom line here is that we want these folks out of the program and into regular jobs,” Gamse said.
B’nai B’rith sent the following letter to the editor to the New York Times on Aug. 14.
Read it in its entirety, below:
The lumping together of "Israel, Sri Lanka and Syria" is precisely what is perverse about the record of High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the Human Rights Council.
Israel is condemned by the council more than all other countries. Syria, though, has killed more Arabs in three years than Israel has in sixty-six.
Ms. Pillay has never criticized the council’s repressive members for a permanent agenda item singling out Israel alone for harsh scrutiny.
Irresponsibly, she suggests equivalence between Israel, a democracy, and Hamas, a terrorist movement. She emphasizes Israel's "occupation," ignoring the 2005 Gaza withdrawal and Hamas’s rejection of Israel’s existence within any borders. She also rushed to claim disproportionate Palestinian civilian casualties when most Gazans recently killed appear to have been males of fighting age.
Ms. Pillay awaits Israeli countermeasures to incessant violence before sounding any alarm. Her valuing of certain lives above others was made explicit when she said she opposed Palestinian attacks but "most especially" Israeli responses.
Discrimination has no place in the pursuit of human rights.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, Executive Vice President
David J. Michaels, Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs
B'nai B'rith International
On the latest edition of Radio JAI, Eduardo Kohn, B'nai B'rith director of Latin American Affairs, discusses several important issues facing the continent's Jewish population.
Topics include: the Gaza conflict has been used as an excuse for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views to propagate in Latin America and Europe; and anti-Israel stances in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba and Uruguay make life difficult for the native Jewish populations.
Listen to the full podcast below:
"¿Qué le pasa a Latinoamérica que no se da cuenta que una vez que los demonios salen afuera es muy difícil volver atrás?", advirtió el dirigente comunitario, quien además reiteró que "el objetivo de Hamas es exterminar a los judíos donde sea que se encuentren".
Sin embargo, Kohn se mostró esperanzado, ya que "todavía hay muchos gobernantes y académicos que no quieren el terrorismo" y elogió al expresidente uruguayo, Julio María Sanguinetti, quien en las últimas semanas defendió al Estado de Israel y condenó el terrorismo de Hamas.
With time running out for survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi-era atrocities in Europe, the French government is taking steps to return some 2,000 pieces of art stolen 70 years ago.
According to Washington Jewish Week, officials from the French National Assembly visited B'nai B'rith International headquarters in Washington to discuss ways to restore looted artifacts to their rightful owners. This is critical dialogue and marks a policy shift for France, which has been criticized for its reluctance to return the art.
Read the highlights from the wide-ranging article, below:
The French officials met with representatives of B’nai B’rith International in the District and visited New York State’s Department of Finance, two very different organizations that share the same expertise sought by the French lawmakers: restoring stolen Nazi art to its rightful owners.
Returning the art to its rightful owners is no easy task, said Eric Fusfield, director of legislative affairs for B’nai B’rith International.
“Most survivors are deceased now. We’re really talking about descendants now and most don’t have documentation. They have anecdotes and might not be able to name a specific work. That’s part of the challenge.”
But with B’nai B’rith, the group talked about specifics, according to Gerard Leval, the organization’s general counsel, who took part in the meeting.
“It was good to hear people who sincerely want to do the right thing,” he said. “Almost nothing during the Holocaust was random [including the theft of art]. We said, ‘Go to your documents – when it was taken, from whom it was taken, and from where it was taken.’ ”
The B’nai B’rith group suggested that the French advertise in publications with Jewish readers in the United States and Argentina, Leval said. They also pointed out that with anti-Semitism and xenophobia flaring up in France, the government could score propaganda points by showing that it “was doing its very best in areas where it can help the Jewish population,” he added.
Fusfield isn’t ready to declare victory yet. He recalled the March ceremony in Paris where the French culture minister returned three looted works to the grandchildren of the original owners. The restitution coincided with the French premiere of the George Clooney movieMonuments Men, about GIs working to recover looted art.
“So that’s three,” Fusfield said.
“Hollande has open the doors and that’s great,” Soltes said. “But there is other stuff, French decorative arts – tables, chairs, Louis XIV, XV, XVI owned by Jewish families. The French have stonewalled on them. You can see how interestingly self-contradictory this whole effort can be.”
Casi el 80% de los jóvenes integrados al programa Seguir Adelante, surgido en la B´Nai B´Rith, terminó sus estudios liceales. Secundaria y el INJU apoyan desde el Estado; interviene la ACJ y apoyan varias empresas.
"El programa consta de actividades bisemanales, y encuentros grupales, talleres que incentivan la pertenencia; partimos de una hipótesis que ahora podemos difundir: esos grupos son un factor importante para que los muchachos vean en la educación algo que los hará salir adelante", sostuvo a El País Carlos Kierszembaum.
Uno de los principales problemas de la educación en Uruguay lo constituye el abandono de los jóvenes en la educación media, principalmente en los sectores más carenciados. Un estudio de Unicef trasunta que solo el 11% termina el nivel secundario. "De 100 uruguayos que inician la escuela, solo 39 terminan bachillerato", por lo cual los niveles de desigualdad educativa en Uruguay son de los más altos de América Latina, de acuerdo a lo difundido en un informe del sociólogo Gustavo de Armas.
De los jóvenes que participaron del programa Seguir Adelante, un 77% egresaron, y un 13% optó por no continuar. El 10% restante no cumplió con lo acordado y abandonó. Un 80% de los egresados son los primeros en su familia que finalizaron Secundaria. Un 70% de los egresados realiza hoy estudios universitarios y trabaja, un 23% solo estudia, y un 7% solo se ocupa de trabajar.
En el marco del Programa Salir Adelante el miércoles 13 de agosto se realizó, en la sede de B´nai B´rith, una mesa redonda sobre la educación en Uruguay
Una sala colmada por autoridades nacionales, de la educación, empresarios y miembros de B'nai B'rith Uruguay participó de un debate muy ilustrativo sobre las realidades de la educación en Uruguay y las posibilidades positivas que abren programas de excelencia como SALIR ADELANTE.
Michael Rudman is a Jewish-American theater director with three Broadway plays and a Tony award on his résumé. Having worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, Rudman is a titan of show business.
But that was not always the case.
In an in-depth profile on TheJC.com, Rudman discusses his upbringing, where he attributes his early confidence to his experience in B'nai B'rith. Read the highlights below:
Born in Dallas, Rudman was brought up in a Jewish family but not in a religious environment. He remembers going to synagogue on the High Holy-Days but did not observe any of the other festivals.
He did not have a barmitzvah but he did attend B'nai B'rith meetings as a teenager - an experience he says was crucial in his future development as a director. "It was terribly important to me. For one thing, it enabled me to control a room. I would say it was as important to me as school."
His life took a more Jewish turn after he started a relationship with actress Felicity Kendall in the 1980s. When they married, she converted to Judaism and took the whole thing very seriously. In fact, Rudman says that it was down to her that their son Jacob had a barmitzvah. "Felicity was very keen on it and when Felicity is keen on something, it tends to happen."
The anti-Semitic messaging continues in Uruguay, as 'Death to Jews' graffiti mars walls in Montevideo, and some in the Uruguayan government endorse strong anti-Israel rhetoric.
B'nai B'rith International Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn shared his thoughts on the deteriorating situation with newspaper El Pais, urging the government to cease inciting anti-Semitic attitudes.
Read an excerpt of the article, below, in Spanish:
"Yo las pintadas que he visto en Uruguay no he visto que digan algo contra Israel o Palestina, pero las pintadas dicen fuera judíos y muerte a judíos; nos pusieron una acá en la entrada de la institución. Entonces me parece que estamos en un terreno peligroso y en ese caso todos los estados deberían tener mucho cuidado con el lenguaje que usan porque si no podría entenderse como una justificación a alguna barbaridad o una incitación para alguna cosa. No me gusta caminar por Montevideo y encontrarme con carteles que dicen muerte a los judíos. La ruta Interbalnearia tenía 5 kilómetros la semana pasada con esos carteles y eso es responsabilidad del Estado. El Estado debería cuando hace una declaración pensar que en derecho internacional es mucho más práctico los sustantivos que los adjetivos", criticó Kohn en entrevista con radio Oriental.
"Yo no me acuerdo que el Mercosur se haya reunido antes del 2009 o antes del 2012 o antes de ahora, porque antes de las guerras se tiraron 500 misiles contra los civiles israelíes y no me acuerdo que el Mercosur ni concretamente nuestro país haya hecho ninguna declaración sobre que la población civil israelí estaba corriendo a los refugios constantemente, 15 segunditos para correr, de que los civiles estaban en peligro", ahondó Kohn en su crítica a la postura oficial. Y agregó: "Si uno califica crimen de guerra, y si es un estado y si es una cancillería por lo menos debería ajustarse a lo que dice el derecho internacional; no se debe jugar con lo que dice el derecho internacional".
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