The Atlanta Jewish Times covered the Enlighten America 2020 Essay Contest, a virtual award ceremony hosted on Aug. 30 by B'nai B'rith International's Achim/Gate City (Atlanta) Lodge. CEO Dan Mariaschin is the guest speaker.
Nine winners of the Enlighten America 2020 Essay Contest will be recognized at a virtual awards ceremony Aug. 30 by the Achim/Gate City (Atlanta) Lodge of B’nai B’rith International.
The contest, which was open to all students seventh to ninth grades in metro Atlanta, prompted students to write about issues of racism, tolerance, and respect for diversity. “The subject was prejudice, bigotry,” said Victor Anapolle, contest coordinator. “It’s certainly a subject that a lot of the students are quite familiar with.”
Students were encouraged in their essays to draw from their own experiences with racism and intolerance directed toward them and signed a pledge that they would not become involved in bullying, prejudice or racism, Anapolle said. “We’re trying to heighten their awareness to these situations when they arise, and trying to get these students to speak up when it happens.”
In line with the essay theme, the guest speaker Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, will speak on “Tolerance, Equality, and Respect for All People,” according to a press release.
“When we had put out the contest this year, we had sent it out to all the school administrators, both private and public school. We found that over the years teachers kind of latched onto the concept and used it as subject matter,” Anapolle told the AJT. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with the April contest deadline, which upended the school year and led to the awards ceremony being scheduled virtually. “We were originally going to have the awards ceremony back in May. We kept hoping and hoping and hoping.”
There were more judges participating this year than in the past, which allowed each judge to focus on a smaller number of essays, Anapolle said. Nine winners were chosen – three from each grade level – rather than having a pool of winners as in previous years.
One of the judges, Margo Gold, said, “I enjoyed the experience of being a judge and am impressed with the ability of each student to approach this difficult topic with sensitivity and insight.”
RuthE Levy, the owner of And Thou Shalt Read bookstore, said, “All of the essays were amazing. They showed depth of thought and the variety of concerns these young people have, even at this early age, I was very impressed. And it was so hard to choose a winner because there were so many good ones! Congratulations to the winners and to all who participated.”
Marjorie Simonoff said, “As I began to read through the essays, I got caught up in the material and was so happy that so many youngsters were given an opportunity to reflect upon and write about this most important subject, which has such relevance in today’s world.”
First place winners of the essay contest won a $350 prize, second place, $250, and third place, $150.
Here is the lineup of essay winners:
Seventh grader Sophie Grace Thomas of Decatur, wrote “A Love Driven Mindset: A Guide for Peace.” Sophie, 12, attends Woodward Academy.
Eighth grader Anjana Murthy of Peachtree City, wrote “A Light in the Dark.” Anjana, 13, attends Woodward Academy.
Ninth grader Ilana Levenberg of Atlanta wrote “The Need for Truth in Education of Racism’s Past and Present.” Ilana, 14, attends The Weber School.
Seventh grader Noa Zusman of Sandy Springs wrote “Enlighten America.” Noa, 13, attends Woodward Academy.
Eighth grader Genesis Isom of Atlanta wrote “Judgement Day.” Genesis, 14, attends Woodward Academy.
Ninth grader Austin Corn of Dawsonville wrote “Yoda Vs. Prejudice.” Austin, 14, attends Dawson County Junior High School.
Seventh grader Simran Gupta of Cumming wrote “Welcome to America: The Land of Opportunity for ALL.” Simran, 12, attends Lakeside Middle School.
Eighth grader Kymali Pierre of Dunwoody wrote “Not Just a Stereotype.” Kymali, 13, attends Woodward Academy.
Ninth grader Emily Jane Kurtz of Dawsonville wrote “Humans’ Nature to Hate.” Emily, 15, attends Dawson County Junior High.
The virtual ceremony, during which the students will be awarded their certificates and checks, is free and open to the public. It is scheduled from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 30.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of the QAnon conspiracy theory, its deep anti-Semitic roots and its growing popularity in far-right circles.
(August 26, 2020 / JNS) The word QAnon—and the conspiracy theories behind it—keep making headlines of late.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican congressional candidate who touts the ideology, won her run-off in Georgia on Aug. 11 and recently got a shout-out by none other than U.S. President Donald Trump, who congratulated her, even calling her a “future Republican star.”
QAnon began in October 2017 with an anonymous user named “Q” on the imageboard website 4chan who claimed to have classified information surrounding the Trump administration and its critics. It is described as a conspiratorial movement that purports that the so-called liberal elite, including Democratic politicians and Jewish billionaire George Soros, are part of a secret political faction to overthrow Trump.
“QAnon conspiracies are centered around the idea of a powerful elite secretly manipulating current events,” Counter Extremism Project senior research analyst Josh Lipowsky told JNS. “QAnon subscribers have politicized the conspiracies around an imagined Democrat-led ‘deep state’ conspiring against Donald Trump, who is heralded as the only one who can defeat this menace.”
Lipowsky labeled QAnon “a modern-day version” of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which QAnon echoes in its conspiracy theories, in that “the primary goal is to shift blame.”
“At the center of these conspiracies is a secretive cabal with vast political and financial power,” he explained. “Certain people want to believe that there is really an all-powerful group controlling things because it removes the onus of personal responsibility for one’s own circumstances and creates a scapegoat for larger catastrophes. The economy is crashing? A virus is spreading throughout the world? It must be because of X. And historically, X has usually meant the Jews.”
Protocols, an infamous and classic anti-Semitic text that was shown to be plagiarized from several earlier sources, was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century.
Although QAnon conspiracy theories “don’t all target Jews,” said Lipowsky, “they use the same strategy that anti-Semites have used for centuries.”
Lipowsky cited “the conspiracies QAnon is peddling with the coronavirus, blaming Bill Gates for creating the virus or seeking to implant microchips into vaccines,” in that “it’s all reminiscent of the baseless accusations the Jewish community has faced—from responsibility for the black plague by poisoning the wells of Europe to the Rothschilds’ manipulation of World War I and the Great Depression for financial gain. Like those historic anti-Semitic conspiracies, some of the QAnon conspiracies target the Rothschilds or other wealthy and powerful Jewish individuals.”
QAnon followers have also been connected to acts of violence, kidnapping, murder and public misconduct, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The suspect behind the April 2019 shooting on the last day of Passover at Chabad of Poway near San Diego, where one person was killed and three others injured, posted his intentions on the imageboard website 8kun, which is used by QAnon adherents.
‘Given us good reason to be alarmed’
As with most, if not all, conspiracy theories, the Jewish community is not immune from QAnon and must be vigilant and combat it, according to Jewish groups.
“Any group that traffics in conspiracy theories about world domination, or control of banks and the media, is a group we need to be deeply concerned about,” B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS. “Our community’s experience in combating these tropes has given us good reason to be alarmed.”
“QAnon is a Jew-hating conspiracy theorists group claiming the Rothschilds, a Jewish banking family, plans to kill non-Jews, start a world war and undermine the Trump administration,” Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein told JNS. “In an era of rising unbridled hatred of Jews and the Jewish state, such insane theories are gaining adherents and must be exposed and fought.”
That said, some find it troubling that the president has declined to condemn the movement.
“Conspiracy theories with tenuous ties to reality very often include Jews in some sinister capacity,” Yaakov Menken of the Coalition of Jewish Values told JNS. “When you know what to look for; you see supporters of both QAnon and [Black Lives Matter] saying the same things, and that should require our attention.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told JNS that “QAnon is all conspiracies, all the time. Since its inception, the Internet has provided life support for debunked conspiracies, breathing life back into some nefarious stereotypes.”
He added that it echoes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and its scapegoating of the iconic Jewish philanthropic Rothschild family in what Cooper summarized as the “powerful, manipulative banker.”
Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, said of QAnon that “it is clear that many of its members harbor dangerous conspiratorial fantasies drawn from the pages of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The notion that a small number of wealthy Jews manipulate governments and control the course of world events has in the past served as a warrant for genocide.”
‘All rooted in the same anti-Semitic archetype’
Mary Ann Mendoza, a speaker who was scheduled to give an address on Aug. 25 at the Republican National Convention, was taken off the program on Tuesday night after sharing to her more than 40,000 Twitter followers earlier in the day a QAnon thread from an unverified account that included a post that read: “‘The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion’ Is Not A Fabrication. And, It Certainly Is Not Anti-Semetic [sic] To Point Out This Fact.”
Rabbi Yechezkel Moskowitz, a prominent Trump supporter in the Jewish community, told JNS that QAnon echoing anti-Semitic tropes is no coincidence.
“From my experience, I’ve observed that when it comes to anti-Semitism, you won’t be hard-pressed to find it and, in our case, you will definitely find anti-Semitism within the QAnon movement,” he told JNS.
“Anti-Semitism is an ancient as the Jews themselves, and there will always be those who utilize it for political gain,” he continued. “As far as the QAnon movement, it was most likely started as a joke. People will always cling to something that explains the logic behind the strange reality which we live in.”
However, Moskowitz cautioned that QAnon is “probably not” inherently anti-Semitic, though he said he wasn’t “one of those guys who looks for anti-Semitism under every pebble.”
“With that said,” he emphasized, “we must remain vigilant and defer to organizations that have the capacity to track these things and hope that they continue to do so.”
Regarding Greene, who called Soros a Nazi, the Republican Jewish Coalition instead endorsed her opponent in the run-off, neurosurgeon John Cowan, and fundraised for him.
At least two organizations that combat anti-Semitism told JNS they are currently assessing the movement.
Jewish Council for Public Affairs president and CEO David Bernstein said that his organization “been asking ourselves the same questions, but really haven’t done the research yet,” while StopAntiSemitism.org executive director Liora Rez said, “We honestly do not know enough the movement, who’s behind it, etc. .. to comment on it.”
Nonetheless, “the fight against anti-Semitism must include fighting against misinformation and these types of conspiracies,” said Lipowsky. “While not all of these conspiracies paint Jews as the shadowy villain, they are all rooted in the same anti-Semitic archetype and history has shown that eventually these sorts of things usually refocus on the Jewish community.”
The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin B'nai B'rith's hand in establishing the National library in Israel.
As anticipation builds for the opening of Israel’s new National Library sometime next year, it is important to recall its more-than-a-century long antecedents.
B’nai B’rith established its first lodge in Jerusalem in 1888, when the organization, founded in New York, was already 45 years old. The lodge attracted a mix of rabbis, academics, translators and other professionals to its mission of fostering Jewish identity and public service. Indeed, the first mazkir – or secretary – of the Jerusalem Lodge was none other than Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of the modern Hebrew language.
Early attempts to found libraries in Jerusalem were short lived, due in no small part to a lack of funding. In 1884, several residents of the city, who would become members of the B’nai B’rith lodge, organized a small 1,200-volume library. In a letter published in the July 1889 issue of the B’nai B’rith publication The Menorah Monthly, Ben-Yehuda, then-editor of Hazevi, informed readers of the existence of the library, and tactfully solicited donations to support it.
In 1892, B’nai B’rith established the “Midrash Abarbanel,” Israel’s first permanent public library, named after the Sephardic Jewish scholar of the Middle Ages, Don Isaac Abarbanel. Five years before Theodor Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, the library served to promote the pioneering spirit afoot in the land, and the supremacy of Hebrew.
A decade after its founding, the library moved to a permanent home in a handsome, modern building on B’nai B’rith Street. The library’s collections grew to many thousands of volumes reflecting the collective Jewish academic and religious endeavor. The library was perhaps the one place in Jerusalem where one could find books on mathematics, science, secular philosophy, modern educational methods and other subjects.
The library’s reading and meeting rooms served as a cultural and educational center for the city’s residents. Herzl himself recognized the significance of the library when he wrote a letter to Joseph Chazanovich, who brought his personal library of 10,000 books from Bialystok, Poland, to Jerusalem. Herzl also made a 300 ruble contribution to the library. In honor of Chazanovich’s gift, the library’s committee renamed the library “Midrash Abarbanel Ginzei Yosef.” By 1903, the library’s collection topped 22,000 volumes.
A photograph of the library’s reading room, posted on the National Library’s website, shows readers surrounded by shelves of books and tables of newspapers and periodicals.
The names of those leaders of B’nai B’rith in Jerusalem who created and supported the library have become legendary figures in Jewish and Zionist history. In addition to Ben-Yehuda, the group included Zeev Hertzberg, David Yellin, Yosef Meyouchas, Yehiel Michel Pines, Aaron Masie and others. They understood that a modern Jewish state would need a strong intellectual and educational underpinning.
World War I saw the closure of the library by order of the ruling Ottoman authorities. At that point, the collection totaled more than 30,000 volumes. After the war, with a view toward the evolution of its library into a larger, national institution, B’nai B’rith’s Jerusalem Lodge ceded the library’s collection to the World Zionist Organization. Within a few short years – by 1925 – the collection was transferred to the Hebrew University. The rest, as they say, is history. In that act, the dreams of Ben-Yehuda, Chazanovich and others were realized with what would become the Jewish National and University Library.
The new National Library, with its expanded space, special programs and 21st century research facilities will not only be a well-received addition to Israel’s cultural scene and a monument to the tradition of Jewish scholarship but will surely attract scholars and visitors from around the Jewish world – and beyond.
We hope that as the library plans its permanent exhibition, it will suitably, and in perpetuity, honor those early B’nai B’rith leaders who, in the closing decade of the 19th century, shared Herzl’s prescience about the establishment of a Jewish state. They foresaw the possibility of a nation for “the people of the book.” The library they founded 128 years ago proved to be the seminal contribution, not only to what has become the National Library, but to the growth of academic and intellectual life in the State of Israel.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International in its coverage of the U.S. government's request that the United Nations trigger snapback sanctions on Iran over its escalated nuclear activity.
(August 20, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and Israel-related groups immediately reacted to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Thursday that the United States has requested the United Nations enact its snapback sanctions on Iran.
The snapback mechanism is included under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the United States withdrew from in May 2018, reimposing sanctions lifted under it and enacting new penalties against the regime.
Enacting snapback sanctions would include extending the arms embargo indefinitely on the regime, following the Aug. 14 rejection by the U.N. Security Council of the U.S.-led resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.
In accordance with the 2015 agreement, the United States had to inform the Security Council a month earlier if it intends to enact snapback.
“Our message is very, very simple: The United States will never allow the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to freely buy and sell planes, tanks, missiles and other kinds of conventional weapons,” Pompeo told reporters at the United Nations.
“I’m pleased to say, too, that these restored sanctions will also reimpose accountability for other forms of Iranian malign activity that the authors of the nuclear deal foolishly downplayed,” added Pompeo. “Iran will be again prohibited from ballistic missile testing. Iran will be back under sanctions for ongoing nuclear activities, such as the enrichment of nuclear material, that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program.”
Senior Israeli officials applauded the United States for activating snapback.
“I commend the United States for its decision to trigger snapback sanctions against Iran,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement. “This is the right decision.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said “reimposing the U.N. sanctions on Iran is a critical step to curbing Iranian aggression, which threatens the entire world. The Security Council should not allow the world’s largest terror regime to obtain and trade lethal weapons and ballistic missiles freely. Nor should it pave the way for Iran to fulfill its nuclear ambitions.”
He said that “now is the time for the international community to act decisively and impose crippling sanctions on Iran—not to reward its malicious aspirations.”
Organizations, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, applauded the move, while J Street expressed objections.
“The U.N. Security Council’s refusal to extend the arms embargo on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror leaves the United States with no choice to retain the embargo other than to ‘snapback’ U.N. sanctions on Iran,” said AIPAC in a statement.
“We support this action, which comes in the wake of repeated Iranian violations of its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including Iran’s denying International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors’ access to suspicious sites,” said AIPAC. “Our objectives must remain to ensure that Iran can never obtain a nuclear weapon, to prevent the regime from further destabilizing the Middle East, and to support regional allies confronting Iranian aggression.”
“We commend the U.S. government for its steps to trigger the snapback of United Nations sanctions on Iran over its impermissible & escalated nuclear activity. @UN must swiftly implement this snapback to deter conduct that poses an unparalleled threat to global peace & security,” tweeted B’nai B’rith International.
The Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement, “The U.N. has confirmed that Iran is violating every provision of the JCPOA. While the Obama-Biden deal with Iran was always a calamity that gave Iran everything it wanted, secured none of the protections we needed, and made the world less safe, this provision will help to fight back against Iran’s malign activities.”
In a statement, United Against Nuclear Iran said “U.S. leadership is forcing the U.N. to fulfill its duty of maintaining international peace and security. By triggering the snapback provision, the interests of the U.S. and its allies will be greatly enhanced.”
However, in a statement, J Street called the U.S. move as “reckless” and warned that this “would not only significantly escalate the current crisis and further isolate the United States, but make it even more difficult for a new American administration to restore the JCPOA and the prospects for further diplomacy.”
The group added that “it’s incredibly damning that the Trump administration continues to act in this belligerent, hypocritical and ultimately ineffective fashion on the world stage.”
‘It’ll be a test for the Europeans’
Ilan Berman, senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, told JNS that the Trump administration’s decision to activate snapback “shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
“The White House had previously attempted a more measured, incremental approach, lobbying for the extension of the U.N. embargo on arms sales to Iran,” he said. “But the failure of that effort has forced the U.S. to take more significant steps in order to ensure that international restrictions on Iran don’t loosen further, making it an even greater threat to international security.”
Richard Goldberg, the former director for countering Iran’s weapons of mass destruction at the White House National Security Council, told JNS that enacting snapback “reflects the overwhelming bipartisan American commitment to extending the international arms embargo on Iran so that the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism cannot import advanced weapons from China and Russia.”
“Anyone who is against snapback is for Chinese and Russian arms sales to Iran to threaten America, Israel and other U.S. allies,” said Goldberg, now a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“If the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 was the administration tossing out the dangerously flawed nuclear agreement, then today’s move at the U.N. effectively shreds what was left so that it cannot be put together again,” Matthew Brodsky, a senior fellow at Gold Institute for International Strategy, told JNS. “The original sin of the nuclear deal was Obama’s acquiescence in Iran having a so-called right to enrich uranium on its own soil.”
John Sitilides, a geopolitical strategist at Trilogy Advisors LLC, told JNS that snapback “is a logical extension of current White House policy to exert maximum pressure on Iran for continued non-compliance and outright violations of the nuclear agreement, such as denying international inspectors access to suspected undeclared nuclear sites and hiding undeclared nuclear material."
The president has “always criticized the agreement for excluding Iran’s continued sponsorship of regional and international terrorism and its ongoing regional destabilizing actions,” he said.
On the other hand, Barbara Slavin, who leads the Atlantic Council’s Future Iran Initiative, told JNS that enacting snapback was “a sad day for the United States and the United Nations,” claiming that since the United States has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear accord, it had “no right to invoke snapback.”
But Danielle Pletka, a senior fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told JNS that “the administration’s actions are well-founded legally and substantively. It’ll be a test for the Europeans to see whether they place politics over international law.”
While countries such as Russia have said that the United States has no right to enact snapback since it withdrew from the deal, the United States has argued that under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 deal and lifted six Security Council resolutions sanctioning Iran, Washington has the right to enact snapback.
Slavin acknowledged that “it is likely that the U.N. Security Council will also fail to validate it, using a variety of procedural mechanisms.”
A resolution could keep the deal—and thus U.N. sanctions relief for Iran—in place. However, it could be vetoed by a permanent member such as the United States.
“If the Trump administration truly cared about improving upon the JCPOA, it would not have quit the deal while Iran was in compliance but would have sought follow-on talks with Iran and the other parties,” said Slavin. “My hope is that the Iranians will wait until Nov. 3 before deciding on any further retaliatory steps,” a reference to the U.S. presidential election.
The Democratic presidential nominee, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, has said that the United States would return to the 2015 nuclear deal if and when Iran returns to compliance.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Israel's peace deal with the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations between the two countries.
(August 13, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and pro-Israel groups instantly applauded Israel and the United Arab Emirates for a peace deal on Thursday to normalize relations between the two countries—the first of its kind between Israel and a Middle Eastern country in more than 25 years, following Jordan and Egypt.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the development “a historic breakthrough for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.”
“The establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates represents a historic breakthrough for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East,” said AIPAC in a statement. “We greatly appreciate the efforts of [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump and his administration in facilitating this major diplomatic achievement.”
The lobbying group called on “other Arab states and the Palestinians to follow their lead” and for the Palestinian leadership to “end its boycott of Israel and America and return to the negotiating table.”
“In taking this historic step, the UAE is paving the way for additional Arab and Muslim states to normalize their ties with Israel, which can help transform the region and enhance the prospects for a true and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” said the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a statement. “This agreement is a bulwark against the forces of extremism and radicalism in the region.”
“Having engaged with states in the Arabian Gulf and throughout the Arab world for decades, we hope this opens the door to further agreements between Israel and her Arab neighbors,” tweeted the American Jewish Committee.
“We welcome the news about Israel and the United Arab Emirates normalizing relations,” Mark Wilf, chair of the board of trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America, told JNS. “The two countries have so much to gain from working together, and this decision could pave the way for greater recognition of Israel throughout the region and increase the prospects of peace.”
“This is a tremendously important and positive development,” B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS. “The growing realignment of interests in the region will certainly contribute to stability in a chaotic neighborhood, and send a strong message to those who seek to promote that chaos that their efforts will not succeed.”
Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein told JNS applauded the deal, saying “we hope other Arab states do the same. We look forward to UAE establishing its embassy in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, and referring to Israel as the Jewish state.”
He added his expectation that “the suspension of declaring sovereignty over legal Jewish areas of Judea-Samaria is temporary and will soon move forward.”
It is currently unknown where the Emirati embassy in Israel will be located. Most countries have embassies in Tel Aviv. The United States and Guatemala are the only ones to have theirs in Jerusalem, both having relocated there in May 2018.
‘A precedent for formal relations with other countries’
Sarah Stern, founder and president of Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), called the development “a momentous day” and “a historic breakthrough.”
“This shows that another major Sunni Arab nation has finally come to accept that Israel is here to stay, and that it has a great deal more to gain by living and working side by side together and penetrating through the decades of old animosities,” she told JNS.
Jewish Council of Public Affairs president and CEO David Bernstein called the breakthrough “a great day for Israel and prospects for peace in the Middle East.”
“Israel has been quietly cooperating with Gulf states for several years,” he told JNS. “Normalizing with the Emirates sets a precedent for formal relations with other countries in the region as well.”
“All Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike should hail today’s Abraham Agreement. Today is a historic day—two allies of the U.S. now become open strategic partners in the region to thwart Iran and other Jihadists,” said Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in a statement. “It also signals further dramatic normalization between Arabs and Jews in the region, a goal the [Wiesenthal Center] has contributed to for over 15 years.”
The American Sephardi Federation (ASF) posted on Twitter that the peace deal is a loss for Iran and its proxies, including Hezbollah.
“Reactionary forces (@khamenei_ir, Hizbullah, Hamas, Houthis) suffered a devastating defeat thanks to #UAE & @Israel’s new path to peace, prosperity, & progress, ending decades of conflict &, worse, the wasting of time & talent,” tweeted ASF.
“This is an historic announcement. We consistently pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and today, those prayers were answered in a big way,” said Christians United for Israel (CUFI) founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee. “In the context of the discussion about extending Israeli sovereignty to portions of Judea and Samaria, we made clear in late June that this is precisely what the Gulf states should do, and we hope other Arab nations will follow the UAE’s lead.”
“This proves yet again that when Israel’s Arab neighbors are prepared to make peace with the Jewish state, Israel will always be there to meet them,” added Hagee.
‘An important step towards peace’
Even organizations critical of the Trump administration’s Mideast policies hailed the peace agreement.
“Israel suspends annexation effort. UAE agrees to normalizing ties with Israel. This is an important step towards peace. Congratulations to the leaders of Israel and the UAE,” tweeted the Democratic Majority for Israel.
On Twitter, J Street touted that the deal temporarily stopped Israel’s plans to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, though the left-wing lobby acknowledged the agreement as “steps in the right direction.”
“Let’s have no illusions, though: Full Arab-Israeli peace can’t be made w/o Palestinians or while ‘de facto’ annexation continues unabated,” tweeted J Street.
“While this news is welcome, much better news would be an end to the Israeli government’s de facto annexation of the West Bank through ongoing settlement expansion and steps to reverse Israel’s occupation of the West Bank,” said Americans for Peace Now president and CEO Hadar Susskind in a statement.
“We are relieved to see President Trump’s dangerous gamble on unilateral Israeli annexation of the West Bank come to an end,” said Jewish Democratic Council of America board chairman and former Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) in a statement. “By taking annexation off the table, today’s Israeli government announcement addresses the problem created by the Trump administration’s failure to oppose it from the outset.”
Israel, however, has said that sovereignty plans have only been suspended and not ended.
In a press conference on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he agreed temporarily to suspend sovereignty plans but is committed to carrying out the application in the West Bank, only in coordination with the United States.
U.S. support for Israel to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank would come “much sooner” than several years, according to officials.
Presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called the agreement a “historic step to bridge the deep divides of the Middle East.”
“The coming together of Israel and Arab states builds on the efforts of multiple administrations to foster a broader Arab-Israeli opening, including the efforts of the Obama-Biden administration to build on the Arab peace initiative,” he said.
Bien added that Israel applying sovereignty “would be a body blow to the cause of peace” and “virtually end any chance of a two-state solution that would secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state and uphold the right of Palestinians to a state of their own.”
Biden pledged that, if elected, he would “seek to build on this progress and will challenge all the nations of the region to keep pace.”
The Jerusalem Post covered our exclusive conversation with Ambassador Danny Danon, outgoing permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations.
The international community should pressure the Lebanese government to oust the militant group Hezbollah from Lebanon in the aftermath of the explosion in the port of Beirut, outgoing Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the Jewish group B’nai B’rith on Thursday.
“We should all demand more from the Lebanese government to push Hezbollah out of the government out of the border with Israel,” said Danon who has just finished a five year term as Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in New York, where he was a vocal critic of Hezbollah.
He spoke with B’nai B’rith in an virtual interview that was posted on YouTube on Thursday in the aftermath of the massive explosion at the Beirut Port that killed at least 154 people.
The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined, but Danon told B’nai B’rith that while he was UN ambassador he warned the UN Security Council that Hezbollah was storing weapons at the port.
“Last year when I spoke in the security council, I said very clearly that the port of Beirut had become the port of Hezbollah,” Danon said.
His words, he said, were base on intelligence reports.
“We got the intelligence and I spoke about it publicly, that [Hezbollah is] actually using the airports and the ports to transport the weapons and other things that are dangerous,” Danon said.
“We all respect the Lebanese people. We know that they are suffering… We send our condolences to the people there,” Danon said.
“But we do criticize not only Hezbollah, but also the Lebanese government, because they allow Hezbllah to do those activities,” Danon said.
But he also leveled criticize against Western countries, including the United States and France, for providing financial assistance to the Lebanese government and its army while not doing enough to ensure that action was taken against Hezbollah.
“I tell them that it’s okay to support the Lebanese government, the Lebanese military, but you have to demand more,” Danon said.
“When we see cooperation between Hezbollah and the Lebanese army, you ask yourself why the US or other countries should give any funding to this army that has allowed Hezbollah to take over,” Danon said.
In 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also warned the UN about Hezbollah, telling the UN General Assembly that Hezbollah had missile sites in Beirut. He showed a map of four sites, including by the city’s port.
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said on Friday an investigation into the biggest blast in Beirut's history would examine whether it was caused by a bomb or other external interference, as residents tried to rebuild their shattered lives after the explosion.
The search for those missing has intensified, as rescuers sifted rubble in a race to find anyone still alive after Tuesday's blast that smashed up a swathe of the city and sent seismic shockwaves around the region.
"The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act," Aoun said in comments carried by local media and confirmed by his office.
He said it would also consider whether the explosion was due to negligence or an accident. He previously said highly explosive material had been stored in unsafe conditions for years at the port. A source has said an initial probe blamed negligence related to storage of the explosive material.
The United States has previously said it has not ruled out an attack. Israel, which has fought several wars with Lebanon, has also previously denied it had any role.
The Jerusalem Post quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Dan Mariaschin in its coverage of Elliott Abrams' selection to replace Brian Hook as U.S. Special Representative for Iran.
After the Trump administration's top Iran advisor Brian Hook resigned, just weeks before the UN arms embargo is set to expire, his replacement was lauded by many in the Jewish American community, according to Jewish News Syndicate (JNS).
Hook, served in the position for the past two years, is being replaced by Elliott Abrams, who currently serves as the special representative for Venezuela. Abrams will remain in his current role and assume Hook's now empty position.
American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen responded to Abrams' new title by saying that he "will have little time to settle in," but is likely to "work determinedly towards countering Iran's malignant activities in the Middle East."
Abrams' appointment comes just one week before the United Nations Security Council is set to vote on extending the arms embargo on Iran. Russia China are expected to veto the decision.
Daniel Mariaschin from B'nai B'rith praised Abrams' qualities and past experience as a diplomat and his "deep experience and longtime knowledge of the region and its players, and his long record of calling out those who engage in malign behavior and incessant support for terrorism..."
Zionist Organization of America head Mort Klein showed his appreciation for the president's decision to appoint the diplomat who he said "is very knowledgeable, highly intelligent" and "a committed Zionist and American patriot."
The arms embargo, which has been imposed on Iran since 2010, will expire on October 18, 2020, unless the UN adopts a new resolution, which the United States is expected to present next week.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Elliott Abrams' selection to replace Brian Hook as U.S. Special Representative for Iran.
(August 6, 2020 / JNS) American Jewish and pro-Israel groups reacted to the news on Thursday that Elliott Abrams has replaced Brian Hook as U.S. Special Representative for Iran.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement that Hook was resigning after being the main point person for the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Iranian regime.
Abrams has been serving as the U.S. State Department’s special representative for Venezuela, a post he will continue to retain.
President of the American Jewish Congress Jack Rosen told JNS that Abrams “will have little time to settle in,” citing the upcoming deadline to extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran. He expressed faith that the new appointee, like his predecessor, will “work determinedly towards countering Iran’s malignant activities in the Middle East.”
The United States will present a resolution at the U.N. Security Council next week to extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, announced Pompeo on Wednesday.
The 2010 arms embargo is set to be lifted on Oct. 18, in accordance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The Trump administration withdrew from that agreement in May 2018, reimposing sanctions lifted under it, along with enacted new financial penalties against the regime.
B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS that his organization welcomes the appointment of Abrams, whose “deep experience and longtime knowledge of the region and its players, and his long record of calling out those who engage in malign behavior and incessant support for terrorism, especially Iran, make him eminently qualified for this post.”
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) founder and president Sarah Stern called Abrams “extraordinarily” capable, and “an experienced diplomat and negotiator.”
She also told JNS that “Brian Hook did an exemplary job, while acting as the administration’s chief envoy on Iran—first in trying to strengthen the flawed  Iranian nuclear deal, and then in an attempt to isolate Iran from the community of nations as a result of the highly stringent U.S.-led sanctions. He has exerted maximal effort in trying to convince the international community about the degree to which Iran had been in violation of the agreement.”
Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein told JNS that Abrams “is a very knowledgeable, highly intelligent, and a committed Zionist and American patriot whom I’m pleased was chosen.”
“We appreciate Brian Hook’s service and his determined efforts to combat the Iranian regime’s destabilizing actions,” AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told JNS. “Elliot Abrams brings impressive experience to the effort to ensure that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon and prevent its regional aggression.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement that it welcomed Abrams, “a formidable diplomat,” taking on the new role and maintaining his duties concerning Venezuela. Abrams, the Conference said, is a “strong advocate for the U.S.-Israel relationship and will capably advocate American policy at a critical time. We look forward to working with him as he builds upon Special Representative Hook’s success.”
JTA included B'nai B'rith International's statement in its coverage of U.S. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor's nomination to become U.S. ambassador to Germany.
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rashida Tlaib, the Palestinian-American congresswoman from Michigan, calls Bernie Sanders “Amo Bernie,” using the Arabic term of endearment for “uncle.”
I learned that Wednesday night watching an hourlong lovefest hosted by the Vermont senator on his YouTube channel for three candidates he has endorsed: Tlaib (who beat a primary opponent in her Detroit district), Cori Bush (who just ousted a longtime pro-Israel congressman in St. Louis) and Jamaal Bowman (who recently toppled the longtime pro-Israel stalwart Eliot Engel in New York).
I got to wondering why she didn’t just use “Uncle,” or the Hebrew “dod” or the Yiddish “feter” or even “saba” or “zayde” — Sanders is Jewish and spent time as a young man in Israel.
Of course, I learned about more than Sanders’ family-like dynamics with his progressive endorsees. Notably, here were four thorns in the sides of the centrist and right-wing pro-Israel movement, and Israel never came up in their conversation.
What does that mean for progressives and Israel? I dove into that here.
IN OTHER NEWS
President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Germany, Douglas Macgregor, is pulling off the rare Trump-era feat of uniting Jews from across the political spectrum in opposition to him. CNN’s K File unearthed a long history of the retired general’s attacks on Muslims and immigrants. That earned him rebukes from the Jewish left, with J Street Vice President Dylan Williams decrying his “shameful record of expressing profoundly bigoted views.”
Weighing in from the center was the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, who was appalled by Macgregor’s statement in 2018 on Nazi Germany. “There’s sort of a sick mentality that says that generations after generations must atone for sins of what happened in 13 years of German history,” Macgregor said.
B’nai B’rith International, which tacks to the right on foreign policy, had raised concerns about Macgregor even before the K File story was posted, noting his past propensity to insinuate that “neocons” serving Israel’s interests were controlling U.S. foreign policy. “It is important that American diplomats not question the patriotism of other Americans who hold political views different from their own, especially given that questioning Jewish loyalty to America is an anti-Semitic trope,” B’nai B’rith said.
The Jewish Post & News covered the B’nai Brith World Center in Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust's virtual Yom Hashoah event in April, choosing to highlight Joseph and Rebecca Bau.
When Hadasa Bau and Clila Bau Cohen received notice earlier this year that their parents, Josef and Rebecca Bau, were to going to be honoured, along with some other Holocaust survivors, at a ceremony in Jerusalem in April, they burst out in tears.
It was an emotional moment.
“We were very moved,” said the two sisters, who have both lived in Winnipeg at different times over the years, in an email in early July to this reporter from their home in Tel Aviv. “Our parents deserve it so much.”
The B’nai Brith World Center in Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust held a Zoom meeting on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah, Tuesday, April 21, 2020) to extol the heroism of some 20 Jews who endangered themselves during the Holocaust to rescue fellow Jews, said information on the B’nai B’rith International website. Relatives and representatives of the now-deceased rescuers addressed the meeting, and the – a joint project of the World Center and the Committee – was conferred virtually on them. The event was carried live on B’nai Brith’s Facebook page and was primarily be in Hebrew, with some English.
There were a total of 16 rescuers honoured on that day.
A brief biography of each person is included on the website:
Joseph Bau (June 13, 1920-May 24, 2002), a graphic artist who forged documents for the Jewish underground in Krakow, Poland, and later in Oscar Schindler’s factory camp in Brněnec in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia;
Rebecca (Tennenbaum) Bau (1918-1997) was a nurse who served as the manicurist of Amon Goeth, the ruthless Nazi who ruled over the Plaszow concentration camp. She shared secrets she overheard that helped many inmates survive, while also providing them with moral and physical support.
“The Zoom meeting represented a break from the traditional annual ceremony held by the World Center and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) for the past 17 consecutive years in the B’nai Brith Martyrs Forest,” said the BBI website.
“It is the only event dedicated annually to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust.
“Since the establishment of the Jewish Rescuers Citation in 2011, 314 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Holland and Belgium.
One of the most recent recipients of the Jewish Rescuers Citation, Frida Wattenberg, a member of the Jewish underground in Grenoble, France, during the Holocaust, contracted the coronavirus and died in Paris on April 3, just three weeks shy of her 96th birthday. The citation was conferred on Sept. 23, 2019, at the Foundation de Rothschild seniors’ home where she resided. Tsilla Hershco, the author of the most authoritative book to date on the Jewish underground movement in France and a member of the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust, conferred the citation.”
In their email, Hadasa Bau and Clila Bau Cohen said their parents only thought about how to help others, and in the Holocaust they risked their lives in order to save other people. The sisters participated in the Zoom meeting on April 21 by providing more details about their parents.
“They never thought about themselves,” the sisters said.
“Our father, Joseph Bau, managed to finish one year of art school in Krakow before the war broke out. At the end of that year, he was taught Gothic letters. When he and his family were sent to the Ghetto, the Germans looked for someone who knew those letters, so that saved his life. He worked for the German police, the Jewish police and the Jewish underground. He forged documents for the underground, thus saving hundreds of Jews that managed to escape. He was also a spy that conveyed information from the German police to the underground.
“When the underground people told him, ‘Forge a document for yourself and escape...’, he answered, ‘...but if I escape who will save the rest?’
“So, he risked his life and stayed till the end of the war. Our father was very modest and never told us how he saved many lives, even though our parents spoke about the Holocaust daily. During the Holocaust, he led a secret life and this continued in Israel.
“He told his memoirs of the Holocaust in a book he wrote named ‘Shnot Tarzach – Dear God, Have You Ever Gone Hungry?’ that was translated into many languages.”
In 1950 Josef and Rebecca and their three year old daughter, Hadasa, immigrated to Israel.
“After his death, we discovered that he worked for the Mossad and forged documents for spies such as Eli Cohen, also for the team that captured Eichmann and Eichmann himself,” said the sisters.
“We turned the studio that he used as a cover for his activities into the Joseph Bau House Museum. He was a pioneer of animation and one of the first graphic artists. He designed titles for many Israeli movies.”
Rebecca Bau was in the Krakow ghetto, also Plaszow, Auschwitz and Lichtewerden concentration camps.
“She was a fearless woman. All her life she encouraged people and always laughed,” the sisters wrote.
“Rebecca was a nurse and cosmetician who worked in the ghetto hospital until all the patients were murdered. While in the ghetto, she saved many by helping them avoid the transports – among whom were 11 members of the Gietzhalz family.
“She was then transferred from the ghetto to the Plaszow concentration camp and there she saved many by giving them pedicures, because the Germans murdered those who limped.”
“In the concentration camp, she met her husband Joseph. He snuck into her barracks in the woman’s camp dressed as a woman and they secretly got married.”
Their wedding is depicted in the movie “Schindler’s List” directed by Steven Spielberg.
The sisters also noted that their mother replaced her name, which was on Schindler’s list, with that of her husband, “our father,” and she herself was sent to Auschwitz.
“The reason she was on the list was because she had saved the life of Pemper’s mother and he was one of the people making the list,” the sisters wrote in their email.
“In Auschwitz, she saved some girls - even during Mengele’s selection process. All the time we hear more and more things from people who knew our parents, who come to the museum and tell us. This is unbelievable. We are surprised every time anew. They were very different and special people.”
In the News
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