JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin on the news that U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem will be allowed to list Israel as their place of birth on their U.S. passport.
(October 28, 2020 / JNS) U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem will be allowed to list Israel as their place of birth on their U.S. passport, alluded the Trump administration on Wednesday.
Politico first reported the development, citing a U.S. official, adding that the announcement could be made as soon as Thursday.
Despite the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and relocating its embassy to there from Tel Aviv months later, Americans born in Jerusalem have still been unable to list Israel as their place of birth on their U.S. passport. Currently, those people can only list “Jerusalem” as such on their U.S. passport.
The official told Politico that the new policy, at least as of Wednesday, is that U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem can request to have Israel listed as the country or have it show “Jerusalem.”
For U.S. citizens born outside the United States, U.S. passports usually show countries, not cities, for places of birth. Therefore, there would be no third option to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as a place of birth. U.S. passports for citizens born in the United States include the city of birth.
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the executive branch has the sole power to grant recognition of sovereign states, striking down a move by Congress to command the executive to change its position on Jerusalem. While at the time the ruling was a victory for the Obama administration, which had been upholding a policy recognizing no state as having sovereignty over Jerusalem, it now has allowed the Trump administration to change course on the passport issue.
Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) said this important move “shows America has not only recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by moving the embassy, but that American citizens born in Jerusalem will no longer be stateless.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS “this is a most welcome development.”
“Like establishing the U.S. embassy there, this recognition of Israel’s capital is a further affirmation of the crucial principle that Jerusalem is, and always will be, Israel’s capital,” he said.
JBS Coverage of B'nai B'rith Supporting the Coalition Agreement Announced at 2020 World Zionist Congress
JBS covered our statement expressing our commitment to Jewish unity and supporting the coalition agreement that was announced at the 2020 World Zionist Congress. View coverage here (beginning at 6:33) or below.
The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and the late U.S. Ambassador Richard Schifter on the need for the U.N. to stop funding "Palestinian committees" and end its support of the “right of return."
For the past several decades, the United Nations General Assembly has dutifully approved the funding of the so-called specialized “Palestinian committees,” each of which advances only one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The UN has an opportunity to cut off this funding supply by year-end, thereby righting a decades-long wrong and in turn, ending a long-standing charade.
Created in the aftermath of the infamous 1975 Zionism=Racism resolution, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) and the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR) are powerful, enduring vestiges of a discredited policy that has seen the world body largely aligned against Israel, not only in New York, but at UN agencies such as the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in Paris.
The CEIRPP organizes conferences, photo exhibitions and other programs around the world aimed at undermining, discrediting and demonizing Israel. It does so with the active cooperation of the UN’s Department of Global Communications.
The DPR actually sits inside the UN Secretariat, giving the Palestinians a UN home no other people or sovereign state has. DPR sits alongside regional units such as the Asian, the African and Latin American, and the Caribbean groups of the UN system. The DPR works together with CEIRPP to organize an annual International Day of Solidarity for the Palestinian People, and maintains UN web-based information systems devoted to the Palestinian side of the conflict.
At the core of the work of these offices is the perpetuation of “the right of return” narrative that demands all Palestinians considered by the UN to be refugees have a right to “return” to pre-state Israel. Since 1949 the UN has, through the creation of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency), aggressively advanced this position.
So why are millions of people classified as refugees? Because as “refugees” they maintain their claim to migrate to Israel in order to overwhelm the Jewish majority and thus end the existence of the State of Israel.
According to the UN, there are now 5.5 million such refugees, less than 1% of whom were actual refugees from the War of Independence in 1948. More than 99% are their descendants, now five generations on. The UN has endeavored to find solutions to nearly every other refugee crisis in the world over the years, largely by resettling people in the lands to which they fled.
Only in the case of the Palestinians has an infrastructure been established to perpetuate a crisis. Over these past seven decades UNRWA, through its schools and other services, and the UN system have held out the promise that all Palestinians will one day “return” to what is now the State of Israel.
In fact, 40% of these “refugees” already live on the West Bank and in Gaza among fellow Palestinians, yet they maintain a status of refugees, so they would be able to migrate to Israel under the “right of return.” Another 40% live in Jordan, where many acquired Jordanian citizenship. They, too, live among people with whom they share religion and language, but maintain their refugee status so as to qualify for a “right of return,” as do the remaining 20% who live in Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries.
The recently signed peace agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and with Bahrain, and actions and public statements by other Arab states, suggest that the Palestinian program to end Israel’s existence is losing support among some Arabs. The world – and especially the region – have moved on. Other considerations, largely based on national interest, have taken precedence: the threat of Iranian hegemony, trade and investment and even tourism, are incentives to normalization.
The Palestinians have overplayed their hand, pressing for a zero-sum outcome to the conflict with Israel, and especially by its leaders missing opportunity after opportunity to conclude a peace with Israel in the 27 years since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
The Palestinian reaction to the Abraham Accords has been a vehement reassertion of their position, including the “right of return,” made possible, in large part by the automatic reinforcement they receive at the UN.
It is the UN, created to “maintain peace and security,” that encourages the Palestinians to hold out for their one state solution: A “Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” a goal to be attained through a “right of return.
”The CEIRIPP and the DPR are the chief proponents of this campaign, but are aided by regional groups at the UN such as the Group of 77 (known for years as the “Non-Aligned”) and a raft of anti-Israel resolutions adopted by rote at the Human Rights Council and other UN agencies, including the World Heritage Committee, a sub-group of UNESCO.
The Palestinian claim of a “right of return” is simply an obstacle to peace; it has become the third rail of the conflict. No one dares touch it; no friends of the Palestinians – and there are several amongst the European countries – seem interested in persuading them that the idea is simply a non-starter. It is not going to happen. No Israeli government from anywhere on the political spectrum would sign its own national suicide warrant.
The vote count supporting funding of the Palestinian committees is dropping; the number of “no” votes to fund these committees is rising – slightly – with a large number of abstentions and those voting “absent.”
A new wind is blowing in the region. “Normalization” is in, and obstructionism is on its way out. Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and perhaps others to come are demonstrating that where there is good will to resolve more than seven decades of animosity, economic warfare and the absence of real human interaction, reconciliation can follow.
Spending millions of dollars on conferences that perpetuate the “right of return” mantra and the constant efforts to delegitimize Israel is both a waste of time and a sure prescription for the UN to become increasingly irrelevant when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
The responsible member states of the UN need to look out the window and see the dramatic, positive changes that are taking place across the region, despite attempts by Iran and its proxies and terrorist surrogates to perpetuate chaos and instability.
Depoliticizing “peacemaking” at the UN by eliminating the CEIRIPP and the DPR would send a clear message to the Palestinians and their friends that the free ride is over. That will tell us whether or not they are really interested in emulating their neighbors who have reached historic accords with Israel.
Until the UN ends its support of the “right of return,” we cannot expect meaningful progress toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Sudan agreeing to normalize relations with the State of Israel.
(October 23, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and pro-Israel groups immediately reacted to U.S. President Donald Trump announcing on Friday that Sudan has agreed to begin the process of normalizing ties with Israel.
Sudan follows the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which normalized ties with Israel through signing the Abraham Accords on Sept. 15 in a White House ceremony. The two Gulf states were the first to normalize relations with the Jewish state. Jordan and Egypt made peace with Israel in 1994 and 1979, respectively.
In a statement, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the development “a historic milestone as yet another country joins the UAE and Bahrain in building a new era of Israeli-Arab relations” and “a byproduct of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”
“Through decades of support and deepening ties, America and Israel have demonstrated that the security and viability of the Jewish state is not up for debate, and those seeking peace and prosperity benefit from a relationship with Israel,” said AIPAC.
The pro-Israel lobby continued, “We call on other Arab leaders, particularly Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to end their boycott of Israel and engage in negotiations to bring peace and stability to more citizens across the Middle East.”
“Today’s announcement is indicative of a very positive trend—a change of heart—among Arab leaders across the region regarding Israel,” said American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris in a statement. “In this peacemaking endeavor, [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s vision and [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump’s dedication to advancing Arab-Israeli peace have been transformative.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS, “This agreement is another critical step in expanding peace between the Arab and Islamic world. The entire region will benefit from this, and agreements yet to come between Israel and its neighbors. This trajectory of normalization is in the interest of all who seek stability in a region too often torn by conflict.”
Republican Jewish Coalition spokesperson Neil Strauss told JNS that Friday’s announcement proves that Trump “is once again proving he is the most pro-Israel president in history,” and that “today is a great day for Israel, Sudan and the entire peace-loving world.”
Even J Street expressed approval of Friday’s news, but with a caveat.
“It’s good that Israel is establishing diplomatic ties with more countries in the region,” tweeted J Street. “Let’s also be clear: Agreements like this don’t change the need for comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
“While Trump has rushed these deals through for pre-election headlines, his admin[instration] continues to empower and excuse the creeping annexation that is designed to prevent an Israeli-Palestinian agreement,” added J Street.
‘Normalization is the new normal’
In a statement, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations remarked that Sudan, following the UAE and Bahrain’s lead to normalize ties with Israel, paves “the way for more Arab and Muslim countries to embrace peace and reconciliation” in which the “rapidly shifting dynamics of the Middle East signify a future that will be defined by diplomacy and cooperation, with rejectionism and extremism relegated to the past.”
Regarding a possible Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, the Conference said, “As the consensus for peace expands with more countries joining in the peaceful coexistence that will define the future of the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority finds itself even more isolated in its opposition to the Jewish state. The stubborn reluctance of Palestinian leaders to even discuss peaceful solutions leaves them increasingly out of step with the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.”
The umbrella organization called on the Palestinian Authority “to heed the wind of change, have a change of heart, choose peace over war, and finally return to the negotiating table in order to achieve a lasting peace with Israel.”
CUFI founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee in a statement, “We are thrilled to see yet another country end hostilities with Israel. Those who would attack, demonize or boycott the Jewish state have lost. The Palestinian Authority should take note; normalization is the new normal. Peace is on the march.”
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) founder and president Sarah Stern noted that Sudan hosted the Arab League summit after the 1967 Six-Day War, where the “Three Nos” under the Khartoum Resolution was announced regarding the State of Israel: “No peace, no recognition, no negotiations.”
Friday’s news “demonstrates just how far the Sunni Muslim world has evolved since then, in acknowledging that Israel is here to stay; that peace and acceptance of Israel and the normalization of people-to-people ties with Israel can only be of benefit to the region in agriculture, medicine, high tech and cybersecurity, and that they can unite together to fight their common foe: Iran,” she told JNS.
American Sephardi Federation executive director Jason Guberman told JNS that “Sudan was once home to a vibrant, Sephardic Jewish community whose chief rabbi, Hakham Solomon Malka, exemplified the pluralist values Sudan joins the U.S. in affirming today.”
“Sudan was also once host to the Khartoum Conference, whose rejectionist declaration led to decades of strife and stagnation,” he continued. “The ascendancy and genocidal drive of Islamist and pan-Arab socialist regimes to eliminate minorities and impose ideological conformity was an aberration, an ‘evil hope’ that is at last being repudiated, fittingly in Khartoum today.”
JBS covered our statement welcoming Facebook’s decision to ban any content that denies or distorts the existence of the Holocaust. View coverage here (beginning at 1:49) or below.
Ambassador Tedo Japaridze (of Georgia) spoke with B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin about the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE. Brussels Morning published Mariaschin's comments on this historic deal.
(Washington – Brussels Morning) The White House will hold a signing ceremony on September 15 to celebrate a normalization agreement of relations between Israel and the UAE. The deal announced on August 13 is the fruit of 18 months of talks. To asses the significance of this deal, Ambassador Japaridze talks to the chief executive officer of B’nai B’rith International, Daniel S. Mariaschin. B’nai B’rith International is an international Israel Advocacy organization in operation since 1843.
Daniel S. Mariaschin
The normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE could be called the “third pillar’ of reconciliation and rapprochement between Israel and the Arab States. The first two — the peace treaties with Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous state, and with Jordan, a country with which Israel shares a long border, set the table for general stabilization in the region.
The impetus for the agreement with the UAE, which has no border with the Jewish state, came from several directions, not the least of which is a common concern about Iranian hegemonism, and a “can-do” spirit of entrepreneurism and trade.
For decades, the Palestinians counted on unconditional support in the Arab world. But as opportunities to conclude a deal with Israel were continually met with a cold shoulder and rejection by the Palestinian Authority, countries in the Gulf felt they could wait no more. Relations with Israel offered security and trade opportunities, and giving the Palestinians a veto on normalization with Israel made little strategic or commercial sense. The train has left the station.
The fourth pillar of Arab-Israel peace and normalization awaits. Other agreements are expected in the Gulf, and in North Africa. Giving the shifting winds in the region, particularly Iran’s unabashed drive for influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and in Gaza, and with an administration in Washington in full support of building on the Israel-UAE agreement, this particular “peace process’” will hopefully gain speed, and produce other “Abraham Accords.”
Tablet Magazine covered the Jewish Rescuers Citation, B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem's joint project with the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust (JNJ), in a piece about recognizing the number of Jews hailed for their heroism during the Shoah.
Oeuvre de secours aux enfants (OSE), the Jewish children’s welfare organization, was founded in Russia in 1912 by a group of young doctors committed to offering sanitary protection and health benefits to poor Jews. The organization moved in 1917 to Berlin where Albert Einstein was its honorary president. In 1933, it moved to Paris, and in 1940, once again to escape the Nazis, it moved to Montpellier in the non-occupied south of France.
With its 280 official employees, OSE became the principal Jewish organization concerned with the welfare of foreign Jews in French internment camps. In November 1941, there were more than 28,000 internees in these camps, roughly 5,000 of whom were children under the age of 18. The camps were entirely run and staffed by the French. With help from non-Jewish organizations, such as the Quakers and the Red Cross, OSE social workers fed, clothed, and raised the morale of these detainees, 3,000 of whom would die of malnutrition and disease over the course of the war.
As of August 1942, when children were being deported even from the non-occupied zone, the primary goal of OSE became to illegally evacuate the children from the camps and, with the help of their Christian allies, to place them in non-Jewish homes, farms, and institutions, or smuggle them out of the country.
To accomplish this work, a 33-year-old engineer named Georges Garel (né Grigori Garfinkel) left his role in the Resistance to form the Garel Network, the first entirely clandestine network for rescuing Jewish children in the still-unoccupied zone. With headquarters in Lyon, over the next 12 months, thanks to about three dozen workers—most of whom were Jewish women employed by the OSE—the Garel Network would hide over 1,600 Jewish children in various parts of France.
What happened in France took place in every occupied country. Thousands of Jews, many of them very young, labored individually and in Jewish and non-Jewish organizations to save their endangered brethren. Many could have fled but chose to remain in order to rescue others. With great heroism, they employed subterfuge, forgery of documents, smuggling, concealment, and escape into foreign countries such as Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, and Turkey. Together with their non-Jewish companions, these courageous persons rescued between 150,000 and 300,000 persons who might otherwise have perished.
Yet only the non-Jews who did these things have been formally acknowledged as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem. Since 1963, 27,362 non-Jewish rescuers from 51 different countries have been recognized. They remain beacons of hope 75 years later. Their Jewish counterparts, who often worked alongside them in rescue efforts, deserve the same public recognition. Doing so would give significant emphasis to rescue as a legitimate and successful form of resistance that would serve to discredit further the continuing myth that Jews went to the slaughter like sheep. It would also underscore the basic moral teaching that “righteousness” should be conferred on people for having donesomething, not for being or not being a member of a specific religion.
One OSE fieldworker named Madeleine Dreyfus brought Jewish children to Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Born Madeleine Kahn in 1909, the future Madeleine Dreyfus received her baccalaureate degree in Paris in 1927. She married Raymond Dreyfus in March 1933 on the day Hitler came to power. Her sons, Michel and Jacques, were born in 1934 and 1937, respectively, during the period when she began studying psychology intensely with Sophie Lazarfeld, a student and disciple of Alfred Adler. In October 1941, when her husband lost his job in Paris because of the recently invoked anti-Semitic laws, the family passed into the unoccupied zone and settled in Lyon.
Madeleine began working for OSE as a psychologist in late 1941, giving educational and psychological consultations to troubled Parisian students whose families had taken refuge in Lyon. As of August 1942, under the constant menace of the enthusiastically collaborationist Vichy police force, and, especially after November 1942, when the Germans officially occupied all of France, Madeleine assumed responsibility for the Lyon/Le Chambon-sur-Lignon area link in the Garel Network and sought places of refuge in this mostly Protestant countryside for Jewish children.
Several times a month, accompanied by a small group of children (aged anywhere from 18 months to 16 years), Madeleine would take the train from Lyon to Saint-Etienne, where she would transfer to the local steam engine to Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Sometimes these children had been given to her by their parents. Just as often, they had managed to escape or hide at the time of their parents’ arrest and were then rescued by the network.
These trips to the countryside were extremely dangerous ventures in which Madeleine continuously risked her life. Although in almost all cases the children had false Aryan identity papers, Madeleine, who carried the most readily identifiable Jewish last name in France, did not.
Madeline Dreyfus had to take control of these mostly foreign children to get them through police inspections in the train stations and on the trains. She had to keep them from speaking Polish, German, or Yiddish, and make sure that they called their friends by their French names. From September or October 1942 to November 1943, Madeleine made these trips, finding shelter for well over one hundred Jewish children. She would return often to visit the children she had placed, to bring them clothing, medicine, food tickets, and whenever possible, letters from their parents—who, for safety reasons, never knew where their children were hidden.
As of November 1942, Madeleine was already pregnant with her third child, Annette. Being pregnant may have slowed her down, but it didn’t stop her. Annette was born in Lyon on Aug. 29, 1943. “Very shortly thereafter,” writes Raymond, “my wife resumed her trips back and forth between Lyon and Le Chambon-sur-Lignon.”
Only a few weeks later, after his sister-in-law and two of her children were arrested and deported, Raymond begged Madeleine to stop her illegal work, “now that she was responsible for three small children, two months, six, and nine years of age, all without false papers.” Madeleine asked Raymond to wait a bit longer, since there was no one to replace her.
On Nov. 23, Madeleine received a phone call from the father of a child she had hidden at the School for Deaf-Mutes at Villeurbanne, who was distraught because he had heard there was going to be a Gestapo raid at the institute. Madeleine called there and the woman on the other end of the line encouraged her to come to the school right away. It was impossible for Madeleine to know that her respondent was being held at gunpoint and was being instructed to answer in that manner by her Gestapo captors.
Despite walking into a trap, Madeline managed to immediately warn both her family and the OSE. She was sent to Fort Monluc in Lyon where she spent over two months in the Jewish women’s dormitory, from whose window she witnessed the execution of many resisters, Jews and Christians alike. At the end of January 1944, she was transferred to Drancy. In May, she was deported to Bergen-Belsen in northwest Germany, where about 40,000 inmates would die of starvation and disease.
Even in Bergen-Belsen where she would spend 11 months, Madeleine was concerned with the well-being of others. She constantly tried to raise the morale of her companions and organized daily delousing sessions to help stem the typhus in the camp. She and her companions received between 600 and 700 calories a day. Survival was contingent, she reported later, upon selective camaraderie. Small groups of three or four women would stay together and help one another maintain morale and reestablish their humanity: sharing food, assuming social roles, making an effort to speak about art and literature, and reassuring one another that they were still human beings.
After 18 months of incarceration in prison and Nazi concentration camps, Madeleine was liberated and repatriated on May 18, 1945. She continued her practice as an Adlerian psychologist and was particularly gifted with children, teaching, and family situations, until her death in 1987.
Madeleine Dreyfus was only one of dozens of Jewish OSE workers who risked their lives to save other Jews in France. In Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, André Chouraqui, the future assistant mayor of Jerusalem, immediately replaced Madeleine at OSE in Lyon and in the Garel Network. Jews not affiliated with OSE, such as Oskar Rosowsky, risked their lives by fabricating false papers for Jews hiding in the area.
Nor were they alone during the occupation years. Jews were involved in the rescue of other Jews all over France. Moussa Abadi and his partner, Odette Rosenstock, working with the bishop of Nice, Paul Rémond (who would later deservedly be named “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem), managed to save 527 Jewish children; Odette, like Madeleine, survived Bergen-Belsen. On the Swiss border, three Jewish groups—OSE, EIF (Eclaireurs israélites de France, or French Jewish Scouts), and MJS (Mouvement de la jeunesse sioniste, or Youth Zionist Movement)—worked together to smuggle hundreds of Jewish children into Switzerland.
Let us remember in particular two young Jewish heroines who gave their lives in these endeavors: Mila Racine, who was caught smuggling Jewish children into Switzerland in October 1943, was deported to Mauthausen, and died during an Allied bombing mission at the age of 23. She was replaced by Marianne Cohn, who was arrested for smuggling Jewish children across the border in May 1944, then beaten, tortured, and murdered by the Gestapo in July 1944. She was 21 years old when she died.
During the occupation of France, OSE saved the lives of roughly 6,000 Jewish children in France; yet 32 OSE staff members lost their lives and 90 OSE children did not survive. Among the 76,000 Jews deported from France were 11,600 children whom the Nazis never asked for.
Prudence dictated that Christians and Jews lie low, out of risk’s path. Nor was there any shortage of active collaborators with the Nazi edicts from the highest levels of French government and society to the lowest. All those who chose to rise up against this evil deserve recognition. To celebrate Jews and non-Jews, who risked their lives together to rescue persecuted people, would offer a superb example of human solidarity in a world of rapidly increasing anti-Semitism and group hatreds.
Finally, to insist on the differences between Christian and Jewish rescuers violates the spirit of the overwhelming majority of Jews and Christians alike who did not think in terms of religious affiliations or differences when they put their own lives at risk to save others. In Lisa Gossel’s award-winning documentary The Children of Chabannes, Félix Chevrier, the gentile leader of a rescue mission that sheltered 400 Jewish children, is described as having been anguished throughout the entire rescue period “because he didn’t want to save the children because they were Jewish. He wanted to save them because they were children.” The great Jewish humanitarian, pediatrician, teacher, and radio personality Janusz Korczak, who ran an orphanage in Warsaw and later inside the Warsaw Ghetto did his work in a similar spirit. When asked what he would do after the war were he to survive, he responded: “Take care of German orphans.” We defile the memory of these rescuers when we confine them to categories that their magnanimous souls obviously transcended.
In the absence of a program at Yad Vashem that recognizes “Jewish Holocaust Rescuers,” a group of Holocaust survivors from Holland, France, Germany, and other countries, who were themselves saved by the efforts of Jews, came together in 2000 with a number of Jewish rescuers and representatives of international Jewish organizations and founded the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust (JRJ). Focusing on the ideas of “self-rescue” and “rescue as resistance,” this group has been engaged in numerous initiatives aimed at bringing this neglected chapter of Holocaust history to public attention. The goals of the JRJ are to collect testimonies, set up a database for research, and incorporate their findings into the curriculum of Holocaust studies in Israel and throughout the world.
Haim Roet, the founder and chair of the JRJ, was 11 years old in 1943 when he was rescued and hidden in the village of Nieuwlande, one of only two “places,” along with Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, to be declared “righteous” by Yad Vashem. Three rescuers led this operation, which saved 200 children: Johannes Post, Arnold Douwes, and Max “Nico” Leons. Jan Post was caught by the Germans and executed; Arnold Douwes lived into old age. Max Leons died in 2019 at the age of 97. Post and Douwes were both named “Righteous Among the Nations.” In 2011, the Jewish Rescuers Citation was created. It is a joint project of the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust (JRJ) and the B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem.
So many people participated in the rescue mission in Nieuwlande that a monument was constructed at Yad Vashem to honor the entire village. It contains more than 100 names of rescuers chiseled in stone. Max “Nico” Leon’s name is not on the stone for the same reason he was never cited by Yad Vashem as a rescuer of Jews: He was Jewish.
In Amsterdam on Nov. 24, 2011, at his surprise 90th birthday party, Roet presented Leon with the Jewish Rescuers Citation, a well-deserved honor intended to redress what increasingly appears, with the benefit of hindsight, to be a historical and moral injustice that only perpetuates the kinds of divisions between human beings that rescuers of all faiths heroically refused to recognize.
Several media organizations noted our reaction to the passing of Ambassador Richard Schifter. Read more about his remarkable life below.
Former top US diplomat Richard Schifter has died aged 97, according to American Jewish organizations and Israel’s Foreign Ministry director general.
Schifter fled his native Austria to the US at the age of 15 just after the Nazi takeover of the country. The rest of his family could not obtain visas and were killed by the Nazis.
He served in WWII as an American intelligence officer, part of the US military’s German-speaking “Ritchie Boys” unit.
After his discharge in 1948, he went to Yale Law School, became an attorney, and would go on to represent Native American tribes in disputes with the US government.
He got his first diplomatic posting in 1981 and would spend more than 20 years in the American diplomatic service as, variously, assistant secretary of state for humanitarian affairs in the Reagan and Bush administrations, US envoy to the UN’s Commission on Human Rights and UNESCO Committee on Conventions and Recommendations, and deputy US representative to the UN Security Council.
In 1993, former US president Bill Clinton made him a special adviser to the president and the National Security Council. Since leaving that post in 2001, Schifter headed the American Jewish International Relations Institute, for which he often spoke publicly about the UN and Israel.
He was remembered Sunday as an advocate for Israel.
“Ambassador Richard Schifter was a symbol of perseverance and strength who achieved much in his lifetime and worked endlessly on improving Israel’s position in the UN,” Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Ushpiz tweeted on Sunday. “My condolences to his family and friends. May his memory be a blessing.”
B’nai B’rith mourned him as “an inspirational leader, accomplished diplomat, public servant, staunch advocate for human rights, a resolute defender of Israel, a strong proponent of trans-Atlantic relations and of America’s place in the world.
“Notwithstanding his immense achievements, Ambassador Schifter’s persona was one of humility and civility,” the organization said.
The American Jewish Committee hailed his “amazing life.”
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