CEO and Director of U.N. Affairs Joint Op-ed in JNS: At the UNHRC, why not focus on countries with egregious human-rights records?
JNS published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels calling out the U.N. Human Rights Council's absurd double standard against Israel, and urging the U.S. to push for substantial change as it rejoins the body.
The United States was again elected this month to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) after an absence of more than three years. The United States fully deserves to be recognized as a global leader in promoting human rights.
Often, however, election to the world’s preeminent human-rights body is not founded upon countries’ merit but political horse-trading. In fact, none of the 18 vacant seats to be filled at the start of 2022 was contested; each will essentially have been claimed in advance by a “candidate” government without assurance of governments’ actual performance in protecting human rights or of equal opportunities for a stint on the council.
Case in point: Since the establishment of the council, around 120 of the 193 U.N. member states have enjoyed membership on it, some repeatedly.
Among the countries perennially left out is one subjected to far more harsh treatment by the body than any other: Israel.
This comes as no surprise to those within the U.N. system. After all, Israel is one of the United Nations most longstanding members, dating back to 1949, and it has also gotten more than its fair share of attention from the Security Council. Yet it has not been one of the 130 countries to have had at least one term in that powerful forum either. That’s unlike Algeria, Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
To sum it up: Over the course of nearly 75 years, one side of the Arab-Israeli conflict has repeatedly had a voice, and vote, on relevant matters in key international institutions. The other hasn’t.
One side has wielded an automatic majority in these critical settings—there are some 60 Arab and Muslim U.N. member states—and the other is the world’s only Jewish state, Israel.
But the inequity is not limited to questions of mere representation.
When the United States withdrew from the Human Rights Council in 2018, The New York Times characterized the pullout as protesting “frequent criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.” No country is immune to fair criticism, but this portrayal, sadly commonplace, represents nothing short of journalistic malpractice. What the council dishes out to Israel is not “criticism” but simple demonization—delegitimization and double standards.
The Human Rights Council was formed 15 years ago to replace its corrupt and utterly ineffective predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. But the council has been little better, particularly when it comes to Israel and the human rights of its diverse citizens.
At the council, what is the only country permanently probed under a dedicated agenda item? Israel. The only country even tarred as racist under yet another agenda item? Israel. The country targeted with more condemnatory resolutions than all others? Israel. The country that has been the subject of more “emergency” sessions than all others? Israel. The country repeatedly targeted with so-called fact-finding missions whose one-sided findings are endorsed in advance? Israel. The country scrutinized in perpetuity, though not its violent adversaries, by a “special rapporteur”? Israel. The only country subjected to a discriminatory corporate blacklist? Israel.
Too many outsiders assume that the U.N.’s sky-high output of anti-Israel excoriations reflects the real-world misbehavior of a uniquely and wildly aggressive Israel.
In actuality, Israel serves as a convenient target for scapegoating and unjust isolation at the world body, despite an astonishingly humane record in the face of practically unequaled and unending existential threats.
Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad—all openly committed not to limited territorial or political claims but to the outright destruction of the Jewish state—have never been condemned by the Human Rights Council for their fanaticism and terror.
Meanwhile, more Arabs have been killed in just 10 years of civil war in Syria than in nearly a century of conflict over Jews’ return to sovereignty in their small and sole ancestral homeland.
Fortunately, with more and more Arab and Muslim leaders now recognizing not only the permanence of Israel but also its legitimacy and potential to help forge a thriving Middle East, forces long accustomed to weaponizing the United Nations for cynical political purposes may find increasingly little enthusiasm for that stale cause.
As America rejoins the UNHRC, it must make clear that the body’s own legitimacy rests upon abandoning bias and bigotry in the pursuit of human dignity. Only concrete and substantial change at the council will make the body worthy of American membership and sustained investment. That change should start with ending the council’s singular fixation upon defaming Israel at the expense of highlighting the world’s most egregious and systemic human-rights abusers.
A JNS op-ed by Miriam Assor, a member of the Lisbon Jewish community, notes B'nai B'rith International's role in creating the Jewish Museum of Oporto, which recounts the 1000-year history of the city’s Jewish presence.
The European Commission announced in early October that Jewish life will be fostered in a Europe that was home to 9.5 million Jews before the Second World War and whose remaining 1.5 million are abandoning the Old Continent.
“We want to see Jewish life thriving again in the heart of our communities,” said E.C. president Ursula von der Leyen. “This is how it should be.”
In recent years, Portugal has become home to thousands of Jews. The choice of this country may provide the inspiration and serve as a model for what the European Union does, in fact, need.
Once again, Portugal is on the Jewish map. Small Jewish communities, mainly consisting of recently arrived Sephardim, are growing and strengthening throughout the country, even in less populated areas than the capital.
Cascais, a town in the district and metropolitan area of Lisbon, is home to the largest Chabad center in Europe, and two families in the organization work together to aid the whole country. Their enthusiasm is unmistakable. They believe that Portuguese Judaism will be a serious matter in the future. The most recent Chabad couple is Sephardic, not Ashkenazi, which is unusual in that New York-based organization.
The best example of the revitalization of Jewish life in Portugal is the Jewish Community of Oporto (CIP/CJP). According to Gabriela Cantergi, an official at CIP/CJP, “Our Community does not exist to please everyone, but rather to honor the Jewish community that was expelled from this city in the late 15th century, and to be a strong religious, cultural and social organization in Portugal and abroad.”
Led by Israeli rabbis, the main synagogue of the city—the Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, although there are others—has seven hundred official members originating from more than 30 countries. These congregants are engaged in the arts, sciences, medicine, music, law, banking and sports. The overwhelming majority, however, are business people who have invested billions of euros in Portugal in recent years.
The community also strives to welcome foreign Jewish students enrolled at the universities of Oporto, including them in community activities and creating meeting centers for them.
“Our aim is to foster friendship and possibly future marriages between students who come on their own to this country, mainly from France,” said Noemie Amar, of CIP/CJP’s department of religion.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa paid a visit to the Oporto community in 2019, and was visibly impressed by the Jewish ambience of “Portugality” he found there. This was also the case recently with a much-travelled Jewish author who commented about the last Yom Kippur ceremony that she had never heard search passionate prayers and songs in a synagogue. That is the result of six years of non-stop minyanim on Shabbat and holidays.
In 2012, the synagogue building looked to be on the verge of collapse. It was extensively refurbished the following year, and important religious ceremonies were held there. In 2014, the Community inaugurated a kosher hotel and Jewish tourists poured into the city. After 2015, the law granting Portuguese nationality to Sephardic Jews increased both the number of community members and Jewish cultural events.
The Jewish community of Oporto has built and developed new Jewish centers, prayer rooms, kosher restaurants, a Jewish museum, a Holocaust museum and a library. It also organizes conferences and concerts and has established a newspaper.
It will soon be opening an art gallery with the millennial story of the Jews in Oporto. Flor Mizrahi, a professional painter and longstanding member of CIP/CJP, is the project coordinator and eager to see it completed.
“I won’t live forever,” she said. “And, as a Sephardic Jew, I wish to leave my personal mark. In early 2022, the group of artists coordinated by me will have the gallery-museum ready.”
The Jewish Museum of Oporto, created by CIP/CJP in partnership with B’nai B’rith International, recounts the millennial history of the city’s Jewish community, its expulsion, the return of Moroccan, Gibraltarian and Venetian Sephardic Jews in the 19th century, the failed attempt to convert the Bnei Anousim to Judaism in the 1920s and 1930s and German, Russian and Polish Ashkenazi Jews in the 20th century, as well as the “major Sephardic influx of the 21st century,” basically motivated—said Rose Mousovich of CIP/CJP’s department of culture—”by the nationality that Portugal grants to Jews of Portuguese origin.”
Read the rest of the article in JNS.
The Times of Israel published a piece by B'nai B'rith International Director of EU Affairs Alina Bricman in which she reflects on her visit to Pittsburgh for the inaugural Eradicate Hate Summit, just ahead of the third anniversary of the Tree of Life tragedy.
Earlier this month, I visited Pittsburgh ahead of the anniversary of the Tree of Life tragedy.
Three years earlier, on October 27, 2018, a far-right extremist committed the deadliest attack against Jews in the history of the United States – killing 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger of blessed memory were beloved members of three different congregations. Other worshipers, as well as law enforcement officers and first responders, were seriously wounded. So too, the sense of safety of American Jewry.
The threat of antisemitic attacks is part of the day-to-day of Jewish life in Europe. Metal detectors and security guards are ubiquitous at all Jewish venues. A kippah is worn both with pride and with trepidation, as the numbers of recorded antisemitic incidents have steadily risen in recent years.
But the heart wrenching attack in Pittsburgh’s Squirrell Hill neighborhood – the same community Mr. Rogers’ spoke about – surfaced an unlikely question: Can Jews feel safe in the United States?
What I felt being in Pittsburgh was a reverberating communal “yes”.
U.S. statistics about Jews’ sense of safety mirror those in Europe. A large majority of Jews feel antisemitism is a real and present danger, a reflection of the staggering rise in violent incidents.
The resounding, collective “yes” from the Jewish community and its many allies in Pittsburgh is not ignorant to this reality – on the contrary – it is determined to overcome it: not just survive, but thrive – openly and without fear.
A community of solidarity
The outpouring of love and solidarity following the attack three years ago was experienced not only in Pittsburgh, but around the world. I was truly inspired. Yet in hindsight, I didn’t fully understand the nearly-universal show of support until I was there in person.
It’s been three years, but Squirrell Hill houses on every block still boast signs: Stronger Than Hate. The city symbol, the Steelmark – continues to lend one of its four-pointed starlike figures to a Star of David. At the Tree of Life Synagogue, a long fence surrounding the building is covered in drawings sent in from schools across the country, turning security into solidarity and inspiration.
I had the chance to see once again a full-page newspaper ad in memory of two victims, Cecil and David Rosenthal. It read: “The entire Rosenthal Family wishes to extend our sincerest thanks and gratitude to the Pittsburgh community and around the world for your outpouring of support and kindness. Your thoughts, prayers and kind gestures have given us strength to get through this difficult time.”
In the town of the Steelers – #PittsburghStrong has a new meaning, and it has nothing to do with metal. It’s a collective commitment to beat back hate.
The Eradicate Hate Global Summit
One of the ways in which this commitment materialized was the inaugural edition of the Eradicate Hate Global Summit, which took place just last week in Pittsburgh. This was an unprecedented effort to convene leading researchers, practitioners, journalists, law–makers and tech companies to develop collaborative and multidisciplinary responses to hate. Among speakers were UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide; Alice Wairimu Nderitu, Judge Theodor Meron, President and Judge, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals; U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, heads of policy for major tech companies, and, most importantly, the family members of the Tree of Life victims, who were the driving force and beating heart of the event.
Panels explored novel civil and criminal law remedies to hate, the role of tech and the ability of the justice system to address extremism, the role of COVID-19 in accelerating hate, community preparedness, free speech protections, the role of art, and many more and diverse themes.
During the Summit, I had the opportunity to share insights from Europe as part of a panel reflecting on global government responses: the state of antisemitism, but also what’s being done, what works, what can be modeled elsewhere. I spoke about the new European Union (EU) Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life, the collaborative approach between policy-makers and civil society, the significant advancements by EU legislators in placing liability on platforms through new reporting and due diligence obligations, important data collection commitments, and the Strategy’s cross-cutting approach, mainstreaming the topic across policy areas.
Antisemitism serves as a foundation for most conspiracy ideologies. It cuts across the political spectrum, is fueled by polarization, accelerated by algorithmic augmentation, and rests on Holocaust denial, distortion and trivialization. In that, antisemitism is ultimately the epitome of hate. Ensuring that experts in diverse fields understand it in its complexity is essential not only to providing a sense of safety and security for the global Jewish community, but to maintaining an open and democratic society all together – a premise that the Summit built on.
Now back home, taking stock, a key take away stands out beyond all others – the solidarity and kindness still emanating in Pittsburgh can serve as a motivating force for all of us.
The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International Honorary President Richard Heideman on the legacy of the 2001 Durban Conference tainted by anti-Semitism.
In 2001, anti-Israel and anti-Zionism sentiment roared with a vengeance at the UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa (the Durban Conference). As president of B’nai B’rith International and as chairman of the United Nations Committee of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, I served as head of the delegation for those organizations to the Durban Conference, a true hatefest toward Israel, Zionists and the Jewish people.
Indeed, it was at Durban, which occurred during the Second Intifada, that the seeds of hate were planted to launch a malicious, multi-pronged diplomatic, academic, legal and economic boycott, and campaign of demonization against Israel in the court of public opinion.
Intended to explore ways to end racism and promote awareness of intolerance, the Durban Conference quickly devolved into a public display of anti-Jewish rhetoric and an ugly anti-Israel agenda. Copies of the antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion were sold on the conference grounds, and anti-Israel protesters resurrected the “Zionism equals racism” charge, further demonizing Israel and the Jewish people in every possible way.
Both at the official UN member conference in Durban and the NGO Forum that aimed to “publicize the voice of the victims,” blatant antisemitic hate toward Israel was rampant. The forum consisted of tables, posters and people working to rile up the crowd with images that made it very clear that they considered Israel to be an apartheid Nazi racist criminal state unworthy of standing at the United Nations or equality in the family of nations, notwithstanding Israel’s member-state status at the UN.
At this forum, the Jewish Caucus proposed and is believed to have cast the only vote in favor of labeling Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish violence as forms of antisemitism. In addition, the forum and conference representatives rejected efforts by the US and other democratic allied governments to seek the inclusion of a key paragraph on antisemitism in the final outcome document of the conference.
After four days in which the US attempted to end the blatantly antisemitic attitudes and displays of hatred toward Israel, Zionists and the Jewish people, the US and Israeli delegations, along with the Jewish NGO organizations, held a press conference and staged a walkout in protest.
I am proud to have led that walkout along with Lord Janner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and leaders of the various Jewish NGOs present at the UN Conference Forum, joined by the US and Israeli ambassadors and delegations. It is important that the Jewish people stand together in such times and circumstances; and important that we speak out with dignity in protesting the injustices of false accusations and outright hatred toward Israel and the Jewish people.
The final resolution of the NGO Forum called Israel “a racist apartheid state,” guilty of the “systematic perpetration of racist crimes including war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing… and state terror against the Palestinian people.” This document is wrongly heralded as a guideline for action against Israel. It is a manifesto to be rejected, not commemorated.
In 2009, in Geneva, as head of the delegation for the Durban Review Conference, I witnessed the continuation of hatred toward Israel, Zionism, and the Jewish people, which further advanced the Durban agenda of castigating Israel in every possible avenue and venue.
WHAT OCCURRED on the grounds of the United Nations conference in Durban and at the recent “Durban IV” commemoration, was not by chance, but rather was a well-planned and designed gathering with the purpose not of standing against racism, but rather of singling out and accusing Israel as an apartheid criminal racist state. Understanding the absurdity of this charge and the depravity behind its origins, 38 countries boycotted the Durban IV event. Nevertheless, both the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council have in recent days passed resolutions continuing to endorse the Durban Program, tacitly applauding rather than castigating the hatred espoused there.
Over the past 20 years, the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people have followed that line, taking to the International Court of Justice a request, via the United Nations General Assembly, for an advisory opinion on the “legality” of Israel’s construction of the “wall,” which is truly a terrorism prevention security fence, and taking to the International Criminal Court the issues of Israel’s neighborhoods and communities in the ancient homelands of the Jewish people, further accusing the IDF of violations of international law with regard to the IDF’s military response to the kidnapping and murder of Jewish teenagers and civilians in the West Bank.
Those of us who attended Durban and experienced the rampant hatred toward Israel and the Jewish people must remind others of the need to stand up against such hatred and do so with pride, strength and knowledge; and do so with a commitment to making our voices collectively heard around the world, as B’nai B’rith International recently did in its highly acclaimed series Durban Revisited, broadcast by JBS TV.
The legacy of Durban must be recognized as one of hate, not of tolerance nor of a commitment to advancing education, democracy, equal rights and respect for the dignity of all people.
Inside Sources published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International President Charles Kaufman on the recent incident in Texas where an administrator absurdly insisted that an “opposing side” of the Holocaust be offered to students.
The idea of presenting “opposing views” with the Holocaust would be mortifying if the concept behind it weren’t so mind-boggling. The thought of such a ridiculous notion leaves me shocked, numb.
That a top educator in a School District in the Dallas-Fort Worth area would use the Holocaust as an example of desired balance in presenting history-relating racism reveals vast deficiencies in understanding, much less education.
What began as a debate over legislation addressing “critical race theory” ended with a bizarre comparison delivered before a stunned school board audience, prompting a swift and immediate apology from the superintendent of the Carroll Independent School District.
One of many teaching moments in this chapter of history is that revisionism is clearly becoming the embarrassing subplot to the torment that’s ripping apart the country. Are school districts across the most advanced country in the world really going to allow what should have been an Age of Re-enlightenment to become the Age of Reimagining Everything? Are generations of history, literature — not to mention our sanity — about to be gone with the wind?
“Opposing views” of the Holocaust are nothing but Holocaust denial. Such behavior is nothing new in today’s world of hate. In fact, this event only gains credence when Holocaust museums, commissions, and education diminish their importance by allowing the unvarnished history to be portrayed as just another genocide or just another violation of human rights. Now, anyone who can’t understand the reality of the Holocaust either believes people should still hail Hitler or that the earth is still flat. Two decades into the 21st century, is this the new direction of education?
Educators wishing to teach racism need to realize that too many people believe anti-Semitism began with Hitler and in Nazi Germany. In truth — the unequivocal variety — the history of anti-Semitism goes back thousands of years with Jews as slaves, inhabitants in ghettos, or scapegoats by empires over more than 100 generations. And despite such oppression, the Jewish people have not only survived but made a positive impact in many societies. In the face of great achievements, the Jewish people also understand that our values oblige us to dedicate ourselves to the freedom of others.
Today, Holocaust denial has a new partner — the denial of Israel as the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. The history of Israel dates back thousands of years. The legal boundaries of Israel are more in evidence than in dispute, and any disputed territory is subject to negotiation. To that end, “Palestine” will exist when the Palestinians accept history, own up to the consequences of their own actions, and develop compromises within their ranks.
In truth, we have Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and an immense evil cast who not only participated in hatching, planning, and implementing the Final Solution, but meticulously and proudly documented the heinous crimes for the world to see. The irrefutable evidence is substantiated by voluminous eyewitness accounts of prosecuted war criminals, rescuers, physical evidence from labor and death camps; cans of Cyklon B, hair, bones, ashes, testimonies from survivors, miles of film, books.
And yet, the Holocaust deniers demand telling of their side of the story, their truth, the imagined “opposing views,” which basically is a collection of demonizing libels that don’t deserve repeating. Poland, which succumbed to the Nazis and was complicit in many ways to the brutality at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where 300,000 Poles also were victims, wants to criminalize tying Poland to its history of death to millions of Jews and others.
There’s no running away from history, particularly the evil of this human experience. Diminishing the truth is shameful. Back in Texas, with apologies rendered and, of course, the “opposing views” argument ascribed to either confusion or misapplication of a law that aims to keep people from spinning history, the incident undoubtedly will evaporate into the “wokesphere.”
Meanwhile, Jews continue to be targeted as scapegoats for the blood libels of the past or for no other reason beyond their religious identity. Make no mistake, there are many good people who respect the diverse culture and practices of the Jewish people. And for those who prefer not to do so, well, they will continue trying to reinvent the wheel, which remains, by all accounts, the same shape as the earth.
The Times of Israel published B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin's op-ed on former Secretary of State Colin Powell's 2004 speech on anti-Semitism. Powell died on October 18, 2021.
One of the 21st century’s first important speeches on antisemitism by a world leader was given by then secretary of state Colin Powell, in April 2004.
The occasion was the second dedicated conference on antisemitism, organized in Berlin, by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a group of then-56 countries whose mission is to “work for security, peace and stability” for the billion people living in Europe, Eurasia and North America.
I served as an advisor to the United States delegation to the 2004 gathering, which was headed by former New York Mayor Ed Koch. The host was Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister; the conference was chaired by Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, who was the OSCE chairman-in-office, the title given to the foreign minister of the country that chairs the OSCE that year.
The Berlin Conference, as it became known, materialized only three years after the infamous UN Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, which turned into a week-long hate fest of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The rhetoric which spewed forth at that meeting, including branding Israel an “apartheid state,” also led to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign which has incessantly sought, to this day, to demonize and delegitimize Israel and its supporters.
Powell had planned to speak at the Durban conference, but decided against attending when it appeared that it would spin out of control, which it did. In the interim, as the antisemitism pot began to boil globally, the OSCE, whose agenda includes human rights issues, announced its conference in Berlin, tying the focus on antisemitism to the place from which the worst crimes against the Jewish people originated. Said Powell in his opening remarks: “Berlin is a fitting backdrop for our meeting. The firestorm of antisemitic hatred that was the Holocaust was set here in Berlin.”
“Now, in the opening years of the 21st century,” Powell said, “we…have come to stamp out new fires of antisemitism within our societies, and to kindle lights of tolerance so that future generations will never know the unspeakable horrors that hatred can unleash.”
Powell decried the dramatic rise in antisemitism that was occurring within democratic nations, saying, “We must send the clear message far and wide that antisemitism is always wrong, and always dangerous.”
He stated that “we must not permit antisemitic crimes to be shoved off as inevitable side effects of inter-ethnic conflicts. Political disagreements do not justify physical assaults, against Jews in our streets, the destruction of Jewish schools, or the desecration of synagogues and cemeteries. There is no justification for antisemitism.”
And then, perhaps the most telling line in the speech: “It is not antisemitic to criticize the policies of the state of Israel. But the line is crossed when Israel or its leaders are demonized or vilified, for example by the use of Nazi symbols and racist caricatures.”
The “crossing the line” concept was groundbreaking. Hitherto, those who engaged in castigating Israel for racist policies had hidden behind the “legitimate criticism of Israel” fig leaf. Now, Powell had lifted a veil that would more easily reveal the antisemitism intentions of those who engaged in such rhetoric. The Berlin Declaration, issued at the conclusion of the conference basically incorporated the secretary’s very words: “…International developments or political issues, including those in Israel or in the rest of the Middle East, never justify antisemitism.”
Powell’s speech would help to pave the way for important advances in the fight against antisemitism. In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), a consortium of now-34 countries committed to programs of remembrance, research and education, adopted a “working definition of antisemitism.” It serves as an invaluable baseline for addressing classic antisemitic stereotyping and tropes, accusing Jews of collective guilt and dual loyalty, denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, or accusations that Israel is a racist endeavor.
In recent years, the definition has attracted the endorsement of an increasing number of nation states, provinces, non-governmental organizations, universities, sporting associations and others. After hundreds of years with no frame of reference to define this ancient hydra of hatred, the IHRA document has been, and will continue to be, an essential tool in combating it.
Powell closed his speech with a prescriptive for the future: “It is especially important that we instill in our children values and behaviors that can avert such calamities….Tolerance, like hatred, is learned behavior passed from one generation to the next unless the new generation is educated differently. Let tolerance be our legacy. May future generations of schoolchildren read that in the early decades of the 21st century mankind finally consigned antisemitism to history, never to darken the world again.”
Seventeen years on, no truer, or more prescient words, were spoken. Powell’s words are more relevant—and more needed—today, perhaps—then they were in 2004. Driven by social media, by doctrinaire politics and by extremists from the left, right and the Islamic world, antisemitism is seemingly veering out of control.
It’s good today to recall Powell’s speech, with its incisive analysis and his instinctive understanding of how to confront the problem. His voice may have been stilled, but the message he left is as meaningful as ever.
B’nai B’rith sent the following letter to the editor of the New York Times regarding a recent piece it ran about Miam Bialik:
To the editor,
The New York Times never misses an opportunity to let its anti-Israel bias show.
How ironic that it published a “journalism” piece condemning a Jeopardy host for a lack of neutrality. (Mayim Bialik Wants the ‘Jeopardy!’ Job. Is She ‘Neutral’ Enough? by Julia Jacobs).
What a lack of self-awareness. Though “neutrality” is likely not on the job description for a game show host, it certainly is (or should be) at the top of the list of job prerequisites for a reporter.
There are three references in the piece involving Bialik as a proud, pro-Israel Jew. That's who Bialik is.
Yes, Bialik is outspoken on many topics, including the safety and security of Israel. But is that relevant for a Jeopardy host?
Mayim Bialik is a game show host and actor. Not a trained journalist employed by the self-described “paper of record.”
Daniel S. Mariaschin
B’nai B’rith International CEO
B'nai B'rith Letter to Marriott Regarding Anti-Semitic Treatment of Gil Ofarim and Marriott's Response
German Jewish singer Gil Ofarim was recently denied entry to the Westin Leipzig for wearing a Star of David. When Ofarim spoke out about his inexcusable, anti-Semitic treatment, we immediately sent a letter to parent company Marriott International. Read our letter to Marriott.
We appreciate Marriott's response to us and swift investigation into this horrific anti-Semitic act. Read Marriott's letter responding to us.
The Detroit Jewish News highlighted the community programs held by B’nai B’rith Great Lakes Region during the summer of 2021, including a golf tournament fundraiser and donations made to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Yad Ezra.
The Great Lakes Region covers Michigan, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Toledo, Ohio, with most of its activity centered in Metro Detroit, which is home to active lodges, units and numerous community programs.
The B’nai B’rith Great Lakes Region, centered in Metro Detroit, held several community service programs over the summer, including a golf tournament fundraiser and donations made to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Yad Ezra.
On July 9, Great Lakes Region President Lila Zorn and Vice President Joel Marwil presented a donation of B’nai B’rith Diverse Minds books to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The donation was accepted by Sinéad Nimmo, Child Life Projects specialist at the hospital. Diverse Minds books were created in the B’nai B’rith Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge, held from 2006-2018, which awarded college scholarships to high school students who wrote and illustrated books for young readers that promoted a message of tolerance and diversity. The winning books were published by B’nai B’rith and donated to children’s facilities nationwide. Marwil has distributed Diverse Minds books to libraries, schools and community centers in the area.
On Aug. 2, B’nai B’rith Great Lakes Region held its 39th annual B’nai B’rith Stephen B. Zorn Memorial Golf Outing fundraiser at the Tam-O-Shanter Country Club in West Bloomfield. Proceeds raised from the event benefitted a variety of B’nai B’rith programs and went toward scholarships for four students.
On Aug. 30, Lila Zorn and Judi Shapiro, Great Lakes Region Project H.O.P.E. chairperson, presented a $1,500 check to Yad Ezra, which provides kosher and traditional Passover food, health care products and household items to vulnerable Jewish families in Southeast Michigan. Daniella HarPaz Mechnikov, executive director of Yad Ezra, accepted the check. Project H.O.P.E. — Help Our People Everywhere — works with community family service agencies and local Jewish social services to provide and deliver food packages to communities in need across the United States. The B’nai B’rith Great Lakes Region supports Yad Ezra year-round as part of its community service programs.
The Great Lakes Region covers Michigan, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Toledo, Ohio, with most of its activity centered in Metro Detroit, which is home to active lodges, units and numerous community programs.
The Algemeiner noted our condemnation of the Belgian Constitutional Court's decision to uphold a ban on shechita — the Jewish method of slaughtering animals for kosher consumption. This is a painful blow to freedom of religion, as well as the Jewish and Muslim communities of Belgium.
Jewish advocacy groups were dismayed, if not surprised, by the decision of Belgium’s Constitutional Court on Thursday to uphold a ban on shechita — the Jewish method of slaughtering animals for kosher consumption.
The court issued a ruling affirming the legality of the Belgian ban, originally imposed in 2017, bolstered by the decision of the European Union’s highest court last December to permit EU member states to ban the slaughtering of animals without pre-stunning, despite the requirements of both Jewish and Muslim religious law on this matter.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) made its determination after Belgium’s Constitutional Court referred a lawsuit, filed by the Belgian Federation of Jewish Organizations (CCOJB), to determine whether the bans were lawful.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), said that while his group was “disappointed with today’s judgement, we are certainly not surprised as it upholds the status quo in Belgium.”
Goldschmidt added that the court ruling “confirms the ban religious slaughter and brings Belgium into line with those few other countries whose bans on shechita date from the Nazi era.”
In one of the earliest legislative acts of the Nazi regime in Germany, a ban was imposed on the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning in April 1933. Nazi propaganda films routinely depicted shechita as the barbaric practice of an alien people.
Other Jewish organizations issued similar condemnations of the Belgian court’s decision.
“The decision to curb this fundamental religious practice is a painful blow to the freedom of religion and belief of the Jewish — as well as Muslim — communities of Belgium,” said Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of the Washington, DC-based B’nai B’rith International (BBI), in a statement. “The country is home to one of Europe’s largest Jewish communities, which will now face exceedingly difficult hurdles to access kosher meat.”
Mariaschin observed that Belgium had now joined “a shameful growing list of countries putting in place barriers to religious practice.” He noted as well that the supportive ruling of the ECJ in the Belgian case “leaves room for other governments to follow suit.”
World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald Lauder said that Thursday’s court decision was “a continued maneuver to discriminate against Belgium’s Jewish and Muslim citizens.”
Said Lauder: “By prohibiting religious slaughter without stunning, the Belgium Constitutional Court has placed a potentially terminal obstacle to continued Jewish communal life in Europe.”
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