A vote by the United Nations Security Council brought positive news for Israel, as a Palestinian proposal to force Israel out of the West Bank by 2017 and create a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 lines was rejected.
B'nai B'rith International commended the efforts of the Security Council, which fell one vote short of passage. Our statement was picked up by the Jewish News Service, highlights of which can be found below:
The United States and Australia voted against the measure, which garnered eight affirmative votes and five abstentions among the 15-member Security Council, falling short of the nine votes the resolution needed to pass.
On Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke had said America believes the resolution “fails to account for Israel’s legitimate security needs, and the satisfaction of those needs, of course, integral to a sustainable settlement.”
Argentina, Chad, Chile, China, France, Jordan, Luxembourg, and Russia voted in favor of the Palestinian resolution.
"Those countries that genuinely seek a peaceful resolution of this conflict must impress upon the Palestinians to cease exporting and enflaming the conflict by joining new multinational bodies, beginning with the International Criminal Court, in an effort to deploy them as political weapons against Israel," B'nai B'rith International said in a statement.
With the release of Alan Gross and increased relations between Cuba and the United States, the tiny island nation has made major headlines in December.
B'nai B'rith International recently returned from its annual Chanukah mission to Cuba as part of the Cuban Jewish Relief Project. For 20 years, B’nai B’rith has also operated legal missions to Cuba, providing direct gifts in small amounts to assist 120 elderly Cuban Jews across the island.
Mission participants have carried down thousands of pounds of religious material contributions to enhance the ability of the Jewish population in Cuba to practice their religion, as well as medicines and other necessities, while building personal friendships to last a lifetime.
Stanley Cohen, founder and former International chairman of the project, recently detailed his love for the island in a column for the Jewish Chronicle. He has visited Cuba 28 times.
Read the piece in its entirety, below:
The wonders of Cuba: What’s not to love?
My love affair with Cuba began early. Even as a student at Allderdice in the 1950s, I relished every bit of detail about that little island so close to America. It has a wonderful and remarkable history dating to the Mesoamerican Indian tribes and a unique culture created by blending that of the tribes with Spanish colonists and former African slaves.
While attending the University of Miami, I was fortunate to meet many Cuban-Americans (this was, of course, before the revolution) who spoke passionately and affectionately of their Caribbean home.
But as a young man on his first visit to Cuba I was struck by the huge gap between the haves and the have-nots. Looking back now with the wisdom of time and experience, it probably should have been no surprise to me that a communist revolution was coming.
Three decades later, I found myself in a position to help Cuba’s small and struggling Jewish community. During the years since the revolution, about 94 percent of Jews left the island. By the time I founded the B’nai B’rith Cuban Jewish Relief Project, the population had dwindled to a mere 1,500 people. The six synagogues, especially the magnificent Beth Shalom, were in total disrepair. It barely had any windows, and the pews were damaged. The BBCJRP helped repair all the buildings and helped bring religious books (including three Torahs), food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies. We even built a kosher kitchen.
My association with the Brother’s Brother Foundation also made it possible to bring medical supplies and equipment to the island.
I was thrilled when President Barack Obama announced that the United States is extending diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba. The controversial embargo continues, but the formal recognition will certainly bring changes to the communist nation.
Obama’s new policy means that the U.S. Special Interests Section in Havana will be upgraded to a full embassy (interestingly, its offices are in the former U.S. Embassy). This will allow direct contact between the governments to address various issues that before could only be handled through a third party.
The policy also opens the door (slightly) to more cultural and economic ties between the two countries. Cuba’s Jews are well positioned to take advantage of this profound change. They are well educated, inventive and industrious. Already there are several members of the community who operate successful small businesses. The access to American credit and debit accounts will certainly help them as will, hopefully, increased tourism.
The change in relationships may open Cuba up to America and the rest of the world —- something that would certainly facilitate political change. This is not as far-fetched as some think. Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, have always been unusual dictators. Most such rulers are only interested in power for its sake. But the Castros were genuine believers in communism and thought that they were doing the right thing for their country. Consider the country’s recognition of Christmas and how helpful the Cuban government has been in the BBCJRP’s humanitarian efforts. Fidel Castro has even attended events at Beth Shalom.
The BBCJRP will also be able to expand its efforts beyond Havana to Jews elsewhere in Cuba.
My love affair with Cuba and her people remains as strong as ever. Now, with Obama’s wise and timely decision, hopefully more people will experience the wonders of such a wonderful place.
Last week's announcement that the European Court of Justice had ruled that the terrorist group Hamas be removed from the European Union terror list on “procedural grounds,” was met with staunch opposition from B'nai B'rith International.
The court's assertion is that Hamas was placed on the list because of "factual imputations derived from the press and the internet," instead of the actions of the organization.
B'nai B'rith was featured in Spanish-speaking publication Vis-a-Vis. Read the article, below (Spanish):
La B`nai B`rith internacional lanzó un comunicando expresando su descontento por la decisión que tomo el Tribunal Europeo de Justicia, y expresó que sí no se hace ningún esfuerzo por colocar a Hamás en la lista de organizaciones terroristas, "sería otro ejemplo flagrante de la manera hipócrita y profundamente destructiva en la que Israel es tratado a menudo en la Unión Europea". A continuación el comunicado
B'nai B'rith Internacional expresa su indignación por el dictamen del Tribunal Europeo de Justicia que indicó que el grupo terrorista Hamas debe ser retirado de la lista de organizaciones terroristas de la Unión Europea. El tribunal basó su decisión de eliminar Hamas de dicha lista en " razones de procedimiento ", En un comunicado manifestó que el organismo europeo no colocó a Hamas en la lista después de examinar las decisiones y acciones del liderazgo de la organización , sino a causa de " imputaciones de hechos derivados de la prensa y la internet ".
A pesar de que esta sentencia ha sido declarada una cuestión técnica por el Servicio Europeo de Acción Exterior (SEAE ) inaceptablemente abrirá la puerta al cuestionamiento de la existencia de Hamas como un grupo terrorista . No debe haber ninguna duda de que Hamas es una organización cuyo mandato es el terror y que en repetidas ocasiones ha declarado su compromiso con la destrucción de Israel. La conclusión a la que arriba el tribunal de que Ha mas fue colocado en la lista de terroristas simplemente debido a informes de los medios es absurda.
B'nai B'rith insta a todas las partes afectadas por esta decisión a actuar con rapidez para considerar a Hamas como una organización terrorista. El tribunal decidió continuar con el embargo de activos de Hamas en Europa , así como otras restricciones impuestas al grupo terrorista por un lapso de tres meses para permitir una apelación u otra acción por parte de la Unión Europea. . B'nai B'rith alienta al SEAE a actuar en consecuencia , y con urgencia, con el fin de ayudar a que el Tribunal Europeo de Justicia pueda resolver este tema . Si no hay ningún esfuerzo para volver a colocar a Hamas en la lista de organizaciones terroristas, sería otro ejemplo flagrante de la manera hipócrita y profundamente destructiva en la que Israel es tratado a menudo en la Unión Europea.
Mariaschin Op-Ed: Once Again, Palestinians Looking to Circumvent Negotiations With Israel Through U.N.
In an op-ed to the Algemeiner, Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin predicts a "perfect storm of bias" brewing against Israel at the United Nations in 2015. Mariaschin dives into the recent maneuvering by the Palestinian Authority in its continued quest to internationalize the conflict with Israel and the international community’s persistent disregard for Israel in negotiating peace between the two parties. Read the full op-ed below:
One would think that the killings of 132 children in Pakistan at the hands of Taliban terrorists would cause the international community to focus on how to deal with the untrammeled mayhem and chaos caused by jihadi organizations.
Instead, that old favorite of multilateral organizations, bashing and marginalizing Israel, is back with a fury, but with some new twists. Over the past few months, a perfect storm of bias has come about: from the “recognition” of a Palestinian state by a growing number of European parliaments, to the convening of the signatories to the Geneva Convention to condemn Israel’s acting in self-defense during this summer’s Gaza conflict to the current attempt to impose a date and time certain for creation of a Palestinian state in the United Nations Security Council.
In some instances, and in some capitals, there are winks and nods to the need for negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. But these efforts are not serious, being lame attempts to be politically correct.
Indeed, they are cover for an attempt to impose “peace” on the parties. The hypocrisy at play here is not hidden. Both the United Nations and the European Union are members of the Quartet, a group which also includes the United States and Russia. All four parties have endorsed face-to-face negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians as the only path to reaching an agreement that stands any chance of holding.
No one said this would be easy. The last attempt to accomplish such an outcome was this year’s initiative led by Secretary of State John Kerry, which at some point showed some promise, but ultimately faltered. During these talks the Palestinian side once again demonstrated its customary intransigence on a range of issues, including the right of return, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and a long-term Israeli security presence along the Jordan River line.
Why should we be surprised? The Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas has a playbook whose objective is to win not by negotiating in good faith, but by simply running out the clock. Other pages from Abbas’ book include turning a blind eye to incitement against Israelis and frightening the international community into believing that only continued pressure on Israel without PA concessions will deliver the ultimate reward for the Palestinians. And what is that reward? Some suggest, an independent Palestinian state. Others say, not necessarily a state of their own, but an internationally ostracized and weakened Israel against which to continue their march to a “one state (i.e. Palestinian) solution.”
So Abbas and his minions work European parliamentary bodies, the EU Commission and the entire U.N. system into a tizzy, threatening to go to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Human Rights Council to brand Israel a perpetrator of war crimes and a serial abuser of human rights.
Their work is beginning to bear new fruit. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the EU’s listing of Hamas as a terrorist organization should be dropped on “procedural grounds;” that is, Hamas was listed on the basis of only media reports about its murderous track record of violence and terror. As they say, if this were not so serious, the ruling would be laughable. But it’s not.
The latest maneuver to force a resolution through the U.N. Security Council is not accidental. In January, two nations that have no formal diplomatic relations with Israel will join the council: Malaysia and Venezuela. They will take up non-permanent seats for two-year terms and the PA will be counting on their votes when the “recognition” issue is raised, forcing, perhaps, an American veto.
The United States Congress may well be the last hold-out to recognize the danger of any plan that uses the United Nations to marginalize Israel in the peace process. The spending bill Congress just passed actually cancels funding to the PA if it pushes for statehood absent negotiations with Israel.
The Palestinians agreed during the Oslo process to negotiate. What makes it right to negate that obligation now?
It is clear that they wish to circumvent any process that is not “my way or the highway.”
So forget the Pakistani children, the girls abducted by Boko Haram, the Syrian barrel bombs and the attacks on Christians by ISIL and others.
One would hope that key players in Europe, those in the U.N. system and the international diplomats dealing with this situation would understand that imposing a “solution” by excluding Israelis and a real negotiating process will lead absolutely nowhere. It’s inexplicable that all of the other issues roiling the Middle East and the rest of the world must take a back seat to this obsession with Israel. History will have to judge those who looked the other way at the wholesale killing and human rights abuses being carried out globally, real time.
If these folks really care about an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they’d spend their time pressing the Palestinians to get serious, go to the table and work a deal. Anything short of that is precious time wasted.
B'nai B'rith Real Estate hosts a monthly luncheon in New York City, with titans in the industry serving as keynote speakers.
December was no exception, as former Trinity executive turned City Hall Commissioner Carl Weisbrod gave an interactive presentation. Real Estate Weekly reports the big news coming out of the discussion: a warning to New York developers for new regulations for 2015.
Read highlights of the story below:
Carl Weisbrod addressed the B’nai B’rith Real Estate monthly luncheon meeting. Pictured (left to right) are: Harry Zlokower, Zlokower Company Public Relations, Joel Breitkopf, Alchemy Properties, Phyllis Weisberg, Montgomery McCracken, Gerald Morganstern, Goetz Fitzpatrick, Carl Weisbrod, Lydia Sklar, Sklar Realty Group, Misha Haghani, Paramount Realty USA , Frank Zuckerbrot, Sholom & Zuckerbrot, and Robert Shapiro, Newmark Knight Grubb Frank,
“We’ll be announcing very early next year, a mandatory inclusionary housing program,” Weisbrod told guests at B’nai B’rith’s December luncheon.
The program will take the current affordable housing incentives available to developers in mid-density or high density residential districts and upgrade them to concrete guidelines.
Despite the split crowd, Weisbrod, expressed strong support for the mandatory inclusion and touted it as “central to where the city is going and what the city is doing.”
Weisbrod informed the audience that the city’s population is expected to hit nine million by 2040. “We need to be able to house those people,” he said.
B’nai B’rith International has a very large hand print in supporting the Cuban Jewish community with longstanding ties to the island. The B’nai B’rith Maimonides Lodge has operated in Havana, Cuba since 1943.
As a local association of B’nai B’rith members, the Maimonides Lodge has served as headquarters for a number of religious and cultural projects and programs across Cuba.
For nearly twenty years, B’nai B’rith has also operated legal missions to Cuba under the auspices of the Cuban Jewish Relief Project. Through our partnership with the Maimonides lodge we have initiated the Tzedakah Project, providing direct gifts in small amounts to assist 120 elderly Cuban Jews across the island.
Our mission participants have also carried down thousands of pounds of religious material contributions to enhance the ability of the Jewish population in Cuba to practice their religion, as well as medicines and other necessities, while building personal friendships to last a lifetime.
After last week's news that American Jewish prisoner Alan Gross was being released -- a precursor to an announcement of normalized relations between the United States and Cuba after five decades of hostility -- B'nai B'rith Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn was featured in an article in the Jerusalem Post.
Read highlights from the story, below:
Speaking to the Post by phone from Uruguay, Dr. Eduardo Kohn, director of Latin American Affairs for B’nai B’rith International, said that “the only thing we can expect is hope that this resolution of reopening diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba will let things get better, not only for the Jewish community in Cuba but for all the people [there] regarding the question of democratic life.”
Any democratic gains made by Cubans in general will certainly affect the Jewish community, he added.
The relationship between Cuba’s Jews and organized American Jewry has been “very close,” Kohn said.
Both B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee have been active in Cuba, bringing books, medicines and other supplies and even rabbis and teachers, he said.
“Now with this opening I hope that all Jewish organizations will go to Cuba and see what is there and help them with everything we can because the possibility of helping will be much more open.”
For more than 40 years, B'nai B'rith International has made aging policy and affordable housing for senior citizens foci of the organization.
Working closely with federal policymakers and partnering with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, B'nai B'rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States.
B'nai B'rith Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg and Associate Director of the Center for Senior Services Janel Doughten were quoted in an article in the Jewish Exponent, discussing the organization's goal of providing affordable housing to all seniors in need.
Read an excerpt below:
In recent years, Rachel Goldberg, director of aging policy for B’nai B’rith International, has seen some movement on a federal level and in insurance policies that are “starting to reflect what people want”— which is to stay in their homes, whether an owned residence or a rental.
Medicaid has introduced a state-federal partnership that is allowing states to experiment with different ideas to subsidize long-term senior care services for those who wish to age in place.
Within Medicaid is an initiative called Money Follows the Person, meaning that the dollars follow someone out of an institutional setting to receiving care at home. But one of the problems the initiative has encountered is a lack of sufficient affordable housing.
“For lower-income people, the idea of aging in place only works if there is a suitable home for you to live in,” says Janel Doughten, associate director of the Center for Senior Services at B’nai B’rith International.
The apartments B’nai B’rith provides to low-income seniors in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are designed to meet the needs of seniors. A service coordinator works for each apartment building.
“They are specifically there,” Doughten says, “to help residents reach out and obtain services in their home.”
Noted cartoonist Fermin Hontou, known by the artistic nickname Ombu, received the 31st annual Fraternidad Award named for Maximo Brenner (Z’L), its founder and former president of B’nai B’rith Uruguay.
Some 300 people attended the ceremony at B’nai B’rith Hall in Montevideo.
B’nai B’rith Uruguay has been presenting the Fraternidad (Fraternity) Award to outstanding artists from different arts (literature, painting, sculpture, music, theater, cinema, ballet and dancing) to recognize excellence in these various artistic disciplines.
Winners receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the State of Israel where the B’nai B’rith World Center is responsible for preparing and implementing an intensive itinerary combining tourism with professional interchange, site visits and high-level briefings geared toward fostering ongoing professional ties between the countries.
They also receive a one-week paid trip to a European country of their choosing, sponsored by the Brenner family in tribute to Maximo Brenner.
Presenters of the award included: Minister of Education and Culture Ricardo Ehrlich; Vice Minister Oscar Gomez; Director General of the Ministry Hugo Achugar; District 28 President Morris Segal and Brenner’s widow, Esther Brenner.
Hontou said: “I feel deeply moved for this award, which gives me the major recognition I can receive in our country and in my career in order to learn more from the Jewish people and its art once I will have the privilege to visit Israel."
B'nai B'rith International was featured on JBS (formerly Shalom TV), commending the efforts of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) for securing restitution properties from the Croatian government to benefit the Zagreb Jewish community.
B'nai B'rith International is one of 14 member organizations, and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin serves as the head of the WJRO negotiating team.
The story begins at the 4:41 mark in the video:
On the latest edition of Radio JAI, Eduardo Kohn, B'nai B'rith director of Latin American Affairs, discusses several important issues facing the continent's Jewish population.
Topics include: the fallout of Hosni Mubarak's acquittal in Egypt, Mahmoud Abbas' latest slander against Israel, and the common link of hatred toward Israel and Jews that impedes the Middle East peace process.
Listen to the full podcast below:
El director ejecutivo de la Bnai Brith Latinoamérica, Eduardo Kohn explicó en Radio Jai la situación actual entre Israel y sus vecinos. “Israel no está dispuesto a que sus ciudadanos reciban eternamente misiles. Hamás ha dicho que no reconocerá nunca a Israel y Mahmmud Abbas ha optado por la confrontación y al apoyo de los terroristas. Cuando se considera al otro como un enemigo, cuando asesinar es una misión sagrada, cuando los asesinos son mártires y las madres glorifican a sus hijos por inmolarse y cuando el terrorismo es convertido en movimiento político, el camino a la paz es una utopía”, sentenció.
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