Algemeiner: US Legislators, Pro-Israel Groups Denounce ‘Shameful’ UN General Assembly Resolution Attacking Jerusalem Recognition
The Algemeiner cited B'nai B'rith International in its article discussing the reaction of Jewish groups and American politicians to the U.N. resolution condemning Pres. Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
US legislators and pro-Israel organizations roundly condemned Thursday’s vote at the United Nations opposing President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital.
In the House of Representatives, Republican lawmakers led by Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn submitted a resolution that expressed “strong disapproval” of the General Assembly vote. One of the measures incorporated into the resolution called on “the President to direct the Secretary of State to submit to Congress a report on the status of United States assistance provided to countries that voted in favor” at the UN.
“This vote today at the United Nations is yet another example of the general assembly’s anti-Israel nature,” Lamborn — who introduced the House resolution with Reps. Peter Roskam, Lee Zeldin, Kevin Cramer, Ron DeSantis and Jeff Duncan — said in a statement. “It is also an attack on America’s right as a sovereign nation to place our embassies where we choose, and to recognize the reality of capital cities around the world … American generosity will not be taken advantage of and our friendship will not be taken for granted.”
Several Jewish and pro-Israel groups issued statements criticizing the UN vote.
Stephen M. Greenberg and Malcolm Hoenlein, the chairman and the executive vice chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, “The shameful one-sided, anti-Israel UN General Assembly resolution adopted today is another stain on the United Nations that willfully disregards historic facts, distorts the present day reality and reinforces Palestinian resistance to negotiations with Israel.”
Pastor John Hagee, the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), said, “We applaud Ambassador Nikki Haley for her commitment to enforce consequences upon those who failed to stand with Israel and America today.”
The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, noted in a statement: “Given the numerous pressing issues confronting the world today it is absurd that the General Assembly called an emergency special session to, yet again, excoriate Israel. No emergency special session has been convened to discuss Syria or Burma or a myriad of other crises. Indeed, of ten such special sessions convened over the history of the UN, seven have been convened with the sole purpose of criticizing Israel. ”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said he “lamented” the resolution.
“The World Jewish Congress deeply appreciates the United States’ strong reaffirmation of its support for and friendship with the State of Israel, and for its clear reiteration of its policy regarding this issue,” Lauder said. “As President Trump rightfully said in his announcement earlier this month, Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, all of whom deserve to have their religious sites and historical connection respected. This too is a fact that will never change.”
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Director of Special Projects Elizabeth Berney stated: “Like all anti-Israel resolutions, this new proposed anti-American, anti-Israel UN General Assembly resolution violates UN Charter Article 80 (the Jewish people’s clause) — which preserved the Jewish people’s rights to reconstitute the Jewish homeland and closely settle the Palestine Mandate, which encompassed Jerusalem.”
American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris asked, “Why should Israel alone be denied the right to determine its capital? The connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish people is more than 3,000 years old; all of Israel’s government offices are in Jerusalem.”
B’nai B’rith International (BBI) expressed appreciation to Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo for having “stood by the United States and Israel.”
JNS.org included a statement by B'nai B'rith International in its coverage of President Donald Trump's new global strategy doctrine titled "National Security Strategy of the United States of America." The document notes that Iran rather than Israel constitutes the source of regional unrest.
B'nai B'rith International's statement noted that "rather than spending time on Jerusalem resolutions at the U.N., the international community should be focusing on Iran and its proxies."
Leaders of major American Jewish organizations are applauding the Trump administration’s new global strategy doctrine, which rejects the notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main cause of Mideast turmoil and says any solution must be acceptable to both sides.
The doctrine was presented in a 68-page document titled “National Security Strategy of the United States of America,” which was released by the White House on Dec. 18.
The Trump administration’s global strategic approach, as described in the document, focuses placing American interests ahead of global concerns, strengthening the U.S. military position around the world and fighting the war against terrorism with no holds barred.
The report contains two references to Israel. The first notes that while in the past, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was often seen “as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region,” today it is widely recognized that the actions of Iran and terrorist organizations, not Israel, are “the cause of the region’s problems.”
The second mention of Israel in the Trump doctrines states, “We remain committed to helping facilitate a comprehensive peace agreement that is acceptable to both Israelis and Palestinians.”
This is a change from the approach of the Obama administration, which promoted specific terms for an agreement. President Barack Obama declared in a May 19, 2011, speech that “the United States believes that negotiations should result in…a sovereign and contiguous” Palestinian state “based on the 1967 lines.” He made no reference to the question of whether or not such an outcome was acceptable to Israel.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JNS he considers the Trump stance to be “a positive change from the positions of the Obama administration.” Hoenlein said he agrees that Iran and terrorist groups “are the real threats to peace,” and that any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement needs to be acceptable to both sides, “not imposed by the United States.”
In a statement to JNS, B’nai B’rith International said the actions of Hezbollah and Hamas, and “Iran’s growing presence and influence in Syria, which already effectively controls Lebanon,” are the main threats to peace and “should be a cause for alarm among those who seek stability, not chaos in the region.” B’nai B’rith said that “rather than spending time on Jerusalem resolutions at the U.N., the international community should be focusing on Iran and its proxies.”
The B’nai B’rith statement also praised the Trump doctrine’s rejection of the idea of imposing a Palestinian state on Israel. “The Palestinian side has perfected the art of evasion, obfuscation and procrastination, while all the while working overtime to delegitimize and demonize Israel,” B’nai B’rith noted. “After decades of this, questions about the Palestinian Authority’s sincerity is seeking an agreement needs to be asked.”
Notably, two major Jewish organizations—the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Anti-Defamation League (ADL)—have so far not responded to requests for comment from JNS on the Trump doctrine. AJC describes itself as a centrist group. ADL, meanwhile, has been a frequent critic of Trump over the support the president draws from white supremacists.
President Donald Trump speaks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. Credit: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called the Trump doctrine’s references to Israel “extremely important” and said he hopes “they are embedded in every aspect of U.S. policy.” He said that the Wiesenthal Center’s experiences in building relations with Arab Gulf kingdoms, including its recent hosting of a 25-member delegation to Israel from Bahrain, “are proof that more and more Arabs also agree that the Palestinian issue is not the most important when the region faces existential threats from Iran.”
Cooper added he was glad to see that the Trump doctrine’s approach “seeks to undo the disastrous Obama policies vis-à-vis Iran.”
AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann said the pro-Israel lobby group has “long believed that the central threat to the stability of the region is the dangerous behavior of the Iranian regime and terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas,” not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Wittman said AIPAC agrees “that direct, bilateral negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians are the best path to a durable peace.”
Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress in North America, said the Trump administration is correct to recognize that the Middle East is “plagued by a myriad of issues that have been festering” for many decades and have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as “corruption and exploitation by Arab governments of their countries, without regard for the needs of their populations.”
The Arab regimes “cannot continue to hide behind the distraction of blaming Israel for all the ills in the region,” Ehrenberg told JNS. She said that overspending on weapons, domestic repression and “heated religious, political and ideological differences, especially the fomenting of radical and extremist attitudes…are the major causes of the instabilities. Iran and its support of regional and global terrorism plays a major role in all this, in addition to its mad drive to achieve nuclear capability.”
Left-of-center American Jewish groups are less enthusiastic about the Trump doctrine.
Ori Nir, spokesman for Americans for Peace Now (APN), told JNS that the Trump administration’s professed commitment “to facilitating an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is definitely positive,” although in APN’s view, the administration’s actions so far “don’t suggest to us a serious commitment to a viable peace settlement.” At the same time, Nir said, APN agrees that an agreement should not be imposed but rather “would have to be the result of direct negotiations by the leaderships of Israel and the Palestinians.”
Paul Scham, co-president of Partners for Progressive Israel—the U.S. affiliate of the left-wing Israeli political party Meretz—is even more critical of the doctrine. He told JNS that in his view, Saudi Arabia, not Iran, is “perhaps the most significant exporter of state terrorism in the region,” and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is indeed one of the causes of regional instability, but not “of higher priority than Yemen or Syria.”
The New Haven Register discussed a holiday visit by B'nai B'rith International's Horeb Lodge and BBYO groups to patients at the VA's Connecticut Healthcare System's West Haven Campus. The visitors sang carols and brought gifts to the patients.
The wards of the VA’s Connecticut Healthcare System West Haven Campus on Campbell Avenue are normally pretty quiet on weekends.
But Sunday, the quiet was broken by more than a dozen carolers from two New Haven area Jewish groups, singing Christmas carols and handing out presents. The groups, Horeb Lodge of B’nai B’rith International and youth group BBYO, are carrying on a tradition that began back during the Korean War.
“A lot of these people don’t have anyone to come and visit them,” said Harold Miller, president of the local B’nai B’rith International chapter, said.
Miller said a variety of area business donate gifts to give to the patients.
“Foxwoods gives me decks of cards for each patient and this year (there are) caps as well,” Miller said. “BIC Pen gives me pens and I’m able to get various other items which are donated such as toothbrushes, crossword puzzle books, wallets and water bottles.”
A candy store in Wallingford donated chocolates, which Miller said the group left at all the nurses stations.
By the time the visit was over, Miller said the group expected to visit more than 100 patients. Clifton Holloman was one of the lucky ones.
The Middletown man, who is an Army veteran, was being visited by his wife, son and granddaughter when the carolers came by. But Holloman said his spirits were buoyed by the visit.
“I was feeling a little down, but seeing them really made my day,” Holloman said of the carolers.
“This is really wonderful,” Holloman’s wife Marcella said.
Among the Christmas Eve revelers who visited patients at the hospital was Mike Romeo of West Haven, who has played Santa Claus during the visits for the past decade. Romeo served in the Navy for 30 years and said he considers the visits as a way “to pay back my brothers and sisters.”
“They stood by me and mine,” Romeo said. “There’s no way I can repay what they have done for me.”
Romeo and his wife, Faith, also give back to area veterans in other ways. The couple provides meals for homeless veterans on Thanksgiving.
Ryan Lurie is head of the Connecticut Valley chapter of BBYO. Lurie said he is happy to be a part of the B’Nai B’rith holiday tradition “because it brings such joy to the patients here.”
“It’s not like I’m really doing anything on Christmas Eve and the patients really brighten up when they see us singing,” Lurie said.
Kol haBirah: meet bruce pascal: jewish community leader, real estate executive, hot wheels collector
In a Kol HaBirah interview with Washington real estate executive Bruce Pascal, whose Hot Wheels collection has been valued at over one million dollars, Pascal discusses his lifelong relationship with B'nai B'rith International.
Many of us have heard the adage that boys don’t grow up, their toys just get more expensive. In the case of Potomac, Maryland, resident Bruce Pascal, the adage should add: his toys get more valuable.
Pascal, who serves as Cushman & Wakefield’s executive managing director professionally, and who has been a fixture in the Metropolitan Washington commercial real estate leasing industry for over 30 years, has amassed one of the largest and most valuable Hot Wheels collections in the world. It includes over 4,000 toy cars, prototypes that were never released to the public, wood carvings that were later turned into car molds, store displays, original artwork by Otto Kuhni (the Hot Wheels famed graphic designer), and much more. The collection has been appraised at over $1 million and includes the rarest and most valuable Hot Wheel ever produced: the Pink Beach Bomb rear loading Volkswagen bus prototype, which is worth over $150,000.
His passion for Hot Wheels and his professional background motivated Bruce to follow the advice he shares with clients and to build his dreams. In doing so, he converted his home office into a Hot Wheels-inspired room that would have befit the President of Mattel in the 1970s. The office includes bright orange tracks that flow from the floor to the ceiling, a custom desk, a wall-sized mural of Hot Wheels artwork, and display cases to hold his cars.
Beyond Hot Wheels, Pascal and his family have served as volunteer lay leaders in the Washington Jewish community for four generations.
“My passion first and foremost starts with the State of Israel,” said Pascal. “Two organizations that I have been a part of all of my life are State of Israel Bonds and B’nai B’rith International.”
Pascal’s grandfather, Fred Kolker, founded the Kolker Poultry company in 1930 out of Union Terminal Market. Kolker was the first Washingtonian to buy an Israel bond in 1951, the year that David Ben-Gurion founded the organization and the State of Israel started to issue bonds to foster the development of the then three-year-young nation. Pascal recalled his grandfather telling him that he thought he was “kissing the money away and never thought that Israel would be able to repay him, but what greater thing to do in life — what could be better than to help the State of Israel?”
Pascal first purchased his own Israel bond in 1974 following his bar mitzvah. His grandfather asked him if he made any money at his bar mitzvah, and after instilling in him the importance of supporting Israel, Pascal purchased an Israel bond when he was just 13 years old. He has continued that tradition by purchasing one or more every year since then. Pascal has used Israel bonds as gifts, donated them to charities, held them in his retirement account, and has served in various volunteer leadership positions, including as chairman of Israel Bonds New Leadership Division. He and his wife have also hosted the Israel Bonds Ambassador’s Ball and were recognized at the Israel Bonds Prime Minister’s Club Dinner for their support of the organization and the State of Israel over the years.
As with Israel Bonds, Pascal’s personal and professional lives have intersected through B’nai B’rith International. “My first dates were because of B’nai B’rith’s AZA group,” he said, “and then in college, when I found myself with not enough money to buy a meal plan, I made a deal with Hillel at GW, which was started by B’nai B’rith, and I cooked Shabbat dinners and got free meals. Once again, in a time of my life when I needed help, B’nai B’rith was there.”
Later in Pascal’s career, he worked with B’nai B’rith to help them with their office space needs and later joined their board, eventually becoming a senior vice president, one of the highest volunteer positions in the international organization. Pascal is passionate about the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (fixing the world). “The Jewish world needs people to step up and help to make the world better,” he said, “and to help safeguard the State of Israel. It is not going to happen by itself. I feel that it is everybody’s responsibility to do what they can.”
“When I joined B’nai B’rith, I quickly found out that they have a program to help the small Jewish community in Cuba. I’ve since been there 17 times,” said Pascal. “Every time I bring a package of medicine … it is helping a community, and it is magnified. There is a special pride that Jews can help Jews wherever they are around the world.”
Watch the interview with bruce pascal here:
Jerusalem Post Op-Ed by b'nai b'rith international CEO daniel s. mariaschin: last stand for uN hypocrisy
The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin regarding the United Nations' emergency meeting in response to Pres. Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In yet another example of its legendary hypocrisy, the United Nations Security Council last week held a special meeting to condemn US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
One after another, council members ostracized the move, predicting dire consequences as a result. The statements sounded like a “Chicken Little chorus” of naysayers predicting the sky would fall as a result of the December 6 declaration. One had a sense these pronouncements of disapproval had been written years ago, given the rote-like redundancy of their flawed reasoning. To these diplomats, Jerusalem has been a no-go zone for decades, a kick-the- can-down-the-road issue if there ever was one.
For nearly 70 years, the State of Israel, admitted to the United Nations in 1949, has been the only country whose designated capital is not recognized by the international community. Never mind the more than 3,000 years of Jewish history there or, since the founding of the modern State of Israel, it is the seat of its government, parliament and other state institutions. Even recognizing the western part of Jerusalem, where most of Israel’s government institutions sit, was off limits to nearly all of the international community.
The last two countries to have located their embassies there, Costa Rica and El Salvador, moved to Tel Aviv under intense pressure from the Palestinians and their Arab League friends years ago.
As a result of the Trump declaration, the Palestinians declared their predictable “three days of rage” and the Palestinian “observer” ambassador to the UN has called for the decision to recognize to be rescinded.
Here’s the real hypocrisy at the UN.
While the recognition of Israel’s capital evinced groans and diplomatic catcalls, the very same United Nations upgraded the status of the Palestinians to “nonmember state” status in 2012. The Palestinians were admitted to UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a full member in 2011.
And in other international fora, similar recognition has been accorded, most recently at Interpol, where the Palestinians are now a full member. Only last month, the General Assembly again agreed to fund a group of committees whose only purpose is to advance the Palestinian narrative.
At last week’s Security Council meeting, US Ambassador Nikki Haley once again called out the world organization, saying: “The UN has done much more to damage the prospects for Mideast peace than to advance them.”
She’s right. Accustomed to getting special treatment at the UN, the Palestinians and those who support them and their relentless efforts to delegitimize Israel have been served notice by a cold splash of reality.
For the past nearly 25 years, since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, the UN has been used as a battering ram against Israel, whose resolutions have provided cover to the Palestinians to avoid negotiations with Israel.
The “days of rage” threat rings hollow, as the Palestinians have run out of excuses.
Are they serious about a resolution of the conflict, or would they prefer the path they have perfected at the UN, which is to promote their nihilistic campaigns of defamation against Israel? If anyone is entitled to rage, it is Israel, which has led an orphan-like existence in a world body supposedly founded on higher values.
The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital suggests new thinking about right and wrong in how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is viewed. Will other countries, long tied to the misguided conventional wisdom of the past, follow suit? Let’s hope the first test, at last week’s Security Council meeting, is the last at which hypocrisy on this issue reigns.
The Times of Israel quoted Alan Schneider, Director of B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem, in an article about Jewish rescuers of other Jews during Nazi-era Germany.
Schneider noted, "The stories of the Jewish rescuers during the Holocaust--people who endangered their lives and performed acts of extraordinary courage in attempts, many of them successful, to save the lives of endangered Jews--are a shining example of Jewish and human solidarity under the most dangerous conditions."
B'nai B'rith International has awarded 196 individuals with Jewish Rescuers' Citations in acknowledgment of their service saving Jews' lives during the Holocaust.
Following the bloody month-long Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April 1943, a cable was sent from British Mandate Palestine to occupied Poland’s Jewish Fighting Organization members. It contained the Jewish settlement leaders’ instructions to the Jews of Poland, telling them to “exploit all ways to emigrate,” according to a 2014 article by Prof. Avihu Ronen of Tel Hai College.
This order, writes Ronen, was “construed at the time as an instruction to desist from uprisings.
By many in Nazi-occupied Poland, that order was a bitter to pill to swallow. There is notable historical evidence from an underground leader in the town of Będzin, where ahead of World War II Jews were the majority population, that the underground was dissatisfied with the Palestine-based leadership’s orders. After Germany occupied it in 1939, the Jews there were murdered, persecuted, and by 1942, forced into a ghetto.
After receiving the cable, the town’s Hashomer Hatzair leader, Chajka Klinger, wrote in her diary that the underground there “rejected trying to save themselves in abandonment of the community and of their ideals”; its members stayed but ceased to fight. By war’s end, as it was one of the last towns liquidated in occupied Poland in 1943, a relatively large number of the Będzin Jewish community survived.
The Będzin Jewish underground’s choice of solidarity over the rescue of individual members was just one expression of the dilemmas facing Jewish resistance during WWII. At a symposium at the Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center this week, international scholars discussed similarly complicated situations facing Jews in their quest for personal and communal survival.
“It’s clear that in this issue there are many stories of courage and bravery. At the same time, there are complex stories in which not all is black and white. There are a lot of gray areas, which is understandable during this era,” said Dr. David Silberklang, senior historian at Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research at the December 11 symposium.
During his brief lecture slot, Silberklang pointed to the all-too-human challenges facing Jews during World War II and the nuanced approach needed to examine them.
Speaking from a personal perspective, Silberklang said that unlike most other American-born Jews, he was exposed to the complexities behind the idea of Jews saving Jews early: His mother was one of the 1,236 Jews saved by the Jewish partisans led by Tuvia Bielski and his brothers. “I didn’t understand the significance behind it for years,” he said.
But there are lingering rumors about the mistreatment of several of the women in the group, said Silberklang. Additionally, there is evidence that the Bielskis killed Jews who didn’t agree with their leadership and attempted to incite against them.
In an essay about the brothers’ cousin Yehuda Bielski (Bell), his daughter Leslie writes, “The rules of the camp were made and strictly enforced by the three Bielski brothers. For those who broke them, there was a jail. Challenges to the leadership of the brothers were sometimes resolved through the end of the barrel of a gun.”
Nevertheless, the Bielskis are clearly Jewish heroes, said Silberklang.
How Does One Act on a Sinking Ship?
According to Dr. Iael Nidam Orvieto, director of the International Institute for Holocaust Research in Yad Vashem, the extreme situations encountered by most Jews during the Holocaust would seem to be sufficient cause for every Jew to dedicate himself to taking care of his own survival, and perhaps that of his immediate family.
“Because they needed to take care of themselves, the social norms of Jews — mutual assistance — would have been wiped out. But we see the opposite: In spite of what once would normally assume, we see many cases of mutual help and solidarity,” said Orvieto. And on top of that solidarity, “there is also a group of Jews who endangered their lives to help other Jews.”
Yad Vashem has been researching the phenomenon of Jews saving Jews since the 1960s, but more research is still needed in the field, said Orvieto.
The stories of these Jewish heroes are slowly becoming more prominent, in no small part due to the 2008 Hollywood film on the Bielskis, “Defiance.” The initially controversial idea of commemorating Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust has gained steam in the past two decades.
In 2000, B’nai B’rith founded the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust in an effort to research the stories of Jewish rescuers and bring them to audiences in Israel and abroad, according to Alan Schneider, director of B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem.
Schneider’s center holds an annual ceremony on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day for soldiers, students, rescuers and survivors, “dedicated to the heroism of Jewish rescuers.” It is jointly organized with the Jewish National Fund and has been held at the B’nai B’rith Martyrs Forest since 2002.
Along with the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust, since 2011, B’nai B’rith has awarded a Jewish Rescuers’ Citation to some 196 heroes who operated in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Holland, Italy, Ukraine, Latvia and Austria.
The preservation of these stories is essential, said B’nai B’rith’s Schneider.
“The stories of the Jewish rescuers during the Holocaust – people who endangered their lives and performed acts of extraordinary courage in attempts, many of them successful, to save the lives of endangered Jews – are a shining examples of Jewish and human solidarity under the most dangerous conditions,” said Schneider.
“These are true heroes whose legacy must be preserved for us and future generations, particularly at a time when the Jewish people and the people of Israel will be called upon to act with unity to counter today’s threats,” he said.
But current efforts are not enough, according to Holocaust survivor Haim Roet, a leading voice in encouraging the commemoration of Jewish rescuers who spoke on the issue last year at the United Nations and this week at Yad Vashem. Diaspora Jewry is barely aware of the Jewish rescuers’ bravery, said Roet.
20-20 Vision into a Pitch Black World
A few of the dilemmas facing the Jews at the beginning of the Nazi persecution are difficult to grasp with hindsight.
“To save a Jew, you need to know what they’re being saved from,” Silberklang said. “Several knew they were saving Jews from certain death, but many Jews didn’t know what the Nazis’ plan was. Some believed the propaganda” that said they were being taken for work or relocation alone.
Once it was established that the Nazis were pursuing the Final Solution, the total genocide of the Jewish people, Jews who were still in a position to act were faced with the dilemma of whom exactly to save — and whom to abandon.
When it comes to those Jews who participated in active resistance — armed or not — their activities could have caused collective punishment or murder, said Silberklang. “Even the attempt to save Jews could have caused collective murder; to try or not?” he asked.
In all of these impossible situations, said Orvieto, “For every one individual that was saved, there may have been another — or more — who were not.”
“With the saving, there was also desertion and betrayal,” said Orvieto.
In examining the Jews’ deeds — or misdeeds — it is important, said Silberklang, to remember the war-torn context alongside human frailty.
“We often call people heroes, but they’re not always angels,” said Silberklang.
On Dec. 12, 2017 B'nai B'rith International was featured as a question on JEOPARDY!
The Eurasia Diary published B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin's statement expressing support for Pres. Trump's announcement formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Mariaschin noted, "We warmly welcomed President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In doing so, he rectified a seven-decades old wrong. Jerusalem is both the ancient capital of the Jewish people--going back more than three millennia--but also its present capital, as well. It is the seat of Israel's government, its parliament, Supreme Court, and other departments and agencies."
"We warmly welcomed President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In doing so, he rectified a seven-decades old wrong. Jerusalem is both the ancient capital of the Jewish people--going back more than three millennia--but also its present capital, as well. It is the seat of Israel's government, its parliament, Supreme Court, and other departments and agencies.
Every country in the world has a right to designate its own capital – and have it recognized in the international community. Until President Trump’s declaration, Israel had been denied that right. We now hope that other countries will follow suit.
The president made a compelling and convincing case for the for the decision to recognize, not only by referencing the attachment of the Jewish people to the ancient and present capital, but by also mentioning the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which the U.S. Congress adopted to encourage the relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Nothing in the president’s declaration detracts from the importance of pursuing a process that leads to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Indeed, the president referenced the need for a peaceful resolution of that conflict. The present and several past Israeli governments have offered numerous times to sit at the negotiating table to effectuate an agreement between the parties. That agreement cannot be imposed from the outside; it must be both parties who accomplish that task. We believe that one impediment to moving that possibility forward was the unfair, intentional international equivocation regarding Israel’s capital. The Trump Administration’s decision recognizes what everyone knows to be a fact: that Israel’s capital is in Jerusalem, which speaks to the permanence and the place of Israel in the region. That message can have a positive impact on the long-term hopes for peace.”
The New York Times cited B'nai B'rith International's support for President Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6, 2017.
If he was hoping for thunderous applause from American Jews, President Trump may be disappointed.
His announcement on Wednesday that he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital went down well with those on the political right, who have urged the step for years. They will be telling him so at the White House Hanukkah party on Thursday, they said.
But other Jewish leaders said they were more worried than glad, fearing that the precipitous step would inflame tensions in the region, provoke more terrorism, put peace with the Palestinians even farther out of reach, and worsen the diplomatic isolation of both Israel and the United States. They say they wish he had held off, as previous presidents have done.
“Jerusalem has always been the most delicate issue in every discussion about peace,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest branch of American Judaism. “So we’re very concerned that the announcement will either delay or undermine the very, very important resuming of a serious peace process.”
Debra DeLee, the president of Americans for Peace Now, an affiliate of the Israeli peace group Shalom Achshav, said, “Trump is causing severe damage to the prospects of Middle East peace, imperiling lives, and degrading U.S. leadership.”
Jewish leaders are not alone in expressing alarm at Mr. Trump’s move. Leaders of other faiths decried it, including Pope Francis, Orthodox patriarchs and Protestant church leaders in Jerusalem and the United States, and Muslims around the world.
The words Mr. Trump uttered about Jerusalem sounded sweet to many Jews, who belong to a faith that has revered the city as its holiest site for 3,000 years. But Jerusalem is also holy to Christians and to Muslims, and for centuries, attempts by any side to take exclusive control have brought trouble. Balancing their competing claims has been seen as the stickiest part of any peace effort.
American Jews are debating whether Mr. Trump’s decision to end decades of diplomatic ambiguity and recognize the disputed city as the Israeli capital will help or hurt Israel and the effort to make a lasting peace with the Palestinians, who also want Jerusalem for their capital. Israel, long a unifying cause among American Jews, has increasingly become a point of polarization, and Mr. Trump’s move may only deepen that divide.
There were Jewish leaders who celebrated the president’s announcement on Wednesday as a historic step that many Jews had longed for, and that might shake things up enough to restart the stalled Middle East peace process.
Nathan J. Diament, executive director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, said in an interview, “This move puts pressure where it belongs, which is on the Palestinians and on Arab governments that support the Palestinians, because it sends the message that you can’t just sit still and refuse to be in negotiations and, oh, by the way, sponsor terrorism, and think that everything is just going to remain status quo.”
Mr. Diament said he was not troubled by the criticism from some Jewish leaders that by taking sides on Jerusalem, Mr. Trump had squandered America’s ability to serve as an “honest broker,” or mediator, between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“I’ve never thought the U.S. should be an honest broker,” said Mr. Diament, who represents the largest umbrella group of Orthodox Jews, who comprise about 10 percent of American Jews. “Pro-Israel Americans aren’t looking for the U.S. to be an honest broker. Pro-Israel Americans are looking to the U.S. to be a friend to our ally, Israel.”
Jewish organizations like B’nai B’rith International and the American Jewish Committee also welcomed the president’s decision. But liberal groups that are critical of the right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu and have a following among younger Jews, like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, protested the move and promised to rally against it.
They said it would lead to the displacement of more Palestinians from East Jerusalem and would entrench the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land, deepening grievances and making any kind of acceptable compromise harder for both sides to reach.
American Jews as a group tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, and only about 24 percent of Jews who voted in the 2016 presidential election backed Mr. Trump. Soon after he took office, Mr. Trump appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as his chief negotiator for the Middle East, but neither man has made public any details about the contours or status of the process.
In his speech on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said that his decision on Jerusalem “is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.” He continued, “We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis, and a great deal for the Palestinians.”
A question that divides many American Jews, though, is how to get there.
At the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, where more than 6,000 leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism were beginning to gather on Wednesday for their biennial convention, the group’s president said he was still assessing Mr. Trump’s speech.
To hear Jerusalem recognized as the capital of Israel, Rabbi Jacobs said, “is the age-old dream of the Jewish people and all of us who love and care about Israel.”
He said he was open to the possibility that the move could prove to be a “concrete step closer to a peace process.”
“Or will it be an obstacle?” he said. “Only time will tell.”
JTA cited B'nai B'rith International's statement on the U.S. Senate's and U.S. House of Representatives' tax bills, both of which threaten the well-being of senior citizens.
If the cuts to Medicare proposed by the bills are made into law, B'nai B'rith International's statement said, "Many seniors would be at severe risk to not have the funds to cover basic housing, medical and food costs."
Staring at a massive defeat, Jewish groups dealing with social safety net issues are looking at the tax plan about to reach its final stages in Congress and hoping they can snatch a few small victories.
The hope is that lawmakers in reconciling the bills preserve a number of elements of the Senate bill, particularly deductions for medical expenses.
B’nai B’rith International, which advocates for elderly care, cited the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that the slashed taxes in the Senate and House bills would increase the deficit to $1 trillion. The measures ostensibly compensate for tax cuts by removing loopholes and deductions, but overall there will be massive losses in revenue.
That could encourage lawmakers to slash medical coverage entitlements like Medicare for older Americans and Medicaid for the poor, according to B’nai B’rith, the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors.
“Many seniors would be at severe risk to not have the funds to cover basic housing, medical and food costs” were Medicare subsidies cut, the group said in its statement.
The House of Representatives passed its bill a month ago, while the Senate advanced its version over the weekend. This week, the chambers are likely to go into conference to reconcile the bills, which President Donald Trump wants on his desk before Christmas.
Jewish groups said they hoped the Senate version prevails for a number of reasons:
* It preserves deductions for medical expenses. Most Americans who apply for the deductions, which apply if one’s medical expenses exceed 10 percent of one’s income, are older than 65.
* It has more expansive allowances for itemized deductions which should also translate into more charitable giving. “As more taxpayers continue to itemize, there will be less negative impact on charitable giving,” the Jewish Federations of North America said in a memo Monday to its constituent federations.
The Senate version also does not touch current reporting for donor-advised funds, a giving vehicle that permits donors to work with federations to determine where the funds are spent on charitable purposes. It’s a key way for federations to expand their donor base.
“In sum, the Senate version of HR 1 is more favorable than the House-passed bill to the charitable sector in general and federations in particular,” William Daroff, the JFNA Washington director, said.
* It does not remove the so-called Johnson Amendment, which blocks houses of worship from directly campaigning for political candidates. An array of centrist and liberal groups oppose removing the amendment; conservative Christian groups want it gone. Trump campaigned last year for the removal of the amendment, named for Lyndon Johnson, who led its passage as a Texas senator in the 1950s. The House version removes it.
* The Senate version includes an amendment that would allow $10,000 a year in tax-exempt student savings plans to go toward private school tuition. Currently the monies are dedicated almost solely to university tuition. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced the amendment, which is favored by Orthodox Jewish groups, and it passed by a 51-50 margin — Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote.
“We are supporting the expansion of 529 education savings accounts to the K-12 level,” said Abba Cohen, Washington director for the haredi Orthodox Agudath Israel of America, using the tax code name for the savings plans. “Tax-free withdrawals will include private school tuition and could help some parents in the community better afford the high cost of Jewish education.”
One disappointment for Orthodox groups: At the last minute, lawmakers removed an amendment backed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that would have allowed parents sending their children to religious school to deduct 25 percent of their tuition fees as a charitable contribution. The Orthodox Union had backed the amendment.
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