Dir. of Legislative Affairs Op-ed in the Algemeiner: Time for a New Chapter in German-Israeli Relations
The Algemeiner published an op-ed by Eric Fusfield, B'nai B'rith director of legislative affairs and deputy director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, calling for Germany to reassert its position as Israel’s leading defender in Europe in the face of rising anti-Israel sentiment.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has taken office, becoming the first Social Democrat born after the end of World War II to head the federal government.
His rise to power comes during a year when thousands of protesters, many of them on the political left, demonstrated against Israel’s defensive operations in Gaza. Cities across Germany erupted in violence, as rioters burned Israeli flags, while flying Hamas banners.
Last year, Jusos, the Social Democratic Party’s youth wing, passed a resolution declaring its PLO-Fatah counterpart, which has called for Israel’s destruction, its “sister organization.”
Germany’s outgoing Chancellor, Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, repeatedly spoke about the crucial nature of Israel’s existence. But her statements were belied by Germany’s frequent votes in favor of one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations. In 2019, German UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen equated Hamas rockets with Israeli bulldozers at a time when Hamas was firing projectiles at Israeli civilians.
The growing normalization of anti-Israel activity in Germany tends to confirm the fears of Jews, who have long worried that the generational shift taking place in Germany works against the long-term German-Israeli relationship. With new leaders in power who neither lived through World War II nor its immediate aftermath, the lessons of the Holocaust might fade more easily — their resonance with a younger generation diminished or lost altogether.
The false perception of Israel as a colonial occupier in the Middle East, nurtured on the European left since the 1967 Six-Day War, has made German support for the Palestinian cause, and even open hostility toward Israel, increasingly palatable. Gone for some is the once bedrock assumption in German politics that Germany owned a special responsibility for maintaining Israel’s security.
The rise in Muslim immigration to Germany has helped shape this dynamic. Refugees and migrants from the Middle East often bring with them a viewpoint that is decidedly anti-Israel. They consequently resist the sense that they are integrating into a country with a historic responsibility to protect Israel.
Chancellor Scholz has said some encouraging things about the German-Israeli relationship. At an Israel solidarity rally near the Berlin Holocaust memorial in May, he affirmed Merkel’s famous pledge that Israel’s security is Germany’s “reason of state.”
But a look at the coalition agreement the Social Democrats have formed with their governing partners, the Free Democrats and the Greens, reveals some disturbing departures from former pacts. Israel is not referred to as a Jewish state in the document, while language critical of settlements and calling for a return to 1967 borders suggests the West Bank will be a sticking point in bilateral relations. Also, the agreement insists on negotiations with Iran, but does not decry the Iranian nuclear program.
The passage of time and the increasingly casual embrace of anti-Israel public attitudes in the country that gave rise to the Holocaust has hastened the need for the new left-of-center government to reassert Germany’s position as Israel’s leading defender in Europe. The German government should vote against anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, and persuade other European Union countries to follow suit. In a country that refuses nuclear weapons of its own, the government should insist that Iran be barred from acquiring nukes. And Germany should focus its attention on terror, incitement, and the Palestinian Authority’s consistent refusal to negotiate as the biggest obstacles to peace — not Israeli settlements.
Germany’s “reason of state” ethos demands that it take these proactive measures and embrace its historic role as Israel’s principal ally in Europe. With anti-Israel sentiment increasingly morphing into antisemitism, the urgency in rebuking anti-Israel activity — at the UN, within the EU, and among the German public — is greater than ever. Germany’s new government should infuse the German-Israeli relationship with new purpose and vitality. Seventy-six years after the Holocaust, history, and the future, demand it.
The Algemeiner and JNS included our statement prominently in coverage of American Jewish organizations calling for the swift confirmation of Deborah Lipstadt to serve as the next U.S. anti-Semitism envoy.
Several US Jewish groups have called for the swift confirmation of Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt to serve as the Biden administration’s antisemitism envoy, following reports of delays in her Senate hearing process.
A professor of Jewish history at Emory University in Atlanta, Lipstadt was appointed in Julyas the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. The post will hold the rank of ambassador for the first time due to bipartisan legislation passed in January, thus requiring Senate confirmation.
Jewish Insider reported Wednesday that Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were still in the process of reviewing past tweets by Lipstadt that were harshly critical of committee members, including charges of “white nationalism.”
On Friday, B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin called on the senators to lift any hold on Lipstadt’s confirmation.
“Her distinguished academic background, along with her active engagement in the fight against antisemitism, makes her eminently qualified for the post,” they said in a statement. “The special envoy position is vitally important to the fight against the dramatic rise in antisemitism globally in all of its manifestations.”
In a letter sent Thursday to Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID), the Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union, and the Anti-Defamation League called the hearing “overdue.”
“Even for those of our organizations that generally have a policy to neither endorse nor oppose nominees pending before the Senate for confirmation, we are compelled to urge you to hold the Committee’s hearing on Prof. Lipstadt’s nomination without further delay,” the groups said.
“The global Jewish community needs the United States to be a leader in the fight against antisemitism and we must not waste more time leaving our lead official in this fight off the field.”
Lipstadt was the founding director of its Institute for Jewish Studies, and has penned works on the American press during the Holocaust, the trial of Adolf Eichmann, and her own successful court battle against British Holocaust denier David Irving.
If confirmed, she would succeed former Los Angeles prosecutor Elan Carr, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2019.
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.”
Coverage of B'nai B'rith Co-Sponsoring New Initiative Marking Routes Taken by Jews Fleeing 15th Century Persecution
B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider is co-sponsoring an initiative by Mayor Antonio Pita of the town of Castelo de Vide in eastern Portugal that will mark the paths taken by Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 and the Portuguese Inquisition in 1496. Schneider attended and addressed a formal gathering in Castelo de Vide where the initiative was announced.
See how the media covered the news and the event:
Portuguese Town to Sponsor Country-Wide Initiative Marking Routes Taken by Jews Fleeing 15th Century Persecution
Castelo de Vide City Council – YouTube (Portuguese)
Portugal em Direto - Encontro Rede de Judiarias de Portugal e Espanha
Israel Hayom (English):
Portuguese City Marking Routes Taken by Jews Fleeing Inquisition
Israel Hayom (Hebrew):
First-of-its-Kind Initiative in Portugal: Restoration of the "Spanish Deportees"
The Jerusalem Post – Grapevine Column (English)
Grapevine August 9, 2021: A Time to Remember
Grapevine columnist Greer Fay Cashman notes that both Portugal and Spain have made great strides in trying to make amends for the expulsion of Jews from their respective countries more than 500 years ago. Aside from entering into diplomatic relations with Israel, restoring citizenship to people who can prove direct descent from those who were expelled, acknowledging ancient antisemitism, permitting the revival of Jewish communities, and more, the town of Castelo de Vide in western Portugal will sponsor an initiative tracing the paths taken by Jews fleeing the Spanish inquisition in 1492 and the Portuguese Inquisition of 1496. An announcement to this effect was made last week by Castelo de Vide Mayor Antonio Pita, who also serves as vice president of the Jewish Cities Network in Portugal.
The multiyear project, which was jointly initiated with Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem, will be coordinated by Walter Wasercier, vice president of the Hispanic-Israeli Chamber of Commerce and former El Al director in Spain and Portugal.
Supporters of the project include outgoing Ambassador to Portugal Raphael Gamzou; Assumpcio Hosta Rebes, secretary-general of the European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage; Marta Puig Qixal, managing director of Caminos de Sefarad; and officials of the local and regional governments, among them Caceres and Tui in Spain and Braganza and Porto Alegre in Portugal.
Remnants of Castelo de Vide’s Jewish history are carefully maintained by the municipality, including a synagogue and Jewish quarter, and the town will shortly inaugurate the first museum in the world dedicated to the memory of the Inquisition that led to the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian Peninsula and to untold suffering of Jews who clandestinely continued to cling to their religious beliefs and practices (“conversos”).
As envisioned by its initiators, the project – titled El Kamino De Sefarad al muevo mundo (The Sepharad Route to the New World) – will eventually cover thousands of kilometers from areas of major Jewish population in Spain in the Middle Ages, over the border into Portugal, concluding in Lisbon and Porto, where Jews were forcibly converted or departed for other destinations in North Africa, Holland, the Land of Israel and the New World. The initiative was inspired by the Kamino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.
Schneider envisioned that many Israeli and Jewish organizations would become party to the effort, and that the marked routes will be an attraction for Jewish visitors, among others.
Puig said that besides the economic development that all the participants hope the project will bring, it also will make an important institutional contribution by better transmitting Jewish history in the Iberian Peninsula.
Schneider noted that B’nai B’rith has a long history of commemorating the Inquisition. Among other things, its lodge in Jerusalem established the first sustained library in Israel in 1892, naming it for Rabbi Don Isaac Abravanel, the leader of the Jewish community in Spain at the time of the Inquisition, who led his followers into exile. This library formed the foundation of the National Library of Israel.
Meeting Between the Jewish Networks of Spain and Portugal
Red de Juderías
Meeting between the Jewish Networks of Spain and Portugal
Tui Participated in the Meeting Between the Jewish Networks of Spain and Portugal
The Algemeiner, Israel Hayom and the European Jewish Press noted our statement applauding the U.S. administration's nominee for U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt, in its coverage of the nomination.
The Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt will be nominated as the Biden administration’s antisemitism envoy, the White House said Friday, in a choice praised by American Jewish groups.
A professor of Jewish history at Emory University in Atlanta, Lipstadt was the founding director of its Institute for Jewish Studies, and has penned works on the American press during the Holocaust, the trial of Adolf Eichmann, and her own successful court battle against British Holocaust denier David Irving.
For the first time, the State Department role of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism will hold the rank of ambassador, thus requiring Senate confirmation, thanks to bipartisan legislation passed in January.
“Having spent her career fighting antisemitism and Holocaust denial, Deborah Lipstadt will ensure the US remains a leader in combating antisemitism globally,” commented US Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV). “Her nomination has my full support, and I look forward to working alongside her in our shared mission of protecting Jewish communities and combating antisemitism across the globe.”
Leading US Jewish organizations also applauded the pick, with B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin calling her “eminently qualified” for the job.
“B’nai B’rith looks forward to working with Lipstadt as antisemitism has spiked exponentially in the United States and around the world, manifesting itself in many forms and variants, oftentimes fueled by social media,” they said in a statement. “It is vitally important that the US government, through the person of the special envoy, continue to assume a leadership position in the battle against this alarmingly growing challenge.”
Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s Executive Director for Public Policy, noted that the announcement “comes at a time we are witnessing a terrible surge in attacks and threats committed against the global Jewish community,” including violent assaults on individuals.
“While it’s unfortunate we need to have such a position at the State Department, Prof. Lipstadt is certainly the best person to fill this job,” he said.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) head David Harris called Liptstadt “one of this country’s, indeed the world’s, foremost experts on modern antisemitism, its constant morphing and multiple sources, and the current challenges to confronting it.”
Lipstadt would succeed former Los Angeles prosecutor Elan Carr, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2019.
She serves on the boards of the Jewish Forward Advisory Committee and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and has previously held several roles at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is also a former member of the US Department of State’s Advisory Committee on Religious Persecution Abroad and was a Board Member of Hillel International.
The White House also announced on Friday its intended nominations for three other religious affairs roles, including Rashad Hussain as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, a choice praised by AJC for his “extensive engagement with the Muslim world” and his efforts to strengthen Muslim-Jewish relations.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum will be tapped as Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Khizr Khan — a religious freedom advocate and Gold Star parent of US Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed while serving in Iraq — will be appointed Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International's praise, along with other Jewish organizations, of Germany's decision to boycott the United Nations' event marking the 20th anniversary of its World Conference Against Racism.
Major Jewish groups applauded Germany’s decision to boycott the event marking the 20th anniversary of the UN’s World Conference Against Racism to be held in Durban, South Africa.
First held in 2001, the conference has become notorious for serving as a forum for antisemitic materials and virulent anti-Israel activism.
This year’s 20th anniversary event is already being boycotted by the United States, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Austria, Canada, Australia, and the Czech Republic.
American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris said Saturday, “Germany has again asserted leadership in the global fight against antisemitism,” adding that the country “laudably recognized the discredited nature of the original conference, held in Durban, South Africa. We hope other nations will follow suit.”
“Confronting true racism around the world is a noble cause, but singling out one country, Israel, and one group of people, Jews, for continual censure is grossly unjust, and undermines the global fight against antisemitism and other forms of bigotry and hatred,” Harris added.
B’nai B’rith International tweeted, “We welcome the news that #Germany will not participate in @UN commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Durban conference, which was overtaken by anti-Jewish, anti-Israel bigotry.”
“All democracies must do similarly,” the group said.
The Algemeiner noted our commemoration of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Jewish organizations on Sunday marked the 27th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.
The 1994 bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) was orchestrated by Iran and carried out by the terrorist group Hezbollah.
Despite decades of efforts by the Jewish community, the terrorists involved have never been brought to justice.
The six Iranian and Hezbollah operatives behind the attack have escaped arrest and prosecution, while investigating prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found murdered in 2015, before he was to unveil accusations of collusion between the governments of Argentina and Iran to cover up the attack.
B’nai Brith International marked the anniversary, and emphasized, “No perpetrators have been held accountable.”
Pro-Israel lobby AIPAC concentrated on those perpetrators, noting that the bombing was committed by Hezbollah “at the instruction of Iran’s top leadership.”
“Iran continues to fund and promote terrorism around the world,” they said.
American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris asked, “26 yrs later, who’s been caught, tried & imprisoned? No one.”
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said.
Michael Dickson, Executive Director of StandWithUs Israel, also noted the lack of accountability for the terrorists, and said the AMIA victims have been “struggling for justice ever since” the bombing.
The World Jewish Congress said that it and the Congreso Judío Latinoamericano, an umbrella organization for Latin American Jews, “are still leading efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
On Friday, the head of Argentina’s umbrella Jewish group lambasted the timing of a court hearing that was held as victims commemorated the anniversary of the attack.
The hearing was scheduled for Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to appear in an inquiry into a 2013 agreement her then-government had negotiated with Iran.
Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA) head Jorge Knoblovits said the timing was “unnecessarily confrontational and goes against the memory” of the victims.
“If the feelings of the victims of the greatest terrorist attack of the 20th century are disrespected, it is very difficult to reach justice and end impunity,” he said. “We are very ashamed and very embarrassed that you cannot wait two, three weeks or a month to exercise the right of defense, which you can do so legitimately and constitutionally. But to do so today is offensive.”
On Capitol Hill, rally-goers agree that antisemitism is un-American. But when Israel is involved, it gets complicated.
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Several thousand people spent a sweltering afternoon in front of the U.S. Capitol at a rally on Sunday that denounced antisemitism as un-American and made the case that Jewish identity and support for Israel are inextricable.
Those were the unifying messages of the “No Fear” rally on Sunday, which drew about 2,000 people, but there were differences among the speakers and in the crowd on how precisely Israel figures in the fight against antisemitism.
Some of the most searing messages came from people who have suffered antisemitic attacks in recent years. A recurring theme among these speakers was that they never expected to suffer such attacks in the United States. Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Shlomo Noginski, who sustained stab wounds in a July 1 attack in Boston, appeared with his arm still in a sling, and in evident pain.
“I was born in the Soviet Union in the city of St. Petersburg,” Noginski said in Hebrew, having explained that he was still too pained to speak fluently in English. “I remember how even as a young child, I experienced terrible antisemitism. Never in my darkest dreams did I imagine that I would feel the same way here in the United States, the land of freedom and endless possibilities.”
The crowd shouted “hero!” as Noginski spoke. He had held the attacker at bay outside a Chabad facility where about a hundred children were in summer camp.
Another speaker hailed as a hero was Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who described saying the viduy, the Jewish prayer before death, as a gunman shot 11 worshipers dead in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October of 2018. Myers was the first to alert the police of the attack.
“‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are all endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’” Myers said, quoting the Declaration of Independence. “To be an antisemite means you do not accept that pact of being an American.”
The rally drew a broad array of sponsor organizations, covering the religious spectrum and many right-wing and central pro-Israel mainstream Jewish organizations.
Notably absent were representatives of more left-wing groups that were asked to join but opted out of attending because some of the sponsoring groups adhere to a definition of antisemitism that encompasses harsh criticism of Israel, including the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. Groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now oppose BDS, but object to defining it as antisemitic.
Melissa Landa, who leads the Alliance for Israel, a relatively new group that has as a central tenet that BDS is antisemitic, set the tone at the outset of the event. She had launched plans for the rally after antisemitism spiked during the Israel-Gaza conflict in May.
She spoke of the “shared promise for our children, that they will be free to live as proud Jews, and exercise their religious liberties granted by the United States Constitution, free to wear their yarmulkes and Magen Davids and free to speak their love of Israel without being attacked in the streets of New York or Los Angeles.”
Landa, like other speakers, named lawmakers on the left or the right that have in recent months incurred accusations of antisemitism. Mentions of Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat whose criticism of Israel has been seen by Jewish groups as crossing into antisemitism, notably garnered much louder boos than those of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican who has drawn fire for peddling antisemitic conspiracy theories and for likening coronavirus restrictions to Nazi laws.
Noa Tishby, an Israeli actor, appeared with conservative pundit Meghan McCain and Alma Hernandez, a Democratic state lawmaker in Arizona. Each suggested that anti-Zionism was equivalent to antisemitism.
“So much of the antisemitism of today simply attributes all the evil tropes, lies and libels that have been used for centuries to justify the worst horrors against Jewish people to the Jewish state,” said Tishby, who is well known in Israel and recently published a book titled “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth.” “As you will hear today, this hatred is being used to attack our Jewish communities. It is being used to impose a heavy cost on anyone who identifies as Jewish or even God forbid, Zionist.”
McCain has become an outspoken defender of Israel on the talk show “The View” — which she announced earlier this month that she is leaving — and elsewhere.
“I’m Meghan McCain and I’m a Zionist because, apparently, this is now something that is controversial to say,” she said at the rally.
Elisha Wiesel, the son of the late Holocaust diarist and Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, had joined the planning of the rally to bring in mainstream and liberal-leaning groups after Landa hit a wall in bringing them in.
Major mainstream groups like the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith International, as well as the Orthodox Union and Reform and Conservative movements, signed on as sponsors, but few of their representatives spoke.
Wiesel said he feared division but was soothed by the unity he saw.
“The sages teach that it was our own hatred for each other that caused the destruction of the first and second temples,” he said. “And in the weeks leading up to this rally, it was this fear that dominated my field of vision, the fear that our community was divided beyond repair. That fear is our enemy’s dream. But looking out at all of you today if it comes clear that instead of dividing us, the enemies of the Jewish people, whether from the right or the left at home or abroad, they have instead united us.”
Wiesel appeared to nod to the concerns that some liberal groups had — that criticism of Israel and support for the Palestinians would be conflated with antisemitism at the rally.
“We can disagree even passionately, without being divided. We can even disagree on Israel,” he said. “ We must not tolerate calls for an end to the Jewish state of Israel, through a one-state solution that once again leaves the Jews defenseless. We must also not tolerate denigration or hatred towards the aspiration for dignity and self-determination of our Palestinian cousins. If we hate, we will not win.”
Just minutes after his own speech, Wiesel jumped in to intervene and help out a fellow speaker — Erika Moritsugu, a deputy assistant to President Biden, who was representing the White House, and was booed. A cluster of supporters of former President Donald Trump shouted during her speech, particularly when she mentioned that President Joe Biden decided to run after the deadly 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville. Trump equivocated in condemning the marchers, which has become a sore point among his followers.
“Stolen election!” one man shouted. “You pay money to terrorists!” said another. One held up a placard saying “Screw Kristen Clarke.” Clarke, who leads the civil rights division at the Department of Justice, came under fire during her confirmation hearings for having hosted an antisemitic speaker when at an event when she was a student at Harvard decades ago.
Moritsugu appeared flustered and others in the crowd shushed the booers. After she finished speaking, Wiesel stepped in and said, to applause, “I’d like everybody to thank President Biden for the way that the White House stood with Israel during the Gaza war.”
Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, the director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness — the public advocacy wing of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church — invoked the black Jewish alliance of the civil rights era, to cheers.
“I am here today to express my support for the Jewish community in the face of antisemitism, in the face of the shooting deaths and attempted murders in synagogues, stores and homes,” he said. “Now is a time of solidarity. Now there’s a time of unity.”
A couple from Kensington, Maryland, Bruce and Malka Kutnick, were unnerved by the presence of the far Jewish right at the rally. Malka Kutnick said she had been reassured by Wiesel’s claim before the rally that both people who don’t care about Israel’s existence and Kahanists — followers of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane — would not be welcome. She held a placard that read “No to occupation, No to antisemitism.”
“I was just accosted by someone in a Kahane shirt,” she said. “He said I should stand with the Netorei Karta.” A small cluster of that fringe group, which is both haredi Orthodox and anti-Zionist, gathered on a green across the street.
Marie Berlin-Fischler, a 28-year-old Washington, D.C. preschool teacher, stood with a poster reading, “My fellow progressives, you missed a spot: Stop antisemitism.”
She said she felt untethered from the progressive movement, which she otherwise supports.
“The issue is that in this country as of late, I don’t feel as though anyone like me can exist in a progressive space anymore without checking my intersectionality at the door,” she said. “When I am asked to be part of myself as I show up to these spaces, the gap is closing. There’s nowhere for people who want to be American, the way I do.”
The Algemeiner noted B'nai B'rith International, along with other leading Jewish organizations, supporting the Netherlands' decision to join other democracies in boycotting the upcoming Durban IV conference.
Leading Jewish groups applauded the Netherlands’ decision’ to join a growing number of countries — including the UK, the US and Australia -- in boycotting the upcoming Durban IV conference, citing an “unacceptable … risk of repetition of abuse of this platform for antisemitic expressions.”
The UN is scheduled to hold a Sept. 22 event marking the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, from which the US and Israel previously withdrew over objections of anti-Zionism. Israel was singled out from the original Durban conference declaration and was depicted as committing “crimes against humanity,” “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “genocide” against the Palestinians.
“The Netherlands does not intend to participate in the Durban IV conference, given the historical burden of the Durban process, the risk of repeated abuse of this platform for antisemitic expressions and the disproportionate and one-sided attention to Israel as reflected in the original Durban declaration,” Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said on Wednesday. “This is unacceptable. The Netherlands remains committed to the fight against antisemitism.”
Leading Jewish groups welcomed Netherland’s decision to join the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Hungary and Israel in not attending the anniversary event. The European Jewish Congress praised the Dutch government for deciding to boycott the upcoming “antisemitic” Durban conference.
“We thank the Netherlands for announcing that it, like other key democracies, won’t participate in the UN’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Durban conference tarnished by antisemitism,” B’nai B’rith International commented. “The UN and the fight against racism must never be used as cover for hate.”
Commenting on the Dutch pullout from the conference, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) said that “no country should attend an event tainted by a legacy of Jew-hatred.”
Kaag also pledged that the Netherlands would remain committed to combating bigotry, in the UN and beyond.
“This month, for example, the Netherlands will make a national declaration against all forms of racism and discrimination at the Human Rights Council meeting. Also at the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly, the Netherlands will focus in particular on combating racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia,” Kaag said.
Major American Jewish Organizations Urge Biden to Send More COVID Vaccines to India Before Third Wave
The Algemeiner noted B'nai B'rith International as one of the major American Jewish organizations urging the U.S. administration (in a letter sent by the Conference of Presidents) to immediately provide surplus vaccine doses to India ahead of a third wave.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations transmitted an open letter to the White House on Tuesday calling on the Biden administration to immediately provide surplus vaccine doses to India.
The letter, sent to White House chief of staff Ron Klain and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, was signed by 22 Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, and the Zionist Organization of America.
Citing the devastation India has recently experienced due to the “Delta variant” of COVID-19, the letter asserted, “As India emerges from this latest wave, there is a crucial window of time available. It is imperative that India be given the opportunity to vaccinate as much of its population as possible in order to avoid future and further catastrophe.”
The letter noted that the US has a stockpile of the Astra Zeneca vaccine that will likely not be distributed and could easily be transferred to India.
“We urge the administration to rapidly allocate an additional and greatly increased share of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to India,” the signatories said. “It is essential that the world’s largest democracy be provided the opportunity to stave off another disaster.”
“The Indian government came to the aid of the United States in its time of need during the first wave of Spring 2020 and has been a stalwart ally and friend,” the letter pointed out. “So too, the four million strong Indian expatriate community plays an integral role through United States society.”
“We believe that an enhanced US allocation of valuable COVID-19 vaccines to India would be an enormous boon to a democracy that has been ravaged by disease and is in danger of facing another wave,” it concluded.
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International's response to the U.S. administration's decision of continuing not to attend any events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the infamous Durban Declaration in its roundup of responses from Jewish and pro-Israel organizations.
Leading Jewish organizations welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to stick to the US policy of not attending any events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration in September due to their “anti-Israel sentiment.”
A US State Department spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post Monday that the US would not take part in planned Durban anniversary events, saying that it “remains deeply committed to combating antisemitism at home and abroad. Furthermore, the United States stands with Israel and has always shared its concerns over the Durban process’s anti-Israel sentiment — used as a forum for antisemitism and freedom of expression issues.”
Commenting on the decision, B’nai B’rith International said it “salutes the US administration for taking a principled decision, like its predecessors, to deny legitimacy to a UN framework that purports to fight prejudice but is fundamentally marred by it.”
“The 2001 conference was poisoned by manifestations of virulent anti-Zionism and open antisemitism. We urge all countries of goodwill to do similarly — and we will continue to insist that all forms of hate, including those targeting Jews, not be given a platform by foremost international institutions,” B’nai B’rith stated.
The UN is scheduled to hold a special “Durban IV” event on Sept. 22 to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, from which the US and Israel previously withdrew over objections of anti-Zionism. Israel was singled out from the Durban conference declaration and was depicted as being racist and as committing “crimes against humanity,” “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “genocide” against the Palestinians.
“Kudos for rejecting hate. The 2001 Durban Conference was an orgy of hate so vile that the US and Israel pulled out in disgust,” Avi Mayer, Managing Director of Global Communications at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), tweeted in response to the US decision. “It was so bad that even the UN’s Mary Robinson, who chaired it, said there was ‘horrible antisemitism present.'”
New York, NY, May 5th, 2021 . . . Dianne Lob, Chair, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued the following statement:
“We applaud the Biden Administration’s decision to refuse to participate in commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, which openly embraced antisemitism and anti-Israel extremism.
Michal Cotler-Wunsh, a former member of Knesset for Israel’s Blue and White Party, said: “Durban was the ecosystem for declared escalation in the war waged on Israel, weaponizing international law and it’s institutions. The orchestrated, systematic implementation of this strategy threatens not only Israel, but shared values and foundations of democracy and human rights.”
“In declining to participate in celebratory events, the United States is rightfully rejecting the despicable hatred that was leveled against the Jewish State and the Jewish people twenty years ago. We encourage other nations to join the US in continuing to fight racism, bigotry, and antisemitism, while rejecting and not participating in such odious proceedings,” said Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chair Dianne Lob, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein, in a statement.
Jewish Groups, Local Communities Mark Two-Year Anniversary of Deadly Passover Shooting at Poway Chabad
The Algemeiner noted our commemoration, along with other Jewish groups, of the Poway Chabad shooting two years ago.
Leading Jewish groups marked the two-year anniversary of the deadly attacks at a Jewish congregation in California, when a white supremacist gunman stormed Passover services with an assault rifle, killing 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye and wounding three others, including the synagogue’s rabbi.
“Today we remember two years since the deadly attack on the Chabad of Poway when a gunman entered the Chabad and started shooting. One person, Lori Gilbert Kaye was killed and three others injured,” said the The Anti-Defamation League in a Twitter post. “Lori’s memory will forever be in our hearts in our mission to #FightHateForGood.”
The World Jewish Congress tweeted, “In memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, z”l, who was killed two years ago today in the shooting at the Poway Synagogue in San Diego, on April 27, 2019. It was a Shabbat. Her friends described her as ‘a jewel of our community.'”
The three others wounded in the attack were Noya Dahan, then 8; her uncle Almog Peretz, then 34; and the Chabad’s then-rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57 at the time.
Gilbert-Kaye, a mother of one, was hailed as a hero after the attack for throwing her own body in front of the synagogue’s rabbi as shots rang out.
“Two years ago, a far-right domestic terrorist attacked the Chabad of Poway with the intention of killing Jews,” wrote B’nai B’rith International on Twitter. “May her memory be a blessing & inspire us to root out anti-Semitism, extremism & all forms of hate.”
The American Jewish Committee said, “May Lori’s memory be a blessing and inspire us to fight antisemitism wherever it exists.”
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus — who recently jointed the 525-member strong Mayors United Against Antisemitism — posted a photograph from the day of the attack, pledging to “never forget.”
The San Diego Sheriff’s department tweeted, “Two years ago today, a gunman stormed the Chabad of Poway during a crowded service. One person was killed and three others were hurt. @SDSheriff honors the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye. Her husband encourages us to do acts of kindness in her memory.”
The gunman, John Timothy Earnest, was apprehended in his car about two miles from the synagogue by a San Diego police officer. He faces the death penalty for charges brought by the state, and separate hate crime charges in a federal trial that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jewish Groups Horrified Over ‘Antisemitic Bigot’ Louis Farrakhan’s Appearance at Funeral of Rapper DMX
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International's condemnation of the prominent attendance of Nation of Islam leader and notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan at rapper DMX’s funeral service.
Jewish organizations expressed outrage on Monday over the prominent attendance of Nation of Islam leader and notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan at rapper DMX’s funeral service on Sunday.
Farrakhan delivered an 18-minute eulogy via webcam at DMX’s “Homegoing Celebration,” a close-knit service held at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, NY, following a more public memorial service on Saturday at Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn. In his speech, Farrakhan called DMX — whose real name is Earl Simmons — a prophet from God, spoke about his global influence and addressed the rapper’s 15 children, saying, “Your father is not gone. He’s absent, but you can bring him back.”
The service was live streamed on YouTube by BET Networks, which has over 3 million subscribers.
“While we would not normally comment on those chosen to deliver such remarks, it must be acknowledged that Farrakhan is an unrepentant demagogue, responsible for some of the most vile and open expressions of antisemitism, homophobia and bigotry,” B’nai B’rith International told The Algemeiner. “Particularly at a time such as this, we must all remember that tolerating any form of hate is a danger to all communities. Farrakhan must never be legitimized by those in positions of influence in our society.”
Liora Rez, the executive director of StopAntisemitism.org, told The Algemeiner, “We continue to be horrified that an antisemitic and homophobic bigot like Farrakhan continues to be given a platform in the black community. In a time of horrid racial division in this country, problematic and hate filled individuals like Farrakhan do nothing but promote even MORE conflict and discord.”
Entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” investor Daymond John initially praised Farrakhan’s speech on Twitter, and said about the Nation of Islam leader: “his deep understanding of the Bible and respect for other people’s religions was truly inspiring.” However, by Sunday night, John deleted the comments and issued a follow-up statement, after facing criticism over Farrakhan’s history of antisemitic statements.
“In regards to my tweet regarding DMX’s funeral, my comments on Minister Farrakhan were only related to what I just witnessed tonight, unbeknownst to his prior stances,” John tweeted on Sunday night. “As someone who was fortunate enough to have a step dad of the Jewish faith, I do not condone and never would condone any antisemitic prejudice or any remarks of hatred.”
“The prior tweet will be removed to avoid further pain and confusion to anyone who has felt hurt in the past by any negative comments of his,” he added.
Farrakhan has previously called Jewish people “satanic” and compared them to termites, publicly questioned the Holocaust and condemned Judaism as a “dirty religion.” According to an archive shared on the Anti-Defamation League’s website, Farrakhan has been making antisemitic comments for more than 30 years.
Jewish Groups Blast ‘Incendiary’ Remarks by Teachers Union Head Calling US Jews ‘Part of Ownership Class’ Over School Reopening Debate
The Algemeiner highlighted our condemnation of anti-Semitic remarks made recently by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten in an interview with JTA.
Leading US Jewish groups condemned as “extremely disturbing” and “deeply harmful” recent remarks by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Weingarten, when asked by the outlet about critics of the resistance by teachers unions to return to in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, dismissed American Jews voicing those concerns as “part of the ownership class,” who are trying to take away from others opportunities for advancement that they had once used themselves.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Algemeiner it was an “incendiary attack” making use of “class warfare.”
“If it had come from someone who wasn’t Jewish, I would imagine we would be talking about classic antisemitism, about demonizing a community. I’m assuming that’s not what she had in mind,” Cooper said.
But whether intended or not, he continued, it risked fueling “more antisemitism, it will justify more separation between communities … and between economic levels. That’s not what a true leader should do, especially not in the educational realm.”
In the April 1 interview, Weingarten was asked about “skeptics” of the influence of teachers unions. “They look at, for example, the ongoing struggles in Los Angeles, where they see this big dollar figure of aid being given for school reopening and are baffled by the perceived resistance of teachers to going back to work,” asked JTA’s Laura E. Adkins.
“I have a very pointed response here for Jews making this argument,” Weingarten answered.
“American Jews are now part of the ownership class,” she said. “Jews were immigrants from somewhere else. And they needed the right to have public education. And they needed power to have enough income and wealth for their families that they could put their kids through college and their kids could do better than they have done. Both economic opportunity through the labor movement and an educational opportunity through public education were key for Jews to go from the working class to the ownership class.”
“What I hear when I hear that question is that those who are in the ownership class now want to take that ladder of opportunity away from those who do not have it. Am I saying that everything we do is right? No. Are people in Los Angeles fearful? Yes,” she continued.
Weingarten did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Algemeiner.
Rabbi Cooper emphasized that many Jews of earlier generations grew up in poverty, and that “no one handed to American Jews, anything for free. They had to fight, and scrap for it,” Cooper added. “We don’t need lectures from anyone, including [Weingarten], about social responsibility and commitments to floating the boats for everyone.”
“We’re counting on the teachers of America, including the vast millions of members of teachers unions, for the growth of our children, the health of our society going forward — we want them all to be extremely successful. They’re not the enemy, and they certainly not our enemy. And this kind of language is not helpful,” he said.
In a joint statement, B’nai B’rith President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said, “We vociferously condemn the deeply harmful comments about the Jewish role in school re-openings made by Weingarten,” which “invoked sinister tropes about Jewish ownership, power and control.”
“What is Weingarten thinking here? Her comments are dangerous to the Jewish community, setting it up as an obstacle to a fair and equitable public education system. In casting the school re-opening debate as one of ‘privilege,’ Weingarten is feeding into the stereotype of Jews as all-powerful,” the joint statement said. “As someone who works directly with educators, Weingarten should know that words matter.”
The Algemeiner quoted our tweet marking the anniversary of the March 17, 1992 terrorist bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires.
Israeli, Jewish, and Argentine leaders and institutions commemorated on Wednesday the anniversary of the March 17, 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, which killed 29 people.
A memorial service was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Israel’s embassy in Argentina produced a video in which the presidents and foreign ministers of Argentina and Israel, the Israeli ambassador to Argentina, and many others said the Spanish word “presente” — figuratively meaning “remember.”
Foreign Minister Ashkenazi marked the anniversary in a speech, saying, “We remember with pain the 29 victims of the attack and the dozens of injured, victims of a criminal act of terrorism.”
“We send our condolences to the families of those killed and our support to the injured,” he continued. “My heart and the hearts of the people of Israel are with the families of the victims, including the Israeli diplomats, their spouses, the dedicated Argentinian workers at the embassy, the passers-by who were caught up in the attack, and with the entire people of Argentina who also fell victim to such a severe terrorist attack.”
“Twenty-nine years have passed, and to this day none of those responsible for the criminal act have been brought to justice,” Ashkenazi noted. “This despite the fact that it is known that Iran was behind not only this attack but also the attack on the AMIA Jewish center that took place two years later, in 1994, in which 85 people were killed and hundreds were injured.”
“The State of Israel will continue to stand with the families of the fallen and demand that Argentina brings those responsible for the attack to justice,” he said.
Dan Poraz, a policy advisor to Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, outlined the attack in a Twitter thread, mourning the 29 victims — including three Israeli diplomats who left nine children behind — and noting the findings that Iran was behind the attack.
A joint Israeli-US-Argentine investigation, Poraz wrote, found that the attacks were authorized by Iran’s current “supreme leader” Ali Khamenei and that Hezbollah was ordered to carry out the atrocity by Iran’s minister of intelligence. Also collaborating in the attack were Iran’s ambassador and cultural attaché to Argentina.
“Since the ‘79 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian regime sees terror as a legitimate instrument to promote its political interests. #Iran has attempted, and in many cases succeeded, to carry out terror attacks, in all 5 continents,” Poraz said.
The American Jewish Committee tweeted, “We mourn the 29 people murdered and remember the heroism of those who saved lives. AJC awarded one of the heroes, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. B.G. Willison, our Moral Courage Award in 2017.”
The IDF tweeted, “Today, we remember the victims of the terror attack carried out by Hezbollah at the Israeli Embassy in Argentina 29 years ago.”
“Hezbollah’s terror is not only a threat to Israel but to the entire world,” it added.
B’nai Brith International commented, “The perpetrators must be brought to justice!”
“May those lost forever be a blessing,” they added.
Jason Greenblatt, who served as a Middle East advisor to the Trump administration, tweeted in response, “Thank you @IDF for all that you do to protect the Jewish State of Israel. Thank you for reminding people about this terrible attack at the Israeli Embassy in Argentina 29 years ago.”
“And let’s not forget who is behind Hezbollah and the murder & destruction that they cause,” he added, referring to Iran.
Remembrances came in from Argentina as well, with Álvaro González — a Buenos Aires deputy for the political coalition “Juntos por el Cambio” — tweeting in Spanish, “29 years after the attack on the Israeli embassy, we remember the victims and we continue to demand justice.”
The Algemeiner, JNS and JBS all quoted B'nai B'rith International's statement in their coverage of U.S. Jewish organizations condemning the International Criminal Court's decision to investigate Israel and Palestine for alleged war crimes since 2014.
Leading American Jewish and pro-Israel groups condemned the International Criminal Court’s decision Wednesday to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem.
“The ICC’s effort to intrude into matters outside its mandate undermine its credibility and legitimacy, and cast significant doubt on its future as an unbiased judicial forum,” said leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a statement.
“By continuing these efforts to weaponize a judicial institution for political purposes, the Palestinian Authority inflames existing tensions and obstructs the path to peace,” continued Conference Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein. “We call on the international community to speak out in forceful objection to this disgraceful action by the ICC.”
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda — whose term ends in June — announced the investigation in a statement Wednesday, several weeks after an ICC ruling that the court had jurisdiction in the territories.
B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin argued that the ICC had no such jurisdiction, and that Israel’s legal system was capable of investigating any alleged offenses.
“The acquiescence of the prosecutor to politicize the ICC and exploit it as a propaganda tool not only batters the standing of the court and distracts it from truly grievous and systematic crimes around the world, but also intolerably stands to handicap law-abiding nations’ abilities, rights and fundamental duties to combat the brutal asymmetric warfare of terrorist organizations,” they said.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the probe “a baseless and discriminatory attack on the Jewish state” in a statement.
“The outrageous investigations into America & Israel represent significant overreaches of the ICC’s mandate and jurisdiction that must be condemned by the administration and Congress,” it continued.
The Algemeiner noted our criticism – along with other American Jewish organizations – of anti-Semitic comments made by SNL's Michael Che regarding Israel's vaccine rollout.
Jewish leaders, groups, and educators on Sunday condemned as “antisemitic” a “Saturday Night Live” skit in which a cast member joked about Israel’s vaccine campaign.
In the regular news parody segment “Weekend Update,” broadcast on Feb. 20, cast member Michael Che said, “Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half their population, and I’m gonna guess it’s the Jewish half.”
Israel has not discriminated against religious groups as part of its vaccination drive, and large segments of the country’s non-Jewish population has already been vaccinated.
David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, tweeted, “This 8-second segment by Michael Che on ‘Saturday Night Live’ is totally outrageous.”
“He accuses Israel of vaccinating only Jews. Not true. Every Israeli — Jew, Muslim, Christian, etc. — is eligible for the COVID jab,” Harris observed.
“He should apologize ASAP for spreading an antisemitic lie,” Harris asserted.
Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that the “ill conceived ‘joke’ adds to the heap of lies and conspiratorial allegations surrounding the Jewish people and COVID-19 that recalls medieval accusations of Jews being responsible for disease and plagues.”
“NBC should know better, and must not only stop spreading harmful misinformation, but take action to undo this damage caused by propagating Jew-hatred under the guise of comedy,” continued Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein in a statement.
Avi Mayer, the AJC’s managing director of global communications and a former IDF spokesman, also commented, saying, “It’s all fun and games until you start promoting antisemitic myths, @NBCSNL.”
“Every Israeli citizen — Jewish and Arab, Muslim, Christian, of any or no faith — is eligible to be vaccinated; 2/3 of Israel’s Arab citizens over 60 already have been,” he pointed out.
“Apologize,” Mayer urged.
“#antisemitic blood libels against Israel and Jews are not funny,” said B’nai B’rith International. “Che should issue an immediate apology. This gratuitous swipe at Israel is unacceptable.”
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said in a statement that “this lie has been perpetuated by antisemitic groups, eager to poison public discourse with misinformation about Israel’s rapid vaccinations drive.”
Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Chair Mark Levenson called for “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels to “apologize for and terminate the writer of a ‘joke’ which was not funny and in reality was a dangerous Jew-hating, Israel-bashing blood libel. In addition, this blood libel should be removed from NBC’s website and other fora where it may appear.”
The media watchdog group HonestReporting said, “Promoting antisemitic myths isn’t remotely funny … Shameful.”
Joel M. Petlin, the superintendent of the heavily Orthodox Kiryas Joel School District in New York State, commented, “I’m old enough to remember when Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live @nbcsnl was actually funny & didn’t resort to Antisemitic stereotypes about Jews not caring for anyone but themselves.”
“The fact that Israel is actually vaccinating ALL of its citizens makes the joke even worse,” he said.
The Algemeiner noted our condemnation – along with other American Jewish organizations – of the International Criminal Court’s ruling that it has jurisdiction to investigate Israel and the Palestinians for supposed "war crimes."
American Jewish organizations spoke out strongly against the International Criminal Court’s ruling that it has jurisdiction to investigate war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank, calling the ruling “politically and ideologically motivated” and the result of “systemic bias in multilateral organizations.”
The decision, released Friday, would place both Israel and the ruling Gaza terror group Hamas under possible investigation should the court choose to pursue one. In particular, Israeli officials are worried about war crimes charges related to Israel’s 2014 defensive war against Hamas.
Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations released a statement saying they “reject” the court’s ruling, calling it a “politically and ideologically motivated attempt by the ICC to impose itself into matters that are well beyond its mandate.”
In doing so, they said, the court “violates its purpose, distorts international law, and undermines its own legitimacy as an unbiased judicial forum.”
The statement accused ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of “demonstrated anti-Israel bias” and asserted that “Palestinian leaders are attempting to dictate a political end through judicial means and thereby avoid negotiations.”
“These actions serve to exacerbate existing tensions, and will not achieve progress toward a viable and lasting resolution to a conflict that can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties,” the statement said.
The American Jewish Committee said in a statement that it “deeply regrets” the ICC’s decision. The Palestinian Authority, it said, “is not a state” and as such “the ICC is an inappropriate forum to adjudicate its claims.”
The AJC lamented that formal submissions by Australia, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and Uganda asserting that “Palestine” is not a state were “not given due weight” by the court.
“It is only by reaching a negotiated settlement with Israel that the Palestinian people can fulfill their legitimate national aspirations,” the AJC stated. “Reverting to the old ways of confrontation, such as promoting one-sided UN resolutions or seeking the indictment of Israelis in the ICC, will only prolong the conflict and the suffering of both peoples.”
Citing criticism of the ruling by the US State Department, the Anti-Defamation League said, “We are deeply concerned by the problematic ruling from the @IntlCrimCourt as it has the very real possibility of leading to abuse against Israel with implications for the wider international community. We welcome the @StateDept’s ‘serious concern.’”
B’nai Brith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said “we reject” the ruling, and added, “We see again that Israel is subject to systemic bias in multilateral organizations.”
They also expressed anger that “the ICC puts Hamas and Israel on the same playing field, even though Israel’s actions were defensive in the face of Hamas attacks.”
The World Jewish Congress said it was “dismayed” by the ruling, “which sets a dangerous precedent and does nothing to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center called the ruling, “Another wholly political decision by International Criminal Court targeting #Israel.”
The SWC claimed the international community, including the ICC, holds Israel to a double standard, saying, “Here’s how it works. When it comes to Covid, #Israel is occupying power allegedly responsible for vaccines for Palestinians. When it comes to attacking Israel, Palestinian territories = independent entity. Making up new rules as long as Israel demonized.”
“Instead of serving justice #ICC politicizes and corrupts it,” the group asserted. “#Israel haters call Israel an occupying power when it comes to Covid vaccinations and #Palestine a state when they can demonize Israel!”
The Algemeiner quoted B'nai B'rith International in its coverage of a Pakistani court's immediate release of four men accused in the 2002 murder of WSJ journalist Daniel Pearl.
Media organizations and Jewish groups were among those reacting furiously on Thursday to the decision of a Pakistani court to immediately release four men accused of orchestrating the 2002 kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.
Pearl, a 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter, was investigating Islamist militants in Karachi after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was seized by terrorists connected to Al Qaeda.
His gruesome death by beheading was captured on video, and included Pearl saying the words, “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish,” moments before he was killed.
The France-based organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) denounced the Pakistani court’s decision on Twitter for symbolizing “the impunity of crimes against journalists.”
Separately, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) — another leading media freedom NGO — tweeted that the release of British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who masterminded Pearl’s abduction and killing, would increase “the threats facing journalists in Pakistan.”
Jewish groups also rebuked the Pakistani court.
“We strongly condemn the order made by the Sindh High Court in Pakistan today to release the four men accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002,” B’nai B’rith International said in a statement. “This decision is not only a miscarriage of justice, it is also an insult to the memory of Daniel Pearl and to his family.”
Jonathan Greenblatt — CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — expressed similar outrage.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Morocco's decision to normalize ties with the State of Israel.
(December 10, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and pro-Israel groups reacted positively to Morocco’s announcement on Thursday of its intention to normalize ties with Israel.
It’s the fourth normalization deal in the past four months between Israel and Arab countries, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. These nations follow in the wake of Egypt and Jordan, which made peace with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively.
In applauding what he called “another outstanding accomplishment for the current administration,” Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, highlighted the difference between those peace agreements and the four normalization deals with Israel that have been made this year.
“Normalizing ties with Israel is the new normal in the Middle East, which decades of expert commentary told us was the ‘impossible dream,’ ” he told JNS. “And instead of a cold détente attained via surrender to unreasonable demands, these new agreements promote true peace based upon common security needs and mutual medical, technological and financial benefits.”
“History has once again been made with the announcement that Israel and Morocco will normalize diplomatic relations,” said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a statement.
In a statement, American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris said, “Morocco’s announcement is further affirmation of the growing recognition by Arab leaders that establishing relations with Israel will be mutually beneficial.”
Republican Jewish Coalition national chairman and former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) called the announcement “historic” and an “important step towards greater stability and peace in the region.”
“Morocco and Israel have agreed to reopen their liaison offices, with the intention of opening embassies later. Official contacts, economic cooperation and direct flights between the two countries will also commence,” he said in a statement. “All of these steps—and we hope to see even more to follow—will enhance the security and prosperity of both countries.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS that “official ties between Morocco and Israel make sense for many good reasons, not the least of which is the storied history of the Moroccan Jewish community, and its many contributions to life in Morocco and Israel. We want to recognize the important role played by the United States in bringing this about. This is yet another vital building block in bringing peace and stability to the Middle East and North Africa.”
Nathan Diament, executive director for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, told JNS that the latest “agreement will help unite nations in the Middle East region to deter Iran’s aggression and improve Israel’s security and economic bonds with its neighbors.” He added that his organization looks forward to more countries joining the expanding circle of “peace and security.”
The agreement included the United States recognizing the disputed territory of Western Sahara as part of Morocco, becoming the only Western country to do so. The deal also includes agreeing to grant overflights and also direct flights to and from Israel for all Israelis. Israel and Morocco also agreed to open reciprocal embassies in Rabat and Tel Aviv, respectively, immediately.
‘A recognition of two historical realities’
“These landmark diplomatic agreements set the Middle East on a different path, where reconciliation replaces rejectionism and old enemies become new friends,” said a statement from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“We salute the American, Israeli and Moroccan diplomats who achieved this historic agreement,” continued the organization. And “we look forward to the exchange of ambassadors and embassies, economic cooperation, and greater cultural bonds between Israel and Morocco in the days ahead.”
Christians United for Israel founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee said that “with each of these announcements, we get one step closer to true peace in the region. It is our sincere hope that the Palestinians see the benefit of ending their conflict with Israel and will one day soon choose to finally ‘beat their swords into plowshares,’” told JNS, citing a phrase from the Book of Isaiah.
There’s not only a political, but also historical, significance about the development, according to American Sephardi Federation executive director Jason Guberman.
He said the announcement “is a recognition of two historical realities: the Kingdom of Morocco’s territorial integrity, which includes sovereignty over the Moroccan Sahara, and the kingdom’s independent leadership in forging a decades-old relationship with Israel.”
In an email, Guberman said Morocco agreeing to establish diplomatic, economic and other ties with Israel “must be understood in its context,” as “900,000 Moroccan-Sephardic Jews live in Israel and keep the sacred chords of memory with the kingdom alive through their traditional observances, building bridges with Moroccan Muslims, and travels to Morocco.”
In fact, he noted, “Israel issued a postage stamp in honor of Morocco’s Chief Rabbi and the Rabbi of Jerusalem Hakham Yosef Massas that included praise (in four languages) for the royal family.”
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International's statement on the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in its coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice's death.
(September 21, 2020 / JNS) Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, died on Sept. 18 at the age of 87 at her home in Washington, D.C.
Ginsburg, a heralded liberal judicial, feminist and Jewish icon who was the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court, died from “complications of metastatic pancreas cancer,” according to a statementfrom the Supreme Court shortly after her death.
Her passing came on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year 5781, and just six weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
Before her death, Ginsburg was hospitalized numerous times this year, including twice in July. She announced on July 17 that cancer had returned, though had often said that she would remain on the court as long as she was able to do the work.
Joan Ruth Bader was born on March 15, 1933, to Nathan and Celia Bader in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her older sister, Marylin, died of meningitis at age 6, when Ruth was a baby. Ruth’s mother died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school, though having been a significant factor in her education.
She earned her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University on June 23, 1954; a month later, she married Martin D. Ginsburg. One year later, they had a daughter, Jane, before Ruth started law school at Harvard University.
Ginsburg was a standout and one of the few women at Harvard Law School. She later transferred to Columbia Law School, where she jointly graduated first in her class in 1959. However, she had difficulty getting hired directly into a law firm and turned to academia, teaching at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School.
The couple had a son, James, in 1965.
In 1970, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the United States to focus exclusively on women’s rights. Two years later, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and in 1973, she became general counsel of the project.
After working with the American Civil Liberties Union as a volunteer attorney and as a member of its board of directors and a general counsel in the 1970s, in 1980, Ginsburg was nominated by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is regarded as the second-most powerful court in the United States behind the Supreme Court.
In 1993, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed to the Supreme Court, where she served until her death.
Ginsburg spent much of her career fighting for gender equality and women’s rights, winning many arguments before the Supreme Court. During her 40-plus years as a judge and a justice, she was served by 159 law clerks.
A 2018 documentary titled “RBG” became a hit with audiences, as did a feature film that followed, “On the Basis of Sex.”
Attorney Norm Eisen, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, told JNS that Ginsburg was a Jewish icon who personified Jewish values—an ideal Americans should look for in her successor.
“Justice Ginsburg exemplified a core Jewish principle: tzedek tzedek tirdof, justice, justice shall you pursue,” he said. “She understood it was not just a Jewish virtue but an American one.”
“That commitment to justice is, of course, what American Jews and all Americans are looking for in the next justice—much more than ethnicity or religion,” he continued. “That starts with a just manner of choosing that individual. For that reason, Justice Ginsberg’s last wish to let the new president make that choice should be honored.”
Chief Justice John Roberts said: “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her—a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
U.S. President Donald Trump said shortly after Ginsburg’s death that he plans to fill the vacancy this week, putting forth a woman candidate. Trump has already seated two other Supreme Court justices: Neal Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
Attorney Nathan Lewin, who has argued in front of the Supreme Court, told JNS that Ginsburg “was a dynamic force in eliminating gender discrimination and will have a well-deserved place of honor in American legal history.”
Regarding what’s at stake for the Jewish community over the vacancy, “if you are speaking of the observant Jewish community and protection for religious rights, the future of that community and those rights is now bright,” said Lewin, citing that Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh “are strong defenders of religious liberty.”
‘A champion for civil rights’
Jewish groups expressed condolences over Ginsburg’s death.
The Anti-Defamation League tweeted on Sunday that it “mourns the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazer and judicial giant. She dedicated her life to advocating for a more equitable and just world, and was a true champion for civil rights. May her memory be a blessing.”
In a statement on Sunday, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs said Ginsburg “rose from the humble beginnings of an immigrant Jewish family to become a Supreme Court Justice,” and that as “a lawyer and advocate she fought to change laws and policies that advanced reproductive rights and equality for all.”
“The best way to honor Justice Ginsburg’s life is to continue to fight for equality and to deter the rollback of women’s reproductive rights,” said JCPA president and CEO David Bernstein in the statement. “Her work and legacy live on in our work.”
In a statement the day after Ginsburg’s death, leaders from the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis and Women of Reform Judaism said, “Few people have had as long or as profound an impact upon the course of a nation as did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As an attorney, Justice Ginsburg committed herself to advancing women’s rights at a time when women were denied equal access to educational, employment, economic and other opportunities. Such injustice offended Justice Ginsburg as a woman, but also as a Jew.”
“Indeed, she spoke often of the many ways in which her Jewish upbringing and faith shaped her sense of justice, including the discrimination against Jews that was part of life even in her native New York City during her formative years,” continued the leaders.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement on Sunday, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was in her own words ‘a judge, born, raised and proud of being a Jew.’ ”
“Justice Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the high court, sought to apply the values of her faith in seeking equal justice under law and had a lifelong love for Israel,” continued the Jewish umbrella organization. “She is recognized as among the great jurists in modern history. She never ceased to advocate for gender equality while leading the way for women in the legal profession.”
B’nai B’rith said that Ginsburg “was a giant of the Supreme Court, a champion to many women and others as a strong, progressive voice on the court, with a trailblazing judicial presence. She was courageous in her many battles against cancer.”
Jewish Democratic Council of America executive director Halie Soifer said in a statementon Sunday that “Jewish Democrats mourn the enormous loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most influential and powerful Jewish women to serve our nation. Justice Ginsberg embodied Jewish values including a commitment to tikkun olam, and our tradition’s commandment of ‘justice, justice, you shall pursue,’ which hung in her chambers in Hebrew.”
Soifer went on to say that “Ginsburg’s life was dedicated to ensuring equal protection under the law for all Americans, and we are incredibly grateful for her service.”
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg combined stunning moral clarity with acute legal acumen,” said Democratic Majority for Israel in a statement on Sunday. “All Americans owe her a profound debt of gratitude for her moral leadership, for the example she set as the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court, and for her fierce advocacy of gender equality and justice for all.”
“An iconic trailblazer, Justice Ginsburg worked tirelessly and successfully to make our country more just,” continued DMFI. “A strong supporter of Israel and a lifelong Zionist, she spoke of her inspiration from heroes like Emma Lazarus and Henrietta Szold.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted on Friday, “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer and a great patriot. We, along with all Americans, mourn her passing. May her memory be a blessing.”
In addition to her two children, Ginsburg is survived by four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was predeceased by her husband, who died in 2010.
The Algemeiner also quoted our reaction to the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International in its coverage of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations commending Saudi Arabia's decision to permanently open its airspace to flights between Israel and the UAE.
Major Jewish and pro-Israel groups welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision on Wednesday to open its airspace to flights between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates.
“A major breakthrough for regional prosperity and progress,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted.
“Opening the skies allows for more business and people-to-people engagement between Israel and the UAE,” it added. “Peace & reconciliation are possible when America’s support for Israel is rock-solid and the Jewish state is strong.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the Saudi move “a most welcome gesture reflective of the changing dynamic in the Middle East.”
“We applaud the Saudis for taking this meaningful step, and hope that mutually beneficial cooperation will follow,” it stated. “We also look to others in the region to join in embracing peace at this critical time.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted, “Incredible news: Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow all flights between Israel and the UAE to fly through its airspace.”
“We welcome this historic milestone on the path toward broader Arab-Israeli reconciliation, cooperation, and peace,” the AJC said.
B’nai B’rith International tweeted, “Welcome news: Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow flights from “all countries” – aka Israel – to fly through its airspace to and from the UAE.”
“This is an important breakthrough and yet another step toward peace and reconciliation in the region,” it noted.
Justice Still Being Sought for Victims of Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center Bombing, 26 Years Later
The Algemeiner covered our virtual discussion and cited our call for justice in its coverage of the 26th anniversary of the AMIA terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires.
Saturday will mark the 26th anniversary of the deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people were murdered.
The July 18, 1994 attack at the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) building was perpetrated by Hezbollah on behalf of its backer, Iran.
Major Jewish groups around the world are commemorating the atrocity with social media posts.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) tweeted, “On July 18, 1994, a terrorist attack struck the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 85 people. Julio Menajovsky was one of the first photojournalists on the scene. More than two decades later, he reunited with survivors and relatives of the victims.”
B’nai B’rith International tweeted, “Twenty-six years after the #AMIA terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires, there’s still no justice for the victims & their families.”
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) tweeted, “We mourn with the families of the vicitms of the #AMIA bombing in 1994 & join them in their mission to seek justice.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted, “26 years later, we remember.”
The AJC also hosted an online program on Thursday featuring a conversation with the current president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, who said his government was committed to bringing those responsible for the bombing to justice.
“The truth is that for Argentines, the AMIA attack is very painful,” Fernández said. “This was not an attack against the Jewish community only, it was an attack against Argentina. The victims, many of them, were members of the Jewish community. But they were Argentines first and foremost and it hurts us as such.”
However, it must be noted that Alberto Fernández’s current vice president is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former Argentine president suspected of illegally conspiring with Iran to cover up its role in the attack.
This matter was investigated by the late Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment in January 2015, shortly before he was supposed to appear at a congressional hearing to lay out his allegations against Kirchner.
Nisman’s death was originally depicted by Argentine authorities as a suicide, but it was later determined he had been murdered — a crime for which no one has yet been arrested. Some have accused Kirchner of being behind Nisman’s killing.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai Birith International said it would be a “mistake” to close out the debate on an issue where “every [congressman] should be heard,” especially as the White House failed to whip up support among some of the most powerful Democrats in Congress.
While both groups acknowledged that the president has enough support to keep Congress from killing the deal...they called for legislation demanding accountability while registering the wide opposition to the deal.
Mariaschin called it “just the beginning of the process on the Iranian issue,” encouraging bipartisan measures to “ensure greater accountability.”
Jewish groups, pro-Israel lobbies and, of course, Israel, among others are concerned the nuclear deal will empower Iran to work toward carrying out its stated goals of occupying Jerusalem and destroying the Jewish state; just Wednesday morning Khamenei predicted the “Zionist regime” would no longer exist in 25 years, which also happens to be when the final provisions of the nuclear deal expire.
“One has to be extremely skeptical going forward. [The Iranians] say they got the better end of this deal,” said Mariaschin, noting Iranian claims to victory over the international sanctions regime that will disintegrate with the deal’s implementation.
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