Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn Comments on Roger Waters' Anti-Semitism to Telemundo
B'nai B'rith International's Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn called out musician Roger Waters for demonizing Israel and for spreading blatantly anti-Semitic messaging during his concerts. Watch his interview with Telemundo about Waters in Spanish below. For the original story, click this link.
In the aftermath of the deadliest attack in American Jewish history, a measure calling on New York University to separate its interests from firms such as Lockheed Martin, General Electric and Caterpillar Inc., which do business with Israel, was introduced on Thursday in the school’s student government.
“Again a few radical students can set the agenda and because of the widespread indifference to, or dismissal of such initiatives can appear to represent the majority,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JNS.
Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories“Especially after recent events, we must be vigilant and immediately respond and take appropriate actions,” continued Hoenlein. “We must back the students that stand up against these organized attacks, another in the many thinly veiled anti-Semitic assaults under the guise of BDS.”
Only students with NYU IDs will be allowed to attend the meeting. To protect student privacy, the anonymous final vote will be held on Dec. 6.
“The secret ballot is not just proof of the student government’s lack of transparency and accountability. It shows its members aren’t genuine human-rights activists,” Hali Haber, CAMERA’s Director of Campus Programming, told JNS.
“Do you think Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. fought in secret? When you have morality on your side, you fight for it openly,” said Haber. “Until members of the assembly are willing to attach their own names to the resolution, nobody else should take their vote seriously either.”
“The threat of violence implicit in BDS campaigns such as the one at NYU is the very reason why student senators do not feel safe in openly expressing themselves about this issue, and why the NYU vote must be conducted by secret ballot,” Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of the AMCHA Initiative, told JNS. “That fact alone speaks volumes about the hostility and violence that many Jewish and Zionist students face when trying to express their identity or support for Israel at NYU or on many other college campuses.”
An NYU student stealing an Israeli flag at a pro-Israeli student event called “Rave in the Park” on April 27, 2018. The student was soon arrested. Credit: Screenshot/YouTube.
Titled the “Resolution on the Human Rights of Palestinians,” the BDS resolution has the backing of 54 student groups, and was introduced by Rose Asaf, Bayan Abubakr and Leen Dweik. It calls on businesses that are “in the violation of Palestinian human rights and human rights globally.” The measure also has the backing of 34 faculty members.
The resolution claims that BDS is an “an inclusive, anti-racist, and non-violent set of tools to pursue the Palestinian human-rights movement” that opposes all kinds of discrimination, “including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”
“As a Palestinian, this resolution is deeply personal to me,” Dweik told NYU Local. “As an NYU student, it hurts and shocks me that the university would continue to invest in companies that directly contribute to the human-rights violations of my family and my people.”
“As an American-Israeli Jew, I reject the categorization of BDS as anti-Semitic,” Asaf told JNS in October. “BDS is a set of nonviolent tactics aimed to put pressure on Israel to comply with international law and respect the dignity of the Palestinian people.
“Criticizing a nation-state and promoting human rights is not in any way anti-Semitic,” she continued. “As someone who lives with the trauma of generational anti-Semitism, I know this well. I am in solidarity with Palestinians not in spite of my Judaism, but because of it.”
Singling out one country only: Israel
Jewish and pro-Israel groups, such as the Zionist Organization of America and the Endowment for Middle East Truth, denounced the resolution and its timing.
“This divestment resolution claims to be inclusive, anti-racist, and non-discriminatory, when on its face, it’s the exact opposite,” Susan Tuchman, director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, told JNS. “The resolution singles out companies simply because they do business with one country only: the Jewish State of Israel.”
“The fact that the resolution will be voted on by secret ballot is outrageous. Those voting are in the student government,” continued Tuchman. “They’re accountable to the students they represent and their actions should be completely transparent. These student government representatives should be proud of the votes they cast, not concealing them.”
Jennifer Dekel, EMET’s director of research and communications, told JNS: “NYU’s divestment resolution is the latest example of efforts by radical anti-Israel groups to alienate and silence Jewish students, and other students supporting Israel, on campus.”
“Groups leading the effort, such as Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, have a track record of creating a hostile environment for Jewish students and should be put on notice by the university that their actions may be in violation of Title VI of The Civil Rights Act,” added Dekel.
Jewish Voice for Peace has been accused of using anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery as part of its “Deadly Exchange” activities that seek to “end police exchange programs between the U.S. and Israel.”
“This is yet another example of totally ill-informed individuals engaging in the practice of delegitimizing Israel and those that do business with it,” Dan Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International CEO, told JNS. “Because of the motive behind it, the university should unequivocally reject it.”
Andrea Levin, president and executive director of CAMERA, said her organization is “disheartened” by the BDS resolution from Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine, both groups that have a history of anti-Semitism.
“Since the resolution is being introduced by organizations with a history of anti-Semitism, there can be no doubt that it aims to intimidate the vibrant community of Jewish students at NYU. CAMERA on Campus maintains the unshakable belief that the BDS movement, with its single-minded focus on the Jewish state, works exclusively to worsen conditions needed for dialogue, coexistence, and peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” she previously told JNS.
“We’ve heard from many NYU students about how the student government lacks transparency and doesn’t fairly represent their constituents,” Rena Nasar, StandWithUs tri-state campus director, told JNS. “It seems the problem is only getting worse as a result of this campaign of hate that has been launched by JVP and SJP on campus.”
Although NYU president Andrew Hamilton denounced BDS in April, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, StandWithUs and Alums for Campus Fairness wrote a letter four months later to Hamilton, asking his administration to address a discriminatory joint statement issued in April by 53 NYU student groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace, which declared that the student organizations would boycott two pro-Israel student groups on campus: Realize Israel and TorchPAC.
While the August letter acknowledges that although NYU has condemned the BDS movement, the university has yet to adequately denounce the discriminatory statement and address how the vitriol has affected the overall student-faculty community, according to a joint statement by the three organizations.
Out of 51,123 undergraduate and graduate students, there are 6,000 undergraduate and graduate Jewish students at NYU, or 11.7 percent of the student population, according to Hillel International.
To read the original story on JNS.org, visit this link.
The oldest Jewish service organization in the world began here on the Lower East Side, and this year celebrates a major milestone.
B’nai Brith International (“Sons of the Covenant”) – now in its 175th year – was founded on Essex Street in October 1843 by a dozen immigrants of German-Jewish descent.
Of course, at that time, the neighborhood looked vastly different. The recent arrivals’ inaugural meeting was at Aaron Sinsheimer’s ground-level cafe at 60 Essex Street, in what was then a three-story Federal-style brick building (under Seward Park Extension housing). Each founder lent the astronomical sum of $5 to start the club, whose primary goal was helping off-the-boat Jews adjust to their new lives in America. B’nai B’rith also would provide financial assistance to widows and orphans through insurance policies and various charities.
B’nai B’rith became a juggernaut early on. It went national, and membership swelled into the thousands by the end of the Civil War, with sixty-six lodges around the country. According to the official website, the group notched the following achievements:
If you stroll by the location today, it’s fairly easy to overlook the plaque dedicated by the city on the nation’s bicentennial (July 4, 1976). The honor is emblazoned on the perimeter wall of the Seward Park Extension.
And B’nai B’rith is now headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Read the original version of the story here.
Adding to her anti-Israel résumé, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) has accused Israel of being an “apartheid” state.
Accepting a leadership award from the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights earlier late last month, the congresswoman made the remark in reference to Israel’s recently enacted nation-state law.
“Friends, the world has a name of that form of government that’s codified in the Nation-State Law, and it’s called ‘apartheid,’” said McCollum.
Members of the pro-Israel and Jewish community weighed in on her comments.
“Something like 126 countries have laws similar to Israel’s new nation-state law,” said Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum. “I guess apartheid is everywhere.”
Dan Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International CEO and executive vice president, said, “it’s a slander and a grotesque mischaracterization of the State of Israel, which is an exemplary member of the community of democracies.”
And Zionist Organization of America President Mort Klein said, “McCollum’s bigoted and absurdly false propaganda claim only proves her ignorance and her unhinged hatred of the Jewish State of Israel.”
He explained that “Israeli Arabs hold 10 percent of the seats in Israel’s Knesset, have a seat on the Supreme Court and many other Israeli Courts, have full voting rights; large numbers of Israeli Arabs are students and professors at Israeli universities. Many of the doctors are Israeli Arabs, as are half the patients; Israeli Arabs serve as ambassadors and are players on Israeli sports teams; they have their own media and full freedom of speech; and more Israeli Arab women are running for political office than ever before.”
“None of this was true in apartheid South Africa,” added Klein. “McCollum is a racist, prejudiced disgrace.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas was also disturbed by the legislator’s remark.
“Given Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s past support for a two-state solution, we are very troubled by her embrace of an organization which labels itself as a champion for Palestinian rights, but is primarily focus on the delegitimization of Israel, denying the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, and advancing the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions [BDS] movement,” said the organization’s executive director, Steve Hunegs.
He added that moments before McCollum accepted her award and “outrageously declared Israel an ‘apartheid state,’ Professor Noura Erakat praised the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—an avowed terrorist organization responsible for the murder of scores of civilians, including children.”
‘Inflammatory and wrong’
Noting that her comments were wrong, Democratic strategist Mark Mellman told JNS that McCollum’s Israel views do not represent her party.
“Her comments represent only her own poorly informed and intellectually dishonest opinion,” he said. “It does not reflect the views of Democrats at large, Democratic members of Congress or the Democratic Party.”
Mellman’s firm released a poll on Oct. 17 showing that 74 percent of American Jewish voters are expected to cast their ballots for Democrats in the November midterms.
Ron Klein, chairman of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, echoed Mellman’s sentiment.
“Rep. Betty McCollum’s labeling Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state was inflammatory and wrong,” he told JNS. “While Rep. McCollum was responding to Israel’s passage of the controversial nation-state bill, which the Jewish Democratic Council of America also disagreed with, her rhetoric does not reflect mainstream views within the Democratic Party and does not advance the cause of peace.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee declined to comment, as did J Street.
In November 2017, McCollum introduced a bill that would mandate the U.S. government certify that its military funding to Israel is not used for “Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.”
The watchdog group NGO Monitor accused the legislation of “exploiting Palestinian children,” noting that it is based on “invented international legal claims.”
B'nai B'rith International Senior Vice President Rebecca Saltzman was featured in the Intermountain Jewish News' "15 Under 40 You Should Know About."
Israel’s top UN envoy blasted UNESCO’s attempt to water down its controversial bi-annual Jerusalem resolution, reaffirming that Israel planned to leave the organization at the end of the year.
Danny Danon spoke after the 58 members of UNESCO’s executive board in Paris hid language disavowing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem in the lengthy annex to an otherwise short benign text called Resolution 28.
The statements in the resolution’s annexes are “further evidence, for anyone who did not understand why the United States and Israel withdrew from UNESCO," Danon said.
The board gave its preliminary approval to that text on Wednesday, with a final vote likely to be held on Monday.
UNESCO’s director-general Audrey Azoulay lauded the use of an annex text to bypass some of the controversy caused by the Jerusalem resolutions in past years.
“I wish to thank those who have worked to achieve this, especially the representatives of the Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian delegations, and all members of the Executive Board who supported this agreement, as well as the European Union,” Azoulay said.
A similar compromise had been reached at the April Executive Board meeting. At the time, the Israeli and the Palestinian delegations accepted the annex compromise, with Jerusalem welcoming Azoulay’s efforts to downgrade the anti-Israeli tone of the agency.
It’s understood that the Israeli delegation at UNESCO in Paris approved the compromise language this time as well.
Previous UNESCO resolutions had ignored Jewish ties to its most holy site, the Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as Har Habayit, referring to it solely by its Arabic-Muslim name al-Haram al-Sharif.
But this resolution’s annex modified some of that tone, stating that while Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron “are an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the two tombs “are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”
In addition, it affirmed the importance of the “Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions.”
The board gave its preliminary approval to that text on Wednesday, with a final vote likely to be held on Monday.
The idea of placing controversial statements about Israel in an annex was conceived by by Azoulay with an eye to depoliticizing the organization.
She also hoped to sway Israel and the United States to rescind their decision to leave the organization at the end of the year.
The resolution’s annex allows for votes on controversial statements to be delayed to further meetings of the board, which gathers twice a year.
Applause broke out among board members when Resolution 28 and another one on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, called Resolution 29, were approved by consensus.
After the meeting Azoulay, said: "I would like to commend the spirit of dialogue and the sense of responsibility that led to this result. A trend towards consensus is now emerging. It is based on the presence of all parties around the table at UNESCO and, of course, on their goodwill. These factors have come together in recent months and have enabled the Secretariat to play to the full its role as mediator.”
Still Israel believes that resolutions with such texts politicize UNESCO and should not come before the board altogether.
Danon dismissed such watering down efforts as too little, too late, saying the resolution “proves that UNESCO is a body based on lies and biases, and is deliberately acting against us. The State of Israel will not be a member of an organization that is trying to rewrite history and willing to be manipulated by our enemies.”
The enmity between UNESCO and Israel is so bitter that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to attend a UNESCO event condemning antisemitism.
UNESCO held that event earlier this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, when Netanyahu was in New York.
At the time, Netanyahu said, “In withdrawing from UNESCO in 2017, Israel and the United States made a clear moral statement that UNESCO’s antisemitism will no longer be tolerated.
“If and when UNESCO ends its bias against Israel, stops denying history and starts standing up for the truth, Israel will be honored to rejoin,” Netanyahu said.
Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Dr. Shimon Samuels told The Jerusalem Post that ‘the big question is what now? What will happen after Israel leaves? I believe that the role of all the Jewish groups accredited to UNESCO will become significantly more important, in confronting such challenges.’’
Samuels noted that Azoulay is keen on enhancing the agency’s relations with the Jewish world, but that without Israel as member state, this might prove difficult.
Still, the Jewish organizations, he said, are committed to take up the job of defending the cause of Israel and world Jewry in UNESCO.
Representative of B’nai B’rith Stephane Teicher told the Post that Jerusalem believes that delaying these resolutions each time is not a solution.
“I understand that,” he said.
Teicher noted that at the executive board, “everybody was relieved that such an issue was resolved through consensus. And this is to the credit of Audrey Azoulay, who has deployed significant efforts to de-politicize the agency.”
Israeli and Palestinian delegates to UNESCO refused to comment, though an Israel source told the Post that Israel recognizes the efforts made by Mrs. Azoulay to change UNESCO”s attitude.
A statement put out by her office on Wednesday noted that in this past year 12 resolutions on the Middle East had been arrived at by consensus, “after negotiation between the parties, facilitated by the UNESCO Secretariat.”
Read the original version in the Jerusalem Post here.
Nikki Haley, who has been the face of the Trump administration’s strong stances in support of Israel, has resigned as ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday.
A former Republican governor of South Carolina, Haley, who has served as U.N. ambassador since the beginning of the Trump administration, will step down from his position at the end of year.
U.S. President Donald Trump had apparently know of her decision for a while before her announcement. He said that “she’s done a fantastic job, and we’ve done a fantastic job together. We’ve solved a lot of problems and we’re in the process of solving a lot of problems.”
Haley responded that the United States is now respected again on the world stage, while listing tackling anti-Israel bias as one of her top accomplishments.
“They get it when the president says he means business,” she said. “If you look at the anti-Israel bias and the strength and courage the president showed in moving the embassy.”
Trump said the search for her replacement will happen in the next few weeks.
Haley has received widespread support from both Israeli officials and the American Jewish community for her strong support of Israel at the world body, which has been a hotbed of criticism of the Jewish state for decades.
“We appreciate the new spirit of ambassador Nikki Haley; she has been very important and helpful,” Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon told JNS earlier this year. We work very closely with ambassador Haley and her team. We see similar issues, and understand the challenges and threats. That’s why you see the cooperation because we come from the same values.”
Early on in her tenure as U.N. ambassador, Haley made it clear that she would no longer tolerate anti-Israel bias at the world body. During a March 2017 speech to AIPAC, declared herself as the U.N.’s “new sheriff in town” and declared “the days of Israel-bashing are over.”
‘A steadfast friend of our community’
“Nikki Haley is a great champion of human rights, of U.N. reform and for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president and CEO of B’nai B’rith International. “She called out the bias against Israel time and again, and spoke directly about the hypocrisy and politicization that pervades the organization. A steadfast friend of our community and of Israel, we hope we’ll continue to hear her voice on the many issues she has championed.”
Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of JINSA, said that he “deeply regrets” her resignation. “She quickly became a rock star, strongly advocating for U.S. positions on all matters in the U.N., including championing Israel and consistently defending it from the constant barrage of hypocritical attacks in that body, and as well as highlighting Iran’s many transgressions. Americans owe Amb. Haley our deepest gratitude, and welcome her return to public service at some date.”
Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Jewish Policy Center, said she is “saddened by the resignation of Ambassador Nikki Haley as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She has been a strong, articulate voice for our country, our interests and our allies—not only our ally Israel, but most particularly Israel. In the face of enormous pressure from U.N. institutions with built-in biases against Israel and the United States, she never lost her composure while never missing an opportunity to stand for what is right. While we wish her well in her future endeavors, she will be sorely missed by Americans and others who treasure plain-spoken truth.”
During her 2018 address to AIPAC, Haley again received an overwhelmingly positive response, getting numerous standing ovations from the pro-Israel crowd.
“Some people accuse us of favoritism towards Israel,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with showing favoritism towards an ally; that’s what being an ally is all about. But in all that we’re doing, our approach on Israel is tied to one major idea—the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country.”
“We appreciate the strong leadership of Ambassador Haley,” said AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann, “and we thank her for consistently standing up for American interests and our democratic ally Israel.”
During her time at the United Nations, Haley presided over the U.S. pullout of UNESCO and the Human Rights Council, citing their bias against Israel as the reason.
Additionally, the United States also announced that it would end funding to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that handles Palestinian refugees, accusing the organization of corruption and perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Despite the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv in May, Americans born in Jerusalem are still unable to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on U.S. passports.
“The president has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final-status negotiations between the [Israelis and the Palestinians],” a State Department spokesperson told JNS. “We have not changed our practice regarding place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”
A group of 55 House Republicans sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump several weeks ago, urging him to instruct the State Department to permit American citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birth country on their passport.
“Despite the progress in moving the embassy, the State Department has not yet fully implemented the administration’s policy of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for purposes of registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem,” the letter stated.
Pro-Israel groups weigh in
Jewish and pro-Israel groups expressed concern to JNS over this development.
“We strongly supported legislation that would enable U.S. citizens to declare Israel to be their place of birth should they so desire,” said AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann. “We encourage the administration to adopt this approach.”
“It is deeply frustrating that the State Department ignores the fact that Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Koran; Arabs face Mecca when they pray, Jews face Jerusalem,” said Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein. “It has never been the capital of any country except Israel. Jerusalem became a slum when under Arab control from 1948-67, and no Arab leader except King Hussein visited Jerusalem during that time.”
“It has been Jerusalem, Israel, for thousands of years according to God, U.S. law and history, but not according to the State Department,” he continued. “Where is [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo on this? Shameful appeasement.”
Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, said “this is inconsistent with his previous message, declaring that ‘Israel, like any other sovereign nation, should have their right to determine its own capital.’ Why should Jewish babies born in Jerusalem continue to remain stateless?”
Daniel Mariaschin, CEO and executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International, remarked that the State Department needs to change its policy in accordance with Trump’s. “The president has made clear that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” he said. “So any U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem is therefore, de facto, born in Israel, and their U.S. passport should reflect that reality.”
Executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein stated that hopefully, this is just bureaucratic resistance that can be pushed aside to right any wrong. “It is disappointing that apparent bureaucratic, or worse, biased judgements are impeding the correction of this historic wrong,” he said. “It does prejudge anything regarding borders or boundaries to acknowledge the place of birth correctly. I hope higher authorities will intervene.”
Apparently, it is advertent bureaucratic resistance inside the State Department, according to Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum.
“Even before President Trump made his announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in a White House backgrounder for analysts, a ranking State Department official made clear that the recognition had no geographic definition, that the complex U.S. position on the city going back to the Corpus Separatum concept in the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, remains entirely in place,” explained Pipes. “Thus did the bureaucracy manage to salvage something from what it considers the wreckage of Trump’s recognition.”
On hold due to upcoming Mideast peace plan
Although Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he has the authority to not have “Jerusalem, Israel” listed on U.S. passports in accordance with Zivotofsky v. Kerry, where the Supreme Court ruled it is solely the president who has the power to recognize foreign entities in accordance with the U.S. Constitution’s Reception Clause.
“Zivotofsky ruled in favor of the executive; he was not required to comply with the federal law,” said constitutional scholar Ilya Shapiro. “Trump, like Obama, can decline to stamp ‘Israel’ on the passport of a citizen born in Jerusalem.”
Washington-based geopolitical strategist and diplomacy consultant John Sitilides told JNS that the administration may be withholding putting “Jerusalem, Israel” on passports due to its much-anticipated Mideast peace plan.
“President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but is now emphasizing his support for a two-state solution, and is withholding on the passport issue to maximize U.S. leverage as his diplomatic negotiating team finalizes its proposals,” said Sitilides. “He has publicly stated that Israel must be more flexible now that Jerusalem has been recognized, even as he declares that the Palestinian team has nowhere else to go to secure an enduring solution to its perennial issues.”
“Both sides, and all interested parties,” he said, “are holding their breath as the Trump administration prepares to unveil its long-awaited proposals.”
To read the original article in JNS, click this link.
The Trump administration has come under pressure to deny Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas entry into the United States for next week’s annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a group that tracks anti-Semitism and terrorism in Palestinian media, petitioned the White House, as well as the State and Treasury departments, to reject Abbas from stepping foot on American soil in accordance with new federal statutes prohibiting international terrorist leaders from traveling to the United States.
“Abbas has also called for the ‘destruction of the house’ of President Trump, and uses almost every opportunity to attack the US, the current administration and its policies,” PMW said in the letter. “There is no doubt Abbas will use his UN address to continue these attacks.”
“While it may be argued that the United States is committed to allow the entry and free passage of certain persons into the US to participate in meetings of the United Nations, that commitment is limited to the ‘Representatives of Member’ States,” PMW continued. “Since Palestine is not a member state of the United Nations, Abbas does not enjoy these privileges and his entry into the US must be specifically granted.”
In the letter, PMW also cited the Taylor Force Act, enacted in March to halt most U.S. assistance to the P.A. for rewarding terrorists and their families, among other reasons to prevent Abbas from being at the General Assembly.
A State Department spokesperson told The Washington Free Beacon that usually, foreign dignitaries must be allowed entry to the United States due to it being the United Nations’ host country.
“I can’t speak to the specifics, but typically, as host nation for the United Nations, the United States is generally obligated to admit foreign nationals traveling to U.N. headquarters in New York for official U.N. business,” the official said.
Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president and CEO of B’nai B’rith International, said “while the United States might be obligated to admit him, his and Palestinian leaders’ repeated justification and glorification of those who carry out acts of terror once again underscore the consistent failure of Abbas as a partner for peace.”
‘Already delivering a powerful policy signal’
Sander Gerber, a private New York financial executive and former board member of AIPAC who was a major player behind advocating for the Taylor Force Act, told JNS that the international community fails to truly understand the Palestinian Authority, and that if “the rest of the world can’t identify [the P.A.] as a terrorist-sponsoring entity, then we really have no hope to control the terrorists.”
“The Palestinians should not be granted an exception and the world … must face the reality that the Palestinian Authority is actually sponsoring terror and should be designated as such,” he stated.
However, Washington-based geopolitical strategist and diplomacy consultant John Sitilides, told JNS that barring Abbas from the United States would be counterintuitive, considering recent punitive measures by the Trump administration against the Palestinians.
“The leading state sponsor of international terrorism remains Iran, whose leaders are permitted to enter the U.S. for United Nations’ purposes. Earlier this year, President Trump met personally for several days with Kim Jong Un, another leading state sponsor of international terrorism,” said Sitilides. “In comparative terms, barring Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Israel seeks to cooperate on a lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian disputes, would be highly counterproductive.”
He added that “the Trump administration’s recent redirection of $200 million in U.S. aid for West Bank and Gaza is already delivering a powerful policy signal of Washington’s great displeasure over ongoing Palestinian activities.”
This op-ed originally appeared in The Hill.
Many Palestinians’ very identity seems more oriented to preserving grievance than to achieving peace. Sadly, with regard to Palestinians’ far-reaching claims on the issue of refugees, as with other key aspects of their conflict with Israel, the United Nations has entrenched itself as a part of the problem rather than the solution. A U.N. body, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), funded by American and other global taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars, has been dedicated to the perpetuation of Palestinians’ refugee status and their maximalist demands – in addition to more broadly amplifying the political narrative of just one side of one complex conflict.
Fortunately, though, senior American officials now seem committed to rectifying this state of affairs – and the time could be ripe for international backing of the effort. The White House has suspended funding of UNRWA, and is reportedly primed to announce opposition to the obdurate Palestinian posture on refugees. Both Israelis and Palestinians could benefit from these steps, along with prospects for genuine and lasting peace between them.
During and after the first war launched by Arab states against Israel upon its establishment in 1948, some 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled the country. Meanwhile, as a result of the hostilities, at least 750,000 Jews were compelled to leave Arab countries in which they had lived for centuries.
The similarities, however, largely end there. The Jews who fled Arab and other Muslim-majority lands were fully absorbed into Israel and other countries decades ago, restarting their lives despite significant challenges. The Palestinians who were displaced were spurred by Arab leaders to cling to their refugee status – and were widely denied citizenship or even basic rights as residents in Arab countries where they found themselves.
The world’s only Jewish state, Israel – a democratic country barely the size of New Jersey – now has about 1.8 million Arab citizens, not including the residents of the Palestinian territories. In the nearly two dozen neighboring Arab countries, comprising an area of over five million square miles, fewer than 5,000 Jews remain.
Palestinian leaders – from the establishment figures of the Palestinian Authority to the Hamas jihadists controlling Gaza, who openly pledge Israel’s destruction – have cultivated as sacrosanct a Palestinian right of mass “return” not to a future Palestinian state alongside Israel but to Israel itself. They do so knowing that no Israeli government – whether leaning to the left or right – could ever allow this scenario, which would amount not only to perpetual battle but to the eradication through demography of Israel as a Jewish state. Of course, rejection of Jews’ national legitimacy in their homeland is what has caused so much senseless suffering to begin with.
To make matters worse, Palestinians alone have had, since 1949, their own dedicated refugee organization at the United Nations, standing apart from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which focuses on all the world’s other refugees, numbering close to 17 million. UNRWA – one of the longest-lasting entities at the U.N. and likely its single largest bureaucracy in terms of personnel – has also operated under singularly expansive terms, defining as its charges not only actual refugees but all their descendants, indefinitely.
But this double standard is merely the tip of the iceberg. Over the course of years, UNRWA schools teaching a new generation of Palestinians have been found to utilize educational materials negating the existence of Israel and the rights and history of Jews. Repeatedly, UNRWA employees have been found to be associated with Palestinian extremist groups and their doctrines of hate. UNRWA spokespeople routinely promulgate anti-Israel propaganda, broadcasting incendiary, one-sided narratives on both traditional and social media. Multiple UNRWA facilities and their surroundings have even been revealed to have been utilized by terrorists to launch attacks, store weaponry or construct underground tunnels for use in cross-border violence against Israelis. And UNRWA, whose materials tout “Palestine” as if it were already a state even while also excusing Palestinians from any real obligations in peacemaking, has joined in inciting millions to dream of overrunning Israel with a mass Palestinian influx.
Over recent days, reports have emerged that White House officials, echoing bipartisan consensus, are committed to addressing the deep-rooted problems exacerbated by UNRWA and to rejecting Palestinian aspirations to overrun Israel demographically. The desire of an unprecedented number of Arab leaders to focus on foremost current priorities, including modernization and the broadly menacing policies of Iran, may yield some newfound receptiveness.
Ultimately, in a sign of impartiality consistent with the U.N.’s own founding principles, UNRWA’s work should be absorbed into the overall U.N. refugee agency. More immediately, dramatic reform of UNRWA’s mandate and operations is a necessity for restoring U.N. credibility and efficiency, ensuring fair treatment of both Israelis and Palestinians, and meaningfully pursuing peace in the Middle East. Until that long-overdue reform occurs, funds earmarked for UNRWA should be redirected in a manner that promotes, not hinders, regional reconciliation.
For too long, UNRWA has been a primary symbol of discrimination and waste in U.N. agencies that a consortium of nearly 50 Muslim states frequently exploits as political weapons against Israel. Palestinians may certainly continue to receive foreign aid and social services. However, with their utter dependency on the role played by UNRWA – not only in material assistance but also shrill political advocacy – the Palestinians have had little incentive to finally normalize their own circumstances, temper unfeasible demands and reach a mutually just peace with Israel. Indeed, the Palestinian Authority has rejected every sweeping peace proposal put to it.
Palestinians of successive generations have retained refugee status in Arab and other countries some 70 years after a similar number of Jewish refugees were fully absorbed in Israel and elsewhere. This status quo does not serve Palestinians – and it does not serve the cause of peace. It’s time for a change.
Daniel S. Mariaschin is executive vice president and CEO of B’nai B’rith International. He directs and supervises programs, activities and staff around the world. He serves as director of B'nai B'rith's International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, coordinating its programs and policies on issues of concern to the Jewish community. Mr. Mariaschin meets with world leaders, seeking to advance human rights, protect the rights of Jewish communities worldwide, and promote better relations with the state of Israel.
David J. Michaels is director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs at B'nai B'rith International, where he began working in 2004 as special assistant to the executive vice president.
In the News
B'nai B'rith International is the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
All rights reserved. Stories are attributed to the original copyright holders.