B'nai B'rith International and multinational leaders met with Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican.
B'nai B'rith’s was the first international Jewish audience with the pope since the Vatican announced an agreement on church issues with “the State of Palestine,” and the pope separately acknowledged non-recognition of Israel as amounting to anti-Semitism.
Before he was known around the world at Pope Francis, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio hosted B’nai B’rith’s Kristallnacht commemoration in Buenos Aires in 2012.
Learn more about the latest visit from the international media coverage recap, below:
I am pleased to greet you during your visit to the Vatican. My predecessors met with delegations of B’nai B’rith International on several occasions, and today I offer you my welcome with renewed respect and affection.
Your organization has enjoyed relations with the Holy See since the promulgation of the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate. This document constituted a milestone on the path of mutual knowledge and esteem between Jews and Catholics, based on the great spiritual patrimony that, thanks be to God, we share in common.
Looking back on these fifty years of regular dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism, I cannot help but thank the Lord for the great progress that has been made. Many initiatives fostering reciprocal understanding and dialogue have been undertaken; above all a sense of mutual trust and appreciation has developed. There are many areas in which we as Jews and Christians can continue to work together for the good of the peoples of our time. Respect for life and creation, human dignity, justice and solidarity unite us for the development of society and for securing a future rich in hope for generations to come. In a particular way, we are called to pray and work together for peace. Unfortunately, there are many countries and regions of the world that live in situations of conflict – I think in particular of the Holy Land and the Middle East – and that require a courageous commitment to peace, which is not only to be longed for, but sought after and built up patiently and tenaciously by everyone, especially believers.
During these moments together, I wish to recall with heartfelt gratitude all those who have fostered friendship between Jews and Catholics. I particularly want to mention Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II. Saint John saved many Jews during the Second World War, met with them numerous times, and greatly desired a conciliar document on this theme. Regarding Saint John Paul, his various historical gestures remain very much alive in our memories, such as his visit to Auschwitz and to the Great Synagogue of Rome. With the help of God, I wish to walk in their footsteps, encouraged too by the many beautiful encounters and friendships I enjoyed in Buenos Aires.
May the Almighty and Eternal One bless our dialogue abundantly, especially during this year in which we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, so that our friendship may always grow deeper and bear abundant fruit for our communities and the entire human family.
B'nai B'rith International is a proud member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which recently organized a strategic mission to Europe and Israel to meet with political leaders.
B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin were notable members of the mission, introducing key speakers in Europe and meeting with senior leadership in Israel.
Below is a recap of some of the news items to surface from the mission:
The following letter was sent to the editor at Reuters, following their publication of an article entitled “Palestinian woman stabs Israeli, shot by security forces.”
To the Editor:
From top to bottom, “Palestinian woman stabs Israeli, shot by security forces” follows Reuters ongoing bias against Israel.
Starting with your carefully crafted headline, Reuters displays a false equivalence between the Palestinian terrorist who attacked an Israeli civilian and the fate of the attacker.
Through your selective memory, you are fueling a false narrative of Israel oppressing Palestinians, with no regard for relentless terror attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists.
This story fits in with a long-standing Reuters narrative, casting Israel as the aggressor and Palestinians as victims. Where is any mention of the recent spate of attacks on Jews at train stations and street corners? Where is a recap of the four rabbis murdered as they prayed at a synagogue last month by axe-toting terrorists? Where is discussion of constant Palestinian incitement?
This summer, Israel embarked on a defensive military operation, launched in the aftermath of relentless Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. But the Reuters narrative omits that fact and focuses on a false game of casualty counting.
As a global news agency, Reuters has a powerful platform. Unfortunately, it continues to shape global public opinion according to its own narrative rather than the facts.
Allan J. Jacobs Daniel S. Mariaschin
B’nai B’rith International President B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President
Caption: B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin discussed “Issues Facing World Jewry Today” at the October B’nai B’rith Real Estate luncheon at the The Cornell Club in New York City.
Pictured (L-R): Robert Shapiro, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, Gerald Morganstern,Goetz Fitzpatrick LLP, Pres. Allan Jacobs, B'nai B'rith International, Mariaschin, Lydia Sklar, Sklar Realty Group, Greg Kraut, Avison Young, Jeff Mitzner, First American Title Insurance, and Harry Zlokower, Zlokower Company Public Relations.
The arrival of Elie and Marion Wiesel was greeted with explosive applause by the German consular staff. Wiesel was led to the podium next to a window overlooking a breathtaking sunlit view of Manhattan with St. Patrick’s Cathedral nearby.
Touting the presentation of the medal as “a humble gesture of my country showing gratitude for your lifetime achievements and relentless efforts to keep the memory alive of the worst crime in all of history—the Shoah– against the Jewish people,” minister Steinmeier declared: “With this order of Merit we want to honor the writer, the philanthropist, historian, professor, the outstanding Mentsch that you are!” During the presentation Marion Wiesel never took her eyes off Elie.
“Thank you for your words of kindness,” responded a contemplative Wiesel. “To receive a medal of recognition from Germany is not a normal thing in my life,” he said softly.
“The past is here. The past is not absent from the present. We remember things that happened two thousand years ago as if they happened yesterday. Every day in our prayers we remember the good, we remember the bad. The choice, is always ours — ultimately.”
A high point of this year's Policy Forum was the Aug. 31 dinner at the Hebrew Club, where attendees dined with President Juan Carlos Varela, who was officially addressing the Panamanian Jewish community for the first time.
The president took to the podium and thanked B'nai B'rith for bringing the Policy Forum to Panama and that it was a great honor to host it, with this being only the second time the meeting has left the United States. Varela said he was impressed by the longevity of the organization and the work B'nai B'rith has done for 171 years. He conveyed respect for B'nai B'rith's commitment to human rights and said Panamanians share B'nai B'rith's principles of respect and tolerance. Varela also affirmed his country's support for the State of Israel and its right to defend itself. He offered Panama's support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the region.
B'nai B'rith had the privilege of being joined by Julio Maria Sanguinetti, a former president of Uruguay. Sanguinetti discussed the issues and "evils" pervading the world today and the diametrically opposed worldviews between the West and the radical Islamist influence that is not only a force in the Middle East, but in Latin America as well. Sanguinetti spoke on globalization and the consumer and knowledge based society in which we live, and how the fundamentalist Islamic movement isn't just a clash of ideas against the West, it's a clash of civilizations.
Sanguinetti compared this ongoing "clash of civilizations" to the Cold War, where any friend of the United States or the Western World was an enemy of the Soviet Union. He noted we're seeing something similar with some governments of Latin America attacking Israel and recalling their foreign delegations.
Sanguinetti reaffirmed that Western ideals of "freedom, schooling and capitalism" are worth standing up for, but said it will be difficult for societies and governments to face these new threats because people would rather ignore it and carry on with their lives.
"It's a mix of fear, a mix of desire, not wanting to see," Sanguinetti said. "It's like people who don't want to go to the doctor for fear of bad news. That happens with societies too."
Fox News Latino, a subsidiary of Fox News focusing on news in the Latin American community, covered B'nai B'rith International's statement from earlier this week deriding the outrageous comments made by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on the Gaza conflict.
In condemning Maduro's reckless incitement of anti-Semitism, B'nai B'rith also reinforced its commitment to the Venezuelan Jewish community.
Read an excerpt of the Fox News Latino article below:
A major Jewish rights group has called out Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro for what they allege is inciting fear and violence against Jews in the South American nation in the midst of a bloody war in the Gaza Strip.
B’nai B’rith International asked Maduro and other Venezuelan officials to cease making inflammatory remarks against Israel, including ones that accused Israel of “a war of extermination against the Palestinian people,” and reportedly comparing Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip to the Nazis at Auschwitz concentration camp.
While Maduro is a strong supporter of a Palestinian state, B’nai B’rith claims that the Venezuelan leader has gone too far and his remarks have sparked anti-Semitic graffiti in Caracas, attacks against Jews on social media and a Jewish newspaper’s website being hacked.
“The comparison of Gaza to Auschwitz alone is a dangerous trope and an outrageous falsehood. When Maduro combines these explosive comments with his own state-media machine and a dangerous political agenda, it creates an alarming situation for the Jewish community in Venezuela,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said in a statement. “B’nai B’rith expresses its solidarity with the Venezuelan Jewish community. We will continue to call attention to and monitor the hate-filled environment that Maduro is intent on fostering.”
B’nai B’rith also criticized the Maduro government for ignoring the Israeli soldiers and civilians killed by rockets fried by the pro-Palestinian group Hamas and added that Maduro is perpetuating hatred against Jews in Venezuela.
“B’nai B’rith, and the Jewish community as a whole, has always been concerned with the Venezuelan government’s incendiary statements and actions against Israel. But in recent weeks we’ve seen Maduro promoting a whole new level of hatred,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The climate he has created is dangerous to the Jews in his country and wholly out of line with a government’s duty to protect its citizens.”
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