The Times of Israel published B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin's op-ed on former Secretary of State Colin Powell's 2004 speech on anti-Semitism. Powell died on October 18, 2021.
One of the 21st century’s first important speeches on antisemitism by a world leader was given by then secretary of state Colin Powell, in April 2004.
The occasion was the second dedicated conference on antisemitism, organized in Berlin, by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a group of then-56 countries whose mission is to “work for security, peace and stability” for the billion people living in Europe, Eurasia and North America.
I served as an advisor to the United States delegation to the 2004 gathering, which was headed by former New York Mayor Ed Koch. The host was Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister; the conference was chaired by Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Solomon Passy, who was the OSCE chairman-in-office, the title given to the foreign minister of the country that chairs the OSCE that year.
The Berlin Conference, as it became known, materialized only three years after the infamous UN Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, which turned into a week-long hate fest of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The rhetoric which spewed forth at that meeting, including branding Israel an “apartheid state,” also led to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign which has incessantly sought, to this day, to demonize and delegitimize Israel and its supporters.
Powell had planned to speak at the Durban conference, but decided against attending when it appeared that it would spin out of control, which it did. In the interim, as the antisemitism pot began to boil globally, the OSCE, whose agenda includes human rights issues, announced its conference in Berlin, tying the focus on antisemitism to the place from which the worst crimes against the Jewish people originated. Said Powell in his opening remarks: “Berlin is a fitting backdrop for our meeting. The firestorm of antisemitic hatred that was the Holocaust was set here in Berlin.”
“Now, in the opening years of the 21st century,” Powell said, “we…have come to stamp out new fires of antisemitism within our societies, and to kindle lights of tolerance so that future generations will never know the unspeakable horrors that hatred can unleash.”
Powell decried the dramatic rise in antisemitism that was occurring within democratic nations, saying, “We must send the clear message far and wide that antisemitism is always wrong, and always dangerous.”
He stated that “we must not permit antisemitic crimes to be shoved off as inevitable side effects of inter-ethnic conflicts. Political disagreements do not justify physical assaults, against Jews in our streets, the destruction of Jewish schools, or the desecration of synagogues and cemeteries. There is no justification for antisemitism.”
And then, perhaps the most telling line in the speech: “It is not antisemitic to criticize the policies of the state of Israel. But the line is crossed when Israel or its leaders are demonized or vilified, for example by the use of Nazi symbols and racist caricatures.”
The “crossing the line” concept was groundbreaking. Hitherto, those who engaged in castigating Israel for racist policies had hidden behind the “legitimate criticism of Israel” fig leaf. Now, Powell had lifted a veil that would more easily reveal the antisemitism intentions of those who engaged in such rhetoric. The Berlin Declaration, issued at the conclusion of the conference basically incorporated the secretary’s very words: “…International developments or political issues, including those in Israel or in the rest of the Middle East, never justify antisemitism.”
Powell’s speech would help to pave the way for important advances in the fight against antisemitism. In 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), a consortium of now-34 countries committed to programs of remembrance, research and education, adopted a “working definition of antisemitism.” It serves as an invaluable baseline for addressing classic antisemitic stereotyping and tropes, accusing Jews of collective guilt and dual loyalty, denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, or accusations that Israel is a racist endeavor.
In recent years, the definition has attracted the endorsement of an increasing number of nation states, provinces, non-governmental organizations, universities, sporting associations and others. After hundreds of years with no frame of reference to define this ancient hydra of hatred, the IHRA document has been, and will continue to be, an essential tool in combating it.
Powell closed his speech with a prescriptive for the future: “It is especially important that we instill in our children values and behaviors that can avert such calamities….Tolerance, like hatred, is learned behavior passed from one generation to the next unless the new generation is educated differently. Let tolerance be our legacy. May future generations of schoolchildren read that in the early decades of the 21st century mankind finally consigned antisemitism to history, never to darken the world again.”
Seventeen years on, no truer, or more prescient words, were spoken. Powell’s words are more relevant—and more needed—today, perhaps—then they were in 2004. Driven by social media, by doctrinaire politics and by extremists from the left, right and the Islamic world, antisemitism is seemingly veering out of control.
It’s good today to recall Powell’s speech, with its incisive analysis and his instinctive understanding of how to confront the problem. His voice may have been stilled, but the message he left is as meaningful as ever.
B'nai B'rith Letter to Marriott Regarding Anti-Semitic Treatment of Gil Ofarim and Marriott's Response
German Jewish singer Gil Ofarim was recently denied entry to the Westin Leipzig for wearing a Star of David. When Ofarim spoke out about his inexcusable, anti-Semitic treatment, we immediately sent a letter to parent company Marriott International. Read our letter to Marriott.
We appreciate Marriott's response to us and swift investigation into this horrific anti-Semitic act. Read Marriott's letter responding to us.
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 Jewish Journal noted B'nai B'rith International's appreciation for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis calling for sanctions against Ben & Jerry's anti-Semitic boycott of Israel.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, sent a letter to the State Board of Administration (SBA) on July 22 requesting that they take action against Ben & Jerry’s and their parent company Unilever.
“It has come to my attention that Ben & Jerry’s has announced plans to remove its products and prohibit the sale of ice cream in Judea and Samaria,” DeSantis wrote, arguing that doing so puts Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever “within the prohibited activities” under Florida state law. DeSantis asked that the SBA put Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever on “the Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List” and the “Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.”
If Ben & Jerry’s continues to not sell their products in the West Bank after being put on these lists, then “the Board must refrain from acquiring any and all Unilever assets consistent with the law,” DeSantis wrote. “These actions affirm the State of Florida’s relationship with the State of Israel and our commitment to a swift response to those who discriminate against the Israeli people.”
A spokesperson from the DeSantis administration told Fox Business that if the SBA follows through on DeSantis’ request, they “would prevent the board from buying stock in Unilever … and its corporate entities. The state would also be unable to contract with these companies unless they ended their boycott.”
B’nai Brith International tweeted “kudos” to DeSantis. “The ice cream maker must be held accountable for its #antisemitic boycott of #Israel.”
Other states appear to be taking similar actions. The New York State Comptroller’s Office sent a letter to Unilever CEO Alan Jope on July 23 stating that they are “troubled and concerned” that Ben & Jerry’s “is involved in BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] activities.” Unilever has 90 days to prove that Ben & Jerry’s is not partaking in BDS activities; otherwise, the state may withdraw their pension funds from Unilever under New York’s anti-BDS law.
Pennsylvania State Representative Aaron Kaufer, a Republican, requested that state government officials enforce Pennsylvania’s anti-BDS law against Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever. He received replies stating that officials would ensure that their anti-BDS laws are being upheld.
“Unilever is feeling the heat,” journalist and author Gary Weiss tweeted. “The question is whether it believes it benefits more from standing with Jews or antisemites. Its long tradition, going back to the 1930s, is not encouraging.”
The Jerusalem Post covered B'nai B'rith International CEO Dan Mariaschin's remarks at the 7th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Israel.
WASHINGTON – The interparliamentary task force to combat online antisemitism released its interim report on Wednesday, calling on social media companies to act with transparency and adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition for antisemitism. The interim report is based on the task force’s work between the fall of 2020 to the spring of 2021, and the full report is expected to be released in the upcoming month.
Members of the task force included lawmakers from Israel, the US, UK, Australia and Canada. Former Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh represented Israel, and representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida), Ted Deutch (D-Florida), Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Florida) represented the US.
The task force provided four key preliminary recommendations. First, it called on social media platforms to enhance transparency regarding algorithms, including “how content is removed, what content is removed, and what tools are used to direct users to certain sites or redirect users away from hate or harm and provide regular quarterly reports on these issues.”
“It is important that social media actually be a marketplace of ideas,” they added.
Second, they called on legislators to consider ways to make the online space safer for all “that respects their respective national laws, including through an independent oversight body or regulatory process where appropriate.”
The task force also urged legislators and social media platforms to “recognize the danger of disinformation online, and that antisemitism is an example of other forms of disinformation online, and should therefore both be considered within the wider conversation of online extremism.”
“National, state [and] local governments, as well as social media providers, should adopt a clear definition of antisemitism, for without first defining a problem, we cannot combat it,” the report reads. “As the international consensus definition, established after 20 years of democratic processes and adopted by nearly 30 countries, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition is recommended.”
“Over the last several years, there has been an alarming increase in antisemitic incidents across the globe, with many originating online,” the report reads. “As social media posts do not stop at international borders, members of the national legislatures of Australia, Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States have come together across party lines to launch the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism.”
They noted that the report outlines the activities of the Task Force, “including meetings with technology experts and civil society groups.”
“Establishing consistent messaging and policy from parliaments and legislatures around the world in order to hold social media platforms, including Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and Google, accountable” is the main objective, they added.
“We created this inter-parliamentary task force because online antisemitism is a global problem that demands global attention and action,” Deutch said in a statement. “We’ve wasted no time trying to better understand the breadth and complexity of online hatred and extremism and what should be done by countries and companies to respond. This report offers a summary of our work to fight antisemitism and raises many of the questions that we intend to address in the future.”
Meanwhile, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder addressed the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism on Thursday, and said that, “today’s fight against antisemitism is a war, no less consequential than the Six Day War or the Yom Kippur War.”
The forum, held in Jerusalem from July 13-15, was organized by Israel’s Foreign Ministry. “Israel has become the new excuse for the old antisemitism. And our enemies have free rein because there has been no commensurate response from Israel,” he added.
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin addressed the forum as well, suggesting five approaches to fight antisemitism, including encouraging the endorsement of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
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.
JNS included our statement of condemnation in its coverage of anti-Israel activists falsely accusing the IDF of exploiting the disaster in Surfside, Florida.
(July 7, 2021 / JNS) Anti-Israel activists took to social media to accuse the Israel Defense Forces of exploiting the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla.
Rafael Shimunov, a political activist from Queens, N.Y., questioned the motives of involvement by the Israeli military.
He tweeted: “I really don’t understand the IDF’s involvement in rescue attempts of people tragically crushed under buildings in Miami. Their expertise is crushing buildings with people in them, not rescuing them.”
He added: “As if we don’t have any expertise or technology here in the U.S. Using these tragic deaths for pro-Israel propaganda is just quite something. These forces are literally stepping over buildings they crushed with children in them to go to Miami and do a PR stunt.”
Pro-Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour replied to Shiminov’s tweet with fingers pointing downwards in agreement.
A rescue delegation from the IDF’s Home Front Command was sent to Surfside to assist in the search and recovery mission. The delegation arrived within 72 hours of the building’s collapse, helping first responders using 3D mapping and conducting a humanitarian effort to support the families of the missing.
B’nai B’rith International was “outraged and disgusted” by the tweet and retweet from Shimunov and Sarsour.
“This horrific statement comes as families are mourning the loss of loved ones and hoping for miracles in the tragic building collapse that still has 113 missing in the rubble. The IDF has worked tirelessly, as Lt. Col. Oz Gino told Hamodia, ‘on the pile as if everybody is alive,’” wrote B’nai B’rith International president Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin.
“The tweet is not only deeply insensitive but anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic,” they continued. “A people that, sadly, has had to deal with bombs from Palestinian terrorists is now told it has the temerity to help people in Florida based on their own tragic experience.”
JBS Coverage of B'nai B'rith Commending National Education Association Vote Against Anti-Israel Measure
JBS covered our commending of America's largest labor union, the National Education Association, rejecting a blatantly biased anti-Israel and anti-Semitic measure. View coverage here (beginning at 1:14) or below.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin as part of its report on American Jewish organizations supporting Israel through the latest round of violence against the Jewish state (and increased anti-Jewish backlash).
(June 2, 2021 / JNS) The flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas lasted 11 days until a ceasefire was negotiated, but for Jewish community organizations, the fight continues within the United States. Recent weeks have seen a surge in violence against Jews and unlike during previous conflicts, Jews and Jewish groups this time around saw the emergence of a better-organized campaign by pro-Palestinian groups to smear Israel in the public sphere, leading to increased anti-Semitism.
The result is that American Jewish organizations—both new and traditional—see the need to work together to properly combat the new threats.
Shoham Nicolet, co-founder and CEO of the Israeli-American Council, said that as tensions were ramping up in Jerusalem, he and IAC staff held a virtual meeting to decide whether or not to hold rallies in support of the Jewish state.
They already knew that the escalation of violence looked like it was going to be serious. As they contemplated dates and times for their first round of rallies, each member began receiving messages on their WhatsApp Messenger from family and friends in Israel. Hamas had begun launching rockets into the center of the country.
The participants took a break from the meeting to call their relatives, and when they returned, they said, each was motivated to proceed with rallies as soon as possible. While they originally were planning to hold rallies in a few days’ time or on the nearest Sunday, they decided to organize them within the next 24 hours.
During and after the conflict, the IAC was instrumental in hosting a number of large, in-person rallies throughout the United States, in many places joined by local Jewish organizations such as the Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Councils and Jewish Community Centers.
In Los Angeles, where Nicolet lives, they held a rally in Beverly Hills, which he said was one of the largest he had ever seen. Another rally in New Jersey brought together some 3,000 people.
For the second round of rallies, another decision had to be made, said Nicolet, as the ceasefire had already been announced.
‘The community feels much less safe’
The staff had another serious discussion, realized that while the Israeli conflict was winding down, one within North America was heating up against Jewish people and those Israelis living in the Diaspora, prompting another round of rallies with the organized Jewish community.
“First of all, the demonization of Israel is getting into the mainstream, and this is a big issue that we have to deal with because these are lies and blood libels we didn’t hear at such level. It’s really extensive and on social networks, but not only,” explained Nicolet. “And the second part is that, again, it’s not a secret … the community feels much less safe.”
The violence, he continued, was not just anti-Israel. “We hear anti-Semitic statements and anti-Zionist statements, and these are concerns,” said Nicolet. “It went way beyond the military conflict that was taking place in Israel.”
Contrasting with previous times when Israel was involved in a conflict against Iranian terror proxies Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, the anti-Israel presence both in the media and on the street has been far better organized and outspoken.
“If there ever was a moment where our community needs to come together, it is now. Many in our community have been stunned by the rapidity of assaults on us as supporters of Israel and as Jews,” said Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International in an email. “Unlike the past, the Internet has been the force multiplier that spreads this particular virus in ways never before. But this perfect storm of Jew-hatred knows no political or ideological nuance. Each of us—organizations and individuals alike—has an obligation to stand up now against this dangerous, ominous, and unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism.”
Unlike in other conflicts, Jewish organizations faced hurdles in organizing. First, the speed of the conflict, lasting only 11 days—as opposed to the 51 in the summer of 2014 against Hamas in Gaza—gave organizations less time to coordinate a response, especially with the Shavuot holiday in the middle of the rocket-launching.
Read the full article on JNS.org.
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.