B'nai B'rith International was one of several Jewish organizations that weighed in on the results of the Greek parliament elections, after victories by the extreme Syriza, Independent Greeks (ANEL) and Golden Dawn parties.
Greece has long struggled to combat anti-Semitism, and B'nai B'rith has followed the situation closely, engaging with government leaders to advocate for tolerance and help diffuse tensions.
Here are notable events from the last three years:
B'nai B'rith International was quoted in an article on JNS.org, which reflected the organization's concerns for the election outcomes.
Read excerpts from the article below:
Jewish leaders have expressed both hope and concern over the outcome of the Greek election on Sunday, in which the radical left-wing Syriza party won 149 parliament seats and 36.3 percent of the vote.
Syriza officials have called for the end of Israel’s “brutality against Palestinians,” and Panos Kammenos—the leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks (ANEL) party, with whom Syriza formed a majority coalition—garnered accusations of anti-Semitism last December for claiming that Greek Jews do not pay taxes.
Golden Dawn, an extreme-right neo-Nazi party, placed third in results that polls suggested were driven largely by voters’ economic concerns.
The Greek Jewish community consists of about 5,000 people out of the country’s total population of 11.2 million, according to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
The community has experienced rising anti-Semitic sentiment that is correlated with both the country’s economic crisis as well as escalations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict such as last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
B’nai Brith International told JNS.org in a statement that the group is concerned by some “past statements about Israel made by [Syriza] party leaders,” but hopes “that the relationship with Israel, which had been building over the past decade in many fields, will be unaffected by the outcome.”
B'nai B'rith International live tweeted U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, responding to items of particular interest to the organization's policy advocacy.
Read a recap of the tweets, below:
On this date in 1965, B'nai B'rith International was cited in an article in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for its efforts to end all religious intolerance in the United Nations.
The advocacy efforts were later detailed by Dr. William E. Korey, director of the New York Bureau of the B'nai B'rith International Council, in the February 1965 issue of the National Jewish Monthly, a publication produced by B'nai B'rith:
This month, the United Nations General Assembly will be deeply involved in creating a historic and powerful legal instrument directed against discrimination on racial and ethnic grounds. The so-called 'Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination' will bind all states that ratify it to take specific measures aimed at removing barriers to human dignity.
The end goal of the Convention was to ensure religious freedom throughout the world. This is a policy upon which the organization has made great strides, and is still vigorously pursued by B'nai B'rith International 50 years later.
Read the JTA article in its entirety, below:
U. N. Body Hears More Jewish Pleas to Protect Religious Rights
January 20, 1965
Two international organizations–one of which has the American Jewish Committee as an affiliate, and the other representing B’nai B’rith and the Board of Deputies of British Jews–urged a United Nations body here today not only to adopt an international convention calling for the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance, but also to formulate procedures of implementation which would put enforcement teeth into a UN document guaranteeing religious freedom throughout the world.
The steps were taken here before the United Nations Sub commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. This 14 member body has before it several preliminary drafts of a religious freedoms convention which became international law when finally adopted by the UN General Assembly and ratified by a sufficient number of member states.
The statements were submitted by the International League for the Rights of Man, represented here by Sidney Liskofsky, a staff member of the American Jewish Committee, which is affiliated with the League; and by Gustav Warburg, representing the Coordinating Board of Jewish Organizations, comprised of the B’nai B’rith and the British Board.
It was a devastating start to the new year in France, as a total of 17 innocent civilians were executed by Islamic terrorists in four separate incidents in Paris.
After a major attack on the satirical publisher Charlie Hebdo on Thursday, the Jewish community was specifically targeted with a deadly hostage situation on Friday in the kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher.
While anti-Semitic attacks in France have largely flown under the radar in recent years, they are increasingly common for the French Jewish community.
B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin was quoted in an article in the Jewish News Service, urging European leaders to be proactive against fanatical Islam.
Read excerpts from the story, below:
Since the March 2012 attack in which Mohammed Merah killed three children and a rabbi at Jewish school in Toulouse, the threat of Islamic terrorism has not let up for Jews and the general public in France.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin told JNS.org that those outside of France and Europe should “call on leadership to really begin to address this growing menace” of Islamism.
“These threats are threats [not only to Jews but also] to the democratic fabric of post-war Europe,” and European leaders cannot go on much longer without well-organized efforts to deal with the problem, Mariaschin said.
B'nai B'rith International contacted The Heinz Endowments, expressing dismay and deep concern over a grant previously given to Pittsburgh eatery Conflict Kitchen, which has served anti-Israel propaganda to diners as part of it's "Palestine" campaign.
The Heinz Foundation responded, denouncing the kitchen's current campaign and clarifying the timing of its one-time $50,000 grant (given in 2013).
The release was covered in articles run on The Algemeiner and the Jewish News Service. Read highlights from those reports, below:
After news broke that the United States government has continued to pay Social Security benefits to Nazi war criminals who left the country willingly before deportation, B'nai B'rith International called for a close in the loophole.
Since moving abroad, these former Nazis have often collected entitlements from the governments of the countries in which they reside. B’nai B’rith urges these governments to cease providing benefits to such individuals and force them to stand trial.
Excerpts from the article in the Washington Free Beacon are below:
Nazi war criminals are still receiving Social Security benefits from the U.S. government despite their past crimes against Jewish people, prompting outrage from numerous Jewish organizations.
“Nazi war criminals who once lived in the United States and faced investigation by the Justice Department continue to collect Social Security payments through a legal loophole, despite having left the country and renounced their U.S. citizenship,” B’nai B’rith International (BBI) wrote in a recent press release calling on Congress to change the law.
“Since moving abroad, these former Nazis have lived undisturbed lives, collecting additional entitlements from the governments of the countries in which they reside,” the group wrote. “B’nai B’rith urges these governments to cease providing benefits to such individuals and force them to stand trial.”
B'nai B'rith International spoke unequivocally against those that shouted down Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) while he expressed pro-Israel sentiments at an "In Defense of Christians" (I.D.C.) dinner.
The fallout from the speech was covered in an article in the Heritage Florida Jewish News, which referenced B'nai B'rith's statement.
Read highlights from the article, below:
Just as the entire international community must rally to protect the fundamental rights and dignity of Christians in places like Iraq and Syria, Christian leaders and faithful, along with others, are morally obliged do the same for Jews in the Middle East.
There can be no condoning or belittling the Islamist extremists doctrinally committed to the violent destruction of the Middle East’s democratic Jewish state.
Fortunately, so many Christians stand firmly with Israel and the Jewish people. But decades of anti-Israel animus, and centuries of anti-Judaism, have made a very significant imprint in the Middle East, and this moral disfigurement is not limited to components of the region’s Muslim population.
If efforts for peace, and to protect Middle Eastern Christians, are to succeed, there must be recognition that “love your neighbor as yourself” applies to the people of Israel as much as to any other human beings.
Some 1,000 attendees at the first IDC summit were joined by an array of senior Christian clergy from the region. A long list of Democratic and Republican members of Congress addressed the conference, including Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
Also in attendance: the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, and the Catholic archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and prominent public figures including former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The theme of the gathering was a unified appeal for the safety of Middle Eastern Christians—and for religious freedom for all—a cause broadly embraced by speakers and attendees at the conference.
Shortly after releasing the statement, Sears reached out with a formal statement of its own, apologizing for the situation and vowing to do more moving forward.
Read highlights of the news coverage, below (video story begins at 3:45 mark):
B'nai B'rith celebrated its 171st birthday on Oct. 13, reviewing its first 17 decades at the forefront of Jewish advocacy in the United States and around the world.
Here is an infographic detailing the major achievements in the organization's history:
Anti-Semitic graffiti and rhetoric has proliferated in Uruguay since the start of the most recent Gaza conflict, inspired in part by rhetoric from the nation's president and foreign minister.
B'nai B'rith International condemned President José Mujica's anti-Semitic remarks, who responded by suggesting that his administration, which employs three Jewish ministers, could therefore not be anti-Semitic.
More constructive progress was made with foreign minister Luis Almagro, who met with B'nai B'rith to clarify his comments.
The meeting was covered in Iton Gadol and in Subrayado, excerpts of which can be found below (Spanish):
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.