The Jewish Journal covered our tweet, along with tweets and statements made by other Jewish organizations, regarding the hostage situation at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.
A gunman has taken a rabbi and three others hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, TX on January 15.
The hostage situation started toward the end of Shabbat services at Congregation Beth Israel; the suspect is reportedly calling for sister, Aafia Siddiqui, to be released from prison. Authorities have yet to confirm that the suspect is in fact Siddiqui’s brother. Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, was sentenced to 86 years in prison in 2010 for attempting to kill United States soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan. She is currently serving her sentence at Federal Medical Center Carswell prison in Fort Worth. The gunman reportedly said during a live stream of the services he is “going to die doing this” and that the hostages are “going to die.”
As of this writing, no one has been injured inside the synagogue. SWAT and the FBI are at the scene and the White House is monitoring the situation. The situation is ongoing.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also tweeted that he is monitoring the situation. “We pray for the safety of the hostages and rescuers,” he wrote.
Various Jewish groups voiced their prayers for the hostages and called for a peaceful resolution.
B'nai B'rith tweeted: "We are closely monitoring reports of a possible hostage situation unfolding at Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. We are praying for a swift and peaceful outcome."
The rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, has been the rabbi of the congregation since 2006 and was previously the president of the South West Association of Reform Rabbis, according to the synagogue’s website. He also previously worked for Focus: HOPE, a Detroit-based organization focusing on ending racism and poverty, and Amherst Survival Center, a Massachusetts-based organization providing food for the needy. Cytron-Walker is the first full-time rabbi at the synagogue and Congregation Beth Israel is a reform synagogue that was first established in 1998.
A 2014 Foreign Policy article stated that Siddiqui is known as “Lady Al Qaeda” over her alleged ties to the terror group. According to Jewish News Syndicate, Siddiqui was initially arrested by Afghan police in 2008 for carrying sodium cyanide and a flash drive filled with instructions on how to build Weapons of Mass Destruction. While detained, Siddiqui allegedly grabbed a rifle on the floor and fired it at U.S. military personnel. Siddiqui has denied the allegations and over the years various activists have called for her freedom, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR did condemn the ongoing hostage situation.
As Texas synagogue hostage situation unfolded, Jewish community worried, prayed and sought solidarity
The Forward noted our call, along with other Jewish organizations and elected officials, for solidarity and a peaceful outcome to the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. The hostages were eventually released later that day, January 15, 2022.
As the hostage situation at a synagogue near Fort Worth, Texas, continued into Saturday night, Jewish leaders shared calls for solidarity and prayers for the hostages and their community.
A man took four people hostage in Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel late Saturday morning, professing to be the brother of Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence in a facility near the synagogue. Siddiqui, a relative by marriage of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, a primary organizer of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is serving time for an attempt on the lives of American military personnel after her 2008 arrest in Afghanistan on suspicion of planning attacks in New York.
Just after 7:30 Eastern time, one of the hostages was released, uninjured. Texas governor Greg Abbott announced just after 10:30 that the other three, including the synagogue’s rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, had been successfully rescued and were safe.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson shared that the city was taking extra precautions to secure Jewish sites in the area. While the man, who was reportedly armed, is believed to have made bomb threats, Michael Masters, director of the Secure Community Network — which offers security consultations to Jewish organizations — said his team had not found credible threats to other synagogues.
Jewish organizations and leaders in Texas, as well as across the country and world, shared on social media that they were monitoring the situation and praying for those within the synagogue. But as the country awaited a resolution to the ongoing situation, many abstained from offering further comments.
Elected officials, including Jewish senator Jacky Rosen and Jewish representatives Jerry Nadler, Jamie Raskin, Lee Zeldin and Josh Gottheimer, weighed in as well.
Some drew a connection between the situation and other recent antisemitic attacks on Jewish communal spaces, especially the 2018 Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh, Pa.
And some remembered that Cytron-Walker had himself shared powerful words after the tragedy at the Tree of Life.
Journalist Lauren Zakalik, who reported on a memorial service Congregation Beth Israel held for the 11 victims of the massacre, particularly remembered Cytron-Walker’s perspective on the long impact of such tragedies: “Jewish tradition tells us that when we see tragedy, we come together,” he told her.
And a Facebook post that Cytron-Walker published after that event also began to circulate, shared by organizations like Bend the Arc.
“When it comes to hatred and violence,” he wrote, “we all must stand together.”
Jewish Insider noted that together with other American Jewish organizations, we sent a letter urging Senate leaders to fund Iron Dome, which is crucial to saving lives and protecting innocent Israelis from terrorist rocket attacks.
A coalition of pro-Israel organizations sent a letter to Senate leadership on Tuesday taking aim at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for blocking supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system and arguing that folding the funding into a larger package would “undermine Israel’s security.”
The funding passed the House by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in September of last year, but Paul has repeatedly blocked passage in the Senate, insisting that funding be reallocated from Afghanistan aid to pay for the $1 billion Iron Dome supplement.
A second letter, from some overlapping groups — the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Agudath Israel of America, Ameinu, B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, the Israel Policy Forum, Jewish Women International, Rabbinical Assembly, Orthodox Union, Union for Reform Judaism and Zionist Organization of America — was also sent to the Senate leaders on Tuesday.
That letter does not directly attack Paul, but instead decries “unfortunate gamesmanship that is taking place right now in the Senate.” The signatories also do not directly criticize the omnibus strategy and instead “implore [Schumer and McConnell] to not allow any more needless delays in passing this legislation. Blocking immediate consideration of the legislation weakens our entire nation’s commitment to our Israeli ally’s security.”
A statement about the letter from the American Jewish Congress highlighted that it includes a “diverse array of Jewish organizations spanning diverse religious, political, and policy spectrums” and “shows the strong support that exists across the Jewish community for getting the funding approved.”
J-Wire noted that former B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand (BBANZ) President James Altman was elected as a senior vice president of B’nai B’rith International last month, ahead of our annual Leadership Forum.
Sydney’s James Altman has been elected senior vice president of B’nai B’rith International by the organization’s International Board of Governors during its triennial meeting in Washington.
In this leadership position, Altman takes an active role in implementing B’nai B’rith’s policies and programs during a three-year term.
James Altman served as president of B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand (BBANZ) from 2002-2006 and 2010-2013. He is also past chairman of B’nai B’rith Courage to Care—a community education program for students and adults aimed at teaching how to be an upstander rather than a bystander in the face of discrimination and prejudice, especially in relation to anti-Semitism. Having been involved with the program since its inception in 1999, he became chairman of Courage to Care in 2019 and was honoured with the B’nai B’rith International President’s Award for his work with the program.
Altman is also chairman of the B’nai B’rith Foundation in Australia, which aids victims of natural disasters around the world.
Through his involvement in BBANZ, Altman was instrumental in securing amendments to the Resolution on the Rights of the Child from the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. He has also volunteered with the Refugee Council of Australia, the Australian Refugee Foundation and the Online Hate Prevention Institute.
In 2008, he received the Medal of the Order of Australia from the Australian government for his service to the Jewish community and for fostering intercultural understanding.
Altman is the son of Austrian Jews who escaped to Australia from Vienna in 1938. They were among the founding members of B’nai B’rith Australia, established in 1944.
James Altman told J-Wire: “In my new role as Senior Vice-President in B’nai B’rith International, I’m hoping to expand the awareness of our amazing Courage to Care program, promoting the importance of every person being an upstander when confronted by discrimination and racism. We have had expressions of interest in this unique program from the USA, UK, Israel, and New Zealand, and I’m looking forward 1to being able to build on this.
B’nai B’rith is involved in some world-leading initiatives and advocacy in the areas of human rights and social justice, especially in Canada, but also in other countries. I hope to be able to bring an awareness of these to our members and supporters in Australia, and to raise our profile in the community through innovative programs and events.”
Outside of his work with B’nai B’rith, Altman has a passion for music and has been involved in choirs for most of his life, including in the late 1970s and 1980s when he conducted the choir of the Great Synagogue in Sydney. Altman is married to Elaine and together they have two adult daughters and three grandsons.
The Times of Israel covered B'nai B'rith International's comprehensive report detailing the EU’s assistance to the Palestinian Authority and other beneficiaries, as well as our live webinar inaugurating the report.
The European Union has not done enough to ensure that its funding to the Palestinian Authority does not support incitement to violence and human rights violations, a study published on Tuesday argued.
“Despite existing anti-terrorism regulations, the EU has not addressed funding by the Palestinian Authority to families of convicted terrorists as well as the persistent issue of incitement to hatred and widespread antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks,” wrote researchers Tommaso Virgili and Paul Stott, who previously authored a report on hidden Muslim Brotherhood networks in Europe.
The study was commissioned by B’nai Brith International, a Jewish non-profit that also advocates on behalf of Israel in the United States and abroad.
The report slammed the EU for failing to ensure accountability in the Palestinian Authority education system. Palestinian textbooks have long been assailed by critics as containing hate speech and incitement, including by a 2021 EU study.
Brussels is the PA’s largest single donor and helps pay the salaries of many of its civil servants, including those who design PA curricula. It is also the second-largest donor to the United Nations Works and Reliefs Agency — which supports Palestinian refugees — sending over $157 million in aid in 2021.
“For many years, the EU has been criticized for failing to align its practice with principles with regard to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian nonprofits,” B’nai Brith director Alan Schneider said during a webinar inaugurating the report.
The report also charged that the EU does not uphold its own values when it continues to fund the PA, given the PA’s practice of paying stipends to the families of those imprisoned or killed by Israeli forces. Critics call the practice “pay for slay,” as the funds can also go to Palestinians convicted of brutal acts of terror.
The EU for too long “turned a blind eye towards the practice of payments to the families of convicted terrorists, praised as martyrs,” said European parliamentarian David Lega during the report’s launch.
The researchers argued that Brussels should impose conditions on its aid to the PA and consider adopting legislation that bans aid as long as Ramallah continues paying out stipends to Palestinian security prisoners and their families.
While Israeli officials have consistently condemned the prisoner stipends and alleged incitement in textbooks, the government has also sought to bolster the PA, seen as more moderate than its Islamist Hamas rivals, including by increasing international aid to its rapidly draining coffers.
As recently as November, Israel lobbied international donors in Oslo — including the European Union — to step up support for the Palestinian Authority.
The report elided any mention of Ramallah’s policy of security coordination with Israel, in which Palestinian Authority forces work with Israeli intelligence to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in the West Bank.
Noticias de Israel (in Spanish) covered our groundbreaking report that pulls back the curtain on European Union (EU) assistance to the Palestinian Authority and other beneficiaries, “Aligning Principles and Practice: EU Assistance to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian NGOs, Rethinking the Approach to Meet Normative Goals."
La Unión Europea no ha hecho lo suficiente para garantizar que su financiación a la Autoridad Palestina no apoye la incitación a la violencia y las violaciones de los derechos humanos, según un estudio publicado el martes.
“A pesar de la normativa antiterrorista existente, la UE no ha abordado la financiación por parte de la Autoridad Palestina de las familias de los terroristas condenados, así como la cuestión persistente de la incitación al odio y el antisemitismo generalizado en los libros de texto palestinos”, escribieron los investigadores Tommaso Virgili y Paul Stott, autores anteriormente de un informe sobre las redes ocultas de los Hermanos Musulmanes en Europa.
El estudio fue encargado por B’nai Brith International, una organización judía sin ánimo de lucro que también aboga por Israel en Estados Unidos y en el extranjero. El informe criticaba a la UE por no garantizar la responsabilidad en el sistema educativo de la Autoridad Palestina. Los libros de texto palestinos han sido condenados durante mucho tiempo por los críticos por contener discursos de odio e incitación, incluso por un estudio de la UE de 2021.
Bruselas es el mayor donante individual de la AP y ayuda a pagar los salarios de muchos de sus funcionarios, incluidos los que diseñan los planes de estudio de la AP. También es el segundo mayor donante del UNRWA -que apoya a los refugiados palestinos– enviando más de 157 millones de dólares en ayuda en 2021.
“Durante muchos años, la UE ha sido criticada por no alinear su práctica con los principios con respecto a la Autoridad Palestina y las organizaciones palestinas sin fines de lucro”, dijo el director de B’nai Brith, Alan Schneider, durante un seminario web que inauguró el informe.
El informe también denuncia que la UE no defiende sus propios valores cuando sigue financiando a la AP, dada la práctica de la AP de pagar estipendios a las familias de los terroristas encarcelados o abatidos por las fuerzas israelíes. Los críticos llaman a esta práctica “pagar por matar”, ya que los fondos son dirigidos a palestinos condenados por actos brutales de terrorismo.
Durante demasiado tiempo, la UE “hizo la vista gorda ante la práctica de los pagos a las familias de los terroristas condenados, alabados como mártires”, dijo el parlamentario europeo David Lega durante la presentación del informe.
Los investigadores argumentaron que Bruselas debería imponer condiciones a su ayuda a la AP y considerar la adopción de una legislación que prohíba la ayuda mientras Ramallah siga pagando estipendios a los prisioneros de seguridad palestinos y a sus familias.
Aunque los funcionarios israelíes han condenado sistemáticamente los estipendios a los prisioneros y la supuesta incitación en los libros de texto, el gobierno también ha tratado de reforzar a la AP, considerada más moderada que sus rivales islamistas de Hamás, incluso aumentando la ayuda internacional a sus arcas, que se están agotando rápidamente. En noviembre, Israel presionó a los donantes internacionales en Oslo -incluida la Unión Europea- para que aumentaran el apoyo a la Autoridad Palestina.
El informe eludió cualquier mención a la política de Ramallah de coordinación de la seguridad con Israel, en la que las fuerzas de la Autoridad Palestina trabajan con la inteligencia israelí para reprimir a los terroristas de Hamás y la Yihad Islámica en Cisjordania.
MyNewsLA.com noted Eric Book's election as B'nai B'rith International senior vice president.
Cal State Northridge graduate and Woodland Hills resident Eric Book has been elected senior vice president of B’nai B’rith International, the organization announced Sunday.
Book is expected to take an active role implementing B’nai B’rith’s policies and programs during his three-year term. He was elected to the post by the organization’s International Board of Governors during its triennial meeting in Washington, D.C.
Book joined B’nai B’rith in 1975 as an Encino B’nai B’rith Lodge member, and for his first project raised money for the B’nai B’rith youth programs. He is currently a member of the group’s International Board of Governors and Executive Board of Directors, and previously served as vice president (finance) of B’nai B’rith Southern California and president of B’nai B’rith Pacific Southwest Region.
He has received many service awards including the Akiba Award, Guardian of the Menorah Award, Past Presidents Service Award, Anti-Defamation League Distinguished Service Award and the Pioneers of Israel Award.
Book was born in Montclair, New Jersey, and is a member of Temple Judea in Tarzana, along with his wife Julie and son Robert.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. More information can be found at www.bnaibrith.org.
B'nai B'rith in The Jerusalem Post: Iran deal: ‘We have to learn from 2015. Don’t free up the sanctions’
In a Jerusalem Post feature article, B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin argues that the world must address Iran's malign activities and human rights abuses, in addition to its aggressive nuclear program, and must not let up on sanctions against Iran.
As the superpowers and Iran gear up for Monday’s seventh round of talks in Vienna, B’nai B’rith International is calling for a united front to make sure that the talks address not only the nuclear program, but also Iran’s malign activities and human rights abuses.
In recent months, the organization has held “many” meetings with EU diplomats both in Europe and at the UN to address these issues.
“We were advocating against the JCPOA even before 2015, and at the time we said that this is not a regime that can be trusted,” says Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International.
“We called for three baskets of negotiations: the nuclear one, which of course is the most threatening, but also for a basket for malign behavior and support for terrorism,” he said. “And then the third basket would be human rights, because the Iranians are among the worst abusers of human rights in the world.”
But the response he got from the Obama administration was “nuclear is front and center,” Mariaschin said. “And I believe it was a naive assumption. Over the past 11 months, our position essentially has not changed. In fact, if anything, it has been reinforced by the behavior of the Iranians from the beginning of this year.
“Three days ago, there was a drone attack on the American base in Syria. I mean, we’re talking about reconvening talks in Vienna at the end of this month, and three days ago they’re still attacking us. They’re attacking our bases in Iraq. They’re attacking the base in Syria.”
Mariaschin said that while the key player is the Biden administration, “the key to presenting a united front on this issue is whether the Europeans are all on the same page. That’s the issue, and I’m not sure we’re there.”
For that reason, B’nai B’rith International has been very active in Europe over the past few months, said Mariaschin.
“In our meetings with European diplomats, and we’ve had many meetings, we have raised all of the issues. My sense is that the Europeans are not as exercised about the Iranian threat as they should be. The Europeans need to be much less equivocal on this issue than they are. I sometimes feel they don’t see Iran’s behavior necessarily as an existential threat for them. I think sometimes they see it as an academic exercise, but not as an existential threat. It’s an existential threat when it comes to the threats against Israel, the threats against the Gulf states. But I think that they are not as exercised. To go back into talks – that’s good [for them] because it’s kicking the can down the road continually, and they would rather kick the can down the road, I believe.
“We’ve also discussed these issues with a couple of Latin American countries because of our concern about the penetration of Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere.”
Mariaschin said it would be harder to get the Iranians to agree to a “longer and stronger” agreement if the West is signaling eagerness to return to the JCPOA.
“I hope the administration has learned that over the last 11 months, notwithstanding they’re signaling that they want to go back into the JCPOA,” he said. “The Iranians are drawing conclusions based on a sense that the West is desperate.
“If they sense an eagerness, then why would they at any point give up and change their mind about what they’re going to do with the nuclear program? I think ratcheting up your enrichment to 60% is a threat. It’s not a gambit on a negotiating position. So I believe that we have to learn from 2015. Don’t free up the sanctions, don’t allow them to take the extra cash and plow it back in as an investment in their hegemonic activity. Keep sanctions on. Keep it tight. Don’t signal that there’s eagerness.”
The Detroit Jewish News highlighted the community programs held by B’nai B’rith Great Lakes Region during the summer of 2021, including a golf tournament fundraiser and donations made to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Yad Ezra.
The Great Lakes Region covers Michigan, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Toledo, Ohio, with most of its activity centered in Metro Detroit, which is home to active lodges, units and numerous community programs.
The B’nai B’rith Great Lakes Region, centered in Metro Detroit, held several community service programs over the summer, including a golf tournament fundraiser and donations made to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Yad Ezra.
On July 9, Great Lakes Region President Lila Zorn and Vice President Joel Marwil presented a donation of B’nai B’rith Diverse Minds books to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The donation was accepted by Sinéad Nimmo, Child Life Projects specialist at the hospital. Diverse Minds books were created in the B’nai B’rith Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge, held from 2006-2018, which awarded college scholarships to high school students who wrote and illustrated books for young readers that promoted a message of tolerance and diversity. The winning books were published by B’nai B’rith and donated to children’s facilities nationwide. Marwil has distributed Diverse Minds books to libraries, schools and community centers in the area.
On Aug. 2, B’nai B’rith Great Lakes Region held its 39th annual B’nai B’rith Stephen B. Zorn Memorial Golf Outing fundraiser at the Tam-O-Shanter Country Club in West Bloomfield. Proceeds raised from the event benefitted a variety of B’nai B’rith programs and went toward scholarships for four students.
On Aug. 30, Lila Zorn and Judi Shapiro, Great Lakes Region Project H.O.P.E. chairperson, presented a $1,500 check to Yad Ezra, which provides kosher and traditional Passover food, health care products and household items to vulnerable Jewish families in Southeast Michigan. Daniella HarPaz Mechnikov, executive director of Yad Ezra, accepted the check. Project H.O.P.E. — Help Our People Everywhere — works with community family service agencies and local Jewish social services to provide and deliver food packages to communities in need across the United States. The B’nai B’rith Great Lakes Region supports Yad Ezra year-round as part of its community service programs.
The Great Lakes Region covers Michigan, Fort Wayne, Ind., and Toledo, Ohio, with most of its activity centered in Metro Detroit, which is home to active lodges, units and numerous community programs.
JNS, Israel Hayom and Cleveland Jewish News included B'nai B'rith International's condemnation of the resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA) in its coverage of Durban IV (during UNGA).
A number of American Jewish organizations slammed a resolution adopted on Wednesday at a high-level meeting at the UN General Assembly that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA) stemming from a notoriously anti-Semitic World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
"The resolution predictably claimed that the DDPA offered 'a comprehensive United Nations framework and solid foundation for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,' and reaffirmed commitment to its 'full and effective implementation,' " stated B'nai B'rith International in a news release on Friday.
The original Durban declaration was censured by Jewish groups and nations such as the United States for allowing the presence of overt anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate, as well as including Palestinians as the only group named as victims of racism.
B'nai B'rith wrote that it has worked over the past few weeks in partnership with the Jewish Broadcasting Service on Durban, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The organization featured luminaries such as Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévi, former US National Security Advisor John Bolton and others, culminating in an hour-long interview with B'nai B'rith honorary president Richard Heideman, who led the Jewish delegation at the Durban conference and his wife, Phyllis Heideman, president of the International March of the Living.
In the past year, B'nai B'rith also lobbied other nations to join the United States and Israel in boycotting the anniversary conference, also known as Durban IV, leading to a total of 35 countries that declined to participate in the commemoration.
"This public disassociation by a substantial moral minority at the UN represents a meaningful victory against efforts to hijack the world body and the critical fight against racism – specifically, racism against people of African descent – for the purposes of delegitimizing Israel by obscenely equating only it and Jews' national liberation movement, Zionism, with racism," B'nai B'rith wrote in the statement.
Countries that boycotted the proceedings included Albania, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.
'A vicious slander against the Jewish state'
AIPAC also strongly condemned Durban IV on its Twitter account, while individually tweeting appreciation for countries that joined the boycott.
"The UN #DurbanIV conference is a cesspool of discriminatory, anti-Israel propaganda," AIPAC tweeted on Tuesday. "'Zionism=Racism' is a vicious slander against the Jewish state and its supporters. America and many allies stand proudly with Israel in boycotting this despicable conference."
Alex Safian, associate director at CAMERA, which monitors bias in reporting on Israel and the Middle East, noted that there was no improvement in Durban IV and the passed resolution than in the previous three conferences.
"The original Durban Conference in 2001 created the firestorm of renewed and growing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and the statements yesterday from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and her radical colleagues are just an example of this in our own Congress," he said in an email. "The United Nations was founded as a reaction to Nazism and the Holocaust, but the Durban process proves that fascists and bigots are still much more comfortable in the UN than Jews."
Anti-Israel members of the Democratic Party also motivated Zionist Organization of America national president Mort Klein to make a few phone calls to UN offices he had connections with to urge them not to attend Durban IV. His organization put out a news release lauding nations that announced they would not participate, though after that acknowledged following the proceedings only a little bit.
Klein said during one of his calls, one official him that "anti-Semites" in Congress had inspired a number of countries that were thinking of not participating in Durban IV to join.
"This one guy told me, you should know that inadvertently or directly, they've had an impact on several countries that participated, figuring they have to cover it because there are a dozen anti-Semites in Congress," said Klein, adding that the official also told him that he believed Jew-hatred will continue to grow in the United Nations.
20 years ago, the UN Durban Conference aimed to combat racism. It devolved into a ‘festival of hate’ against Jews.
B'nai B'rith International's Honorary President Richard D. Heideman and Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn spoke to JTA about their experiences at the 2001 U.N. Durban conference that devolved into anti-Israel hatred.
Some of the Jewish organizational officials flying into the coastal city of Durban, South Africa, on the last week of August 2001 were excited. They believed the U.N.’s anti-racism conference there would be an opportunity to exchange notes on a cause that the Jewish world had worked on for decades.
Others, steeped in how the United Nations and its affiliates functioned, were wary of some of the players, who were known for tirelessly steering every international conference to complaints about Israel. Still others who had been tracking preparations for the gathering knew that Iran, Israel’s implacable enemy, was planning to take over the proceedings.
But no one was prepared for what it became — a carnival of antisemitic expression that drove Jewish participants to tears each night and had them fearing for their physical safety.
“It was worse than I had imagined,” recalled Irwin Cotler, a longtime Jewish human rights lawyer in Canada who would go on to be his nation’s justice minister. “Because it was a festival of hate.”
As is conventional at U.N. forums, the governmental conference, which ran Sept. 2-9, was preceded by the nongovernmental organization conference Aug. 27-Sept. 2.
Both would be overshadowed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But the NGO conference, say the Jewish participants who attended, was a template for the next 20 years of anti-Israel rhetoric, codifying the argument now increasingly prevalent on the left that Israel is an apartheid state deserving of isolation. It was also an eye opener for many in terms of how criticism of Israel, however legitimate, can be co-opted by an antisemitic agenda.
The failure of the human rights organizations present to come to the defense of the Jewish participants, who walked out to jeers and threats, created a rift that persists until today. Over a dozen countries, including the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom, are boycotting this year’s Durban conference over its antisemitic history.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency spoke to nine Jewish officials who were at the 2001 conference, including Cotler, who was then a member of the Canadian parliament.
The others are:
— Stacy Burdett, then the associate government relations director at the Anti-Defamation League;
— Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center;
— Felice Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights;
— Richard Heideman, then the president of B’nai B’rith International;
— Phyllis Heideman, his wife, who had attended a number of U.N. conferences as a delegate of B’nai B’rith;
— David Killion, then the chief of staff to Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to Congress, who headed the U.S. delegation to the governmental conference;
— Eduardo Kohn, the B’nai B’rith International director of Latin American Affairs;
— A top Jewish organizational official at the time who is now in a job where she is not permitted to speak on the record.
Heading into the conference: “There was a little bit of naivete going into it.”
Cotler: “In 1997, when it was first announced that there was going to be a world conference against racism in South Africa in 2001, I greeted it with anticipation, if not excitement, because this was going to be the first world conference against racism in the 21st century, and I felt that it would give underrepresented groups a voice and a presence. Second, it was going to be the first international human rights conference of the 21st century. Human rights had emerged as a new secular religion of our times, and this conference would be as timely as it would be significant. And third thing is, it was taking place in Durban, South Africa. I not only had a longtime involvement in the anti-apartheid movement but actually had been arrested.” [Cotler was arrested in apartheid South Africa in 1981 for delivering a lecture at a university in which he said that Nelson Mandela had as much right to freedom as Natan Sharansky, then a prisoner in the Soviet Union whom Cotler represented as a human rights lawyer. He went on to lead anti-apartheid advocacy in Canada.]
Burdett: “I was born in 1964, so for Americans of my age, it was like the antisemitism was over, right? So there was this aspect of, in preparing for Durban, my focus was trying to make sure ADL got a good spot for doing events on our anti-racism trainings. So there was a little bit of naivete going into it.”
Richard Heideman: “In 1985, there was a U.N. conference to assess and appraise the status of women that was held in Nairobi, Kenya. Phyllis was designated as a delegate by B’nai B’rith International, which is the oldest Jewish organization with standing at the U.N. When we arrived in Nairobi we found at the NGO forum and at the U.N. conference itself terrible hatred toward Israel and the Jewish people.”
The 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism permeated the Nairobi conference. In 1991, years of Jewish organizational advocacy and U.S. diplomacy brought about the revocation of the resolution, fueling hope that Israel would not be a focus at Durban.
Gaer: “We had a secretary-general who, for the first time in the history of the U.N., actually used the word ‘Holocaust,’ who was married to the niece of one of the great Holocaust-era heroes. [Kofi Annan, who was instrumental in the establishment of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was married to Nane Lagergren, whose uncle was Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat whose actions saved thousands of Hungarian Jews.] And we had expectations that a world conference on racism could not only address the scourge of racism, which we have seen in such ugly ways in the former Yugoslavia, the Bosnia conflict and in Rwanda, but that could also address race issues in individual countries. Those of us who were engaged in Jewish organizations also felt this was an opportunity in which we could talk about combating antisemitism as one of a whole variety of forms of intolerance and racial discrimination and racism that needed to be eradicated.”
Cooper: “The truth is that when we went, we’d already seen storm clouds [after Iran maneuvered to set the agenda at a preparatory meeting in February], although no one had any clue about how bad it would be on the ground, how terrible it would be on the ground.”
Iran and a striking image set the stage
In retrospect, there were signs that there were actors intent on making Israel a focus of the conference. The main conference was preceded in late 2000 and early 2001 by regional conferences. The final regional conference, for Asian countries, took place in Tehran in February 2001. Iran refused to allow Israelis and Jewish organizations to attend.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, another Jewish organization accredited at the United Nations, asked the U.N. human rights commissioner — Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland who was organizing the conference — to move the venue to another Asian country. Robinson declined but pledged that she would make the Iranians allow Jewish and Israeli representatives to attend.
Cooper: “Mary Robinson promised us up the wazoo, ‘You guys have every right to attend the meeting in Tehran.’ But we didn’t get the right to go until after the last planes from Paris and New York left for Tehran so that it would be impossible for us to reach there. And that’s where a lot of the stuff was cooked.”
Whereas Jewish and Israeli delegates could influence summary statements at regional preparatory conferences in Africa, Latin America and Europe, Iran’s maneuver meant that the Asian summary document amounted to an indictment of Israel. It accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” of implementing “a new kind of Apartheid” and “a crime against humanity,” and said Zionism was “based on race superiority.” Much of the Iran-influenced document became a template for the NGO declaration at the Durban conference.
Cotler: “There was a six-point indictment of Israel at the regional conference in Tehran, one of the most scurrilous indictments of Israel since the end of the Second World War.”
The Second Intifada had been underway for almost a year by the time the conference started, and one of its most striking images, caught on video, persisted: The Sept. 30, 2000 killing of Muhammad al-Durrah, a 12-year-old Palestinian caught in the crossfire during a battle between Israeli and Palestinian forces. Images of al-Durrah proliferated at the conference, including on T-shirts. “Killed on September 30 2000, for being Palestinian,” a T-shirt said on one side. On the other side it read “Occupation = Colonialism = Racism. End Israeli apartheid.”
Burdett: “The Palestinians really had an edge here because they have the popular vote. There were pictures of Muhammad al-Durrah everywhere. They had the sympathy vote.”
Richard Heideman: “What we faced was phenomenal in terms of the visible expression of hatred, not just placards but photographs, and talking about Jews and Israelis as murderers.”
Burdett: “There was an NGO kind of infrastructure managing this [on the South African end], a South African NGO that received large grants from the U.N. [SANGOCO, a coalition of South African NGOs]. And even before Durban started they did a mission for NGOs for the West Bank, so there was a lot of writing on the wall.”
“I saw grown men crying, weeping.”
Not long after they landed, the conference-goers noticed a ubiquitous flyer with a picture of Adolf Hitler. “WHAT IF I HAD WON?’ it asked. “The good things: There would be no Israel and no Palestinian’s [sic] bloodshed. The bad things: I wouldn’t have allowed the making of the new Beetle. THE REST IS YOUR GUESS.”
The Arab Lawyers Union also distributed pamphlets filled with caricatures of hook-nosed Jews depicted as Nazis spearing Palestinian children, dripping blood from their fangs, with missiles bulging from their eyes or with pots of money nearby. Copies of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a notorious antisemitic text, were available. Calls to the organizers to remove the materials went unheeded.
The confrontational imagery was reflected in personal encounters. Protesters surrounded Jewish students who set up a stand near the press tent and screamed at them.
Kohn: “We couldn’t speak out in the meetings because in the moment we started speaking — any Jewish delegation — the shouts of ‘You kill the Palestinians, you’re like the Nazis you’re a racist, apartheid’ and whatever — it made us impossible to speak out.”
Cooper: “The Lawyers Guild from Egypt did political cartoons that literally would have belonged in Der Sturmer. Our attempts to get them removed were basically laughed at. So we called a press conference. At that press conference, before we started, a phalanx of Iranian women in black rush the press conference and try to push over the shtender [podium] and try to kill the press conference. They were eventually physically removed. So the physical intimidation was there.”
Kohn: “There was a Uruguayan minister [Education Minister Antonio Mercader] who came up to me and said it was risky, we need protection. I mean it was unbelievable. We were at a U.N. conference.”
On Friday, Aug. 31, the Jewish delegation learned that South African unions were staging a massive pro-Palestinian demonstration at the conference grounds, the Kingsmead Cricket Stadium. Security officials warned Jewish participants to stay away.
Cooper: “I was approached by the chief of police of Durban and told the following: ‘Rabbi, please, I’m asking you, do not try to go from here to the Jewish community center today.’ ‘Why not? It’s like 2 1/2 blocks away.’ He said, ‘We cannot guarantee your safety.’ And just then when we looked out — we went up higher [in the stadium] — 20,000 people have been brought in by train by the trade unions in order to do Israel apartheid protests, in which the famous picture of the banner ‘Hitler was right’ was hoisted. They were giving out free copies of the ‘Protocols of Zion.’”
Burdett: “We had put out an SMS to everyone’s cellphone, ‘Do not go near that demonstration’ because our information is that it’s going to be heavily laced with and motivated by antisemitism and that we should not be visible. They were carrying signs and wearing T-shirts that said ‘Apartheid Israel.’ Someone had gone to the townships and just distributed T-shirts to people who just could use a shirt to wear. And so that street demonstration was just filled with people wearing freshly minted anti-Israel T-shirts. And so the effort to make Israel such a prominent issue at this conference was very organized.”
Cooper: “The one lifeline for the Jewish groups was the Jewish community center of Durban. That was the place we came at night to lick our wounds, where I saw grown men crying, weeping. It was that bad.”
On the evening of Saturday, Sept. 1, the conference-goers convened to work out the final text of the NGO declaration. It was a chaotic scene, but the steering committee achieved a modicum of order by allowing each group to propose an amendment that defined the discrimination they suffer. That prompted the Jewish delegation to propose an amendment that pushed back against the conference’s anti-Zionism and referenced the spike in worldwide antisemitism after the start of the Second Intifada.
It said: “We are concerned with the prevalence of anti-Zionism and attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel through wildly inaccurate charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, as a virulent contemporary form of antisemitism, leading to the firebombing of synagogues, armed assaults against Jews, incitement to killing and the murder of innocent Jews for their support for the existence of the State of Israel, the assertion of the right to self-determination of the Jewish people and the attempts through the State of Israel to preserve their cultural and religious identity.”
The conference overwhelmingly rejected the amendment, with only delegations from Central Europe and the Roma joining the Jewish delegation in favoring its inclusion. That was a breaking point. The entire Jewish delegation rose to leave, and the crowd erupted in shouts and threats.
Richard Heideman: “We were walking out in a procession with people jeering us on the sides.”
Kohn: “While we were walking we received very, very, very rude insults, antisemitic insults and the threats of being attacked, I mean attacked physically, attacks that were averted by the guards of the conference, I mean, if we didn’t have the protection of the guards …”
Read the full story in JTA.
B'nai B'rith International has received coverage for a Rescuers Citation given to Jewish resistance fighter Henriëtte Pimentel, who saved 600 children in Amsterdam from Nazi death camps. She was honored at the Verzets Resistance Museum 78 years after her death.
The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust (JRJ) created the Jewish Rescuer Citation in 2011 to honor and pay respect Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust.
See how media outlets covered the presentation:
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
JNS and the Cleveland Jewish News covered the opening of a permanent exhibit on the historic Entebbe raid at the Jewish Museum of Oporto, which was inspired by a B'nai B'rith Portugal Jewish young adults conference in Oporto in June that B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and President Charles O. Kaufman attended.
The Jewish Museum of Oporto in Portugal on July 19 opened a permanent exhibit dedicated to “Operation Thunderbolt,” Israel’s historic 1976 hostage-rescue raid in Entebbe, B’nai B’rith International announced.
“The [exhibit] is aimed at educating young Jews who lack awareness of the many counter-terrorism actions that the Israel Defense Forces and Mossad have undertaken in the past and are prepared to undertake in the future,” said B’nai B’rith Portugal president Gabriela Cantergi.
“The idea of building a room dedicated to the Entebbe operation arose out of an event on June 21 in Oporto that brought together young Jewish leaders of various nationalities, and their main concern was whether Israel could stop a new Holocaust in any country in the world,” she explained.
Israeli Ambassador to Portugal Raphael Gamzou said that the exhibit teaches “that neither distance, logistics nor any other challenge would ever prevent Israel from doing the utmost to save the lives of its citizens.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin concurred.
“The hostage-rescue operation in Entebbe exemplified Israel’s strength and resolve,” he said, adding, “Dedicating an exhibit to that historic moment enables all visitors to the museum to know that Israel protects its people, wherever they may be.”
B’nai B’rith International President Charles Kaufman said the raid was not only the greatest hostage-rescue operation in Israel’s history, but also represents Judaism’s “commitment to the value of preserving life.”
“’Operation Thunderbolt’ in Entebbe ushered in a new high watermark of recognition and admiration for the Jewish state throughout the world,” said Kaufman.
“Operation Thunderbolt” was carried out on July 4, 1976, by an elite unit of Israeli commandos, led by Yonatan Netanyahu, at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. Netanyahu, the brother of Benjamin Netanyahu—who would become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister—was killed during the operation.
The Jewish Museum of Oporto says that its mission “is to inform about the historic and cultural importance of the Jews in Portugal and of Portuguese Jews worldwide, with particular emphasis on the Diaspora of Sephardic Portuguese Jews and the history of the Jewish community in Oporto that is older than the foundation of Portugal.”
Diplomats From 10 Countries Visit Start-Up Nation Central to Hear What Makes Israel's Innovation Ecosystem Tick
Yahoo Finance noted a visit to Israel by a delegation of ambassadors to the United Nations and the United States, led by Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and U.N., that was co-sponsored by B'nai B'rith International.
Tel Aviv, Israel, July 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- High-ranking diplomats from 10 countries paid a visit to Start-Up Nation Central headquarters to learn about the Israeli innovation ecosystem and gain insights into how Israel became the Startup Nation.
The delegation that included ambassadors to the United States and the United Nations from Kenya, Hungary, Argentina, the Czech Republic, Bhutan, the Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Tonga, Guatemala, and Australia — as well as their spouses — were part of a week-long tour hosted by Israel's Ambassador to the UN and the US Gilad Erdan and sponsored by the American Zionist Movement, B'nai B'rith and International March of the Living.
During their visit to Start-Up Nation Central, the diplomats received an in-depth review of the Israeli technological innovation ecosystem by Start-Up Nation Central's Executive Director Wendy Singer. They also received an explanation about the organization's flagship Finder Innovation Business Platform that helps connect international investors, multinational corporations, and governments to Israeli companies and innovation hubs.
The envoys also took part in a live video conference with Dan Senor, the co-author of the bestselling book Start-Up Nation and a member of Start-Up Nation Central's board of directors. They concluded their visit with a tour of the Asif Israel Culinary Institute and a lecture by Israeli serial entrepreneur and business executive Inbal Arieli, the author of the 2019 hit book Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Read more on Yahoo Finance.
JNS noted B'nai B'rith International's support of the Oporto, Portugal Jewish community and the Holocaust Museum of Oporto in its coverage of the Holocaust Museum donating its guestbooks to Yad Vashem in Israel.
(July 19, 2021 / JNS) The Holocaust Museum of Oporto is donating its guestbooks to Israel’s Yad Vashem via the Israeli embassy in Portugal, according to a museum representative.
“Two reasons led the museum to donate the guestbooks to Yad Vashem,” said Gabriela Cantergi. “The first is that there are many people who say they will defend Jews throughout their lives; the second is that there is great popular support for Israel [in Portugal].”
Opened to the public in April, the Holocaust Museum in Oporto has already welcomed 22,000 people, most of them young, according to Cantergi. In the first month, it was the most visited museum in Portugal. Seventy percent of visitors are young people, for whom the museum is free.
“Of [those] 22,000 people, and guestbooks with thousands of comments from the visitors, there isn’t a single criticism of Israel,” said Cantergi. “On the contrary, there is a lot of praise for the small state.”
A video released by the museum features some of these comments, such as: “A great nation has grown, after being nearly decimated by enemies in 1948”; “Let not a single day go past that we do not remember Israel”; “I feel pain for the suffering inflicted then and now on the Jews”; “Those who still today silence the Holocaust perpetuate it.”
In the same video, which also includes statements by leaders of the Portuguese-Jewish communities, the chief rabbi of Oporto’s Jewish community says that 80 percent of the families in the community were expelled from Arab or Muslim countries in the 20th century, while the rest of the families suffered the horrors of the Holocaust firsthand. Some were victims of infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele’s experiments, and others were forced to dig their own graves before being shot, he says.
Under the auspices of members of the Oporto Jewish community whose parents, grandparents and relatives were victims of the Holocaust, the Oporto Holocaust Museum has cooperation partnerships with Holocaust museums in Washington, Moscow, Hong Kong and Europe.
The Jewish community of Oporto includes about 500 Jews originally from more than 30 countries and has a beit din, synagogues, mikvahs (ritual baths), kosher restaurants, a Holocaust museum, the Oporto Jewish Museum and cooperation protocols with the Israeli embassy in Portugal, Keren Hayesod, B’nai B’rith International and the Anti-Defamation League.
The Algemeiner noted our commemoration of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Jewish organizations on Sunday marked the 27th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.
The 1994 bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) was orchestrated by Iran and carried out by the terrorist group Hezbollah.
Despite decades of efforts by the Jewish community, the terrorists involved have never been brought to justice.
The six Iranian and Hezbollah operatives behind the attack have escaped arrest and prosecution, while investigating prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found murdered in 2015, before he was to unveil accusations of collusion between the governments of Argentina and Iran to cover up the attack.
B’nai Brith International marked the anniversary, and emphasized, “No perpetrators have been held accountable.”
Pro-Israel lobby AIPAC concentrated on those perpetrators, noting that the bombing was committed by Hezbollah “at the instruction of Iran’s top leadership.”
“Iran continues to fund and promote terrorism around the world,” they said.
American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris asked, “26 yrs later, who’s been caught, tried & imprisoned? No one.”
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said.
Michael Dickson, Executive Director of StandWithUs Israel, also noted the lack of accountability for the terrorists, and said the AMIA victims have been “struggling for justice ever since” the bombing.
The World Jewish Congress said that it and the Congreso Judío Latinoamericano, an umbrella organization for Latin American Jews, “are still leading efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
On Friday, the head of Argentina’s umbrella Jewish group lambasted the timing of a court hearing that was held as victims commemorated the anniversary of the attack.
The hearing was scheduled for Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to appear in an inquiry into a 2013 agreement her then-government had negotiated with Iran.
Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA) head Jorge Knoblovits said the timing was “unnecessarily confrontational and goes against the memory” of the victims.
“If the feelings of the victims of the greatest terrorist attack of the 20th century are disrespected, it is very difficult to reach justice and end impunity,” he said. “We are very ashamed and very embarrassed that you cannot wait two, three weeks or a month to exercise the right of defense, which you can do so legitimately and constitutionally. But to do so today is offensive.”
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.
CEO and Director of U.N. Affairs Letter in Financial Times: U.N.’s Israel Bias Outlives Ban Ki-moon’s Exit
The following letter appeared in the Financial Times in response to former U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon's false claims against Israel.
Having engaged directly with former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on multiple occasions, we are stunned by the one-sidedness of his piece (Opinion, June 30).
Ban — who hails from South Korea, a democratic country under existential threat from a neighbour — shows exceptional indifference to the unenviable circumstances of another small democracy, Israel. He calls for a fresh approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but recycles blame of Israel alone for the situation.
Ban claims Israeli “apartheid” against Palestinians — but Israel is by far the most humane and pluralist country in the Middle East. Is any other regional actor so described?
Ban fails to even mention the unrelenting terrorism and threats facing Israelis. How can he cite Israel for preventing a two-state solution but not Palestinian fanatics like Hamas, openly sworn to Israel’s destruction?
At the end of his tenure, Ban finally chided the UN’s structural obsession with condemning Israel.
In fact, the U.N. targets Israel more than all other countries. Sadly, old habits die hard.
Daniel S Mariaschin
Chief Executive, B’nai B’rith International
David J Michaels
Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs
B’nai B’rith International
Washington, DC, US
The Jerusalem Post featured its own journalist, Greer Fay Cashman, in an article congratulating her on receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem 2021 Award for Journalism for her work covering Israel-Diaspora relations.
The coverage of the Jewish Diaspora is a key mission of The Jerusalem Post. The newspaper prides itself on serving as the most credible and widely read source of news and views in English about Israel and the Jewish world since its establishment in 1932 by Gershon Agron, a Ukrainian-born journalist who moved here from the US and served as editor until 1955, when he became mayor of Jerusalem.
That is why we are particularly proud that Greer Fay Cashman, the Post’s exceptional Australian-born journalist, is being honored this evening by the B’nai B’rith World Center at its 29th annual awards in Jerusalem. In its citation, the distinguished seven-member jury headed by publisher Asher Weill says the Louis and Trudy Shidlovsky Lifetime Achievement Award is being presented to Cashman “for her long writing career on the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora, which has extended over nearly half a century.”
Cashman began writing for the paper in 1975 and joined the staff in 1981, covering a wide variety of beats from fashion to the President’s Residence and penning her popular column, Grapevine. But as the jury correctly notes, “her main concern has always been for the Jewish people.”
Grapevine, it says, “has included a degree of coverage of Jewish Diaspora affairs unmatched by any other Israeli newspaper.” The column forms “a unique bridge between personalities and events in Jewish life throughout the world and in Israel, including extensive coverage of the foreign diplomatic community in Israel and, inter alia, the Jewish populations in their home countries, and their interaction with the local Jewish communities.”
Cashman has made an invaluable contribution to the Israel-Diaspora relationship through her constant coverage of people in the news, home and away. She also never hesitates to speak out on the burning issues of the day, such as the current wave of global antisemitism.
“Journalists are important soldiers in the battle against antisemitism,” Cashman says. “We are the flag-bearers and the trumpeters. In addition to reporting on such incidents, journalists must also report on what is being done to quell antisemitism, and they have to call out governments which are using freedom of expression as an excuse for allowing the free-flow of antisemitic literature, and vulgar antisemitic terminology at rallies and sports events.”
Still, she adds, “Jewish journalism is not and should not be only gloom and doom. There are many bright things happening in the Jewish world, and these too should be reported within the context of Jewish outreach.”
Since its establishment in 1992, the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reporting on contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities and on the state of Israel-Diaspora relations in the Israeli print, broadcast and online media.
“The award is widely recognized as the most prestigious prize in the Israeli media industry for Diaspora reportage, and was established to help strengthen the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora,” B’nai B’rith said in a press release, adding that it aimed to encourage “quality reporting on Diaspora communities and Israel-Diaspora relations.”
Other prizes for Diaspora reportage will be awarded to Nurit Canetti, anchorwoman, editor-in-chief and producer of Galei Zahal (broadcast media) and Dan Lavie, Diaspora Affairs correspondent of Israel Hayom (print media).
B’nai B’rith says Canetti broadcast numerous programs and podcasts “that raised fundamental issues pertaining to Diaspora communities and Israel-Diaspora relations in the course of 2020,” while Lavie published more than 20 articles during that period in both Hebrew and English “on challenges faced by Diaspora communities, including the COVID-19 crisis.” A special citation for “Fostering Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts” will be presented to singer-songwriter Danny Sanderson.
Sanderson will sing, while Cashman will speak after receiving her award. Prof. Yedidia Stern, president of the Jewish People Policy Institute, and Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai will also address the gathering.
On his deathbed in 1959, Gershon Agron acknowledged the growing importance of the Diaspora by giving his blessing to the publication of a weekly overseas edition for readers abroad that became The International Jerusalem Post. What makes the Post a notch above the rest in its coverage of the Diaspora are journalists of Cashman’s caliber. We salute her for serving as a model to others through her sharp, engaging and relevant reportage on the Israel-Diaspora relationship.
Major American Jewish Organizations Urge Biden to Send More COVID Vaccines to India Before Third Wave
The Algemeiner noted B'nai B'rith International as one of the major American Jewish organizations urging the U.S. administration (in a letter sent by the Conference of Presidents) to immediately provide surplus vaccine doses to India ahead of a third wave.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations transmitted an open letter to the White House on Tuesday calling on the Biden administration to immediately provide surplus vaccine doses to India.
The letter, sent to White House chief of staff Ron Klain and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, was signed by 22 Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, and the Zionist Organization of America.
Citing the devastation India has recently experienced due to the “Delta variant” of COVID-19, the letter asserted, “As India emerges from this latest wave, there is a crucial window of time available. It is imperative that India be given the opportunity to vaccinate as much of its population as possible in order to avoid future and further catastrophe.”
The letter noted that the US has a stockpile of the Astra Zeneca vaccine that will likely not be distributed and could easily be transferred to India.
“We urge the administration to rapidly allocate an additional and greatly increased share of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to India,” the signatories said. “It is essential that the world’s largest democracy be provided the opportunity to stave off another disaster.”
“The Indian government came to the aid of the United States in its time of need during the first wave of Spring 2020 and has been a stalwart ally and friend,” the letter pointed out. “So too, the four million strong Indian expatriate community plays an integral role through United States society.”
“We believe that an enhanced US allocation of valuable COVID-19 vaccines to India would be an enormous boon to a democracy that has been ravaged by disease and is in danger of facing another wave,” it concluded.
The Jerusalem Post covered the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem awarding a special citation to Israeli musician and author Danny Sanderson for his contributions to Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts during his 50-year career.
Israeli singer-songwriter and author Danny Sanderson is being awarded a special citation for Fostering Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts by the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem.
The citation is set to be presented at a special event in Hebrew on July 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Konrad Adenauer Conference Center in Jerusalem's Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood.
Sanderson was noted for the citation due to his career spanning over 50 years as one of the most beloved artists in Israel. He made waves in rock bands like Gazoz, Doda and the famous Kaveret and performed in some of the country's most iconic venues.
This marks the seventh time this particular citation was awarded since its creation in 2014. Since then, it has been awarded to a number of prominent Israeli artists such as Nurit Hirsh, Idan Raichel, David Broza and the Shalva Band.
Also being given an award at the ceremony is The Jerusalem Post's own Greer Fay Cashman, who will receive a lifetime achievement award for her many decades of journalism.
Israel Hayom covered the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem awarding a special citation to Israeli musician and author Danny Sanderson for his contributions to Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts during his 50-year career.
The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem announced Sunday that Israeli singer, songwriter and author Danny Sanderson will receive a special citation for Fostering Israel-Diaspora Relations through the Arts.
The citation was established in 2014 and has been presented to Nurit Hirsh, David D'Or, Idan Raichel, David Broza, Yehoram Gaon and the Shalva Band.
B'nai B'rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843.
The San Marcos Record previewed a conversation B'nai B'rith International President Charles Kaufman will be having with the Rotary Club of San Marcos, Texas on the challenge of tackling rising anti-Semitism.
Charles Kaufman, president of B’nai B’rith International, will discuss the continuing challenge of antisemitism at the May 12 meeting of the Rotary Club of San Marcos. Rotary meets at noon at the San Marcos Academy and visitors are welcome.
B’nai B’rith, founded in 1843, has fought against various forms of antisemitism, from the blood libels of centuries past and pogroms of Europe, to negative narratives about the state of Israel. B’nai B’rith is also a service and humanitarian organization with chapters in more than 50 countries on five continents. It is a major sponsor of nonsectarian, affordable senior housing in the U.S., and has engaged in disaster relief services for 150 years.
In addition to his leadership role at B’nai B’rith, Kaufman is on the faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. His early career was in newspaper journalism, from which he transitioned to owning a public relations firm in Austin. He teaches public relations and advises a student public relations agency at the University. He also co-authored a textbook titled, “Engaging Public Relations.”
Rotary is a nonprofit, nonpolitical, and nonreligious service organization. The San Marcos Club celebrates its 100th Anniversary on Dec. 1, 2021. The club provides scholarships and does a wide range of local service projects, as well as participating in international projects sponsored by Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation.
For more information about B’nai B’rith: https://www.bnaibrithorg/aboutus.htmland the Rotary Club of San Marcos: https://smtxrotary.com/.
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International's response to the U.S. administration's decision of continuing not to attend any events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the infamous Durban Declaration in its roundup of responses from Jewish and pro-Israel organizations.
Leading Jewish organizations welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to stick to the US policy of not attending any events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration in September due to their “anti-Israel sentiment.”
A US State Department spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post Monday that the US would not take part in planned Durban anniversary events, saying that it “remains deeply committed to combating antisemitism at home and abroad. Furthermore, the United States stands with Israel and has always shared its concerns over the Durban process’s anti-Israel sentiment — used as a forum for antisemitism and freedom of expression issues.”
Commenting on the decision, B’nai B’rith International said it “salutes the US administration for taking a principled decision, like its predecessors, to deny legitimacy to a UN framework that purports to fight prejudice but is fundamentally marred by it.”
“The 2001 conference was poisoned by manifestations of virulent anti-Zionism and open antisemitism. We urge all countries of goodwill to do similarly — and we will continue to insist that all forms of hate, including those targeting Jews, not be given a platform by foremost international institutions,” B’nai B’rith stated.
The UN is scheduled to hold a special “Durban IV” event on Sept. 22 to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, from which the US and Israel previously withdrew over objections of anti-Zionism. Israel was singled out from the Durban conference declaration and was depicted as being racist and as committing “crimes against humanity,” “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “genocide” against the Palestinians.
“Kudos for rejecting hate. The 2001 Durban Conference was an orgy of hate so vile that the US and Israel pulled out in disgust,” Avi Mayer, Managing Director of Global Communications at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), tweeted in response to the US decision. “It was so bad that even the UN’s Mary Robinson, who chaired it, said there was ‘horrible antisemitism present.'”
New York, NY, May 5th, 2021 . . . Dianne Lob, Chair, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued the following statement:
“We applaud the Biden Administration’s decision to refuse to participate in commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, which openly embraced antisemitism and anti-Israel extremism.
Michal Cotler-Wunsh, a former member of Knesset for Israel’s Blue and White Party, said: “Durban was the ecosystem for declared escalation in the war waged on Israel, weaponizing international law and it’s institutions. The orchestrated, systematic implementation of this strategy threatens not only Israel, but shared values and foundations of democracy and human rights.”
“In declining to participate in celebratory events, the United States is rightfully rejecting the despicable hatred that was leveled against the Jewish State and the Jewish people twenty years ago. We encourage other nations to join the US in continuing to fight racism, bigotry, and antisemitism, while rejecting and not participating in such odious proceedings,” said Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chair Dianne Lob, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein, in a statement.
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.