Al-Watan News in Bahrain covered a B'nai B'rith International delegation visiting Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
This is an English translation:
Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, received at the Ministry's headquarters today a delegation from the International Jewish Children of the Covenant (B'nai B'rith International), headed by Seth Riklin, President of the organization, on the occasion of their visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain.
During the meeting, they discussed areas of cooperation and joint coordination to support efforts to establish peace and spread the values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among different religions, sects and races, in order to achieve peace and security for all people in all countries of the world.
In its coverage of Senate Republicans uniting against the U.S. reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the Jerusalem Post quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, highlighting his concerns about the agreement that might come out of the Vienna talks.
WASHINGTON – A group of 49 Republican Senators – all but Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul – announced on Monday that they will not support efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.
They noted that according to press reports, the Biden administration might soon conclude an agreement with Iran “to provide substantial sanctions relief in exchange for merely short-term limitations on Iran’s nuclear program.”
“We strongly urge the administration, our Democrat colleagues, and the international community to learn the lessons of the very recent past,” they wrote. “A major agreement that does not have strong bipartisan support in Congress will not survive.
“Republicans have made it clear: We would be willing and eager to support an Iran policy that completely blocks Iran’s path to a nuclear weapons capability, constrains Iran’s ballistic missile program and confronts Iran’s support for terrorism,” the Senate Republicans continued. “But if the administration agrees to a deal that fails to achieve these objectives or makes achieving them more difficult, Republicans will do everything in our power to reverse it. Unless Iran ceases its support for terrorism, we will oppose removing and seek to reimpose any terrorism-related sanctions. And we will force the Senate to vote on any administration effort to do so.
“By every indication, the Biden administration appears to have given away the store,” they continued. “The administration appears to have agreed to lift sanctions that were not even placed on Iran for its nuclear activities in the first place, but instead because of its ongoing support for terrorism and its gross abuses of human rights.”
They went on to say that the nuclear limitations under the new deal “appear to be significantly less restrictive than the 2015 nuclear deal, which was itself too weak, and will sharply undermine US leverage to secure an actually ‘longer and stronger’ deal.
“What is more, the deal appears likely to deepen Iran’s financial and security relationship with Moscow and Beijing, including through arms sales,” they continued. “The administration has thus far refused to commit to submit a new Iran deal to the Senate for ratification as a treaty, as per its constitutional obligation, or for review under statutory requirements that passed on a bipartisan basis in response to the 2015 deal. Additionally, despite earlier promises to the contrary, the administration has failed to adequately consult with Congress.”
Meanwhile, Jewish and pro-Israel organizations are bracing for the possibility that an agreement will be signed soon. Last week, the American Jewish Committee sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, expressing concerns over the details of the imminent deal. However, many other groups are waiting to see how the final deal will look before making public comments.
B’nai B’rith International CEO Dan Mariaschin told The Jerusalem Post that he was “deeply concerned” about what agreement might come out of the Vienna talks.
“If issues like Iranian missile and centrifuge development and manufacture, and snap, intrusive inspections of military sites, not to mention Iran’s menacing malign behavior throughout the region [are not addressed], what will have been the purpose of reentering talks with Tehran?” he said.
“And what of even-more truncated sunset clauses which would allow Iran to resume its nuclear program unfettered?” Mariaschin continued. “Moreover, reports that side agreements that might remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from terrorism lists, or which would pull back efforts to prosecute those Iranians who perpetrated such acts of terrorism as the attack on the AMIA social welfare building in Buenos Aires in 1994, should be of special concern.
“The P5+1 countries need to pause and think of the consequences of any agreement that leaves Iran to its own devices,” he said. “Sunday’s Iranian attack on Erbil is yet another example that the regime in Tehran cares less about negotiated agreements than it does about wanting to maintain its ability to act with impunity to advance its interests in the region.”
CUFI Action Fund chairwoman Sandra Parker told the Post that everything she has heard and read about the impending deal indicates the Biden administration “has capitulated to Iran in a manner not even Tehran could’ve fathomed.”
“If the reports are true, the coming Iran deal will be one of the most significant foreign policy blunders of modern American history,” Parker said. “As we have seen in Afghanistan and continue to see now, President Biden’s approach to foreign policy enables our adversaries and imperils our allies. It is both dangerous and disgraceful.”
The Jerusalem Post (in its Grapevine column) covered the launch of "The Bloody Price of Freedom" by Honorary B'nai B'rith President Richard D. Heideman in Jerusalem. B'nai B'rith World Center Director Alan Schneider delivered opening remarks and CEO Dan Mariaschin moderated a panel discussion with distinguished guests about the book and the range of threats facing Israel and global Jewry.
Although it was originally planned for six months ago and then for three months ago, the Israel launch of The Bloody Price of Freedom, by distinguished Washington-based lawyer Richard D. Heideman, finally took place at the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem last Sunday, in the presence of a live audience of close to 50 relatives, friends and acquaintances. The event was jointly organized by Gefen Publishing and the B’nai B’rith World Center, Jerusalem.
While COVID-19 restrictions had interfered with previous plans to hold an Israel launch, nothing could keep Heideman and his wife, Phyllis, away from a family celebration. Above all else, they were in Israel to join in celebrating the bar mitzvah of their grandson Eytam, whose mother, Elana, the second of their three daughters, has lived in Israel for almost 17 years and is the executive director of the Israel Forever Foundation.
Before Heideman himself rose to speak, there was a panel discussion on how antisemitism is linked to terrorist organizations. The moderator was Daniel S. Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, with Irit Kohn, a former president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence, and Yifa Segal, founder and director of the International Legal Forum, as panelists.
What emerged from the discussion is that Israel is doing a poor job in combating defamation and attempts at demonization and delegitimization. Relating mainly to what’s happening in America, especially attacks on Jewish university and college students, there was consensus among the panelists that, for the most part, the Jewish students can’t fight back, because unlike the Palestinians, who are all well versed in their narrative, the Jewish students are ignorant of Jewish history in general and the history of the State of Israel in particular. There is also ignorance in Washington and Europe. When activists on behalf of Israel mention that there was an Arab boycott long before the establishment of the State of Israel, few people know what that person is talking about.
In clear, concise language when he spoke and also when he elaborated on his remarks in the book, Heideman drew the connection between the Nazi manifesto of 1920; the Nuremberg Laws, which disenfranchised and dehumanized the Jews and certain others in the German population; Kristallnacht, which was the burning not only of books, but of people as it moved into the Shoah; the pushing of people into gas chambers and crematoria, and working others to death; the founding of the Arab League in 1945; followed by boycotts and blacklisting of companies and nations that did business with anyone connected with the Zionist enterprise; anti-Israel votes in the United Nations; terrorist attacks and sponsors of terrorism; the recent Amnesty International report and what is happening in the world today.
“It’s not coincidence,” said Heideman, as he drew verbal links in a century-old chain of Jews and later the State of Israel being tainted as apartheid, criminal and racist. “Silence is not an option,” said Heideman, as he reiterated his belief in the profound link between antisemitism, terrorism and the demonization of Israel.
This is a time when all Jews, regardless of their religious affiliations or political ideologies, must unite, he insisted, concluding with a warning about Iran: “When someone says they want to kill you, you darn well better listen.”
JNS included B'nai B'rith International's statement urging the U.S. Senate to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in its coverage of Lipstadt's confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
(February 8, 2022 / JNS) The Biden administration’s nominee Deborah Lipstadt to lead the U.S. State Department’s office that monitors and combats anti-Semitism appeared in the Senate on Tuesday for her confirmation.
Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lipstadt made the case that anti-Semitism is on the rise.
“Increasingly, Jews have been singled out for slander, violence and terrorism,” she said. “Today’s rise in anti-Semitism is staggering.”
Her confirmation has been delayed for several months reportedly over concerns raised by Republicans of her past tweets, including one labeling a specific statement by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) as “white supremacy.” During a radio interview last year, he stated that he was not concerned by the mostly white insurgents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but would be concerned if former President Donald Trump had won the election and those rioting at the Capitol were Black Lives Matters protesters or members of Antifa.
At her hearing during her questioning by Johnson, Lipstadt apologized to the senator, saying, “While I may disagree with what you said specifically—and I think that’s a legitimate difference—I certainly did not mean it, and I’m sorry if it was taken and I’m sorry if I made it in a way that it could be assumed to be political.”
It was only a commitment on the nominee’s part to make such an apology that convinced Republicans on the committee to grant her a hearing. Johnson said he would still vote against Lipstadt.
She has also been criticized for appearing in a 2020 ad where she likened Trump’s rhetoric to that of Nazi Germany.
An author, premier Holocaust historian and the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University, Lipstadt was nominated by U.S. President Joe Biden on July 30. Since then, Jewish groups have written numerous letters to the committee in support of her nomination, especially in the wake of last month’s attack on a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.
‘The sky is falling’
On Tuesday, B’nai B’rith International urged the Senate to swiftly confirm Lipstadt.
“Lipstadt is eminently qualified for this critical role, having actively engaged in the fight against anti-Semitism through her long, distinguished career as a historian and a professor,” said B’nai B’rith International President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin. “The delay of Lipstadt’s confirmation has left a vacuum, with no one serving in this vitally important role of anti-Semitism special envoy. In the face of a surge of anti-Semitism globally, the United States must continue to assume a leadership position in the fight against this hatred through the person of the special envoy.”
In her hearing, Lipstadt dismissed partisanship, saying she has called out anti-Semitism on both sides of the aisle. She acknowledged, however, that some of her posts had not been “as nuanced” as she would have liked.
If confirmed, Lipstadt’s role would be to focus on reporting on global anti-Semitism and pressing governments to adopt measures to mitigate it. While the position does not primarily focus on domestic concerns, she will likely be seen as the Biden administration’s voice on the issue.
One important issue will be to work to apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, which equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. The Biden administration has supported the IHRA definition, despite criticism by some on the left that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic.
“I think it’s very important to be nuanced there because, you know, it’s sort of [like] ‘Chicken Little’ [repeating], ‘The sky is falling,’ ” she said. “If you call everything anti-Semitism, when you have a real act of anti-Semitism, people aren’t paying attention.”
Nevertheless, Lipstadt said she believes that Colleyville was “not an isolated incident” and that more needs to be done to combat anti-Semitism.
“If confirmed, I shall fight anti-Semitism worldwide, without fear or favor, and with that one goal emblazoned before me to make a difference,” she vowed.
The Algemeiner published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin about the importance of Holocaust remembrance and important lessons for combating Holocaust denial and distortion.
When I began my career nearly 50 years ago, Holocaust remembrance events were few and far between. One of my first assignments out of graduate school, working in the Boston Jewish community, was to organize an annual remembrance event, held on the campus of Brandeis University, where a sculpture of Job by renowned sculptor Nathan Rapoport stands outside the Jewish chapel.
The attendees at those events were largely survivors and their families. One, whom I recall quite well, was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, whose face was etched with sorrow in a way that told me almost everything I needed to know about the ordeal he endured. The Holocaust survivor with whom I worked to arrange that program just passed away some months ago, at the age of 96.
Last year, it is estimated that some 15,000 survivors passed away. Even child survivors are approaching 80 or are even older. One of the major challenges to remembrance is the reality that witnesses to, and victims of, Nazi barbarity will, at some point, not be here to testify to the worst crimes known to humankind.
Now that we’ve just come through the annual observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day — January 27, the date in 1945 when Auschwitz was liberated — this may be a good time to take stock of how we go about the immense task of remembering.
For the commemoration this year, B’nai B’rith hosted a program reflecting the international scope of the challenge before us. New German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and US Secretary for Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas — himself the son of a Holocaust refugee — were keynote speakers, and were joined by a host of experts on Holocaust remembrance and the battle against Jew-hatred, including Fernando Lottenberg, the newly-appointed Commissioner for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism at the Organization of American States.
As the program unfolded, I thought back to the small gathering of survivors on the Brandeis University campus decades ago, and what it is we need to do to ensure that remembrance does not fall victim to insufficient attention, distortion, or denial.
We are fighting the passage of time, as well as the passing of survivors. But it is not only that.
We are seeing the uneven results of Holocaust education — some states and local school boards require courses, but many do not. Modern definitions of the word “genocide” are often applied to situations and events that do not meet the intent of the man who coined the word — Rafael Lemkin — and this has lessened the uniqueness of the Holocaust. We’ve seen a proliferation of Holocaust denial and minimization from the far-right, the far-left, Islamists, the Palestinian leadership and its media and allies, and Iran. Now we are also seeing trivialization of the Holocaust by militant anti-vaccination activists. There are a growing number of examples of the latter — Robert Kennedy, Jr., being only the latest, when he suggested that, at least during the Holocaust, victims could escape over the Swiss Alps or hide in attics, like Anne Frank. Talk about the need for Holocaust education.
Further aggravating all of this is the internet and social media — which provide platforms for negationists and conspiracists — trumpeting all manner of Holocaust denial theories. What used to be shared in books sent in plain brown wrappers or in occasional newsletters by antisemites to antisemites, is now out there for all to see, in real time on your tablet, phone, or watch.
The dangerous spike in global antisemitism has added a multiplier effect to the toxic environment in which hatred thrives. So, how do we best combat a virus that has become, for us, a challenge of pandemic proportions?
Fortunately, we have a growing number of allies in this fight. Government representatives and agencies connected to the European Union are working closely with Jewish organizations to place Holocaust remembrance, denial, and trivialization high on the agenda. Many who have joined in these efforts see this within a framework of safeguarding democracy. Katharina Von Schnurbein, the European Commission Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism and Fostering Jewish Life, and a veteran of these discussions, says that political will and leadership are essential to rolling back the tide of hatred.
Legislation criminalizing Holocaust denial exists in some countries, but often needs the back-up of better training, resources, and proactive jurisprudence to bring the deniers to account. Most of the big social media platforms, a few of which profess to understand our concerns, have still been slow in actually addressing the proliferation of websites, messages, comments, and blogs that traffic in distortion and denial.
The importance of Holocaust education is essential. Recent surveys show that Millennials and members of Gen Z have little knowledge of what transpired in Europe between 1933 and 1945. Most think the number of Jewish victims was much lower, and have never heard of concentration camps, or can’t name one; some even believe that it was the Jews themselves who brought on the Holocaust. New approaches, technologies, and methodologies need to be employed to address this knowledge deficit before it is too late.
Addressing the current generation, Kathrin Meyer, the Secretary General of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), says messaging should include the idea that “it is cool to fight antisemitism; it is cool to fight distortion.” A joint campaign in the online space by four organizations, called “Protect the Facts,” — IHRA, the European Commission, the United Nations, and UNESCO — is aimed at raising awareness; more international organizations and NGOs should emulate this important new project.
And within that context, where Europe has seen widespread antisemitism, marked by disgraceful Holocaust references amongst soccer fans, it is gratifying to know that major clubs like Borussia Dortmund in Germany, and Chelsea, in the United Kingdom are proactively engaged in fighting this proliferation of Jew hatred. To make this a truly European effort, additional clubs should launch similar initiatives.
Holocaust denial as a political tool has its proponents, as well. Just a couple of weeks ago, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for an Israeli-introduced, and German co-sponsored, resolution on distortion and Holocaust denial. Iran was the only country to speak against the measure. Said its foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, “the fake Zionist regime has constantly tried to use the victims of World War II and the Jews as a justification for its shameless and aggressive actions.” This, from a country that has sponsored, among other activity, cartoon contests that mock the memory of the Holocaust, and whose leaders make genocidal calls for Israel’s elimination on a daily basis.
Lessons learned? We need to redouble our efforts at cooperation, and bringing governments, intergovernmental bodies, the education community, and civil society closer together if we are to fully teach future generations about what befell the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis, and what lessons there are to be learned from it.
As the IHRA’s Kathrin Meyer perceptively said, “We must outnumber the haters.”
JNS published B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin's op-ed condemning Amnesty International in the U.K. for publishing a malicious report that attempts to further demonize and delegitimize Israel, the world's only Jewish nation.
(February 1, 2022 / JNS) A 211-page report issued by Amnesty International in the United Kingdom is pouring a deeper foundation on top of an already dangerous and insidious path to delegitimize Israel. The report charges Israel “with oppression and domination of Palestinians, through cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion,” in what it further describes as crimes against humanity.
Disturbingly, this report joins a malicious piling on against the world’s only Jewish state.
Last April, the organization Human Rights Watch issued a 213-page report charging Israel with inflicting on the Palestinians “deprivations so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
The apartheid charge has been a staple of the BDS movement for years. Human Rights Watch has long been in the forefront of those seeking to undermine Israel’s legitimacy, aided by its cachet among those who are like-minded or who look past its selective use of the term “human rights.”
Then, in May of last year, the U.N. Human Rights Council—long a hotbed of bias against Israel—established a Commission of Inquiry (COI) “to investigate violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in East Jerusalem and in Israel.” For decades, the annually funded, so-called “Palestinian committees” in the United Nations, and the dozens of anti-Israel resolutions adopted each year in the General Assembly and in its various agencies, focused largely on the West Bank and Gaza.
What separates this COI from all that preceded it inside the world body is its investigation into practices in Israel proper—and its open-ended mandate. In other words, a permanent star chamber has been set in place to flog Israel at will now and on into the future. Indeed, the three members of the commission—led by its chair, Navi Pillay, a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights—are known for their incessant, blind bias against the Jewish state. Based on the pronouncements and writing of its members, the fix is in: Don’t expect the COI, which is expected to issue its first report in June, to deliver anything other than a lengthy, one-sided rant, which will only further demonize and incite against Israel.
Amnesty UK also includes Israel proper in its report and says that an Israeli system of “legal segregation” treats Palestinians as an “inferior racial group.” The report also freely uses the “apartheid” charge throughout against Israel.
The group’s secretary general, Agnès Callamard, calls Israeli policies “prolonged oppression of millions of people.” For decades now, Amnesty International, running on the same fuel as Human Rights Watch, has had a Jewish problem. The two organizations are two sides of the same coin with frequent, obsessive criticism of Israel becoming a staple of press releases and annual reports.
The Amnesty UK report, though, telegraphs its objectives in several places. It calls for a “right of return” of Palestinian refugees, a transparent, demographic prescription for the demise of Israel as a Jewish state. It charges Israel with pursuing, since 1948, “a policy of establishing and then maintaining control over land and resources to benefit Jewish Israelis.” It further charges Israel with “Judaizing” not only areas of the West Bank, but in Israel itself. And it calls on the U.N. Security Council “to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel,” covering “all weapons and munitions as well as law-enforcement equipment.” Additionally, it recommends that the Security Council impose “targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes, against Israel officials … .”
The report also calls on the International Criminal Court, which already has charges of crimes against humanity against Israel on its docket, to consider “the crime of apartheid in its current investigation into the occupied Palestinian territories” and even calls for the application of the concept of universal jurisdiction to bring those “perpetrators (Israelis) of apartheid crimes to justice.”
The upshot of the report? A call for a “major reassessment” of the UK’s policy position on Israel. The government of Boris Johnson has generally enjoyed good bilateral relations with Israel. Amnesty calls for a change in that relationship in order “to confront and begin to tackle the scale and systematic nature of Israel’s apartheid crimes.”
Tucked somewhere deep in the report is a bogus throw-away line about Amnesty recognizing Israel’s “desire to be a home for Jews,” suggesting that Israel has no right to an independent existence. Someone in the organization’s office in London must have cynically suggested, after placing Israel on the rack, tossing in a few words to cover charges of not being “even-handed.”
One will never see in these lengthy screeds anything at all about Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East. About its widely respected independent judiciary, about the fact that Israeli Arabs now sit in the current government coalition—that an Israeli Arab sits on Israel’s Supreme Court, that thousands of Israeli Arab students attend Israeli universities or that Arabic is an official language of Israel. The sponsors and writers of these reports—or should we say indictments—have no interest whatsoever in seeing beyond their interest in soiling Israel in the court of public opinion.
The similarity of language in the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty UK reports, and the stated goals of the COI are not coincidental. It’s the vernacular of the BDS campaign, of the strident accusers of Israel within the United Nations and its agencies, of the Palestinian leadership itself, of some leading media outlets, and now, disturbingly, by some members of the U.S. Congress and other global parliamentary bodies.
The length of this report is matched only by the vehemence of its hatred towards Israel, and by extension, those who support it. It will resonate among those who share its warped view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, who disregard the series of wars since 1948 to destroy Israel, the Palestinian terrorists whose families are rewarded with lifelong stipends, the showers of Hamas rockets from Gaza on Israeli cities and the nihilistic zero-sum policies of the Palestinian Authority.
Amnesty UK’s report is nothing more than another bald-faced attempt to exile, demean, marginalize and, yes, to ultimately eliminate the world’s only sovereign Jewish state. It is addressed to the government of the United Kingdom, but it is clearly meant for international consumption. It deserves to be thoroughly discredited as the work of utterly prejudiced operatives. No person who seriously cares about seeing a Middle East at peace ought to read beyond page one.
CEO and Dir. of U.N. Affairs Op-ed in Newsweek: Holocaust Comparisons Are Holocaust Denial. It Has to Stop.
Newsweek published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels urging members of Congress and all others to stop trivializing the Holocaust to score cheap political points.
The Holocaust is once again being trivialized in the name of the politics. On Wednesday, Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson compared COVID restrictions to the Nazis' treatment of Jews. "This has been done before. #DoNotComply," he tweeted.
The Congressman joins a long list of those reaching for the Holocaust for such cheap political points. In June, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene compared wearing a mask to wearing a yellow star and had to apologize. In November, Lara Logan compared Dr. Anthony Fauci to Joseph Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor who did cruel experiments on Jews in concentration camps.
Across the globe, things are even worse; outright Holocaust denial is spreading like a virus. Earlier this week, outside a church in central Rome, a funeral concluded with a coffin draped in a Nazi flag, surrounded by participants giving Nazi salutes. In Iran, the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, often tweets things like "why is it a crime to raise doubts about the Holocaust?" and "#Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain." In 2019, right before attempting a mass-carnage attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur, a gunman livestreamed a video in which he said, "I think the Holocaust never happened."
The Holocaust—the most documented and systematic genocide in history—took the lives of two-thirds of European Jews. Among our own family members, in Poland and Lithuania, most were wiped out: innocent men, women and children.
Of the Jews who managed to survive, all are now at least 77 years old, and thousands are dying each year. That trend has likely been accelerated by the ongoing pandemic. And if Holocaust-denial can persist even as first-hand witnesses to the atrocities are among us, we can only imagine how malignant these pathologies will become once the survivors pass on.
The correlation between denial of past atrocities and indifference to new atrocities is clear. Whether it comes from the extreme right or radical Islamists, antisemites uniquely belittle or justify the Holocaust while also belittling or justifying current and prospective violence against Jews.
Of course, distortion or instrumentalization of the Holocaust is not new. Among white supremacists, denial of the Nazi gas chambers' existence has been an article of faith. Even in America, certain local legislators or educators were recently found to have urged "neutrality" in teaching about Nazism. In parts of the Baltics, the whitewashing and lionizing of Nazi collaborators has been commonplace. And through much of the Middle East, the Holocaust has long been tarred as a "Zionist myth" alongside a false narrative that Palestinians paid the price for Germans' misdeeds with the invention of a "colonial" Israel by foreigners.
And whether at the United Nations or street demonstrations, bigots wholly rejecting the history and legitimacy of a Jewish minority presence in the Middle East have sought to add insult to injury by weaponizing the Holocaust, saying Hitler hadn't gone far enough or that Israel is guilty of Nazi-like practices.
At a 2001 U.N. conference against racism in Durban, South Africa, activists asserted both. A decade later, Iran's president hosted Holocaust-denial conferences and cartoon competitions, attracting such luminaries as former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, a newfound champion of Palestinian nationalism.
A few years later, Malaysia's then-prime minister—a self-identified antisemite who had called Jews "hook-nosed" and said they "rule the world by proxy"—questioned the number of Holocaust victims. And during outbreaks of Hamas or Hezbollah hostilities with Israel, social media platforms have facilitated an unprecedented spread of hateful lies concerning Israelis, Jews and the Holocaust, with negligible intervention by those profiting from them.
Next week, the U.N. will have an opportunity to help more seriously address the scourge of historical revisionism. 15 years after the U.N. began marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a resolution on Holocaust-denial and distortion will come up for a vote. We hope member states will join in adopting an important working definition of Holocaust-denial, as well as, ultimately, an equally vital working definition of antisemitism.
While combating trivialization of the Holocaust is only one element of strengthening basic societal norms, it is a critical one. Let it be said once more: those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
Mishpacha Magazine quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin in its coverage of Iran's nuclear program and the U.S. administration's options in dealing with Tehran going forward.
Kicking the can down the road is no longer an option, it seems. The world is finally coming to a crossroads with Tehran’s nuclear program.
When Joe Biden entered the Oval Office in January this year, one of the most urgent tasks he set out was returning to the Iran nuclear deal. This goal was supposed to be an easy one to achieve. Obama administration veterans were brought on board: Rob Malley, a key figure in the original JCPOA negotiations, was made US special envoy to Iran, and Jake Sullivan was made national security advisor. Tony Blinken, Biden’s former advisor, was appointed secretary of state, and said the goal was for both sides to first return to the original deal, and then negotiate “a longer and stronger agreement.”
The feeling in Jerusalem was that a return to the nuclear deal was only a matter of time, that all it would take is sorting out a few technicalities. But the Iranians had different plans. Since Trump’s withdrawal from the deal in 2018, they continued uranium enrichment at an accelerated pace, and this time they’re coming to the negotiating table one step away from the nuclear threshold.
If Washington expected them to be desperate for a deal, they were soon disillusioned. The Iranians are not only no longer content with the 2015 terms, they want a lot more from the West in exchange for far more modest concessions on their own part. In their view, America has to not only lift all sanctions, but also commit to never impose sanctions in the future for Iran to even consider restrictions on its nuclear project.
The Iranians’ arrogance led to Blinken sounding pessimistic at the end of the week.
“Iran doesn’t seem serious,” he said, in what could signal a dramatic change of approach on Iran. “If the path to a return to compliance with the agreement turns out to be a dead end, we will pursue other options.”
“Other options” is a deliberately vague term, intended to leave the door wide open to interpretation, possibly extending as far as a military threat. But it could also mean imposition of further sanctions, something Iran will clearly find unacceptable.
Danny Danon, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, tells Mishpacha that for his part, he wasn’t particularly surprised by Iran’s conduct.
“We are not at all surprised at the breakdown of talks in Vienna,” he said. “Iran has been deceitful in the past, and they are playing the same game now. After months of hard work and negotiations between the parties, Iran no longer accepts the agreed-upon compromises and is demanding outrageous walk-backs and changes. The diplomatic approach didn’t work at the beginning, and it is clearly breaking down now.
“There is a recognition that we are at a critical crossroads,” Danon continued. “Now is the time for the United States and other countries to adopt a new approach with the Iranian regime, in light of its dishonest and shameless conduct. They should speak to the Iranians in a way that they’ll understand, and apply more sanctions.”
Danon’s call for additional sanctions would fit neatly into Blinken’s threat to pursue “other options,” without banging the drums for war — perhaps a stark recognition that Israel can’t get too far in front of its powerful ally.
Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, has been active and vocal in opposition to the JCPOA since 2015. During this time, he has met with numerous leaders and diplomats and tried to convince them that any agreement should include not only the nuclear aspect, but also Iran’s malign regional activities and human rights abuses. His comments to Mishpacha echoed some of Danon’s rhetoric.
“It comes as no surprise that Secretary Blinken has said the Iranians are not serious about a resumption of negotiations,” he told Mishpacha. “For years, Tehran has done nothing but signal it is dead set on moving ahead with its nuclear weapons program.
“The first order of turning to ‘other options’ should be to hold fast to sanctions already imposed on Iran and adding additional measures to pressure the regime,” he said. “It’s long past time for the international community to stop treating Iran as a credible negotiating partner and to begin calling it out for the dangerous, rogue outlier it is.”
Mariaschin, in other words, sees sanctions as only the first step in Blinken’s unspoken threat; and if those don’t work, stronger measures would clearly be needed to deal with a dangerous adversary.
Richard Goldberg, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, brings up another point: The US should leverage its influence in the UN to prod the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the watchdog over Iran’s nuclear activities, to act as well.
“The most important issue to take up at the IAEA is Iran’s failure to cooperate with a three-year probe into undeclared nuclear material, which constitutes a breach of Iran’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT],” he said. “The IAEA board should pass a formal resolution finding Iran in NPT non-compliance and refer the matter to the UN Security Council. This investigation goes to the heart of Iran’s nuclear deceit and reminds the world of the folly of any nuclear agreement absent a full accounting of Iran’s nuclear program.”
This full accounting is something to which Iran has been implacably resistant. It was in this context that Mossad chief Dadi Barnea and Defense Minister Benny Gantz embarked on a whirlwind visit to the US. The purpose is to expose the Americans to more intelligence about Iran’s intentions. But what’s the goal of the visit? After all, America isn’t going to take military action against Iran, so what are Barnea and Gantz hoping to achieve?
Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to Washington and former deputy foreign minister, told Mishpacha that Israel’s security chiefs are bringing an “unequivocal message” to Washington: “Any deal that enables Iran to achieve breakout capacity — the ability to produce a nuclear weapon in weeks or even days — poses a strategic threat to Israel, which has the right and duty to defend itself by all possible means.”
Like Oren, Danny Ayalon served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington and then as former deputy foreign minister. He told Mishpacha that we are in an “extremely sensitive time period,” and that in the upcoming week we will know the faith of the Vienna negotiations — whether the sides are headed for a crisis and the end of the negotiations, or for another attempt to save the 2015 deal.
“Israel should be reasonable and rely on previous experience,” he said. “We should have a detailed discussion with the Americans about the different scenarios ahead of us.”
In the past week, we also witnessed tension brewing between Jerusalem and Washington. Thus, on Thursday Israeli media reported that Bennett had a “tough” phone call with Blinken, in which he warned the secretary of state that the US should not trust the Iranians. And Mossad chief Dadi Barnea said publicly that he “will not let Iran acquire nuclear weapons.”
Ayalon believes that a public feud with the US will not benefit Israel. “We shouldn’t fight with the US publicly. Gantz and Barnea’s visit is an opportunity to act wisely, and to try and convince the administration behind closed doors.”
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 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.
The Jerusalem Post quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin concerning the fall of Afghanistan and the strategic, regional uncertainty that it has unleashed – particularly with regard to Iran, the Palestinians and the future of the Abraham Accords.
WASHINGTON — US Jewish organizations were following closely as the drama was unfolding. Even before Thursday’s terror attack, it was already clear that the Afghanistan withdrawal will overshadow the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. But the deadly attack near the Kabul airport made it clear that the administration’s attention is currently elsewhere, as the President and his close staff monitored the developments from the situation room, postponing the meeting to a later timing.
William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, told The Jerusalem Post that “as we watch the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the alliance and partnership between the United States and the State of Israel is more critical than ever.”
Speaking about the meeting, Daroff said that he expected the two new administrations “to make significant progress on issues of mutual and fundamental importance to all Americans and Israelis during Prime Minister Bennett’s first US trip to Washington since assuming office — the first opportunity for the two leaders to meet face-to-face during their many years in public service.”
“These priorities include sharing knowledge and resources to counter the COVID-19 virus and its variants, how best to deter Iranian aggression and hold its nuclear program accountable and in check, and defending and promoting Israel’s security, peace, and stability,” he said.
Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, told the Post that with the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban and all of the strategic uncertainty that it has unleashed, “events would hopefully dictate a further closing of the ranks between Washington and Jerusalem on Iran and the Palestinian issue.”
“This is clearly no time for risk-taking with Iran, including sanctions relief, especially given the election of Ebrahim Raisi, Tehran’s ratcheting up enrichment and other aspects of its nuclear program, and its malign behavior throughout the region,” said Mariaschin.
“With regard to the Palestinian issue, the PA’s pay-for-slay program and its incessant efforts at the UN and elsewhere to demonize Israel suggests more business-as-usual in Ramallah,” he continued. “There should be no rush to proffer additional incentives to the PA —such as re-opening of the PLO office in Washington and certainly not re-opening of the consulate in Jerusalem — in the face of its zero-sum recalcitrance.”
“Finally, we hope that the success of the Abraham Accords will move the administration to proactively seek out, together with Israel, new partners for peace and cooperation in the region, to join those already committed to this camp,” Mariaschin said.
Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) CEO Halie Soifer released a statement on Thursday morning, saying that the meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Bennett is the first meeting between a new US president and new Israeli Prime Minister in more than a decade. “It ushers in a new chapter for the United States and Israel, and reaffirms the strength of our historic and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship,” she said.
“President Biden entered office with a longer and stronger record of support for Israel than any of his predecessors, and has been steadfast in his support for Israel’s security and right to self-defense,” she said.
She went on to say that The United States and Israel “share a common goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. With the future of a renewed Iran nuclear agreement remaining, at best, uncertain, we welcome close collaboration between the US and Israel in ensuring that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Jeremy Ben Ami, President of the progressive group, J Street, said in a statement on Thursday that “while the US builds common ground with the new Israeli government in a number of areas, we also must make clear that the “status quo” is too dangerous to accept.”
“J Street is urging President Biden to make clear in [the] meeting that a strong, enduring, bipartisan US-Israel relationship demands fidelity to our shared values of democracy, peace and respect for human rights,” said Ben Ami. “That means pushing for an end to harmful settlement expansion; an end to discriminatory evictions in East Jerusalem and demolitions in the West Bank; an end to the policy of perpetual occupation; an end to the twin erosion of Israeli democracy and Palestinian hopes for self-determination,” he said in a statement.
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.”
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.
More American Jews are calling Israel an ‘apartheid’ state, and big organizations are struggling to fight the trend
JTA quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of the recent No Fear Rally in Washington, D.C. and the narrative around the state of Israel.
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sharon Nazarian has a theory about why a recent Washington, D.C., rally against antisemitism struggled to reach as large an audience as organizers had intended.
The Anti-Defamation League, for which Nazarian is senior vice president of international affairs, co-sponsored “No Fear: A Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People,” along with several other of the largest American Jewish organizations. But it drew just 2,000 people on Sunday. By comparison, a rally in 2002 at the height of the second intifada drew more than 100,000 participants.
Nazarian says the traditional mainstream organizational focus on, and lionization of, Israel is becoming a liability and turning people away.
“This narrative about Israel needs to be a more realistic one, one that [brings] attention to the strengths of the state, and to its weaknesses,” said Nazarian, a philanthropist who is president of a family foundation that funds research into education. She added that the rally was put together on short notice in the heat of the summer, at a time that the coronavirus pandemic is still a factor.
Two days after the rally, a poll of U.S. Jews was published with some surprising findings: 25% agreed that “Israel is an apartheid state,” 34% agreed that “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the United States” and 22% agreed that “Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.” The numbers only climb among younger Jews: More than a third of those under 40 gave Israel the “apartheid state” label.
The numbers are striking given American Jewry’s longstanding and steadfast support of Israel, even throughout times of right-wing governments, such as the ones led for years by recent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that have pushed policies that clash with the majority of their individual beliefs. But American criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza over multiple military conflicts in the last decade — most notably in 2014 and May of this year — has steadily grown harsher, and this year saw an unprecedented public outcry, accentuated by several influential celebrities. Many feel more comfortable agreeing with influencers and others who label Israel’s military response to rockets fired from Gaza as “genocidal” — even if human rights experts caution that the term is an exaggeration in this case.
“What we’re missing, even the centrist organizations, is that for years now we’ve been hearing these sensationalist labels, and the reason we didn’t engage with it was because it was on the fringe, it was taboo, and we thought it would stay there,” Nazarian said. “What has happened now as a result of the May conflict is the real mainstreaming of this language.”
Another factor over the last year, since the murder of George Floyd, is the burgeoning awareness of racial disparities among Americans. Many of Israel’s critics have increasingly framed Israel’s conflict as one of racial injustice.
“We have to understand the building blocks, the framing,” Nazarian said. “And really the conflation of a lot of what we saw in the post-George Floyd kind of anti-racism activism that we as a Jewish community of America participated in.”
Many “No Fear” rally speakers explicitly conflated some of the harsher criticisms of Israel with antisemitism, and that disinclined some groups from accepting the invitation to participate, including the liberal pro-Israel lobby J Street.
“Rather than engage with young people and try to put the reality of the situation in context, and admit problems that are going on, they’ve chosen to deny that there are problems, and to attack those who raised them,” said J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami. “That has resulted in polarization. Rather than engaging people who have questions and criticism, they push them away.”
Those who did participate in the rally and responded to a request for comment on the Jewish Electorate Institute National Survey of Jewish Voters doubled down on their assertions and emphasized education, arguing that the Jewish community needed to do more to educate younger Jews about Israel — and to push back against characterizations that they said originated with its enemies.
“A main source of disconnect between segments of American Jews and the reality of Israel is deficient education,” David Harris, the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, one of the rally’s sponsors, said in an email.
Harris pointed to an AJC poll last month that showed only 37% of respondents described their Israel education growing up as “strong,” and to separate data showing that young people increasingly are getting their news from social media “where untruths are rampant,” he said.
“Clearly, greater efforts at educating American Jews, especially younger cohorts, about all aspects of Israeli society, and connecting them with their counterparts in Israel, are critical for ensuring nuanced understanding about Israel and strengthening Israel-Diaspora relations,” he said.
Harris pointed to AJC programs aimed at reaching Jews under 40. So did Adam Teitelbaum, the executive director of the Jewish Federation of North America’s Israel Action Network. JFNA was also a sponsor of the rally.
“The best way to combat this phenomenon is to meaningfully and authentically engage young Jews with questions such as ‘what do you think apartheid means?’; ‘what is the best path forward?’; and ‘how can Israel address real security concerns while still fighting for peace?’,” Teitelbaum said. “Young people recognize that the situation in Israel is complicated. We at JFNA and through the Israel Action Network know that when Jewish Federations and Israel educators approach young people’s questions with compassion and authenticity, they engage meaningfully and elect to become changemakers themselves.”
The removal of subtlety from the discourse is what kept Americans for Peace Now away from the rally, said its president, Hadar Susskind, even though his group was approached to participate.
“Organizations look at many members of the Jewish community, including particularly younger ones, and disregard them, or, you know, answer them in ways that are at best dismissive and at worse, call them antisemites,” Susskind said in an interview.
Susskind said his group rejected terms like “apartheid” and “genocide,” but said that energy dedicated to countering those terms would be better spent by the Jewish community grappling with Israel’s status as an occupier of Palestinian areas and people.
“The answer to this isn’t another college fellowship to show people the sandy white beaches in Tel Aviv, it’s ending the occupation,” he said.
Some of the “No Fear” Jewish organizations reflexively say that they accommodate criticism.
“The No Fear antisemitism rally included a number of voices and was meant to be a broad tent,” Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, the CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly said in a statement. “Our movement is firmly and proudly Zionist and supportive of the State of Israel and its people. Our movement is also a big tent and includes many different voices on Israel, all coming from a place of love and support for Israel, even when critical.”
Daniel Mariaschin, the CEO of B’nai B’rith, another of the rally’s sponsoring organizations, called for the classic strategy of playing up Israel’s strengths.
“We must restore pride by re-doubling our efforts at Jewish education: formal and informal, biblical to contemporary, in classrooms and at the dining room table, at summer camps and on excursions to Israel,” Mariaschin said in an email. “Are we celebrating, enough, Israel’s many contributions to contemporary civilization in innovation, medicine, and agriculture, and its wide open, but sometimes fractious democracy?”
Crosstabs of the recent survey shared with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by the pollster, GBAO Strategies, show that among those who described themselves as emotionally attached to the country, a substantial minority buy into the harsh criticisms. Among those with strong ties to Israel, 19% agreed that Israel was an apartheid state.
Halie Soifer, the CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, one of the sponsoring organizations, said she was frustrated attending the rally to hear most of the speakers condemn antisemitism of the left. The survey showed most respondents, 61%, perceived the antisemitic threat to come from the right.
Soifer, whose JDCA is affiliated with the group that commissioned the poll, the Jewish Electorate Institute, said the emphasis on anti-Israel rhetoric from the left at the rally was emblematic of why the establishment was failing in its outreach to younger Jews.
“To the extent that those at the rally focused on antisemitism emanating from anywhere other than the right, it demonstrates a disconnect between the focus of some Jewish organizations and the priorities of American Jews,” Soifer said.
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 Jewish Link covered B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin's meaningful conversation with the Torah Academy of Bergen County's (NJ) Israel Advocacy Club.
The Jerusalem Post covered the upcoming dedication of a symbolic synagogue at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center in observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) near Kyiv, which will be broadcast live. Along with two other leaders, B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin will participate in a panel discussion on the significance of the synagogue dedication and the dangers of rising anti-Semitism eighty years after Babyn Yar.
Thursday, April 8th, marks the confluence of two significant events – the observance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day throughout the Jewish world, and the dedication of a symbolic synagogue at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center near Kyiv, where 33,771 Jews were murdered in a two-day period in late September 1941.
The inauguration of the symbolic synagogue and prayer space at Babyn Yar will be part of the special broadcast on the Jerusalem Post website and Facebook page and the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center Facebook page on Thursday, Yom HaShoah.
On Yom HaShoah, April 8th (7 PM EST), Natan Sharansky, former Prisoner of Zion and Chair of the supervisory board at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, will participate in a panel discussion with Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the National Coalition Supporting Euro-Asian Jewry, and Dan S. Mariaschin, chief executive officer of B’nai B’rith International. The three leaders will discuss the significance of the synagogue dedication, the Ukrainian government’s support for the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, and the dangers of resurgent antisemitism eighty years after Babyn Yar.
Sharansky, who was born in 1948, recalled that as a boy, he and his friends were aware that something tragic had occurred in Ukraine but were never informed as to what had happened. “I was born in Ukraine a few years after the Holocaust,” he said. “Most of my Jewish friends had no grandfathers and grandmothers. We had very few uncles and aunts. It was clear that some awful tragedy had happened only a few years before we were born. We knew practically nothing.” The awful crimes of the Nazis, he said, were followed by those of the Communist regime, who attempted to erase the memory of what had occurred from the Jewish identity of the Jews of the Soviet Union. “For me,” Sharansky related, “the Babyn Yar Memorial is like the closing of a huge circle – of bringing back the memory of the world of our people and making it part of our history and our future.”
The importance of the support given to the project by President Zelensky and the Ukrainian government, he says, cannot be overestimated – not only for the Jewish people but for anyone who values the desire to live in a free world.
Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the National Coalition Supporting Euro-Asian Jewry, echoed Sharansky’s words and stated that the dedication of the synagogue and the museum itself is a significant point not just in Jewish history but in the history of Ukraine and for the continent of Europe as a whole.
The Keene Sentinel with B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin – a New Hampshire native – about how he has reflected on the word "dayenu" (or, "it would have been enough") this Passover.
Dayenu. The Hebrew word, often translated as “it would have been enough,” is the refrain of a lively tune sung at Passover seder — a reminder to be thankful for what you have.
If an expression of gratitude seems ill-suited for Passover — which remembers the Israelites’ toil under, and exodus from, Egyptian slavery — well, that contradiction is the point.
After a particularly trying year for many people, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Sentinel asked several members of the local Jewish community how they have reflected on the word dayenu during this Passover week.
Daniel Aronson is rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Achim, having joined the West Keene synagogue last summer. Cantor Kate Judd serves as spiritual leader of the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community. And Daniel Mariaschin, a North Swanzey native, is chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish service organization B’nai B’rith International.
Aronson and Judd responded to The Sentinel’s questions via email; Mariaschin was interviewed by phone.
Dayenu, the idea that “it would have been enough,” is a theme of Passover. What are you grateful for this year, especially given recent hardships caused by the pandemic?
Daniel Aronson: I am grateful that my [wife] Beth, my daughter Katie and I were brought to Keene by forces Divine, human and happenstance. We love the communities we’ve discovered at our places of work, i.e. Keene State College and Congregation Ahavas Achim, and at my daughter’s school and extracurricular activities. We also appreciate the natural beauty around us. Winter was magical with just the right amount of snow adorning the trees, and it was made even more magical by the frequent visits to our birdfeeders by an awesome assortment of hungry feathered neighbors ...
I am grateful that our parents have made it through the pandemic in good health and that they have all been fully vaccinated.
I am grateful that my daughter and adult son are thriving in all their endeavors.
I am grateful to be lovingly married to someone who is passionate about making the world a better place for all and who supports me in my efforts to do the same.
Kate Judd: I am deeply grateful that I met a wonderful life partner [Randall Silverman] during this crazy year. I’m also grateful for my wonderful congregation, the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, which has remained vibrant throughout these challenging [times].
Daniel Mariaschin: I would say four things. The first is to be able to read the Passover story in an environment of freedom. There were many times in history when the reading of the story of the Exodus from Egypt was prohibited. To be able to sit at the table and read the story in freedom, about really history’s first example of a movement for freedom, is something I think we have to be grateful for.
The second thing would be gratitude for Zoom. It wasn’t that long ago that we did not have the technical ability to bring people together, even at times in this particular public health crisis ... So the ability to work with colleagues over Zoom, to be together with friends ... and also to have friends and family at seder. One of our seders was with family in Israel, so we were able to bring everybody together ...
The third thing is being thankful for the researchers who produced these vaccines. We need them ... It’s essential to getting everybody back up to speed. But it’s also very easy to take certain things for granted, and the people who worked so hard and so quickly to produce this vaccine is something that we always could remember and take note of.
The fourth thing for me, as one who works in a Jewish community and who supports an Israel which is at peace with its neighbors, we were very pleased back in September to have had the Abraham Accords — the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Sudan and [later] Morocco. These are extremely important, giant steps toward peace in the region and is something that we’re grateful for, but that we would like to see continue and expand to other countries, as well.
Has the pandemic made it more difficult to connect with family and friends for Passover this year? If so, how did you observe?
Aronson: The pandemic has challenged us to celebrate all kinds of events with our families and communities in creative ways. As such, I’ve found, we’ve been able to connect in ways that allow more people to come together than usual, that invite the inclusion of creative elements in our celebrations that we might not have considered under “normal” circumstances, and that break us free from the complacency that can dampen our joy and gratitude.
Last year, from our home in Houston, TX, my family and I joined my parents, siblings and their families by Zoom for a seder, the home-based ritual meal that commemorates the exodus from Egypt and the Israelites’ liberation from slavery. It was the first time in decades that we had all been together to celebrate Passover ...
This year, having thrown myself into creating what I hope was a joyful and meaningful online seder for the [Congregation Ahavas Achim] community, I didn’t have the energy to replicate last year’s family seder. Beth, Katie and I had a small seder at home and were joined by my son Jake, who Zoomed in “virtually” from Denver. Though I missed the excitement of last year’s family reunion, this year’s seder was no less special; the intimacy of the experience enhanced my sense of gratitude for my children and my spouse.
On the following night, I was thankful for the opportunity to come together with about 40 people from our CAA family. I included in the seder a video of our religious school children reciting one of the central pieces of the seder, known as the Four Questions ... I also included two music videos of traditional Passover songs prepared especially for the seder by super talented congregants, Rebecca Sayles and Eleanor Kaufman, respectively. It took a lot of work for Rebecca, Eleanor, and the children and their families to send me videos on relatively short notice, but I think the whole congregation was extremely grateful not only for their effort but for how they lifted up all of our spirits.
Judd: Most of my family is in Israel. Last year I had to return from Israel before observing Passover with them. This year, because of current medical challenges, I was unable to celebrate Passover. I said a blessing over some matzah, and sang a verse of Avadim Hayinu — “Last year we were slaves, now we are free people.” I hope we are all freed from COVID restrictions soon!
Mariaschin: I have two sisters and their families who live [in Israel]. My wife is Israeli, and her family is there. We normally go over for the holiday. So the distance, even with Zoom, could be felt because you really want to be with family. This is a family holiday. Passover, some people say, is the most observed holiday in the Jewish community. We missed something this year by not being there, but having Zoom made it a lot closer and a lot easier.
The seder typically ends with everyone saying, “Next year in Jerusalem.” What do you hope Passover looks like in 2022?
Aronson: At the end of our seders, we all said, “Next year in-person.” I pray that we are all well enough to make that happen in [Hebrew year] 5782/2022. Also, I pray that our seders happen against a backdrop of a world in harmony with itself, a world in which loving kindness, civility and justice in all its forms prevail. That is what “shalom” (peace and wholeness) looks like and that is the true meaning of “Next year in Jerusalem.”
Judd: Wherever I am, I hope I am celebrating with real live people!
Mariaschin: I hope, certainly, that the pandemic is behind us. That we can observe this holiday not only around the table, but that we can go out and not have to worry about all of the conditions and restrictions that we’ve been facing over the past year. Certainly, we want very much ... a year of peace for Israel together with its neighbors ...
The holiday story that we have is thousands of years old, but the basic message of this holiday remains the same. It doesn’t wax and wane with history ... [It is] freedom to be able to express one’s thoughts, one’s ideas, freedom of speech — all the freedoms that we enjoy. When you think about how far ahead of their time the ancient Israelites were under the leadership of Moses, in aspiring to that kind of freedom and to wander for 40 years in the desert in order to get it. It’ll be good to be back to normal, but the story, of course, remains the same, and we look forward to reading the story again next year.
The Jewish Link quoted B'nai B'rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Jewish organizations that called out NBC for airing anti-Semitic programming on two recent occasions.
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin called it “a cheap shot at Jewish customs” that plays into “blood libel” stereotypes, while the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s (SWC) associate dean and director of global social action Rabbi Abraham Cooper expressed outrage and frustration that in the media “no one else is fair game except our community.”
Their anger was directed at NBC, which has received significant backlash in the Jewish community for airing programming on two recent occasions that has been labeled by many as promoting “classic anti-Semitic tropes.”
One of the two offending incidents occurred on Feb. 9 airing of the drama, “Nurses,” which featured a young hasidic or Orthodox boy named Israel who injured his leg and is warned by his father not to accept a bone graft because it might come from a woman or Arab donor; and the Feb. 20 airing of the Weekend Update segment of Saturday Night Live (SNL) where host and chief writer Michael Che quipped, “Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half of their population. I’m going to guess it’s the Jewish half.”
In the “Nurses” episode Israel asks, “You want to put a dead leg inside me?” and the father responds, “A dead goyim leg from anyone—an Arab, a woman” and tells his son that the “Creator” will heal him. The son ultimately refuses the graft. There are no prohibitions in Judaism against receiving a bone graft from a cadaver.
In response to the controversy, NBC has pulled the “Nurses” episode from all its digital platforms but has not commented on either show.
“Nurses” is a Canadian series that was picked up by NBC in late 2020 to fill holes in its original programming schedule caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two incidents engendered swift and strong response from both national and local Jewish organizations that accused the network of spreading lies about Jews and Judaism, particularly Orthodoxy and Israel.
“There needs to be recognition and sensitivity in media outlets to the Jewish community and community practices,” Mariaschin told The Jewish Link in a phone interview from his Washington office. “It’s not humor and it’s not even good drama.”
He said NBC pulling the “Nurses” episode was insufficient and the network needed to apologize for its portrayal of the Orthodox community and its failure to research Jewish practices, although he said there is an industry-wide problem of insensitivity to the concerns and practices of the Jewish community.
“This is a blood libel and what Michael Che was able to do was what has been done since the Middle Ages about blood libels, that what we want to do is harm others,” said Mariaschin of the SNL piece. “There are millions of people in those audiences. What they heard was not only wrong, but outrageously wrong and we don’t want them learning about our community through off-handed comments.”
However, he expressed optimism the negative publicity resulting from these incidents might serve as a wake-up call to the industry.
Read the full article here.
B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin penned an op-ed for Algemeiner analyzing the dangers of mainstreaming anti-Semitism in the media.
Hardly a day passes without reading of someone, somewhere uttering an antisemitic trope. That part is not new; for millennia, this has been the norm. In the pre-Internet era, one could read, primarily in the Jewish media, about an antisemitic public official, a neo-Nazi, or a desk clerk at a restricted hotel uttering hateful comments or spinning conspiracies about Jews.
What is new, or relatively so, is that today we’re learning of Jew-hatred in real time, within hours of it being spouted. It comes from expected, and from unexpected, quarters. And sometimes it’s simply the portrayal of Jews that sends an antisemitic message.
Take the recent Canadian-produced NBC series “Nurses,” whose premise centers around five nurses and the lives and people they interact with. The most recent episode involved a young Hasidic accident victim named Israel and his father, whom we meet in a hospital room, where they’re engaged in conversation with one of the nurses.
The young Hasid needs a bone graft, he is told, and that will require using the bone of a cadaver. Israel expresses shock at the idea of having a “dead leg” inserted into his body, to which his father — dressed in a Hasidic black hat and coat, and wearing payot — says disgustedly: “A dead goyim leg — from anyone. An Arab, a woman.” The nurse, belittling both the father and son, responds: “Or, God forbid, an Arab woman.”
Never mind that Orthodox practice would allow for this graft, much more important, is that the picture presented to the viewer is classic antisemitism. Dressed in black and closed-minded (with one of them literally named Israel), the message is that these Jews are both peculiar and bigoted.
Any stereotyping is dangerous. But the Orthodox community often gets the brunt of this kind of instant presumptuousness. They are portrayed as an oddity or as an easy foil. The show made no attempt to give any kind of context to Orthodox Jewry or its medical worldview. The writers of this episode needed highly identifiable Jews to make the story work — and who cares about who might be hurt as long as it fits neatly into the one-hour timeframe.
But murderous attacks on Jews in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Poway, California, or Monsey, New York, are just a few examples of how antisemitic rhetoric can turn violent.
My guess is that most viewers of this program are not Jewish. Those who know us only at a distance would understandably not know about how diverse we are. We have a communal spectrum that runs from left to right, and everything in between, and includes the religious and the secular. Is the viewer’s education about the Jewish people to be gleaned from the likes of “Nurses” and other highly watched programs that traffic in biased presentations about sectors of our community?
I’m old enough to remember episodes of “Dr. Kildare,” “Gunsmoke,” and other TV dramas, that treated Jewish subjects with compassion and a seriousness of intent. That those programs aired at a time when Jews were subjected to admissions quotas, restricted neighborhoods, corporate glass ceilings, and other forms of discrimination made this treatment of Jews all-the-more important in fostering mutual respect.
Today though, in the broader world around us, there seems to be a growing tolerance toward anyone saying anything about whomever they wish, without any filter or fear of opprobrium. And increasingly, Jews have become the target.
“Saturday Night Live’s” Michael Che delivering a blood libel about Israel and the COVID vaccine masked as a “joke”; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)’s assertion that a Jewish space laser and the Rothschild family were responsible for California’s wildfires; and Lowell, Massachusetts, School Committee board member Robert Hoey’s referring to a former city employee as a “kike” on live public access TV are just a few very recent examples of what is becoming a frightening trend.
The Canadian producer of “Nurses” has apologized for the offensive episode, and NBC has pulled this episode and others from the air.
“Contrition tours,” where networks, politicians, comedians, and others offer a quick, “If I offended anyone, I’m sorry,” or give apology interviews with friendly journalists, is one way of getting these kinds of controversies quickly out of the way. But that is not enough.
The media can play a large role in sensitivity training for the public at large, but first it needs to take a course or two itself. Playing off Jewish stereotypes for shock value, or for a few laughs, is both irresponsible and reckless.
We need to see more positive programming about the Jewish community and its many contributions — in so many fields — to this country. School systems need to utilize textbooks that teach about our story as an immigrant people who came to America from dozens of countries to find a land of opportunity denied to them in the darker corners of Europe and elsewhere. And while people may know a bit about the Jewish religion, more attention needs to be paid to its history, customs, and traditions. Doing that might prevent a repeat of the “Nurses” debacle.
In May, we will observe the 15th anniversary of Jewish American Heritage Month. While positive programming about our community should be a 12-month-a-year endeavor, this special designation on the national calendar offers many opportunities for educators, government officials, media operatives, and others to spotlight our community in a positive way.
The danger we face is the mainstreaming of antisemitism. Where once these expressions of hatred were confined to the margins or were never discovered because there simply was no Internet megaphone, today they are seemingly everywhere, including network television.
As is often said, it may start with the Jews, but it never ends there. It’s not just about us: just follow what is written or said on social media, TV and talk radio, statements from political figures, and off-handed comments by celebrities; they are everywhere. It is one long parade of insults, put-downs, threats, loose talk, and worse.
Is the “Nurses” episode a wake-up call, or just another statistic in a week or month of egregious incidents? Our task is to speak up each time this happens, and as important, to ensure that our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and others beyond our community do not become inured to the threats before us.
The Jerusalem Post quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Jewish organizations' legislative priorities for 2021, noting B'nai B'rith's domestic and foreign policy concerns.
WASHINGTON – As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office and new members of Congress wait to be sworn in, Jewish organizations in Washington are working on their legislative agenda for 2021, thinking about what they should promote working with the incoming administration and what they should oppose.
While COVID-19 relief for nonprofits and security grants for religious institutions will continue to top the list of priorities for 2021, some organizations also voiced concern about the possibility the Biden administration will return to the nuclear agreement with Iran.
B’nai B’rith CEO Dan Mariaschin said the organization would focus on promoting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into law and provide a path to citizenship for those protected under the act, known as Dreamers.
Additional legislation priority is the NO HATE Act, he said, adding: “As hate crimes against Jews and other minorities continue to soar, we hope that Congress will pass the act, which would strengthen federal laws that combat hate speech, threats and attacks.”
B’nai B’rith also supports the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, Mariaschin said.
“We hope that the current executive order against antisemitism, which achieves these aims, will remain in place,” he said. “If it does not, a legislative remedy would be in order.”
In the past, B’nai B’rith called for the creation of an antisemitism coordinator at the Justice Department who could work across agency lines to combat the rising tide of domestic antisemitism, Mariaschin said.
“The recent FBI report identifying Jews as by far the religious community most frequently victimized by hate crimes is evidence of the need for such a position,” he said.
Regarding foreign policy, Mariaschin said a bipartisan bill would help ensure that Israel retains its qualitative military edge if the administration approves arms sales to Arab countries.
He said he hopes Congress will pass legislation to elevate the position of State Department special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism to ambassadorial rank. “Changing the title will send a clear message abroad that the fight against antisemitism will continue to be prioritized,” he said.
Regarding B’nai B’rith’s policy on Iran, Mariaschin said: “We call on the administration and Congress to apply concerted pressure on the Iranian regime to ensure that its nuclear program – as well as its ballistic-missile production, its support for terrorist organizations, its profligate human rights abuses and other malign behavior – are held in check,” he said.
The Algemeiner ran an op-ed written by B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin on the Palestinian terrorist Lelia Khaled appearing at the European Parliament.
If there was ever a reminder that Europe is losing its way, the appearance this week at the European Parliament by convicted Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled is surely it.
Khaled, a major operative in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was involved in a wave of hijackings of commercial airliners in 1969 and 1970, most notably a TWA flight from Rome to Athens and Tel Aviv, and an El Al flight from Amsterdam to New York City.
The PFLP, headed by George Habash, helped to invent modern terror. Its curriculum vitae is filled with enough hijackings, bombings (suicide and otherwise), drive-by shootings and kidnappings to fill a good-sized bookshelf. It has partnered with like-minded organizations, such as the Japanese Red Army and Colombia’s guerrilla army FARC, and though Marxist in orientation, the group has enjoyed a relationship with terrorism’s biggest backer today — theocratic Iran. The PFLP’s targets have invariably been civilians: in 2014, for example, its operatives attacked worshippers with axes and knives at a Jerusalem synagogue, killing four and wounding seven.
The PFLP has been on the European Union’s terrorism list since 2012 (decades after the organization came into existence). And yet, Khaled was a featured speaker this week on a program at the European Parliament, titled, “The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Resistance.” Khaled received a two-minute standing ovation, preceded by this introduction: “We…have a living legend here with us today, who we can call the Che Guevara of Palestine, Leila Khaled.” The Venezuelan ambassador, who was also present, was introduced as an “honored guest.”
Yom Kippur is one of the six main annual Jewish fasting days: (a) The tenth day of the Jewish month of...
Khaled’s speech was not about empowerment and opportunity. Instead, it was a nonstop screed filled with time-tested Palestinian canards about Zionism — and about Jews.
“The Holocaust,” she said, “is only pain to the Jews. They have monopolized the pain and have played the role of the victims. … [D]on’t you think that what happened in Auschwitz is comparable to what happens in Gaza today?”
The Zionist movement, she stated, “aligns with all the capitalists in the world,” and she added that “in the next 100 years, they [the Zionists] will be able to dominate the world economy.”
Khaled even reprised the time-worn line about her being a “freedom fighter,” a term frequently used to excuse, explain or apologize for the violent acts of terrorists such as Khaled and her cohorts in the PFLP, and organizations like it.
At a time when European cities are under increasing assault by an assortment of suicide bombers, car and truck rammers, and knife-wielding attackers, why was Khaled — an inspiration to those who carry out such acts — given a European Union-affiliated megaphone to spout such hatred?
The meeting she addressed was organized by a far-left leaning coalition of parties inside the parliament. According to one report, Martina Anderson, who represents Ireland’s Sinn Fein, gushed in a tweet about the “fantastic turnout” at the event. “Long live international solidarity,” she wrote.
But “solidarity” for what? Khaled’s presentation, with its rants about control of the world’s economy by “racist” Zionists “who have appropriated the role of victims….entirely for themselves all around the world,” was nothing more than a showcase for a rejectionist Palestinian narrative that embraces hatred and antisemitism.
The European Parliament is not the only platform where this kind of behavior has played out; it is only the latest. United Nations agencies like the Human Rights Council and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and even the World Health Organization seek, on a routine basis, to deny, minimize or rewrite Jewish history to fit the Khaled narrative.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which is closely aligned with this worldview, specializes in comparing Israel with apartheid-era South Africa, and accusing Israeli authorities of ethnic cleansing.
The Khaled event at the European Parliament was not something hidden or unknown to those who peruse the international body’s weekly calendar. Someone made a decision to approve its being placed on the schedule.
To be fair, some members of the parliament have spoken out against Khaled’s appearance in Brussels, as has the European Commission’s coordinator on combating antisemitism.
Yet with so many EU heads of government, foreign ministers and other officials proffering comments about the need to defeat the growing threat of terrorism on the continent, where are those voices expressing outrage over the invitation to a convicted terrorist — who remains a “member of the political bureau” of one of the deadliest of terror organizations — to speak at one of the EU’s central institutions?
In trying to explain this, words like “hypocrisy” and “indifference” come to mind, along with simple political correctness. But it is more than that: Haven’t those in leadership positions in Brussels learned anything from decades of violence espoused by Khaled, her contemporaries and now, by Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS? If nothing else, have they no self-respect?
The recent list of terrorist attacks in Europe is long, and growing. At the EU, some may have short memories, but surely the families of victims in Paris, Nice, London, Brussels, Copenhagen and so many other places, do not.
The citizens of a united Europe deserve better.
The author is the CEO of B’nai B’rith International.
B'nai B'rith International CEO and Executive Vice President Dan Mariaschin was quoted in The Jerusalem Post article on a bill in the Texas legislature that would prevent the state from doing business with companies that support the BDS movement.
“Comerica should close the account,” said Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith, an organization that testified on Wednesday in Texas in support of the anti-BDS bill. The IADL 'excuses the actions of terrorist organizations and denies Israel’s right to defend itself.'"
Check out the article, that includes testimony from the B'nai B'rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy Chair Charles Kaufman given at the Texas legislature in support of the bill.
Scroll down to read the piece or click here to read it on JerusalemPost.com.
Texas has been a hotbed of anti-BDS activity in recent days, with the passage of a bill in the Senate on Wednesday that will bar state contracts and investment in companies that boycott Israel, and mounting criticism by Jewish organizations of a local bank’s BDS activity.
Chuck Lindell from the American-Statesman paper reported that the Texas Senate passed the bill opposing BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) by a 25-4 vote and that it was sent to the Texas House of Representatives for a vote. “No senators spoke in opposition to [bill] SB 29 before the vote,” the paper reported, adding that the bill’s author, Sen. Brandon Creighton, said Texas should not do business with companies that participate in the BDS movement.
One such company, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), maintains an account with the Dallas-based Comerica bank.
“Comerica should close the account,” said Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith, an organization that testified on Wednesday in Texas in support of the anti-BDS bill. The IADL ”excuses the actions of terrorist organizations and denies Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Like other financial institutions, Comerica does not have to provide everyone with an account or a loan, he said. “Banks have recognized that they should not truck or have business with these types [BDS] of accounts.”
The IADL supports Iran’s nuclear program and has a chapter in communist North Korea.
Jan Fermon, the secretary-general of IADL and a Belgium-based lawyer, wrote the The Jerusalem Post by email in early March that, “Regarding BDS, IADL supports this movement.”
He added, “IADL engaged in solidarity with the Palestinian people in a very early stage of its existence because it considers the violations of international law and human rights law... by the Israeli authorities as a major obstacle to a just and lasting peace in the region.”
Charles Kaufman, who chairs B’nai B’rith’s International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, delivered testimony in the Austin legislature in support of the anti-BDS bill. Kaufman, who lives in Texas, said, “In another time, in another place in history, people who wanted to rid the earth of the Jewish people boycotted their businesses. Filled with fear, these good citizens, stripped of their possessions, separated from their families, would subsequently fill boxcars... and you the know rest.
“Today is different, the Jewish people have a state, Israel, their ancestral homeland, a home shared with Christians and Muslims and many other faiths,” he said. “And yet, there are people who still want to rid the earth of Israel and demonize Jews in a shocking reply of antisemitism. The talk of a boycott is back. It is back in the form of an appalling spreading disease called BDS – against Texas’s fourth largest trading partner.
“The BDS movement would like you to believe that this effort will pressure Israel to make existential concessions to enemies who seek its destruction. This is simply the latest in a litany of false narratives that is threatening a democracy and a free world,” said Kaufman.
“Do Texans share the values of individual freedom, tolerance, mutual respect and pluralism with Israel? Absolutely, yes. Do we share a spirit of discovery, enterprise and security with the State of Israel? Yes. Do we need an anti-BDS law in Texas? In the face of a threatening movement? Sadly, yes.”
Joel Schwitzer, the American Jewish Committee’s regional director in Dallas, told the Post: “AJC recognizes that Comerica Bank, and other financial institutions, are clearly free to do business with whomever they choose. AJC urges banks to consider carefully what it means to extend an account to a discriminatory movement like BDS, which seeks to de-legitimize a single country – and that often intersects with antisemitism.”
Wayne Mielke, a spokesman for Comerica, responded to the Post by email, saying, “We don’t discuss customer relationships, and want you to know (again) that we have a robust compliance program at the bank.”
Mielke’s response is “not good enough. It is a legalistic answer,” said Mariaschin. The question for Comerica is: “Do you want to do business with an organization [IADL] that engages in this type of activity?” Mielke declined follow-up Post queries about whether the bank had launched an investigation into the IADL account and about Comerica’s views on BDS.
There are many definitions of the Yiddish word “chutzpah”: temerity, audacity, nerve, are chief among them.
Any of these definitions aptly fit the upcoming, and grandly-named, Paris Conference on Middle East Peace. Seventy countries will soon gather in the French capital to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and more likely than not, will propose—or perhaps will try to impose a solution to it.
Israel will not be in attendance, and for good reason.
French authorities, in introducing the idea for this conference seven months ago, said that they were “compelled to act” on the issue, which they presumptuously profess was necessary to bring the parties together. The conference spokesman says that discussions will center within three working groups, dealing with civil society, institution building and economic assistance.
This all may have been another exercise in “international conference futility,” as the Geneva peace conferences of decades past attest, had it not been for the passage of Resolution 2334 in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the speech of Secretary of State John Kerry outlining his “six principles” late last month.
Huge assemblages of diplomats from dozens of countries, some of which don’t even have relations with Israel, normally wind up letting off steam at these gatherings, and close with presumptuous declarations that either raise Palestinian expectations or frustrate Israel because they have never dealt with the rejectionism of the Palestinian camp.
But this time may be different.
Protestations coming out of Paris about not seeking to impose a settlement on the parties ring hollow. Armed with both the resolution and the Kerry declaration, the Palestinians, who will be attending the gathering, will seek to use the meeting to further isolate Israel. With friends like Sweden, which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, mischief-making could very well be the order of the day.
The conventional wisdom is that the conference will endorse the Kerry principles, which placed the blame and onus on Israel for an absence of progress on a two-state solution, and send it on to the Swedish-chaired UNSC, for adoption. At that point, with the parameters not only enunciated by Kerry, but then backed by both the Paris Conference and the Security Council (how could the U.S. veto its own policy?), what would be left to negotiate?
It defies understanding how the French organizers, or any other parties, can still speak both of prejudging an outcome, as well as a serious return to direct negotiations.
Indeed, some Palestinian leaders rejected out of hand the Kerry parameters and called for negotiations within hours of the speech. Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Mustafa Barghouti dismissed three of Kerry’s points, saying that the refugee issue must still include the right of return, that the Palestinians would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and that Kerry’s proposal for Jerusalem being the capitol of two states did not go far enough—presumably meaning that Israeli neighborhoods like Gilo and Har Homa would need to be evacuated in a final agreement.
In showing his hand, Barghouti underscores not just Palestinian rejectionism, but the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) incessant desire to wear down the international community and insist that it continue to attempt to marginalize and weaken Israel, both diplomatically and economically, until there is nothing left to talk about. Full diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state could very well follow this conference. With that in hand, there would be no need for the PA to make any concessions. What next? A PA invitation for Iran to send Revolutionary Guards to set up an operation in Ramallah or Hebron?
So is it any wonder that Israel has decided not to appear before this latest version of an international kangaroo court?
Where have the 70 countries joining this gathering been over the past decades, failing to strongly insist that the PA enter negotiations with Israel following offers made by a succession of Israeli governments of concessions ranging from custodianship of Islamic religious sites in Jerusalem (2000), evacuating settlements in Gaza (2005), further concessions on settlements in Judea and Samaria (2008) and most recently, a 10 month settlement freeze (2014).
The responses to these opportunities are well known: intifadas, rockets, incitement and utilizing the United Nations agencies to circumvent the very idea of a negotiated peace, at the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and now, the Security Council.
The massive amounts of time and energy the international community has wasted on these gatherings cannot be regained. Castigating Israel—and by all accounts that will be the end result of the Paris conference, notwithstanding whatever diplomatic language is used—is a non-starter. This is especially so now, when on every one of Israel’s borders there is chaos and uncertainly, ascribable not to the Palestinian issue, but to intra-Arab and intra-Islamic rivalries, mistrust and shifting ideological and strategic currents.
Security Council resolution 2334, and the Kerry speech, have already set back the notion—adhered to by many who back a two-state solution to the conflict—of directly negotiating its end.
Already, some diplomatic scholars and Middle East experts are suggesting ways to, if not rescind the resolution, then to at least mitigate its fallout.
As that unfolds, on into the new Trump administration in Washington, the PA should understand that its zero-sum strategy is also a non-starter.
The Paris conference could send that message to the PA, but it won’t. Those countries participating in these deliberations should do no more harm to this process.
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