B'nai B'rith International has received coverage for its Jewish Rescuers Citation commemoration ceremony held in the Jerusalem hills. The Times of Israel noted the citation given to Hubert Pollack, who participated in a plan to get thousands of exit visas from Nazi Germany. Pollack, honored along with 12 other Jewish heroes on Holocaust Remembrance Day, saved thousands of Jews from perishing in the Shoah.
The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust (JRJ) created the Jewish Rescuer Citation in 2011 to honor and pay respect Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust.
See how media outlets covered the commemoration ceremony:
Adi Daliot was in his 60s when he found out that his father, Hubert Pollack, helped save over 10,000 Jews in Nazi Germany during the years leading up to the Holocaust.
Sworn to secrecy by his co-conspirator, Jewish Anglo-German philanthropist Wilfrid Israel, Pollack kept his story quiet — even from his family. It was only after Daliot (the family adopted a Hebrew surname after moving to Israel) came across a written account by Pollack in 2002, nearly 35 years after his death, that Pollack’s heroic role became known.
Pollack is to posthumously receive the Jewish Rescuers Citation along with 12 other Holocaust-era heroes on Thursday, which marks Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, at the Forest of the Martyrs in the Jerusalem hills. Six million trees have been planted there in commemoration of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.
Read more in the Times of Israel.
KAN News (Channel 11):
(Twitter, April 28, 2022) "B'nai B'rith organization has decided to award the Jewish Rescuer Citation award to paratrooper Habiba Rake. This is the 19th consecutive year that the Organization of Allies and the JNF-KKL have presented the prize. @KalmanLiebskind spoke to Habiba Rake's niece about her aunt's heroic story and the groundbreaking woman she was.
Israel Hayom (English):
B'nai B'rith, KKL-JNF to honor Jews who rescued Jews in Holocaust
The Jerusalem Post:
Grapevine April 27, 2022: A Mimouna Synonym
B’nai B’rith, KKL-JNF to Honor Jews Who Rescued Fellow Jews During Holocaust
Kol Yisrael (English):
The Media Line:
Ceremony Honors Jews Who Rescued Jews During Holocaust
Tel Aviv Net (Hebrew):
Holocaust Remembrance and Heroism Day, Thursday, 27 Nissan 2022 / April 28, 2022
Ynet News (Hebrew):
Under the Noses of the Nazis: the Jew who Kidnapped 35 children – and Saved Their Lives
Cyprus Mail covered Cyprus Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou's meeting with American Greek and Jewish organizations, including B'nai B'rith International. The meeting is part of a bi-annual leadership mission to Cyprus, Greece and Israel to strengthen trilateral relations between the three nations (and the United States).
Trilateral cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel on diaspora matters is vital in preserving peace, security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean for future generations, Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou said on Wedensday.
He was speaking after meeting Greek American organizations American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), and Jewish American organisations B’nai B’rith and Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations.
“During their visit we had a productive and interesting discussion on all matters, discussing in particular the important and decisive role of the diaspora of the three countries in promoting our national issues in important decision-making,” Photiou said.
He expressed collective pride that all three countries have “diasporic communities with historic and impressive achievements,” saying they are bound by historic bonds, common values and traditions, but also common goals and hopes for the future.
A trilateral cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel on diaspora matters is important in further strengthening the already excellent relations between the three countries, which is why they are at the top of the agenda.
This cooperation will preserve peace, security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean for future generations, he added, while the US connection is “huge” in strengthening strategic bonds there.
The presidential commissioner said the meeting also covered ways to bring the diaspora communities of the three countries together, with an emphasis on younger people, “to showcase the history and culture of each of the three countries”.
Finally he thanked the associations for their support on the issue of missing persons, also pledging the government’s firm stance against antisemitism.
Later in the day Photiou and the other representatives will attend a Holocaust Memorial event to mark the closing of concentration camps, which will take place at the Cyprus-Greece-Israel friendship monument.
Coverage of Israel Hayom Reporter Ariel Kahana Winning Prestigious 2022 B'nai B'rith World Center Journalism Award
Israel Hayom highlighted news that its diplomatic correspondent Ariel Kahana won the B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage. Arutz 7, the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel and others have also noted this story. See how media outlets have covered the award:
Israel Hayom's Diplomatic Correspondent Ariel Kahana was named on Thursday as the recipient of the B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem's Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage.
"Ariel Kahana will receive the award in recognition of a series of articles and interviews about antisemitism in the United States, Israel-Diaspora relations and the integrity of the relationship in a time of corona," the organization said.
According to the organization, the prize is designed to recognize the excellence in reporting on contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities and on the interaction of Jewish communities with Israel. "The award is widely recognized as the most prestigious prize in the Israeli media industry for Diaspora reportage and was established to help strengthen the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora," the organization said in a statement. "The award highlights the important contributions the media can make toward strengthening the relationship between Israel and world Jewry by encouraging quality reporting on Diaspora communities and Israel-Diaspora relations," it continued.
Read more in Israel Hayom.
Arutz 7 (Hebrew):
Israel Hayom (English):
Israel Hayom (Hebrew):
The Jerusalem Post:
The Jerusalem Post:
Kipa News (Hebrew):
Tel Aviv Net (Hebrew):
Times of Israel (English):
Times of Israel (French):
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.
Israel Hayom covered a meeting organized by B'nai B'rith International and the Jewish People Policy Institute that focused on how Israel, because of the tragedy in Ukraine, has a unique opportunity to show its commitment to Diaspora Jewry and accept Ukrainian Jewish refugees.
The tragedy in Ukraine has provided Israel with a unique opportunity to show its commitment to Diaspora Jewry.
How can this be done? Jewish leaders gathered in Jerusalem several days ago to answer precisely this question, in a meeting organized by the Jewish People Policy Institute and B'nai B'rith International.
It is well known that despite a series of commendable changes in recent years, Israel is little invested – to say the least – in our brethren around the world. Perhaps precisely due to this, the familiar and visceral closeness to our distant family arose among the participants, as well as their recognition of the shared destiny, cooperation, assistance, and mutual responsibility.
Now is the time to practice what we preach for in the Nation-State Law, which stipulates that Israel will "strive to ensure the safety of the members of the Jewish people and of its citizens in trouble or in captivity due to their Jewishness or nationality" and "act within the Diaspora to strengthen the affinity between the state and members of the Jewish people."
Although the Nation-State Law does not fully realize the state's obligation toward world Jewry, our natural affinity with the members of our people emanates from every heart, leaving not a single person in Zion indifferent to the heavy price of war.
Even before the expected massive aliyah wave – which will require extensive government support – the mobilization so characteristic of Israel stood out in a series of commendable initiatives to help Ukrainian Jews – by the state, various organizations as well as private individuals and volunteers.
The Jewish community in Ukraine is in immediate danger. It is the birthplace of those who immigrated to Israel as part of the first aliyah waves. It is where the founders of our modern state and its plethora of movements and streams came from.
Now that Israel is strong, it is our turn to help our Jewish brethren. As such, we should ask ourselves: Is our commitment reserved for such extreme situations only or on "normal" days as well? In fact, we do not need a law that will fully realize our responsibility to the Jews of the world and adorn the proud Israeli heartbeat. This is our commitment to ourselves.
B'nai B'rith International Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels and Director of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem Alan Schneider penned a joint op-ed in Hebrew for Ynetnews calling out the recent criticism of Israel by non-Jewish religious leaders.
Last month, the leader of the Presbyterian Church (USA) said that Israel was guilty of “21st century slavery.” He did not level a similar charge against any other country – including those where slavery actually does exist.
In November, the General Synod of the Church of Sweden voted to urge investigation of Israel, the only democracy in its region, as an “apartheid” state, and the United Church of Canada may soon do similarly.
The synod did not level a similar accusation at any other country – including other Middle Eastern states where Arab Muslims, let alone Christian and other minorities, enjoy far fewer civil rights than they do in Israel.
Soon before the pandemic, the World Council of Churches issued a statement condemning “this violence” after an allegation by Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna that he was “poisoned” in a possible “assassination” attempt by the Jewish state.
Nearly two years on, not a shred of evidence has supported the claim by Hanna – who is also notorious for urging Israel’s destruction, saying “Zionism is a racist, terrorist movement” and calling the Israeli government “money changers in the Temple” who want to “control the world.”
And in December, the patriarchs and heads of major churches in Jerusalem – who, during the last hostilities in Israel and Gaza, echoed Hamas’s narrative that the fighting was caused by “violent events” at the “Al Aqsa Mosque or in Sheikh Jarrah,” with no mention at all of rocket fire or mob attacks by Palestinians – issued a new statement on a “threat to the Christian presence in the Holy Land.”
The statement only specified objection to actions by Israeli Jews, and added – in a nod to tropes about Jewish greed and exploitation – that Christian tourism yields billions of dollars for the Israeli economy, as if Palestinian and other Arabs don’t benefit at least as much.
Even some typically circumspect ecclesial leaders have been caught up in this one-sided politicizing of bully pulpits against the world’s small, sole and oft-beleaguered Jewish state.
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, in a Christmas homily meant to unite Catholics in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and the Palestinian territories, alleged only wrongs done to the people of “our Palestine,” but not to Israelis.
He certainly did not credit Israel for what in reality have been extraordinary efforts to preserve religious freedom and to pursue peace with its neighbors.
And Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby published an op-ed echoing alarm about the “massive drop” of Christians in the Holy Land – when in Israel itself the Christian population has grown continually – and he apportioned at least some blame to an Israeli “Separation Wall” that is neither for the most part a wall nor motivated by some capricious intercommunal separation.
Rather, it was necessitated as a costly, but thankfully effective, response to a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings that exacted an infinitely greater toll on both sides of the partition.
The singling out of Israel for demonization, double standards and discrimination – as in the case of the PC(USA), which began pushing for divestment in 2004 – is not helpful to actual peacemaking in the region, and to furthering vital contemporary strides in Christian-Jewish relations.
It is also profoundly unjust: routinely obscuring Jews’ long history in their ancestral homeland – inseparable from the origins of Christianity itself – as well as the equal rights and lived experience of Jews today.
The WCC, which lambastes Israel but not Iran or North Korea at United Nations forums – and deems Jewish returnees “illegal” while urging a Palestinian “right of return” – has promoted calls for punitive economic campaigns against Israelis and an odious assertion that the “West sought to make amends” for Nazism by giving Jews a foreign land.
Following the Holocaust, ecumenical groups have shown noble readiness to acknowledge past Christian antisemitism – from Augustine to medieval crusaders, and from the inquisitors to Luther.
However, few denominations seem as self-aware when it comes to anti-Jewish animus in the present. This moral fallibility was perhaps epitomized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, whose pursuit of reconciliation at home stood in stark contrast with his simplistic, hyperbolic rhetoric when it came to Israel and the Jews he associated with it.
Israel, to be sure, is imperfect, but so are its circumstances, and so is every other human society. Unlike Hamas or even the Palestinian Authority, Israelis and their mainstream leadership overwhelmingly deplore any manifestation of violent extremism in their midst.
After another international Remembrance Day for the Holocaust – that genocide born of longstanding religious contempt for a people’s legitimacy – let us ensure that false witness never pass as prophetic voice.
Faith institutions censuring the Jewish state more than all others promote prejudice, not peace.
Israel Hayom noted B'nai B'rith Argentina's contribution in helping to create the Knesset Menorah, which it has now been determined – 70 years later – was built by former B'nai B'rith Argentina lodge member David Sevi.
One of the most curious mysteries in Israel was solved on Sunday when the identity of the artist who created the small bronze menorah that stands on the Knesset grounds was finally revealed.
The Knesset Menorah has been one of the most recognized and revered state symbols in Israel's history, and parliament is home to more than one menorah statue. Most famously, a seven-branched menorah stands just outside the Knesset plaza. It towers 4.30 meters high, 3.5 meters wide (14 feet by 11.5 feet), and weighs 4 tons.
While it is known that the great menorah was designed by Benno Elkan (1877–1960), and modeled after the golden candelabrum that stood in the Temple in Jerusalem, the identity of the man who created the statue that borders the Knesset's Rose Garden has always been a mystery.
The Knesset Press Office said Sunday that, following a lead provided by an old newspaper clipping reporting on the arrival of a sculpture from Argentina to Haifa, curators of the future Knesset Museum have been able to name the man behind the menorah as Argentine artist David Sevi.
Dr. Moshe Foxman Shaal, director of the Knesset Museum, told Israel Hayom that following then Knesset Speaker Yosef Sprinzak's visit to Argentian in the 1950s, B'nai B'rith Argentina decided to raise funds to create a statue in the likening of the ancient Temple menorah, with the aim of gifting it to the Israeli parliament. Sevi, a member of the B'nai B'rith "Argentina" lodge, was commissioned to create the menorah.
The community rallied en masse, raising enough funds to forge two statues: one was sent to Jerusalem while the other was stationed outside the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, where it stood until the 1994 bombing of the embassy.
Astonishingly, the menorah was found unharmed in the rubble – surviving the collapse of a four-story building on it completely intact.
With the identity of the man behind the Knesset Menorah finally revealed, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy rededicated the statue, with a special plaque recognizing Sevi's contribution.
"Identifying the artist who created the menorah is very important to us. For years, his identity was a mystery, and now it has been resolved," Levy said.
"We are happy that David Sevi is recognized on the 70th anniversary of the menorah's arrival [in Israel] and we are proud of the deep friendships between Israel and Diaspora Jewry."
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 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.
In its coverage of Amnesty International UK's new anti-Israel report, JNS included B'nai B'rith International's statement condemning such a blatant attempt to exile and eliminate the only Jewish nation in the world.
(January 31, 2022 / JNS) A new report by Amnesty International UK set to be published on Feb. 1 accuses Israel of “apartheid” and “institutionalized and systematic discrimination against Palestinians.” Amnesty said it has “concluded that Israel has perpetrated the international wrong of apartheid as a human-rights violation and a violation of public international law.”
The report accuses “almost all of Israel’s civilian administration and military authorities, as well as governmental and quasi-governmental institutions” as being involved “in the enforcement of the system of apartheid against Palestinians across Israel and the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories] and against Palestinian refugees and their descendants outside the territory.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was quick to condemn the report in a press release on Monday. He said Amnesty is “another radical organization that echoes propaganda with no serious examination. Instead of seeking facts, Amnesty quotes lies spread by terrorist organizations.”
He said the accusations against Israel are “a delusion divorced from reality.”
“Israel is not perfect, but it is a democracy committed to international law and open to scrutiny, with a free press and strong Supreme Court,” said Lapid, noting that Amnesty does not make the same accusation against Syria “an ‘apartheid state’—a country whose government murdered half a million of its own citizens—nor Iran, or any other corrupt and murderous regime in Africa or Latin America.”
“I hate to use the argument that if Israel were not a Jewish state, nobody in Amnesty would dare argue against it, but in this case, there is no other possibility,” he said.
The organization said it has based its findings on decades of field research “collecting evidence of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Israel and the OPT, and on publications by Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations in addition to academic studies, monitoring by grassroots activist groups, reports by U.N. agencies, experts and human rights bodies and media articles.”
The report, titled “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity,” accuses Israel of “institutionalized segregation and discrimination against Palestinians, as a racial group, in all areas under its control amounts to a system of apartheid, and a serious violation of Israel’s human-rights obligations.”
Amnesty UK is not the only organization to accuse Israel of apartheid.
In April, Human Rights Watch released a similar 213-page report titled, “A Threshold Crossed,” which accused Israel of committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.
That report also came under heavy criticism for its anti-Israel bias, ignoring of Palestinian rejectionism, downplaying the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the application of double standards when discussing Israel.
‘Pour more oil on the fire of anti-Semitism’
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the report “consolidates and recycles lies, inconsistencies and unfounded assertions that originate from well-known anti-Israeli hate organizations, all with the aim of reselling damaged goods in new packaging. Repeating the same lies of hate organizations over and over does not make the lies reality, but rather makes Amnesty illegitimate.”
B’nai B’rith International president Seth Riklin and CEO Daniel Mariaschin also condemned the report in a statement, saying, “The reality is that Israeli Arabs sit in Israel’s current government and on Israel’s Supreme Court. They have the same right to vote as all Israelis. They have their own media. Arabic is an official language of Israel. Amnesty’s libelous claim of ‘apartheid’ is simply baseless.”
Coverage of B'nai B'rith Awarding Teddy Kollek a Jewish Rescuers Citation Posthumously in Advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day
A Jewish Rescuers Citation was presented in memory of Teddy Kollek (1911-2007), former mayor of Jerusalem, at a ceremony held in Hebrew at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. The citation, a joint project of the B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust, was conferred in recognition of Kollek’s heroic efforts to rescue fellow Jews in Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria. Read more about the event.
The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust (JRJ) created the Jewish Rescuer Citation in 2011 to honor and pay respect Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. Since then, nearly 600 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, Holland, France, Slovakia, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Belarus, Italy, Poland, Morocco, Algiers, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Belgium.
See how media outlets covered the ceremony:
Israel National News - Arutz Sheva
"The sign of the Jewish savior" – To the late Teddy Kollek
Grapevine January 21, 2022: Herzog weighs in on Meron tragedy
Legendary Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek will be memorialized yet again through a Jewish Rescuers’ Citation to be presented in his memory by the B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust. BBWC has for several years now, honored Jews who saved Jews. The citation will be presented this coming Sunday, January 23 at 6.30 p.m. at the Jerusalem Cinematheque in recognition of Kollek’s heroic efforts to rescue fellow Jews in Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria.
In the spring of 1939, Kollek left England for German-occupied Czechoslovakia to undertake a complex and dangerous mission to allow Jews to transfer assets to Great Britain. From Czechoslovakia, Kollek, carrying a great many certificates for Austrian Jews, continued to Vienna for a meeting with Adolf Eichmann, who at the time was head of Jewish Affairs at the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst – SD). The meeting took place in April 1939 at SD headquarter in Villa Rothschild, which had been nationalized by the Nazis. Taking considerable personal risk at so dangerous a time, Kollek succeeded in convincing Eichmann to apply to Austrian Jews the same regulations that allowed Jews to still leave Germany with entry permits from foreign countries. In doing so, he saved many lives.
The citation will be presented in conjunction with the premiere screening of the film Recognition, directed by Shoshi Ben Hamo and produced and initiated by Avraham Huli. The film tells the exceptional story of rescue of Jews by fellow Jews who endangered their lives to do so during the Holocaust. The rescuers operated in cities, villages, ghettos, and camps and employed resourcefulness, tenacity and courage, risking their lives to save others. Some paid with their lives and those of their families. The film was shot in Israel, France, Poland, Greece, Holland and Hungary, beginning in 2016.
Speakers at the event will be Osnat Kollek, the daughter of Teddy and Tamar Kollek; Arie Barnea, chairman of the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust; BBWC Director Alan Schneider; Huli and the film’s historical adviser Prof. Gideon Greif.
Grapevine: Talking Teddy Kollek
No signs, no recognition: the Jews who saved Jews in the Holocaust (in Hebrew)
Jewish Insider noted that together with other American Jewish organizations, we sent a letter urging Senate leaders to fund Iron Dome, which is crucial to saving lives and protecting innocent Israelis from terrorist rocket attacks.
A coalition of pro-Israel organizations sent a letter to Senate leadership on Tuesday taking aim at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for blocking supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system and arguing that folding the funding into a larger package would “undermine Israel’s security.”
The funding passed the House by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in September of last year, but Paul has repeatedly blocked passage in the Senate, insisting that funding be reallocated from Afghanistan aid to pay for the $1 billion Iron Dome supplement.
A second letter, from some overlapping groups — the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Agudath Israel of America, Ameinu, B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, the Israel Policy Forum, Jewish Women International, Rabbinical Assembly, Orthodox Union, Union for Reform Judaism and Zionist Organization of America — was also sent to the Senate leaders on Tuesday.
That letter does not directly attack Paul, but instead decries “unfortunate gamesmanship that is taking place right now in the Senate.” The signatories also do not directly criticize the omnibus strategy and instead “implore [Schumer and McConnell] to not allow any more needless delays in passing this legislation. Blocking immediate consideration of the legislation weakens our entire nation’s commitment to our Israeli ally’s security.”
A statement about the letter from the American Jewish Congress highlighted that it includes a “diverse array of Jewish organizations spanning diverse religious, political, and policy spectrums” and “shows the strong support that exists across the Jewish community for getting the funding approved.”
The Jerusalem Post spoke with B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin about our organization's top priorities on Capitol Hill in 2022.
As Congress prepares to return to its second session later this week, and with the midterm election in November on the horizon, Jewish organizations are working on their legislative agenda for 2022, deciding what they should promote and what they should oppose before the 117th Congress is dissolved.
The main priority for 2022, as several organizations noted, is securing $1 billion to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome system.
The funding has been blocked in the Senate for three months over the opposition of Senator Rand Paul. The Republican from Kentucky said last month that he would support the bill if it would be offset with spending cuts elsewhere.
Some organizations reiterated the need for a permanent envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. In July, US President Joe Biden announced he would appoint Deborah Lipstadt to the position, but she is still awaiting her confirmation vote in the Senate.
Another item that is receiving wide support is the Israel Relations Normalization Act.
Marshall Wittmann, spokesperson for AIPAC, said that the pro-Israel lobby’s immediate priorities in the new year are “working to gain final congressional approval of $1 billion to replenish the Iron Dome system and $3.8 billion dollars in security assistance funding for Israel.
“We also will be urging quick final passage of the Israel Relations Normalization Act. We will continue to urge Congress and the administration to confront the Iranian push for a nuclear weapon and combine diplomacy with added economic pressure and the credible threat of military force. We will be developing additional legislative initiatives to enhance US-Israel bilateral cooperation, and to ensure that Israel has the necessary resources to defend itself against the threat of Iranian aggression.”
Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, said “High on our agenda for 2022 is the need to secure Iron Dome funding. It’s our top priority on Capitol Hill for the moment.”
He noted that Congress has passed legislation mandating the appointment at the State Department of a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism.
“The administration has nominated Professor Deborah Lipstadt to fill the position,” Mariaschin said. “The Senate now needs to confirm her so that she can carry out the important work of this job in the fight against global antisemitism. We are also supporting bipartisan legislation in Congress that would impose sanctions on foreign individuals and agencies that support the terrorist activities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
Mariaschin noted that B’nai B’rith will also be advocating for adopting the Israel Relations Normalization Act, which mandates a government-wide strategy to expand and strengthen the Abraham Accords.
“On the domestic side, we are supporting the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act, because of funds appropriated for affordable housing for seniors,” he said. “Senior housing is a major project of B’nai B’rith. As the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors, we sponsor nearly 40 residential facilities with over 5,000 residents around the United States.”
Jason Isaacson, chief policy and political affairs officer at AJCommittee, said his organization is focused on advancing the various items from its legislative advocacy agenda, including funding for the replenishment of Iron Dome; Senate confirmation of key presidential nominees including Lipstadt and Ambassador Barbara Leaf as assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Sarah Margon as assistant secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and Tamara Wittes as USAID assistant administrator for the Middle East.
Another item, he noted, is the passage of S.Res.377/H.Res.558, urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in its entirety.
“With our ongoing national focus on raising awareness and providing necessary tools for the fight against antisemitism, we’ll continue working across the country to ensure adequate hate crimes reporting, reaching out to and securing commitments from governors, mayors, and other officials, and we’ll continue to press for the adoption by state and local authorities of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism,” said Isaacson.
The Jewish Federation of North America has a busy schedule as well. Among the items on its agenda: securing $360 million in funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program; securing $10 million for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program; and advocating for investment in home-based health care for older adults and people with disabilities through the Better Care Better Jobs Act.
JFNA will also focus on Holocaust education and addressing online antisemitism, including fighting the delegitimization of Israel and supporting the implementation of No Hate Act.
“We have important legislative work to do this year in order to ensure that our community is safe, healthy, and inclusive, and that our society protects the most vulnerable,” said Jewish Federations SVP for Public Affairs, Elana Broitman. “The pandemic continues to show how important the national system of local nonprofit services is to supporting our communities, and the need for strong, bipartisan support behind our priorities to continue enabling these services.”
Sam Markstein, national political director for the Republican Jewish Coalition, said that “RJC’s focus this year will continue to be opposing the Biden administration’s wrong-headed efforts, most notably their plan to revive a dangerously flawed nuclear deal with Iran, their scheme to open a US consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem, and their disastrous ‘Build Back Better’ bill.
“RJC will also be supporting measures to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome, broaden and strengthen the Abraham Accords, and compel the Palestinian Authority to end ‘pay for slay’ subsidies for terrorism.”
Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said that one of JDCA’s top legislative priorities for 2022 is passage of federal voting rights legislation “to defend our democracy and combat widespread Republican-led voter suppression. JDCA strongly supports the Freedom to Vote Act, which has the support of all 50 Democrats in the Senate, as well as efforts to abolish or reform the Senate filibuster in order to ensure its passage.
“Jewish Dems will also continue to support Democratic efforts to protect and expand abortion access, working with coalitions to advocate for passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act in the Senate, and to pursue reproductive justice,” said Soifer. “JDCA will continue to advocate for the confirmation of key Biden administration nominees in 2022, including Sarah Margon as assistant secretary of state for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Dilawar Syed as deputy administrator for the Small Business Administration; and Deborah Lipstadt as special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.”
Michael Koplow, policy director for the Israel Policy Forum, emphasized that while the organization is not a lobbying group and does not lobby Congress on legislation, it “absolutely has a policy agenda. There are a few policy items we hope that Congress takes up in the new year, including normalization between Israel and regional states that is furthered, and that is also leveraged to make progress on Israeli-Palestinian issues; continuing to robustly support Israeli security needs; Israel-Palestinian security coordination; and funding to the Palestinian Authority Security Forces that prevents terrorism and violence against Israelis.
Koplow said that the IPF also supports “people-to-people ties that further a viable peace process through continued support for Lowey funding, and continued support for UNRWA as the only entity currently able to provide critical humanitarian services in Gaza, predicated on its continued pledges to the US on transparency, accountability, and neutrality.”
CEO & AJIRI-BBI Chairman Letter to the Editor of the WSJ: Israel Is Always on Trial at the U.N. Star Chamber
B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin and AJIRI-BBI Chairman Richard Schifter sent a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal regarding a recent op-ed it published rightly calling out the creation of yet another one-sided U.N. commission, set up solely to vilify Israel.
The verdict is already in, writes B’nai B’rith.
Your editorial “The U.N.’s Libel Machine Expands” (Dec. 28) correctly calls out the outrageous creation of yet another one-sided, permanent, standing United Nations commission, set up solely to investigate and castigate Israel. The U.N. already has three incongruous bodies (the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Division for Palestinian Rights and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Human Rights Practices) whose sole purpose is to vilify Israel. With all the crises, conflicts and catastrophes facing the world, no other U.N. member state merits the “honor” of such unique treatment.
Despite the new commission’s theatrical public “call for submissions,” there is no hope of transparency or due process. The verdict is already in: Israel is guilty as charged, of every manner of war crime and abuse.
The irony of this continuing and absurd star chamber proceeding is that the presumed victims on whose behalf this is all being done – the Palestinian people – will gain nothing tangible from these machinations. The road to peace between Israelis and Palestinians still lies through honest, good faith direct negotiations, not through yet another hypocritical, ill-conceived and biased U.N. body.
The Times of Israel covered B'nai B'rith International's comprehensive report detailing the EU’s assistance to the Palestinian Authority and other beneficiaries, as well as our live webinar inaugurating the report.
The European Union has not done enough to ensure that its funding to the Palestinian Authority does not support incitement to violence and human rights violations, a study published on Tuesday argued.
“Despite existing anti-terrorism regulations, the EU has not addressed funding by the Palestinian Authority to families of convicted terrorists as well as the persistent issue of incitement to hatred and widespread antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks,” wrote researchers Tommaso Virgili and Paul Stott, who previously authored a report on hidden Muslim Brotherhood networks in Europe.
The study was commissioned by B’nai Brith International, a Jewish non-profit that also advocates on behalf of Israel in the United States and abroad.
The report slammed the EU for failing to ensure accountability in the Palestinian Authority education system. Palestinian textbooks have long been assailed by critics as containing hate speech and incitement, including by a 2021 EU study.
Brussels is the PA’s largest single donor and helps pay the salaries of many of its civil servants, including those who design PA curricula. It is also the second-largest donor to the United Nations Works and Reliefs Agency — which supports Palestinian refugees — sending over $157 million in aid in 2021.
“For many years, the EU has been criticized for failing to align its practice with principles with regard to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian nonprofits,” B’nai Brith director Alan Schneider said during a webinar inaugurating the report.
The report also charged that the EU does not uphold its own values when it continues to fund the PA, given the PA’s practice of paying stipends to the families of those imprisoned or killed by Israeli forces. Critics call the practice “pay for slay,” as the funds can also go to Palestinians convicted of brutal acts of terror.
The EU for too long “turned a blind eye towards the practice of payments to the families of convicted terrorists, praised as martyrs,” said European parliamentarian David Lega during the report’s launch.
The researchers argued that Brussels should impose conditions on its aid to the PA and consider adopting legislation that bans aid as long as Ramallah continues paying out stipends to Palestinian security prisoners and their families.
While Israeli officials have consistently condemned the prisoner stipends and alleged incitement in textbooks, the government has also sought to bolster the PA, seen as more moderate than its Islamist Hamas rivals, including by increasing international aid to its rapidly draining coffers.
As recently as November, Israel lobbied international donors in Oslo — including the European Union — to step up support for the Palestinian Authority.
The report elided any mention of Ramallah’s policy of security coordination with Israel, in which Palestinian Authority forces work with Israeli intelligence to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in the West Bank.
Noticias de Israel (in Spanish) covered our groundbreaking report that pulls back the curtain on European Union (EU) assistance to the Palestinian Authority and other beneficiaries, “Aligning Principles and Practice: EU Assistance to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian NGOs, Rethinking the Approach to Meet Normative Goals."
La Unión Europea no ha hecho lo suficiente para garantizar que su financiación a la Autoridad Palestina no apoye la incitación a la violencia y las violaciones de los derechos humanos, según un estudio publicado el martes.
“A pesar de la normativa antiterrorista existente, la UE no ha abordado la financiación por parte de la Autoridad Palestina de las familias de los terroristas condenados, así como la cuestión persistente de la incitación al odio y el antisemitismo generalizado en los libros de texto palestinos”, escribieron los investigadores Tommaso Virgili y Paul Stott, autores anteriormente de un informe sobre las redes ocultas de los Hermanos Musulmanes en Europa.
El estudio fue encargado por B’nai Brith International, una organización judía sin ánimo de lucro que también aboga por Israel en Estados Unidos y en el extranjero. El informe criticaba a la UE por no garantizar la responsabilidad en el sistema educativo de la Autoridad Palestina. Los libros de texto palestinos han sido condenados durante mucho tiempo por los críticos por contener discursos de odio e incitación, incluso por un estudio de la UE de 2021.
Bruselas es el mayor donante individual de la AP y ayuda a pagar los salarios de muchos de sus funcionarios, incluidos los que diseñan los planes de estudio de la AP. También es el segundo mayor donante del UNRWA -que apoya a los refugiados palestinos– enviando más de 157 millones de dólares en ayuda en 2021.
“Durante muchos años, la UE ha sido criticada por no alinear su práctica con los principios con respecto a la Autoridad Palestina y las organizaciones palestinas sin fines de lucro”, dijo el director de B’nai Brith, Alan Schneider, durante un seminario web que inauguró el informe.
El informe también denuncia que la UE no defiende sus propios valores cuando sigue financiando a la AP, dada la práctica de la AP de pagar estipendios a las familias de los terroristas encarcelados o abatidos por las fuerzas israelíes. Los críticos llaman a esta práctica “pagar por matar”, ya que los fondos son dirigidos a palestinos condenados por actos brutales de terrorismo.
Durante demasiado tiempo, la UE “hizo la vista gorda ante la práctica de los pagos a las familias de los terroristas condenados, alabados como mártires”, dijo el parlamentario europeo David Lega durante la presentación del informe.
Los investigadores argumentaron que Bruselas debería imponer condiciones a su ayuda a la AP y considerar la adopción de una legislación que prohíba la ayuda mientras Ramallah siga pagando estipendios a los prisioneros de seguridad palestinos y a sus familias.
Aunque los funcionarios israelíes han condenado sistemáticamente los estipendios a los prisioneros y la supuesta incitación en los libros de texto, el gobierno también ha tratado de reforzar a la AP, considerada más moderada que sus rivales islamistas de Hamás, incluso aumentando la ayuda internacional a sus arcas, que se están agotando rápidamente. En noviembre, Israel presionó a los donantes internacionales en Oslo -incluida la Unión Europea- para que aumentaran el apoyo a la Autoridad Palestina.
El informe eludió cualquier mención a la política de Ramallah de coordinación de la seguridad con Israel, en la que las fuerzas de la Autoridad Palestina trabajan con la inteligencia israelí para reprimir a los terroristas de Hamás y la Yihad Islámica en Cisjordania.
Dir. of Legislative Affairs Op-ed in the Algemeiner: Time for a New Chapter in German-Israeli Relations
The Algemeiner published an op-ed by Eric Fusfield, B'nai B'rith director of legislative affairs and deputy director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, calling for Germany to reassert its position as Israel’s leading defender in Europe in the face of rising anti-Israel sentiment.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has taken office, becoming the first Social Democrat born after the end of World War II to head the federal government.
His rise to power comes during a year when thousands of protesters, many of them on the political left, demonstrated against Israel’s defensive operations in Gaza. Cities across Germany erupted in violence, as rioters burned Israeli flags, while flying Hamas banners.
Last year, Jusos, the Social Democratic Party’s youth wing, passed a resolution declaring its PLO-Fatah counterpart, which has called for Israel’s destruction, its “sister organization.”
Germany’s outgoing Chancellor, Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, repeatedly spoke about the crucial nature of Israel’s existence. But her statements were belied by Germany’s frequent votes in favor of one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations. In 2019, German UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen equated Hamas rockets with Israeli bulldozers at a time when Hamas was firing projectiles at Israeli civilians.
The growing normalization of anti-Israel activity in Germany tends to confirm the fears of Jews, who have long worried that the generational shift taking place in Germany works against the long-term German-Israeli relationship. With new leaders in power who neither lived through World War II nor its immediate aftermath, the lessons of the Holocaust might fade more easily — their resonance with a younger generation diminished or lost altogether.
The false perception of Israel as a colonial occupier in the Middle East, nurtured on the European left since the 1967 Six-Day War, has made German support for the Palestinian cause, and even open hostility toward Israel, increasingly palatable. Gone for some is the once bedrock assumption in German politics that Germany owned a special responsibility for maintaining Israel’s security.
The rise in Muslim immigration to Germany has helped shape this dynamic. Refugees and migrants from the Middle East often bring with them a viewpoint that is decidedly anti-Israel. They consequently resist the sense that they are integrating into a country with a historic responsibility to protect Israel.
Chancellor Scholz has said some encouraging things about the German-Israeli relationship. At an Israel solidarity rally near the Berlin Holocaust memorial in May, he affirmed Merkel’s famous pledge that Israel’s security is Germany’s “reason of state.”
But a look at the coalition agreement the Social Democrats have formed with their governing partners, the Free Democrats and the Greens, reveals some disturbing departures from former pacts. Israel is not referred to as a Jewish state in the document, while language critical of settlements and calling for a return to 1967 borders suggests the West Bank will be a sticking point in bilateral relations. Also, the agreement insists on negotiations with Iran, but does not decry the Iranian nuclear program.
The passage of time and the increasingly casual embrace of anti-Israel public attitudes in the country that gave rise to the Holocaust has hastened the need for the new left-of-center government to reassert Germany’s position as Israel’s leading defender in Europe. The German government should vote against anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, and persuade other European Union countries to follow suit. In a country that refuses nuclear weapons of its own, the government should insist that Iran be barred from acquiring nukes. And Germany should focus its attention on terror, incitement, and the Palestinian Authority’s consistent refusal to negotiate as the biggest obstacles to peace — not Israeli settlements.
Germany’s “reason of state” ethos demands that it take these proactive measures and embrace its historic role as Israel’s principal ally in Europe. With anti-Israel sentiment increasingly morphing into antisemitism, the urgency in rebuking anti-Israel activity — at the UN, within the EU, and among the German public — is greater than ever. Germany’s new government should infuse the German-Israeli relationship with new purpose and vitality. Seventy-six years after the Holocaust, history, and the future, demand it.
The Jewish Journal noted our condemnation of the United Nations General Assembly for passing a resolution that omits any Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, as well as our criticism of several countries for their votes for or abstentions from this resolution.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution on December 1 omitting any Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
The Jerusalem Post and CNS News reported resolution, which passed by a vote of 129 in favor, 11 against and 31 abstentions, referred to the Temple Mount solely by its Islamic name, Haram al-Sharif. The Temple Mount, which is located in Jerusalem’s Old City and houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is the third holiest site in Islam.
Richard Erdman, the United States representative, said that “it is morally, historically, and politically wrong for the members of this body to support language that denies both the Jewish and Muslim connections to the Temple Mount and Haram al-Sharif.”
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan also criticized the resolution’s passage. “A resolution about Jerusalem that does not refer to its ancient Jewish roots is not an ignorant mistake but an attempt to distort and rewrite history,” Erdan said. “The eternal bond between the Jewish people and our capital will never be erased.”
By contrast, Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour lauded the resolution’s passage as providing “hope and support to our people” and that it challenges the narrative that the conflict is based on religion. “We will never accept to continue living under occupation in an apartheid system, we deserve freedom and dignity in our homeland,” he said.
Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) denounced the resolution as a “joke” in a tweet. “The United States firmly stands with our great ally Israel & the Jewish people & against this false rhetoric that delegitimizes ties to the land of Israel,” he wrote.
UN Watch Executive Hillel Neuer said in a statement, “The UN shows contempt for both Judaism and Christianity by adopting a resolution that makes no mention of the name Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site, and which is sacred to all who venerate the Bible, in which the ancient Temple was of central importance.” UN Watch did note that the number of abstentions increased from 14 for a similar resolution in 2018 to 31 in the 2021 resolution, which UN Watch argued was “modest yet notable progress.”
Jewish groups also criticized the resolution.
“UN degrades its historic mission/violates its mediation role in conflicts by parroting those who deny 3,500 year love affair between Jewish people [and the] Land of Israel highlighted powerfully by the bravery + victory of the #Maccabees —in those days, in our time,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted.
AIPAC similarly tweeted that the resolution was the U.N.’s “latest attack on Israel.” “Attempting to erase 3,000 years of continuous Jewish connection to Jerusalem does nothing to advance peace.”
B’nai Brith International criticized France for voting yes on the resolution in a tweet as well as Germany for abstaining. They applauded the U.S., Canada, Hungary and other countries that voted against it.
Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein, who also is the founder of End Jew Hatred, said in a statement that the resolution “is the definition of cultural appropriation – and during Chanukah, the holiday that marks liberation centered around the temple. They are trying to make us feel disconnected so we don’t feel powerful. The Jewish people have faced corrupt politicians in the past. We know who survives. No one knows the name of the Greek generals. Everyone knows the names of the Maccabees.”
AJIRI-BBI op-ed from three former members of Congress: This anti-Israel UN ‘Special Committee’ must be put out of its misery
Three former members of Congress, including Dan Burton and AJIRI-BBI Advisory Board members Eliot Engel and Shelley Berkley, wrote an op-ed on behalf of AJIRI-BBI for the New York Daily News calling for the anti-Israel U.N. ‘Special Committee’ (SCIIHRP) to be voted down once and for all.
Afghanistan is tense in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal and the Taliban takeover. In Hong Kong, democracy is steadily being eroded. Haiti is reeling in the aftermath of political violence and natural disaster. In the Horn of Africa, war and drought threaten the lives and well-being of millions. But at the United Nations, all of this matters not a whit. For what ails the world, all of this is secondary to one well-known culprit for the world’s ills: the State of Israel.
At every session of the UN General Assembly, more than a dozen resolutions are passed to demonize Israel — more than are passed against all other countries combined. All of them are preposterous in their bias, one-sidedness and counter-productivity. Most are simply declaratory and, while deplorable, are of limited practical consequence.
But this year one out of the barrage of annual anti-Israel resolutions is of real significance: the reauthorization of the mandate of and funding for The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Human Rights Practices or SCIIHRP. Established by the UN General Assembly in 1968, the SCIIHRP was purposely modeled after a similar UN body that already existed to monitor abuses in apartheid South Africa. The sole purpose of this Special Committee is to excoriate Israel before the court of world public opinion as a uniquely evil violator of human rights and an abusive colonial oppressor.
Created in the context of the Cold War, the SCIIHRP peddles a false narrative about Israel that was not true in 1968 and certainly not true today. Despite internationally recognized human rights violations occurring in numerous states globally, no other country has the distinction of having a “special committee” devoted to investigating its supposed human rights abuses. Year after year, this Special Committee churns out harsh and inflammatory reports criticizing Israel mercilessly. Again, no other country is subjected to similar treatment.
The existence of such a body within the United Nations system discredits the UN and harms its credibility. It also is offensive to U.S. taxpayers, who after all pay close to 25% of the entire UN budget and deserve accountability.
The world and the Middle East have changed drastically since 1968. But at Turtle Bay, time apparently stands still. The Abraham Accords have created dynamic partnerships between Israel and visionary, forward-looking Arab countries. They have created hope for all the people of the Middle East, including the Palestinian people. Isolation of Israel and the fetishization of Palestinian victimhood is not conducive to peace, which can only come about through direct, good-faith, unconditional negotiations between the parties.
Support for the Special Committee is waning. Last year, an all-time low of only 76 countries (out of 196 members) voted in favor of supporting the activities of the SCIIHRP. Obviously, more and more countries are realizing that this kind of poisonous kabuki theater serves no constructive purpose. But many countries no doubt continue to vote to ratify the activities of this outdated institution out of inertia, or without realizing the true nature of its activities. These countries ought to be encouraged to make a contribution to peace by voting down the Special Committee once and for all. Such an outcome would benefit both Israelis and Palestinians and would serve the interest of the United Nations itself.
Berkeley, a former congresswoman from Nevada, is currently CEO and senior provost of the Western division at Touro College. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the American Jewish International Relations Institute-B’nai B’rith International (AJIRI-BBI). Burton, a former congressman from Indiana, was a senior member of House Foreign Affairs Committee. Engel, a former congressman from the Bronx and Westchester, was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the American Jewish International Relations Institute-B’nai B’rith International.
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 Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International Honorary President Richard Heideman on the legacy of the 2001 Durban Conference tainted by anti-Semitism.
In 2001, anti-Israel and anti-Zionism sentiment roared with a vengeance at the UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa (the Durban Conference). As president of B’nai B’rith International and as chairman of the United Nations Committee of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, I served as head of the delegation for those organizations to the Durban Conference, a true hatefest toward Israel, Zionists and the Jewish people.
Indeed, it was at Durban, which occurred during the Second Intifada, that the seeds of hate were planted to launch a malicious, multi-pronged diplomatic, academic, legal and economic boycott, and campaign of demonization against Israel in the court of public opinion.
Intended to explore ways to end racism and promote awareness of intolerance, the Durban Conference quickly devolved into a public display of anti-Jewish rhetoric and an ugly anti-Israel agenda. Copies of the antisemitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion were sold on the conference grounds, and anti-Israel protesters resurrected the “Zionism equals racism” charge, further demonizing Israel and the Jewish people in every possible way.
Both at the official UN member conference in Durban and the NGO Forum that aimed to “publicize the voice of the victims,” blatant antisemitic hate toward Israel was rampant. The forum consisted of tables, posters and people working to rile up the crowd with images that made it very clear that they considered Israel to be an apartheid Nazi racist criminal state unworthy of standing at the United Nations or equality in the family of nations, notwithstanding Israel’s member-state status at the UN.
At this forum, the Jewish Caucus proposed and is believed to have cast the only vote in favor of labeling Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish violence as forms of antisemitism. In addition, the forum and conference representatives rejected efforts by the US and other democratic allied governments to seek the inclusion of a key paragraph on antisemitism in the final outcome document of the conference.
After four days in which the US attempted to end the blatantly antisemitic attitudes and displays of hatred toward Israel, Zionists and the Jewish people, the US and Israeli delegations, along with the Jewish NGO organizations, held a press conference and staged a walkout in protest.
I am proud to have led that walkout along with Lord Janner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and leaders of the various Jewish NGOs present at the UN Conference Forum, joined by the US and Israeli ambassadors and delegations. It is important that the Jewish people stand together in such times and circumstances; and important that we speak out with dignity in protesting the injustices of false accusations and outright hatred toward Israel and the Jewish people.
The final resolution of the NGO Forum called Israel “a racist apartheid state,” guilty of the “systematic perpetration of racist crimes including war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing… and state terror against the Palestinian people.” This document is wrongly heralded as a guideline for action against Israel. It is a manifesto to be rejected, not commemorated.
In 2009, in Geneva, as head of the delegation for the Durban Review Conference, I witnessed the continuation of hatred toward Israel, Zionism, and the Jewish people, which further advanced the Durban agenda of castigating Israel in every possible avenue and venue.
WHAT OCCURRED on the grounds of the United Nations conference in Durban and at the recent “Durban IV” commemoration, was not by chance, but rather was a well-planned and designed gathering with the purpose not of standing against racism, but rather of singling out and accusing Israel as an apartheid criminal racist state. Understanding the absurdity of this charge and the depravity behind its origins, 38 countries boycotted the Durban IV event. Nevertheless, both the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council have in recent days passed resolutions continuing to endorse the Durban Program, tacitly applauding rather than castigating the hatred espoused there.
Over the past 20 years, the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people have followed that line, taking to the International Court of Justice a request, via the United Nations General Assembly, for an advisory opinion on the “legality” of Israel’s construction of the “wall,” which is truly a terrorism prevention security fence, and taking to the International Criminal Court the issues of Israel’s neighborhoods and communities in the ancient homelands of the Jewish people, further accusing the IDF of violations of international law with regard to the IDF’s military response to the kidnapping and murder of Jewish teenagers and civilians in the West Bank.
Those of us who attended Durban and experienced the rampant hatred toward Israel and the Jewish people must remind others of the need to stand up against such hatred and do so with pride, strength and knowledge; and do so with a commitment to making our voices collectively heard around the world, as B’nai B’rith International recently did in its highly acclaimed series Durban Revisited, broadcast by JBS TV.
The legacy of Durban must be recognized as one of hate, not of tolerance nor of a commitment to advancing education, democracy, equal rights and respect for the dignity of all people.
John Legend Says Israel Needs to Be Held to a “Higher Standard”: “What They’re Doing to the Palestinian People Is Not Fair”
The Jewish Journal included our criticism of singer John Legend's anti-Israel, anti-Semitic remarks in its coverage of Legend's appearance of “The Mehdi Hasan Show" on MSNBC.
Singer John Legend called for Israel to be held to a “higher standard” in a September 20 appearance on MSNBC, arguing that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is “not fair,” The Algemeiner reported.
Mehdi Hasan, host of “The Mehdi Hasan Show,” pointed out that Legend had tweeted “Palestinian Lives Matter” in May during the Israel-Hamas conflict and asked Legend how he became an advocate for Palestinian rights. Legend responded that he learned “what justice meant” through reading the works of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and writer James Baldwin.
“When I see what’s happening in Palestine, to the Palestinian people, where they’re clearly not being able to experience [the] full rights that they deserve, it’s an extremely unfair and difficult life they’re forced to live,” Legend said. “I had to say something. It’s not fair, it’s not just, and given that Israel is the recipient of so much American aid and support and named as one of our strongest allies, we should hold them to a higher standard, and what they’re doing with the Palestinian people is not fair and it shouldn’t be done in our name and with our resources contributing to it.”
Some Jewish groups criticized Legend for his remark. Stop Antisemitism tweeted to Legend that “Egypt is the recipient of nearly the same amount of aid as Israel and controls Gaza’s southern border. Why are you speaking only of Israel and ignoring Egypt??”
They added in a follow-up tweet: “Why did @johnlegend make no mention of the 4500 terror rockets blast into Israel in 11 days from Gaza? Those rockets were also made ‘in your name’ and with your tax dollars. Again why is your grievance only with Israel?”
B’nai Brith International similarly tweeted that they were “disappointed” with Legend’s remarks.
“Legend falsely accuses #Israel of ‘unjust’ treatment of Palestinians, while failing to mention the Hamas terror threats Israelis face every day,” they wrote. “We urge Legend to apologize for his anti-Semitic remarks.”
On the other hand, Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, tweeted in support of Legend. They argued that he was “speaking out for Palestinian rights and the need for the US to finally hold Israel accountable.”
Hanan Ashrawi, former member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, similarly tweeted that Legend’s comments took “courage, empathy, & moral clarity.”
JNS, Israel Hayom and Cleveland Jewish News included B'nai B'rith International's condemnation of the resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA) in its coverage of Durban IV (during UNGA).
A number of American Jewish organizations slammed a resolution adopted on Wednesday at a high-level meeting at the UN General Assembly that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA) stemming from a notoriously anti-Semitic World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
"The resolution predictably claimed that the DDPA offered 'a comprehensive United Nations framework and solid foundation for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,' and reaffirmed commitment to its 'full and effective implementation,' " stated B'nai B'rith International in a news release on Friday.
The original Durban declaration was censured by Jewish groups and nations such as the United States for allowing the presence of overt anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate, as well as including Palestinians as the only group named as victims of racism.
B'nai B'rith wrote that it has worked over the past few weeks in partnership with the Jewish Broadcasting Service on Durban, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The organization featured luminaries such as Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévi, former US National Security Advisor John Bolton and others, culminating in an hour-long interview with B'nai B'rith honorary president Richard Heideman, who led the Jewish delegation at the Durban conference and his wife, Phyllis Heideman, president of the International March of the Living.
In the past year, B'nai B'rith also lobbied other nations to join the United States and Israel in boycotting the anniversary conference, also known as Durban IV, leading to a total of 35 countries that declined to participate in the commemoration.
"This public disassociation by a substantial moral minority at the UN represents a meaningful victory against efforts to hijack the world body and the critical fight against racism – specifically, racism against people of African descent – for the purposes of delegitimizing Israel by obscenely equating only it and Jews' national liberation movement, Zionism, with racism," B'nai B'rith wrote in the statement.
Countries that boycotted the proceedings included Albania, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.
'A vicious slander against the Jewish state'
AIPAC also strongly condemned Durban IV on its Twitter account, while individually tweeting appreciation for countries that joined the boycott.
"The UN #DurbanIV conference is a cesspool of discriminatory, anti-Israel propaganda," AIPAC tweeted on Tuesday. "'Zionism=Racism' is a vicious slander against the Jewish state and its supporters. America and many allies stand proudly with Israel in boycotting this despicable conference."
Alex Safian, associate director at CAMERA, which monitors bias in reporting on Israel and the Middle East, noted that there was no improvement in Durban IV and the passed resolution than in the previous three conferences.
"The original Durban Conference in 2001 created the firestorm of renewed and growing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and the statements yesterday from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and her radical colleagues are just an example of this in our own Congress," he said in an email. "The United Nations was founded as a reaction to Nazism and the Holocaust, but the Durban process proves that fascists and bigots are still much more comfortable in the UN than Jews."
Anti-Israel members of the Democratic Party also motivated Zionist Organization of America national president Mort Klein to make a few phone calls to UN offices he had connections with to urge them not to attend Durban IV. His organization put out a news release lauding nations that announced they would not participate, though after that acknowledged following the proceedings only a little bit.
Klein said during one of his calls, one official him that "anti-Semites" in Congress had inspired a number of countries that were thinking of not participating in Durban IV to join.
"This one guy told me, you should know that inadvertently or directly, they've had an impact on several countries that participated, figuring they have to cover it because there are a dozen anti-Semites in Congress," said Klein, adding that the official also told him that he believed Jew-hatred will continue to grow in the United Nations.
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.
The Times of Israel (blog) included B'nai B'rith International's Rescuers Citation, which honors Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust, in its coverage of a new memorial sculpture in Safed.
An interpretive memorial sculpture, like none that has ever existed in Jewish history or anywhere in the world, has been placed in Safed. It is titled the “Hands of Choice.”
Conceived and funded by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, in cooperation with the City of Safed and Ascent of Safed, the “Hands” is the artistic creation of noted Jerusalem sculptor Sam Philipe.
The design is simple, two hands cradling a Star of David. On each faceted side of the Star are Jerusalem stone plates carved with ~ four hundred names in Hebrew and English of Jews who saved Jews.
The representative names are drawn from the 3,500 years of Jewish historical experience. There are thousands upon thousands more, most of whom sleep in the dark, dark forgotten mist of Jewish memory. They are not the names of those who risked their lives as honorably expected in the front lines of battle or in the fight for health and societal order. They are the names of those who chose to do what they did not have to.
Contrary to popular thought, Jews are not required to risk their lives to save their fellow Jews. Yet, there were Jews, frequently at risk to their own lives, their family’s lives, their reputations, their fortunes, who took the step into the terrifying moral abyss of their times to save Jewish lives.
Even during the most seemingly impotent time of recent Jewish history, the Holocaust, when Jewish life was worth less than a dog’s whimper, Jews risked all to save Jews.
Yad Vashem, lightly and without depth, does recognize Jews saved Jews during the Holocaust. They argue Jews are obligated to save Jews.
Halacha does not obligate Jews to risk their lives to save other Jews.
There is no permanent memorial or recognition program, similar to the incredible and very just, Righteous Among the Nations programs for Jews at Yad Vashem. There is no grove of trees, no walkway, no permanent mandate to recognize and honor the memory of Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust at Yad Vashem. It was never part of their original mandate. It is not part of their mandate today.
Famed Holocaust historian Nechama Tec self-reflectively said, “Why had I overlooked the rescue of Jews by Jews? Did I think that self-preservation, as a basic drive, would take precedence over everything else? Historically, Jews have been viewed as victims, and not as rescuers, not as heroes. Had I unconsciously assimilated these perceptions? Had I assumed that victim and rescuer were incompatible roles?”
More than twenty years ago, a small group of survivors, who were saved by Jews, who were themselves within the Lion’s mouth of Nazi death, organized and approached Yad Vashem. They asked Yad Vashem to include Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust in their Memorialization efforts.
Though tenaciously led by Haim Roet, himself a child survivor saved by Jews, the committees’ efforts were rebuffed.
Refusing to deny honored memory to Jews who saved Jews, they linked together with B’nai Brith. Annually, they have a commemorative ceremony at the Scroll of Fire in the Martyrs Forest outside of Jerusalem. They remember and honor newly discovered and carefully vetted Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust. It is an extraordinary ceremony of dignity and long overdue Kavod.
Today, the recognition of their heroism is frequently given in lieu to the children and more frequently to the grandchildren or even distant family as the heroes have passed into the night.
The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation has also interacted with Yad Vashem’s, at times Byzantine, process to garner recognition for a candidate for the Righteous Among the Nations Program. The candidate proffered by JASHP, recognized by the Anne Frank International Human Rights Memorial in Idaho, the GAIWO International Garden of the Righteous in Milan, and a number of smaller Holocaust sites, could not make headway with Yad Vashem.
The philosophic basis of Israel’s being is founded on the principle of Jews saving and helping their fellow Jews. Jews would no longer wait for others to save them. Jews would act to save themselves.
Where is the Memorial to Jonas Eckstein from Bratislava, who saved nearly 2,000 Jews during the Holocaust, or to Dr. Gisella Perl who saved hundreds of Jewish women from inside Auschwitz? Where is the Memorial to the Jews who died at the fiery stake for the crime of sheltering their fellow Jews from the Inquisition? Where is the Memorial to the Jews who faced the religious fanatics of Medieval pogroms to save Jews? Where is the Memorial to the Jews from Ethiopia who risked their lives helping their fellow Jews escape, or the Jews from India, or the Jews from the Sephardi/Mizrahi world? Where is the Memorial to the Jews of Alexandria nearly 2,000 years ago who voluntarily sacrificed themselves to save their fellow Jews?
There is no memorial to them.
JASHP recognized the need, the City and Community of Safed, of mystical and human memory agreed, and the first-ever Memorial was created and placed.
The Hands of Choice Memorial is not a one-off effort. It is not a memorial designed to be done and walked away from as a curious artifact. The Hands of Choice is the initial proposed effort of annual commemoration and addition… if it can be organized. There are far too many names and stories that are unknown, should be known, must be known.
Shaping the future is by remembering the past. Teaching the children about what was, will make what will be. Perhaps it is time for Jewish guilt education to reduce its focus on saving the world and increase its focus on saving Jews.
The night before he died, Hans Herzl, Theodor Herzl’s son, wrote, “In the end, a Jew is a Jew, is a Jew.”
The Hands of Choice Memorial is located on Jerusalem Street in Safed. The open hands cupping the Star of David with the hundreds of forgotten names of Jews who saved Jews faces Mt. Meron.
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