The Algemeiner, JNS and JBS all quoted B'nai B'rith International's statement in their coverage of U.S. Jewish organizations condemning the International Criminal Court's decision to investigate Israel and Palestine for alleged war crimes since 2014.
Leading American Jewish and pro-Israel groups condemned the International Criminal Court’s decision Wednesday to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem.
“The ICC’s effort to intrude into matters outside its mandate undermine its credibility and legitimacy, and cast significant doubt on its future as an unbiased judicial forum,” said leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a statement.
“By continuing these efforts to weaponize a judicial institution for political purposes, the Palestinian Authority inflames existing tensions and obstructs the path to peace,” continued Conference Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein. “We call on the international community to speak out in forceful objection to this disgraceful action by the ICC.”
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda — whose term ends in June — announced the investigation in a statement Wednesday, several weeks after an ICC ruling that the court had jurisdiction in the territories.
B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin argued that the ICC had no such jurisdiction, and that Israel’s legal system was capable of investigating any alleged offenses.
“The acquiescence of the prosecutor to politicize the ICC and exploit it as a propaganda tool not only batters the standing of the court and distracts it from truly grievous and systematic crimes around the world, but also intolerably stands to handicap law-abiding nations’ abilities, rights and fundamental duties to combat the brutal asymmetric warfare of terrorist organizations,” they said.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the probe “a baseless and discriminatory attack on the Jewish state” in a statement.
“The outrageous investigations into America & Israel represent significant overreaches of the ICC’s mandate and jurisdiction that must be condemned by the administration and Congress,” it continued.
The Algemeiner noted our criticism – along with other American Jewish organizations – of anti-Semitic comments made by SNL's Michael Che regarding Israel's vaccine rollout.
Jewish leaders, groups, and educators on Sunday condemned as “antisemitic” a “Saturday Night Live” skit in which a cast member joked about Israel’s vaccine campaign.
In the regular news parody segment “Weekend Update,” broadcast on Feb. 20, cast member Michael Che said, “Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half their population, and I’m gonna guess it’s the Jewish half.”
Israel has not discriminated against religious groups as part of its vaccination drive, and large segments of the country’s non-Jewish population has already been vaccinated.
David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, tweeted, “This 8-second segment by Michael Che on ‘Saturday Night Live’ is totally outrageous.”
“He accuses Israel of vaccinating only Jews. Not true. Every Israeli — Jew, Muslim, Christian, etc. — is eligible for the COVID jab,” Harris observed.
“He should apologize ASAP for spreading an antisemitic lie,” Harris asserted.
Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that the “ill conceived ‘joke’ adds to the heap of lies and conspiratorial allegations surrounding the Jewish people and COVID-19 that recalls medieval accusations of Jews being responsible for disease and plagues.”
“NBC should know better, and must not only stop spreading harmful misinformation, but take action to undo this damage caused by propagating Jew-hatred under the guise of comedy,” continued Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein in a statement.
Avi Mayer, the AJC’s managing director of global communications and a former IDF spokesman, also commented, saying, “It’s all fun and games until you start promoting antisemitic myths, @NBCSNL.”
“Every Israeli citizen — Jewish and Arab, Muslim, Christian, of any or no faith — is eligible to be vaccinated; 2/3 of Israel’s Arab citizens over 60 already have been,” he pointed out.
“Apologize,” Mayer urged.
“#antisemitic blood libels against Israel and Jews are not funny,” said B’nai B’rith International. “Che should issue an immediate apology. This gratuitous swipe at Israel is unacceptable.”
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said in a statement that “this lie has been perpetuated by antisemitic groups, eager to poison public discourse with misinformation about Israel’s rapid vaccinations drive.”
Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Chair Mark Levenson called for “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels to “apologize for and terminate the writer of a ‘joke’ which was not funny and in reality was a dangerous Jew-hating, Israel-bashing blood libel. In addition, this blood libel should be removed from NBC’s website and other fora where it may appear.”
The media watchdog group HonestReporting said, “Promoting antisemitic myths isn’t remotely funny … Shameful.”
Joel M. Petlin, the superintendent of the heavily Orthodox Kiryas Joel School District in New York State, commented, “I’m old enough to remember when Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live @nbcsnl was actually funny & didn’t resort to Antisemitic stereotypes about Jews not caring for anyone but themselves.”
“The fact that Israel is actually vaccinating ALL of its citizens makes the joke even worse,” he said.
The Algemeiner noted our condemnation – along with other American Jewish organizations – of the International Criminal Court’s ruling that it has jurisdiction to investigate Israel and the Palestinians for supposed "war crimes."
American Jewish organizations spoke out strongly against the International Criminal Court’s ruling that it has jurisdiction to investigate war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank, calling the ruling “politically and ideologically motivated” and the result of “systemic bias in multilateral organizations.”
The decision, released Friday, would place both Israel and the ruling Gaza terror group Hamas under possible investigation should the court choose to pursue one. In particular, Israeli officials are worried about war crimes charges related to Israel’s 2014 defensive war against Hamas.
Chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations released a statement saying they “reject” the court’s ruling, calling it a “politically and ideologically motivated attempt by the ICC to impose itself into matters that are well beyond its mandate.”
In doing so, they said, the court “violates its purpose, distorts international law, and undermines its own legitimacy as an unbiased judicial forum.”
The statement accused ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of “demonstrated anti-Israel bias” and asserted that “Palestinian leaders are attempting to dictate a political end through judicial means and thereby avoid negotiations.”
“These actions serve to exacerbate existing tensions, and will not achieve progress toward a viable and lasting resolution to a conflict that can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties,” the statement said.
The American Jewish Committee said in a statement that it “deeply regrets” the ICC’s decision. The Palestinian Authority, it said, “is not a state” and as such “the ICC is an inappropriate forum to adjudicate its claims.”
The AJC lamented that formal submissions by Australia, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, and Uganda asserting that “Palestine” is not a state were “not given due weight” by the court.
“It is only by reaching a negotiated settlement with Israel that the Palestinian people can fulfill their legitimate national aspirations,” the AJC stated. “Reverting to the old ways of confrontation, such as promoting one-sided UN resolutions or seeking the indictment of Israelis in the ICC, will only prolong the conflict and the suffering of both peoples.”
Citing criticism of the ruling by the US State Department, the Anti-Defamation League said, “We are deeply concerned by the problematic ruling from the @IntlCrimCourt as it has the very real possibility of leading to abuse against Israel with implications for the wider international community. We welcome the @StateDept’s ‘serious concern.’”
B’nai Brith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said “we reject” the ruling, and added, “We see again that Israel is subject to systemic bias in multilateral organizations.”
They also expressed anger that “the ICC puts Hamas and Israel on the same playing field, even though Israel’s actions were defensive in the face of Hamas attacks.”
The World Jewish Congress said it was “dismayed” by the ruling, “which sets a dangerous precedent and does nothing to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center called the ruling, “Another wholly political decision by International Criminal Court targeting #Israel.”
The SWC claimed the international community, including the ICC, holds Israel to a double standard, saying, “Here’s how it works. When it comes to Covid, #Israel is occupying power allegedly responsible for vaccines for Palestinians. When it comes to attacking Israel, Palestinian territories = independent entity. Making up new rules as long as Israel demonized.”
“Instead of serving justice #ICC politicizes and corrupts it,” the group asserted. “#Israel haters call Israel an occupying power when it comes to Covid vaccinations and #Palestine a state when they can demonize Israel!”
Israel Hayom referenced former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman's first speech as ambassador in 2017, which he made at a ceremony hosted by B'nai B'rith International.
(January 26, 2021 / Israel Hayom) One winter morning in 2017, a young man arrived at the Kesher Israel synagogue in the heart of Washington. He prayed fervently, as if his heart was filled with a special request. His tallit bag bore the name “Friedman,” and it was the only time he had come to the famous synagogue. That same day, his father, David M. Friedman, was undergoing Senate confirmation for his appointment as U.S. ambassador to Israel.
In the best tradition of Jewish divisiveness, powerful forces were aligned against Friedman Sr., led by the J Street lobby. But a few weeks later, in a ceremony organized by B’nai B’rith International, Friedman made his first speech as ambassador.
“If you were wondering about my middle name, Melech, it’s not because my parents expected great things of me, but because my grandmother was named Malka [the feminine version of the name],” he began, causing the audience to double over with laughter.
His son’s prayers were answered—not only was the appointment approved, but David Melech Friedman became the most influential U.S. ambassador in the history of U.S.-Israeli relations. And not only through the steps known to everyone—stamping down Iran, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli and shaping the Trump peace plan—but also through endless moves that never made headlines in the dramatic Trump era. For example visits to the Golan Heights, to Ariel in Samaria and the City of David in Jerusalem—all of which would have been inconceivable prior to Freidman’s arrival.
For decades, the American consulate on Jerusalem’s Agron Street served as a conduit through which the Palestinian Authority would spread its lies and incitement into Washington. Friedman shut down the consulate and turned it into the official residence of the American ambassador in Jerusalem.
After four intense years, Friedman sat down with Israel Hayom for an “exit interview.”
Q: Now that this journey is coming to an end, what are your feelings? Your thoughts?
A: I haven’t looked backwards yet, but it’s starting to sink in, especially after being at the Knesset and being with the Cabinet [last week] and people saying nice things about me. It’s been the honor of my life, and I wish I could keep this job forever. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished, I feel good about the last four years. It’s not just me, it includes the entire team both in Washington [and here,] from the president on down.
Read the rest of Ambassador Friedman's interview in JNS here.
JBS Coverage of B’nai B’rith Supporting Joint Course Between Ben-Gurion University and the University of Cyprus to Encourage Future Collaborations
JBS covered our statement announcing B'nai B'rith International's sponsorship of a joint course between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Cyprus to encourage future collaborations between Israel, Cyprus and Greece. View coverage here (beginning at 2:50) or below.
The Jerusalem Post covered our joint virtual conference with the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy (JISS) on the future of U.S.-Israeli relations.
The incoming Biden administration may waste sanctions leverage the US has against Iran simply because of an emotional reaction to undo everything the Trump administration did, former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said Monday.
Speaking at a virtual conference sponsored by B’nai B’rith International and the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy, he said President-elect Joe Biden will enter office with a major advantage.
The Trump administration has used a “maximum pressure” campaign dating back to May 2018, which has heavily pressed the Islamic Republic to make compromises regarding its nuclear program and terrorism activities, even if Iran has not caved until now, he said.
“It would be a huge mistake not to use this leverage made by the previous administration, only because it was built by the Trump administration,” Amidror said.
There appears to be a feeling among many Biden supporters that anything Trump did needs to be torn down, similarly to how Trump wanted to tear down all of Obamacare regardless of wide support for aspects of the law, he said.
“With the new administration, we might have another problem,” he added. “It is the symbol of destroying the legacy of Trump and going back to president [Barack] Obama’s legacy.”
“The Iranians built their policy on the assumption that, after four years, Obama’s people will come back, and they can go back to stage one and have the bad agreement, which for them was very good,” Amidror said. “If this administration will make it clear when coming in that it will not go back to square one – that when he [Biden] spoke about a new and stronger agreement, he meant it – they [Iran] will have to reconsider their whole policy. This might succeed.”
“If, on the contrary, the next administration will [remove] the sanctions and say, ‘Let’s go back to the old agreement, and then we will negotiate a new one, taking care of all of the loopholes of the old agreement’… there is no chance,” he said.
Amidror suggested a 50-year deal would be needed to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The 2015 nuclear deal’s 10- to 15-year limit was far too short in the history of nation-states, he said.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Morocco's decision to normalize ties with the State of Israel.
(December 10, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and pro-Israel groups reacted positively to Morocco’s announcement on Thursday of its intention to normalize ties with Israel.
It’s the fourth normalization deal in the past four months between Israel and Arab countries, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. These nations follow in the wake of Egypt and Jordan, which made peace with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively.
In applauding what he called “another outstanding accomplishment for the current administration,” Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, highlighted the difference between those peace agreements and the four normalization deals with Israel that have been made this year.
“Normalizing ties with Israel is the new normal in the Middle East, which decades of expert commentary told us was the ‘impossible dream,’ ” he told JNS. “And instead of a cold détente attained via surrender to unreasonable demands, these new agreements promote true peace based upon common security needs and mutual medical, technological and financial benefits.”
“History has once again been made with the announcement that Israel and Morocco will normalize diplomatic relations,” said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a statement.
In a statement, American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris said, “Morocco’s announcement is further affirmation of the growing recognition by Arab leaders that establishing relations with Israel will be mutually beneficial.”
Republican Jewish Coalition national chairman and former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) called the announcement “historic” and an “important step towards greater stability and peace in the region.”
“Morocco and Israel have agreed to reopen their liaison offices, with the intention of opening embassies later. Official contacts, economic cooperation and direct flights between the two countries will also commence,” he said in a statement. “All of these steps—and we hope to see even more to follow—will enhance the security and prosperity of both countries.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS that “official ties between Morocco and Israel make sense for many good reasons, not the least of which is the storied history of the Moroccan Jewish community, and its many contributions to life in Morocco and Israel. We want to recognize the important role played by the United States in bringing this about. This is yet another vital building block in bringing peace and stability to the Middle East and North Africa.”
Nathan Diament, executive director for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, told JNS that the latest “agreement will help unite nations in the Middle East region to deter Iran’s aggression and improve Israel’s security and economic bonds with its neighbors.” He added that his organization looks forward to more countries joining the expanding circle of “peace and security.”
The agreement included the United States recognizing the disputed territory of Western Sahara as part of Morocco, becoming the only Western country to do so. The deal also includes agreeing to grant overflights and also direct flights to and from Israel for all Israelis. Israel and Morocco also agreed to open reciprocal embassies in Rabat and Tel Aviv, respectively, immediately.
‘A recognition of two historical realities’
“These landmark diplomatic agreements set the Middle East on a different path, where reconciliation replaces rejectionism and old enemies become new friends,” said a statement from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“We salute the American, Israeli and Moroccan diplomats who achieved this historic agreement,” continued the organization. And “we look forward to the exchange of ambassadors and embassies, economic cooperation, and greater cultural bonds between Israel and Morocco in the days ahead.”
Christians United for Israel founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee said that “with each of these announcements, we get one step closer to true peace in the region. It is our sincere hope that the Palestinians see the benefit of ending their conflict with Israel and will one day soon choose to finally ‘beat their swords into plowshares,’” told JNS, citing a phrase from the Book of Isaiah.
There’s not only a political, but also historical, significance about the development, according to American Sephardi Federation executive director Jason Guberman.
He said the announcement “is a recognition of two historical realities: the Kingdom of Morocco’s territorial integrity, which includes sovereignty over the Moroccan Sahara, and the kingdom’s independent leadership in forging a decades-old relationship with Israel.”
In an email, Guberman said Morocco agreeing to establish diplomatic, economic and other ties with Israel “must be understood in its context,” as “900,000 Moroccan-Sephardic Jews live in Israel and keep the sacred chords of memory with the kingdom alive through their traditional observances, building bridges with Moroccan Muslims, and travels to Morocco.”
In fact, he noted, “Israel issued a postage stamp in honor of Morocco’s Chief Rabbi and the Rabbi of Jerusalem Hakham Yosef Massas that included praise (in four languages) for the royal family.”
‘The Forgotten Refugees’: Annual Event Draws Attention to Plight of Jews Expelled From Arab Countries and Iran
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International's tweet in its coverage of Jewish organizations honoring the annual Day of Commemoration for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries and Iran.
Jewish groups around the world marked on Monday the Day of Commemoration for Jewish Refugees From Arab Countries and Iran.
The annual event is meant to draw attention to the plight of the nearly nearly-one million Jews who were expelled from their homes in the Middle East and North Africa around the time of the establishment of the State of Israel seven decades ago.
In a Twitter threat, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) called these Jews “the forgotten refugees.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) tweeted, “Never again can we allow the world to turn its back on Jews in danger.”
B’nai B’rith International tweeted, “On Jewish Refugee Day, we remember the 850,000 Jews who were forced out of Middle East countries after more than 2,000 years. The world must recognize their rights and legacy.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry tweeted: "Today marks the Day of Commemoration for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries and Iran. Dozens of Jewish communities, more than 800,000 men, women & infants were forced to abandon their homes. Today we remember and tell their stories in Israeli missions around the world."
Another official Twitter account run by the Foreign Ministry said, “850,000 Jews called Arab lands & Iran home for centuries. That all changed when #Israel become a state in 1948. In the years that followed, Jews were forced to flee en mass, fearing for their lives.”
Ex-Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon tweeted, “Today we remember the forgotten Jewish #refugees. Over 850,000 Jews fled the Arab world from persecution, antisemitism & forced expulsion. From #Iraq #Iran #Egypt #Yemen & more. My father was one of them. They came to #Israel destitute. We honor their plight & successful integration.”
Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh tweeted, “#JewishRefugeesDay serves as memory & reminder to recognize the 850,000+ Jewish refugees ethnically cleansed from Arab Lands & Iran, destroying lives & communities. We must acknowledge & empower these voices, identifying the opportunity to transform trauma into a bridge to peace.”
The Jerusalem Post cited the B’nai Brith World Center-Jerusalem posthumously awarding Joseph Bau its Jewish Rescuers Citation in its coverage of the Joseph Bau House Museum in Tel Aviv struggling to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.
If there are any Hollywood moguls out there looking for a real-life character to serve as the central character in a superhero-type blockbuster, they could do a lot worse than to read up on Joseph Bau.
There is no need to engage in hyperbole or florid epithets when sketching a profile of Bau, who died in 2002 at the age of 81. In fact, he was fortunate to make it past his mid-20s, surviving several ghettos, a concentration camp and all manner of other horrific tests of his mettle along the way.
Some of that is today commemorated, nay, celebrated, at Joseph Bau House Museum, an independent boutique museum in downtown Tel Aviv that tells the extraordinary life story of an extraordinary person. The repository – which is run by Bau’s daughters Hadassah and Clilah Bau – has somehow managed to survive over the years on a shoestring budget, but is now running out of funds and may be forced to close down. The Baus have instigated a Headstart drive (headstart.co.il/project/60369) that is aiming to raise NIS 100,000 to keep the museum afloat, and to continue to enlighten the public about their father’s incredible journey on terra firma.
Bau was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1920 and died in Tel Aviv in 2002. Between those two temporal goalposts, he managed to wriggle his way out of numerous life-threatening situations, and even found love en route.
I first encountered Bau’s name, and learned of some of his amazing achievements, 20 years ago when I met his daughters at his studio on Berdichevsky Street off Rothschild Boulevard. It felt like stepping into an Aladdin’s cave. The cozily proportioned premises were stuffed to the rafters with specimens of Bau’s wide-ranging graphic work, including posters he crafted for early Israeli movies, such as the iconic 1964 dark comedy about aliyah and absorption Sallah Shabati, starring Haim Topol. There were also examples of his animation work, paintings, caricatures, graphics, copies of the nine books he has put out over the years, and evidence of his immersive research into the Hebrew language.
For Bau the latter was a labor of love, which helped him bond with the country and culture he had dreamed about almost all his life.
“Reaching Israel was the fulfillment of an ambition he had since the age of 13,” says Clilah. “He talks about that in his book Shnot Tarzach.” Typically, the title of the book is a play on words. By slightly altering the punctuation you get tirzach, which translates as “you shall murder,” while as an abbreviation, the four letters in Hebrew spell out the year 5698, which equates to 1938-39 in the Gregorian calendar and possibly references the outbreak of World War Two. The tome contains Bau’s recollections of the Holocaust and his life in Israel, and is liberally seasoned with comical word play, and dark and sometimes raucous humor. It has been translated into seven languages, including English, Arabic and Chinese.
I met Bau in his apartment after visiting the studio with his daughters. He was a slight, gentle-looking, well-groomed character, with a full head of snow-white hair, but he had lost his power of speech following the death of his wife, Rivka (née Tennenbaum), three years earlier. Rivka was the love of his life who, in fact, saved his life by giving him her place at Oskar Schindler’s factory in Krakow, which employed hundreds of Jews, and saved around 1,200. Happily, Rivka subsequently survived Auschwitz and was reunited with her husband in Krakow, where they lived until they made aliyah in 1950.
They met in Plaszów concentration camp near Krakow. It was love at first sight and, incredibly, the couple contrived to get married there, after Bau snuck into the women’s quarters, with the other female inmates standing guard. The nuptials were immortalized in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar Award-winning epic Schindler’s List, which Joseph and Rivka went to see, notwithstanding their daughters’ remonstrations.
“WE DIDN’T want our parents to see the movie, but they said it was their duty, toward all those who were murdered,” Hadassah recalls. “We were very concerned and sat on either side of them [in the cinema]. During the movie, when they showed something terrible, we asked dad, ‘Was it like that?’ and he replied, ‘It was 10 times worse!’ Dad also said that the movie was a work of genius, and that if Spielberg had shown all the horrors, no one would have gone to see it.”
One of the more remarkable aspects of Bau’s unimaginable life odyssey is the fact that he not only got by in Hebrew, he mastered it to such an extent that he was able to sculpt it, and mine its nuances and vagaries to a level achieved by few born into the language. That comes across succinctly in, for example, his 1987 book, Brit Mila, again a play of words that can reference the Jewish circumcision ceremony for male babies or translate as Covenant of a Word.
As a trained graphic artist who studied German Gothic lettering before the Holocaust – a skill that also helped him to survive by providing that service to German officers in Krakow Ghetto and later at Plaszów – he was also, naturally, drawn to its aesthetics. He also used his graphic skills to save the lives of many Jews by forging papers for them. Those heroic efforts were recently recognized by the B’nai Brith World Center in Jerusalem when it posthumously awarded Bau its Jewish Rescuers Citation.
He created a number of Hebrew fonts that found their way into the country’s earliest animation works and commercials. As he was there at the very inception of the field in the young State of Israel, he had to start from scratch. That included crafting the lighting, cameras and other requisite equipment out of old X-ray apparatus and refitting all kinds of machinery to get the job done.
Although Hadassah and Clilah say their parents were not coy about their Holocaust experiences, Bau kept one aspect of his work to himself. It was only several years after his death that the Bau daughters learned of their father’s espionage work for the Mossad.
“His work included forging papers for spies,” says Clilah. “That included documents for [Israeli spy in Syria] Eli Cohen and the whole team that went [to Argentina] to capture [Adolf] Eichmann.
”Bau might have had an easier life in the States, but opted to stay here.
“Our father’s dream was to make animated films, but there was no awareness of cartoons in Israel then, so he worked in graphics and creating fonts for movies,” Hadassah explains. “His brother wanted him to come to New York to work as an animator, but he didn’t want to leave Israel, which was everything to him.”
His expertise in that field was also put to good use by the Israeli security forces.
“We discovered he made classified animated films for the IDF and Mossad, but they are not willing to show us the movies.
”Our chat is interspersed by lots of laughing, and the daughters say there was plenty of merriment at home.
“He taught me to write songs, all with humor, and he taught Clilah to tell jokes,” Hadassah notes with yet another peal of laughter.
Now the Baus just want to keep the memory of their parents’ amazing life, and their father’s invaluable work, alive. Prior to the pandemic, tours of the studio included theatrical enactments of some of Bau’s experiences.
“Dad said we should turn the studio into a theater. Today it is a museum/theater where we perform and tell the story of the place and the wonderful life story of our parents, illustrated by his paintings and drawings of the Hebrew language.
”The idea is also to convey some much-needed positive vibes, particularly in these trying times.
“Our father always wanted to make people happy,” says Clilah. “He always said, ‘If we were happy in the darkest of times, everyone can learn the meaning of happiness and love from us.’ That’s what we do.”
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin on President-elect Biden's national security picks.
(November 23, 2020 / JNS) U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announced a number of cabinet and national security picks on Monday that offers a view into the direction his administration will pursue regarding foreign policy. For the Jewish and pro-Israel community, most of the selections by Biden are familiar names who have long-served in senior foreign-policy positions in previous Democratic administrations, while others are newer names to the American public.
Tony Blinken, who served as Biden’s top foreign-policy adviser during his campaign, and was deputy secretary of state and deputy national security advisor under former U.S. President Barack Obama, will be nominated as U.S. secretary of state.
A GOP-controlled Senate would likely be receptive to Blinken; whether that comes to fruition will be decided after the two Senate-seat runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5. Blinken said during the campaign that a Biden administration would keep some of the U.S. sanctions on Iran and reiterated Biden’s stance that the United States would not return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal unless the Islamic Regime returned to compliance.
Jake Sullivan, who also served as a foreign-policy adviser on Biden’s campaign and succeeded Blinken as national security advisor to Biden when he was vice president, has been named as incoming U.S. national security advisor—a position that does not involve Senate confirmation. Sullivan reportedly met with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to foster a possible nuclear agreement with the regime.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year diplomat, will be nominated as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Avril Haines, who served as deputy national security advisor and deputy CIA director under Obama, will be nominated as director of national intelligence. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve in the role, which oversees all U.S. intelligence agencies.
Haines was a signee of a letter to the Democratic National Committee that called for the party’s platform to include language critical of Israel, expressed sympathy with the Palestinians and advocated for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Alejandro Mayorkas, who served as U.S. deputy homeland security director and director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, will be nominated as U.S. homeland security secretary. If confirmed, he would be the first Latino and immigrant, and second Jewish person, to lead the agency.
John Kerry, who served as secretary of state under Obama after serving for almost three decades as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, will be the special presidential envoy for climate and sit on the National Security Council.
While Thomas-Greenfield is no stranger to the foreign-policy arena, she has no experience on issues pertaining to the Middle East or the Jewish community, as her career focused on African affairs. She was U.S. ambassador to Liberia from 2008 to 2012, director-general of the U.S. Foreign Service, and U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
Nonetheless, a U.S. State Department official who works in African affairs and has worked with Thomas-Greenfield, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the official’s employment and not being authorized to speak to the press, told JNS that “she’s great and had a well-deserved wonderful reputation” at the department, and “knows the ins and outs of the department and is amazing to work with.”
Additionally, Thomas-Greenfield met Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in 2011 during the African Union Summit in the capital of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo. The unscheduled meeting happened after Hoenlein, who was part of a delegation not affiliated with the Conference of Presidents, voluntarily walked out of the plenary session after Iran, joined by the Palestinians, objected to Hoenlein being in the room. Thomas-Greenfield had already been excluded from the session. She approached Hoenlein and his delegation, and the parties discussed the Iranian threat and other issues.
Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told JNS that the national security team will reflect how the Biden administration will contrast itself from the current Trump administration. “Regardless of what happens abroad, this is going to be nothing short of a transformation,” he said.
Miller remarked that the national interest “will be the object of this group’s attention rather than catering to the needs of a single man’s vanity’s politics or personal interests,” referring to the varying picks of U.S. President Donald Trump.
He said that Biden’s national security team will “for sure” continue the success of the Abraham Accords, though the Iranian issue will be “very complicated” for them.
‘From the more moderate wing of the party’
Jewish Democratic Council of America executive director Halie Soifer tweeted that Thomas-Greenfield “will help restore America’s alliances & credibility at the [United Nations], which are critical to our national security & building back better.”
Hoenlein, speaking for himself, applauded the choice of Blinken and Sullivan, noting that even where there were differences, he and the umbrella Jewish organization, “we were able to work with them.”
“Both are very knowledgeable, experienced,” said Hoenlein, adding that Mayorkas is someone “very sympathetic to the concerns about anti-Semitism” and other concerns from the Jewish community.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Barbara Leaf told JNS that Blinken and Thomas-Greenfield as the first State nominees are “welcome on several levels: Both bring deep foreign-policy experience and expertise to their positions, and have led within the department on both policy and the spectrum of personnel and resources issues.”
As to whether Kerry will have any influence on Iran policy, considering that he negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear as secretary of state, Leaf said, “I think John Kerry is being brought on to do climate, period—something he is passionate about. Two of his big trips in his final year as secretary of state were to the Arctic Circle and to Antarctica to witness and draw attention to the effects of climate change.”
She noted that “Biden has a thicket of people on the campaign foreign-policy team to choose from who are steeped in Iran and that are likely to populate the administration,” and while he “will offer his views” to Biden, the president-elect “will put together a formal Team Iran to run the policy under Blinken and Sullivan.”
Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), told JNS, “Given the approach of the Obama administration and the foreign-policy rhetoric during the Democratic primary, Blinken and Sullivan are certainly from the more moderate wing of the party, and that is reassuring. They’re also thoughtful and experienced experts.”
“However,” he continued, “they were involved in negotiating the Iran nuclear deal and favor re-entering it. That will be a complicated effort, and one that would be disastrous to achieve, so best to withhold judgment until we see how they choose to proceed.”
Regarding Haines, Leaf called her “one of the smartest, nimblest managers and navigators of the U.S. interagency” she has worked with and someone who “brings terrific expertise to the job—in intelligence, counter-terrorism and on a mix of key geopolitical issues.”
If confirmed, Mayorkas will be in charge of the department that, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, manages the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which Jewish synagogues and other institutions have relied upon especially in the aftermath of synagogue shootings and other anti-Semitic attacks over the past few years.
While the Orthodox Union declined to comment on the picks, Nathan Diament, the organization’s executive director for public policy, told Jewish Insider in November that Mayorkas “was a very good partner in the leadership of DHS.”
Aviva Klompas, who was the director of speechwriting for Israel’s U.N. mission under then-Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor, expressed hope that the upcoming Biden administration will continue the Trump administration’s policies of brokering normalization deals between Israel and other countries and on the Iranian threat.
“We find ourselves at a promising historic juncture in the Middle East in which relations between Israel and the Muslim world are blossoming,” she told JNS. “I have no doubt that the Biden administration appointees will want to bring more countries to the table to sign peace agreements and bring greater stability to the Middle East for the simple reason that doing so is beneficial to the region and to the United States.”
“At the same time,” continued Klompas, “I hope they will listen to the many voices in the Middle East cautioning that Iran remains the primary impediment to peace and stability and should be managed accordingly.”
‘Meaningful leadership and partnership in the search for solutions’
Democratic Majority for Israel president and CEO Mark Mellman told JNS, “President-elect Biden is assembling a national security and foreign policy team with broad knowledge, deep experience, and a strong commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship. Together with the president-elect, these experienced, crisis-tested professionals will begin to restore America’s world leadership.”
The American Jewish Committee applauded Biden for announcing Blinken as his choice to lead Foggy Bottom.
“Tony Blinken has the breadth and depth of experience to ably oversee the implementation of U.S. foreign policy under President Biden,” said AJC CEO David Harris, who has met with Blinken on numerous occasions in the latter’s various posts. “He is intimately familiar with the full scope of the president-elect’s foreign-policy views, as well the issues of utmost concern to the Jewish community, including full-throated support for the U.S.-Israel relationship, widening the growing circle of Arab-Israel peace, the fight against global anti-Semitism, and the danger posed by Iran and its proxies.”
AJC also praised the appointment of Kerry to the climate role, with the organization telling JNS that “as the first national Jewish organization to have a LEED-certified building, we are delighted to see this new position filled by someone we know well and have hosted several times our Global Forum.”
In a Twitter post, Harris also lauded Thomas-Greenfield.
In a Twitter thread, J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami applauded Monday’s developments.
“The National Security team announced today by President-elect Biden represents exactly the type of leadership this country deserves and the world needs after four years of diplomatic and national security malpractice,” he tweeted. “The challenges facing us globally in the 21st century, as well as in the Middle East more specifically, require not just America’s re-engagement but our meaningful leadership and partnership in the search for solutions.”
B’nai B’rith International provided a neutral stance on Biden’s selections of Blinken, Sullivan and Thomas-Greenfield, though declined to comment on Kerry, Haines and Mayorkas.
“We hope the new appointments at State, the NSC and the U.N. will encourage an expansion of Israel’s relations with Arab countries and that they will take a tough line on Iran’s nuclear program and its malign behavior in the region, and will continue a long tradition of fighting bias against Israel at the United Nations,” the organization’s CEO, Daniel Mariaschin, told JNS.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee declined to comment, citing its longstanding policy of not discussing administration nominations and appointments.
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