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.
Israel Hayom noted B'nai B'rith International awarding the Shalva Band a special citation for fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts as part of its World Center Award for Journalism.
The Shalva Band will be awarded a special citation for fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts as part of the B'nai B'rith World Center Award for Journalism, Israel Hayom has learned.
Formed in 2005 by the Shalva organization, which seeks to empower individuals with disabilities, the group, which comprises eight musicians who all live with some degree of disability, rose to fame in Israel after participating in Rising Star, a singing competition that aired on Channel 12. The band's guest-performance at the Eurovision semi-finals in 2019 earned it international acclaim and invitations to perform worldwide.
The award ceremony will take place on Nov. 25 at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. The ceremony will allow for a limited attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it will be livestreamed on Facebook and Youtube.
Branu Tegene and Danny Kushmaro of Channel 12 News will receive the award in the Broadcast Media category for their five-part series Split Up: The Story of the Ethiopian Jewish Community.
Haaretz correspondent Dina Kraft will receive the award for Print Media for articles on Jewish communities in the United States and Britain.
Since its establishment in 1992, the B'nai B'rith World Center Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reporting on contemporary Diaspora Jewish communities and the state of Israel-Diaspora relations in the Israeli print, broadcast, and online media.
The awards are presented in memory of the late Wolf Matsdorf, journalist and editor of the organization's journal "Leadership Briefing" and his wife, Hilda, a pioneer in social work in both Australia and Israel, and in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky. The award is made possible through donations from the Matsdorf family and B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem board member Daniel Schydlowsky.
Medium published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels on the U.N. at 75 and the need for the world body to shift its approach to Israel-related issues.
Last week, the United Nations celebrated its 75th anniversary.
Even those closely attuned to global affairs might be forgiven for having missed the big occasion – and not only because it had the misfortune of falling during a pandemic and in the run-up to an American presidential election.
In some key circles, the U.N. – the closest humanity has to a world parliament – has fallen into irrelevance or even disrepute. This is a tragedy because the international organization could play a singularly important role in so many areas.
But hampered too often by inefficiencies, ineffectiveness, corruption and unending politicization, few beyond diplomacy wonks truly feel that the U.N. matters greatly, let alone positively, in their actual lives. This sentiment is not least common in the United States – the world body’s host nation, its largest budgetary contributor and its original lead architect – among both centrist liberals and conservatives, including those otherwise invested in multilateral engagement.
One primary cause of this disillusionment is the world body’s treatment of a key American ally, Israel. Although no country should be immune to reasonable criticism, at the U.N. some are. Indeed, the worst of them are routinely awarded posts in influential forums like the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, while Israel – the Middle East’s sole democracy, one of the world’s smallest and most beleaguered nations – is ritualistically condemned more than all other 192 member states combined.
In multiple U.N. settings, Israel alone is singled out, officially, for scrutiny and condemnation on a permanent basis. Israel alone is excluded from its natural regional group. Its adversaries’ narratives are promulgated, full-time, by dedicated bureaucratic units. Only companies doing business with Israel or in territory it holds are stigmatized by a discriminatory U.N. blacklist. Israel is targeted by repeated special “investigators” and “commissions of inquiry” whose biased conclusions are established in advance – though this normally goes unmentioned by relevant press outlets, academics and civil society groups.
And Israel alone has been delegitimized not only in demagogues’ speeches at the U.N. – which have obscenely compared the world’s only Jewish state to apartheid South Africa and even Nazi Germany – but in a notorious, since-rescinded General Assembly resolution comparing only Jews’ movement for independence, Zionism, to racism.
Next year, 20 years will be marked since a U.N. conference on racism, in Durban, South Africa, again suggested that Israel alone is racist – and it produced scenes of outright anti-Semitism that shocked even U.N. officials. As a result, the U.N. has lost all credibility with Israelis of diverse stripes, but also with many serious, fair-minded observers.
It wasn’t always this way.
The U.N. was born in the aftermath of the Holocaust, and Jewish communities – led by organizations like mine – saw great hope in the formation of the U.N., the adoption of its Charter and the eventual crafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Isaiah Wall opposite U.N. Headquarters, with its scriptural prophecy of peace among nations, testifies to the vision of a better shared future. Israel itself, whose birth was endorsed by the world body decades before oil-rich Arab states and their allies solidified an automatic majority in international organizations, had no fewer than seven favorable references to the U.N. in its Declaration of Independence.
But Palestinian and other hardliners, preferring a strategy of leveraging global pressure against Israel over direct talks and compromise, have persisted in “internationalizing” their conflict with Israel. The U.N. has thus been mired in never-ending confrontation that in no way improves the lives of Palestinians or Israelis.
Fortunately, a confluence of circumstances has provided a rare opening for a new era in U.N. relations with Israel – and by extension a rehabilitation of the U.N.’s own standing in America and abroad.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, building upon eventual exhortations by his predecessors Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon, has committed himself to fighting anti-Semitism, and he has called denial of Israel’s right to exist – the posture still held by Iran, Hamas overseers of the Gaza Strip, and Hezbollah jihadists dominating Lebanon – a form of that scourge. He has designated Miguel Moratinos, a former Spanish foreign minister, as focal point in combating hatred of Jews, and has in Nickolay Mladenov, Bulgaria’s former foreign minister, a respected envoy to the Middle East. Ahmed Shaheed, a former foreign minister of the Maldives who is now a resident expert at the U.N., even drafted a report for the General Assembly focused extensively on global animus to Jews.
Even more importantly, Iran’s widely malign policies – combined with American leadership, and new regional focus on constructive partnership – have brought Israelis and Arabs closer together. Over recent weeks, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and now Sudan have joined Egypt, Jordan and other regional countries choosing common cause with Israel over old divides. Meanwhile, Israel already enjoys robust ties with not only the U.S. but also other major world powers, and once-distant countries (like several in Africa) are renewing their own close friendships with Jerusalem.
If the U.N., looking ahead to its centenary, is to regain relevance and respectability – though that will not happen overnight, particularly in the shadow of COVID-19 – it must fully and proactively embrace, not trail behind, a new paradigm of cooperation and commonality instead of grievance and partisanship.
The Security Council and General Assembly can begin by formally saluting the recent widening of the circle of friendship between Israel and its neighbors. The bodies should encourage more of the same – and signal that the days of U.N. exploitation as a tool of anti-Israel warfare have passed.
For its own sake – and for the sake of genuine peace – it’s time for a new U.N. approach to the Middle East.
Newsweek published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels regarding the anniversary of the U.N. Zionism-is-racism resolution and the constant fight against anti-Jewish gaslighting.
Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest and most lethal forms of hate. It remains especially versatile, and is able to emerge from unexpected quarters.
Over the course of centuries, Jews have alternately been hated as being too rich and too poor, too strong and too weak, too religious and too secular, too conservative and too liberal, too alike and too different.
Since Roman conquerors forced most into exile nearly two millennia ago, Jews have also been hated for being dispersed. And since 1948, they have been hated for the revival of their small ancestral homeland: Israel.
In Europe, my grandparents, who survived the Holocaust, heard cries of "Jews, back to Palestine" only to rear grandchildren who endure calls of "Jews, out of Palestine."
Adding insult to injury, Israel and its friends have been tarred by some as inherently racist themselves.
At the United Nations—where Arab and allied countries hold an automatic majority—Israel is routinely condemned more than all other 192 member states combined. UN bias reached its peak 45 years ago with Resolution 3379. On November 10, 1975, the UN General Assembly singled out only Zionism—Jews' movement for independence—as "racist."
Chaim Herzog, Israel's UN ambassador and later president, tore up the resolution and decried the "ignorance" that enabled it. At the time, he said:
You dare talk of racism when I can point with pride to the Arab ministers who have served in my government; to the Arab deputy speaker of my Parliament; to Arab officers and men serving of their own volition in our defense, border and police forces, frequently commanding Jewish troops; to the hundreds of thousands of Arabs from all over the Middle East crowding the cities of Israel every year; to the thousands of Arabs from all over the Middle East coming for medical treatment to Israel; to the peaceful coexistence which has developed; to the fact that Arabic is an official language in Israel on a par with Hebrew; to the fact that it is as natural for an Arab to serve in public office in Israel as it is incongruous to think of a Jew serving in any public office in any Arab country, indeed being admitted to many of them. Is that racism? It is not. That is Zionism.
In a rarity, the UN revoked the Zionism-is-racism resolution in 1991—leading to new breakthroughs in Arab-Israeli relations. But its odious legacy has persisted. Ten years later, a UN anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa, implied that only one country—Israel—is racist, and the gathering produced scenes of outright anti-Semitism that shocked even UN officials. More recently, some political activists have sought to exploit the Black Lives Matter movement by having it stigmatize the world's only Jewish state—the Middle East's sole democracy—as comparable to South Africa during apartheid.
Yet Jews have been at the very forefront of the struggle for Black civil rights. Israelis come in all colors. And it is not by chance that anti-Semitism and racism are perennially interwoven.
Palestinians and Israelis are divided over security and land—not racial ideology or difference.
At a time of alarming polarization, facts are as essential as ever. Accuracy matters. While simplistic narratives can make for punchier slogans than complex realities can, claims based on fiction do nothing to make our world better or more just. Smear tactics can be tempting, but we must resist such temptations when they distort rather than illuminate.
False accusations of "Zionist" racism—along with attempts to preempt pushback by asserting that Jews dismiss all reproach as anti-Semitic—undermine the very cause of fighting bigotry. And there are few causes more urgent.
Anti-Jewish gaslighting is wrong. Demonizing or delegitimizing Israelis is as indefensible as it would be to target a diverse population of any other nationality.
Zionists are women and men, left-wing and right-wing, Jews and Christians, people of Middle Eastern background and all other backgrounds. What they hold in common is simply the belief that Israel has a right to exist, be safe and have equality. The overwhelming majority of the global community is—in a word—Zionist.
There is nothing more discriminatory about Israel's Jewish identity and symbols than the Christian or Muslim identity and symbols of dozens of countries worldwide.
As Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews." Those purporting to combat prejudice must never tolerate it themselves.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin on the news that U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem will be allowed to list Israel as their place of birth on their U.S. passport.
(October 28, 2020 / JNS) U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem will be allowed to list Israel as their place of birth on their U.S. passport, alluded the Trump administration on Wednesday.
Politico first reported the development, citing a U.S. official, adding that the announcement could be made as soon as Thursday.
Despite the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and relocating its embassy to there from Tel Aviv months later, Americans born in Jerusalem have still been unable to list Israel as their place of birth on their U.S. passport. Currently, those people can only list “Jerusalem” as such on their U.S. passport.
The official told Politico that the new policy, at least as of Wednesday, is that U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem can request to have Israel listed as the country or have it show “Jerusalem.”
For U.S. citizens born outside the United States, U.S. passports usually show countries, not cities, for places of birth. Therefore, there would be no third option to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as a place of birth. U.S. passports for citizens born in the United States include the city of birth.
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the executive branch has the sole power to grant recognition of sovereign states, striking down a move by Congress to command the executive to change its position on Jerusalem. While at the time the ruling was a victory for the Obama administration, which had been upholding a policy recognizing no state as having sovereignty over Jerusalem, it now has allowed the Trump administration to change course on the passport issue.
Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) said this important move “shows America has not only recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by moving the embassy, but that American citizens born in Jerusalem will no longer be stateless.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS “this is a most welcome development.”
“Like establishing the U.S. embassy there, this recognition of Israel’s capital is a further affirmation of the crucial principle that Jerusalem is, and always will be, Israel’s capital,” he said.
The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and the late U.S. Ambassador Richard Schifter on the need for the U.N. to stop funding "Palestinian committees" and end its support of the “right of return."
For the past several decades, the United Nations General Assembly has dutifully approved the funding of the so-called specialized “Palestinian committees,” each of which advances only one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The UN has an opportunity to cut off this funding supply by year-end, thereby righting a decades-long wrong and in turn, ending a long-standing charade.
Created in the aftermath of the infamous 1975 Zionism=Racism resolution, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) and the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR) are powerful, enduring vestiges of a discredited policy that has seen the world body largely aligned against Israel, not only in New York, but at UN agencies such as the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in Paris.
The CEIRPP organizes conferences, photo exhibitions and other programs around the world aimed at undermining, discrediting and demonizing Israel. It does so with the active cooperation of the UN’s Department of Global Communications.
The DPR actually sits inside the UN Secretariat, giving the Palestinians a UN home no other people or sovereign state has. DPR sits alongside regional units such as the Asian, the African and Latin American, and the Caribbean groups of the UN system. The DPR works together with CEIRPP to organize an annual International Day of Solidarity for the Palestinian People, and maintains UN web-based information systems devoted to the Palestinian side of the conflict.
At the core of the work of these offices is the perpetuation of “the right of return” narrative that demands all Palestinians considered by the UN to be refugees have a right to “return” to pre-state Israel. Since 1949 the UN has, through the creation of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency), aggressively advanced this position.
So why are millions of people classified as refugees? Because as “refugees” they maintain their claim to migrate to Israel in order to overwhelm the Jewish majority and thus end the existence of the State of Israel.
According to the UN, there are now 5.5 million such refugees, less than 1% of whom were actual refugees from the War of Independence in 1948. More than 99% are their descendants, now five generations on. The UN has endeavored to find solutions to nearly every other refugee crisis in the world over the years, largely by resettling people in the lands to which they fled.
Only in the case of the Palestinians has an infrastructure been established to perpetuate a crisis. Over these past seven decades UNRWA, through its schools and other services, and the UN system have held out the promise that all Palestinians will one day “return” to what is now the State of Israel.
In fact, 40% of these “refugees” already live on the West Bank and in Gaza among fellow Palestinians, yet they maintain a status of refugees, so they would be able to migrate to Israel under the “right of return.” Another 40% live in Jordan, where many acquired Jordanian citizenship. They, too, live among people with whom they share religion and language, but maintain their refugee status so as to qualify for a “right of return,” as do the remaining 20% who live in Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries.
The recently signed peace agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and with Bahrain, and actions and public statements by other Arab states, suggest that the Palestinian program to end Israel’s existence is losing support among some Arabs. The world – and especially the region – have moved on. Other considerations, largely based on national interest, have taken precedence: the threat of Iranian hegemony, trade and investment and even tourism, are incentives to normalization.
The Palestinians have overplayed their hand, pressing for a zero-sum outcome to the conflict with Israel, and especially by its leaders missing opportunity after opportunity to conclude a peace with Israel in the 27 years since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
The Palestinian reaction to the Abraham Accords has been a vehement reassertion of their position, including the “right of return,” made possible, in large part by the automatic reinforcement they receive at the UN.
It is the UN, created to “maintain peace and security,” that encourages the Palestinians to hold out for their one state solution: A “Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” a goal to be attained through a “right of return.
”The CEIRIPP and the DPR are the chief proponents of this campaign, but are aided by regional groups at the UN such as the Group of 77 (known for years as the “Non-Aligned”) and a raft of anti-Israel resolutions adopted by rote at the Human Rights Council and other UN agencies, including the World Heritage Committee, a sub-group of UNESCO.
The Palestinian claim of a “right of return” is simply an obstacle to peace; it has become the third rail of the conflict. No one dares touch it; no friends of the Palestinians – and there are several amongst the European countries – seem interested in persuading them that the idea is simply a non-starter. It is not going to happen. No Israeli government from anywhere on the political spectrum would sign its own national suicide warrant.
The vote count supporting funding of the Palestinian committees is dropping; the number of “no” votes to fund these committees is rising – slightly – with a large number of abstentions and those voting “absent.”
A new wind is blowing in the region. “Normalization” is in, and obstructionism is on its way out. Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and perhaps others to come are demonstrating that where there is good will to resolve more than seven decades of animosity, economic warfare and the absence of real human interaction, reconciliation can follow.
Spending millions of dollars on conferences that perpetuate the “right of return” mantra and the constant efforts to delegitimize Israel is both a waste of time and a sure prescription for the UN to become increasingly irrelevant when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
The responsible member states of the UN need to look out the window and see the dramatic, positive changes that are taking place across the region, despite attempts by Iran and its proxies and terrorist surrogates to perpetuate chaos and instability.
Depoliticizing “peacemaking” at the UN by eliminating the CEIRIPP and the DPR would send a clear message to the Palestinians and their friends that the free ride is over. That will tell us whether or not they are really interested in emulating their neighbors who have reached historic accords with Israel.
Until the UN ends its support of the “right of return,” we cannot expect meaningful progress toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Sudan agreeing to normalize relations with the State of Israel.
(October 23, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and pro-Israel groups immediately reacted to U.S. President Donald Trump announcing on Friday that Sudan has agreed to begin the process of normalizing ties with Israel.
Sudan follows the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which normalized ties with Israel through signing the Abraham Accords on Sept. 15 in a White House ceremony. The two Gulf states were the first to normalize relations with the Jewish state. Jordan and Egypt made peace with Israel in 1994 and 1979, respectively.
In a statement, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the development “a historic milestone as yet another country joins the UAE and Bahrain in building a new era of Israeli-Arab relations” and “a byproduct of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.”
“Through decades of support and deepening ties, America and Israel have demonstrated that the security and viability of the Jewish state is not up for debate, and those seeking peace and prosperity benefit from a relationship with Israel,” said AIPAC.
The pro-Israel lobby continued, “We call on other Arab leaders, particularly Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to end their boycott of Israel and engage in negotiations to bring peace and stability to more citizens across the Middle East.”
“Today’s announcement is indicative of a very positive trend—a change of heart—among Arab leaders across the region regarding Israel,” said American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris in a statement. “In this peacemaking endeavor, [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s vision and [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump’s dedication to advancing Arab-Israeli peace have been transformative.”
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS, “This agreement is another critical step in expanding peace between the Arab and Islamic world. The entire region will benefit from this, and agreements yet to come between Israel and its neighbors. This trajectory of normalization is in the interest of all who seek stability in a region too often torn by conflict.”
Republican Jewish Coalition spokesperson Neil Strauss told JNS that Friday’s announcement proves that Trump “is once again proving he is the most pro-Israel president in history,” and that “today is a great day for Israel, Sudan and the entire peace-loving world.”
Even J Street expressed approval of Friday’s news, but with a caveat.
“It’s good that Israel is establishing diplomatic ties with more countries in the region,” tweeted J Street. “Let’s also be clear: Agreements like this don’t change the need for comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
“While Trump has rushed these deals through for pre-election headlines, his admin[instration] continues to empower and excuse the creeping annexation that is designed to prevent an Israeli-Palestinian agreement,” added J Street.
‘Normalization is the new normal’
In a statement, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations remarked that Sudan, following the UAE and Bahrain’s lead to normalize ties with Israel, paves “the way for more Arab and Muslim countries to embrace peace and reconciliation” in which the “rapidly shifting dynamics of the Middle East signify a future that will be defined by diplomacy and cooperation, with rejectionism and extremism relegated to the past.”
Regarding a possible Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, the Conference said, “As the consensus for peace expands with more countries joining in the peaceful coexistence that will define the future of the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority finds itself even more isolated in its opposition to the Jewish state. The stubborn reluctance of Palestinian leaders to even discuss peaceful solutions leaves them increasingly out of step with the rest of the Arab and Muslim world.”
The umbrella organization called on the Palestinian Authority “to heed the wind of change, have a change of heart, choose peace over war, and finally return to the negotiating table in order to achieve a lasting peace with Israel.”
CUFI founder and chairman Pastor John Hagee in a statement, “We are thrilled to see yet another country end hostilities with Israel. Those who would attack, demonize or boycott the Jewish state have lost. The Palestinian Authority should take note; normalization is the new normal. Peace is on the march.”
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) founder and president Sarah Stern noted that Sudan hosted the Arab League summit after the 1967 Six-Day War, where the “Three Nos” under the Khartoum Resolution was announced regarding the State of Israel: “No peace, no recognition, no negotiations.”
Friday’s news “demonstrates just how far the Sunni Muslim world has evolved since then, in acknowledging that Israel is here to stay; that peace and acceptance of Israel and the normalization of people-to-people ties with Israel can only be of benefit to the region in agriculture, medicine, high tech and cybersecurity, and that they can unite together to fight their common foe: Iran,” she told JNS.
American Sephardi Federation executive director Jason Guberman told JNS that “Sudan was once home to a vibrant, Sephardic Jewish community whose chief rabbi, Hakham Solomon Malka, exemplified the pluralist values Sudan joins the U.S. in affirming today.”
“Sudan was also once host to the Khartoum Conference, whose rejectionist declaration led to decades of strife and stagnation,” he continued. “The ascendancy and genocidal drive of Islamist and pan-Arab socialist regimes to eliminate minorities and impose ideological conformity was an aberration, an ‘evil hope’ that is at last being repudiated, fittingly in Khartoum today.”
Ambassador Tedo Japaridze (of Georgia) spoke with B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin about the normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE. Brussels Morning published Mariaschin's comments on this historic deal.
(Washington – Brussels Morning) The White House will hold a signing ceremony on September 15 to celebrate a normalization agreement of relations between Israel and the UAE. The deal announced on August 13 is the fruit of 18 months of talks. To asses the significance of this deal, Ambassador Japaridze talks to the chief executive officer of B’nai B’rith International, Daniel S. Mariaschin. B’nai B’rith International is an international Israel Advocacy organization in operation since 1843.
Daniel S. Mariaschin
The normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE could be called the “third pillar’ of reconciliation and rapprochement between Israel and the Arab States. The first two — the peace treaties with Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous state, and with Jordan, a country with which Israel shares a long border, set the table for general stabilization in the region.
The impetus for the agreement with the UAE, which has no border with the Jewish state, came from several directions, not the least of which is a common concern about Iranian hegemonism, and a “can-do” spirit of entrepreneurism and trade.
For decades, the Palestinians counted on unconditional support in the Arab world. But as opportunities to conclude a deal with Israel were continually met with a cold shoulder and rejection by the Palestinian Authority, countries in the Gulf felt they could wait no more. Relations with Israel offered security and trade opportunities, and giving the Palestinians a veto on normalization with Israel made little strategic or commercial sense. The train has left the station.
The fourth pillar of Arab-Israel peace and normalization awaits. Other agreements are expected in the Gulf, and in North Africa. Giving the shifting winds in the region, particularly Iran’s unabashed drive for influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and in Gaza, and with an administration in Washington in full support of building on the Israel-UAE agreement, this particular “peace process’” will hopefully gain speed, and produce other “Abraham Accords.”
The Algemeiner published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman on the historic Abraham Accords and the official signing ceremony at the White House.
Witnessing the Abraham Accords signing last week generated the kind of stimulation that usually accompanies a very strong cup of coffee. The effect of such excitement? It’s tough to fall asleep.
The night of September 15, in fact, was different from all other nights. That familiar phrase is generally reserved for a spring holiday that involves the story of the Exodus, unleavened bread, four glasses of wine, a popular spread of chopped apples, cinnamon and wine, and, finally, a proclamation to gather in Jerusalem. Four questions address what makes this night of the treaties different from all other nights.
In the context of the Abraham Accords, these questions might go something like this. On all other nights, Arab leaders would exhibit unconditional animus toward Jews and Israel, dreaming of their destruction. They’d issue curricula and textbooks that are written to poison the minds of schoolchildren, injecting hate against Jews and Israel into the core of their pedagogy. But on this night, no hateful disagreements will disrupt progress, trade, or innovation; same for fighting hunger and sickness. And on this night, the United Arab Emirates will encourage young people to travel to and from Israel to enjoy great food and entertainment, visit and pray at holy sites, and engage in tech mining.
On all other nights, extremists might operate inside major oil-producing countries to plot and fund terror attacks on Western targets, but on this night, the top imam in Mecca, the holiest city among the world’s Muslims, says cooperating with Jews is acceptable and a good idea.
On all other nights, Israeli planes would take a circuitous, serpentine route to fly from Tel Aviv to the Far East. On this night, Israeli commercial flights will be cleared to fly over Saudi Arabian airspace.
On all other nights, Jews continuously pray at the Western Wall of the ancient temple. On this night, the colorful images of the Israel, Bahrain, and UAE flags are projected on the walls of the Old City. Meanwhile, Arabs will be welcome to visit holy sites in Israel and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of the Muslim faith.
Finally, after at least 3,000 years of ancient history and 72 years of modern history, there is an official, public rejection of hostilities, with embassies and diplomats planned in each other’s capital cities. The policy model of hate-war-destruction has given way to a very different option — one of diplomacy, a peaceful partnership built on mutual trust, and economic progress. Compared to other historic treaties signed on the South Lawn of the White House, the one signed on September 15 felt very different, according to those who observed them all.
Witnesses to the other Middle East milestone signings recalled the events involving battle-weary Egypt and Jordan, noting distinct caution in the air. On September 15, the leadership of the UAE, Bahrain, Israel, and the US stood shoulder to shoulder. On this day, there were no awkward handshakes, no dubious, glaring looks — or half-hearted, forced, or distrusting full smiles.
Leaders could honestly and publicly state their modified interests in the Palestinian cause, without making their plight conditional to a greater goal — moving forward with cooperation with Israel. In fact, UAE and Bahraini officials are positioned for a new role as an independent third-party, acknowledging that the treaties give Israel and the Palestinians time and space to negotiate an agreement without the looming reality of an “annexation” in Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank. If the two parties aren’t willing to come to the negotiating table, the new partners are saying publicly, there’s nothing much they can do to advance that process. Meanwhile, the rules governing Areas A, B, and C from the Oslo Accords will remain in place.
The Abraham Accords model is there for the taking, for other Gulf States and even for the Palestinians — the cornerstone to an agreement that is likely to engulf other Gulf States and extend into Africa is economic cooperation. Make no mistake, the Emiratis and Bahrainis still have a soft spot for the Palestinians. However, in the wake of creating a gleaming, modern-day Oz, the UAE and Bahrain are no longer willing to be dragged to a halt, waiting for the Palestinian leadership to fulfill its aspirations. The 72-year-old hate-war-destruction refrain has played like a tired old tune. That strategy has proven far too costly, with zero reward for the risk. These two Arab countries decided to cut their allowance to a petulant child without kicking them out of the house. Their tough love, in effect, came with this advice: “It’s time for you to go find a real job.”
The primary opponents of the Abraham Accords, not surprisingly, were Iran, Turkey, Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah, among others. Meanwhile, other Arab countries, ready to pull the trigger on an outstanding investment opportunity, were dialing up the partners, wondering, “How do we get in on the action?”
The world is witnessing the beginnings of a tectonic shift — or a “tech-tonic” economic shift. For many Israelis, meanwhile, the feeling of this geopolitical win might be as monumental, if not euphoric, as the 1977 European Cup Championship win by Maccabi Tel Aviv, a victory that lifted the spirit and identity of Israel from such horrifying events as the Olympic massacre in Munich, the Yom Kippur War, and the hostage crisis at the Entebbe airport.
Finally, the winds of change on that bright, clear day last week in Washington opened another door — to broaden the reestablishment of a Jewish community in the UAE and Bahrain. Jews won’t have to conceal their faith to visit these countries. Instead of the destruction of Israel serving as the ideological impetus of the Arab world, the guiding principle offered by the Bahrainis and Emiratis is peace and prosperity. It is not mere policy. It is a plan already being implemented. The peace dividend articulated by the participating countries will manifest itself in young people living and prospering in peace. When words like these filtered through Covid-19 masks worn at the White House, the witnesses knew that leaders were genuinely banking on a future. And that feeling is why this night was different from all other nights.
Mazal News (Portugal) covered our attendance of the Abraham Accords signing ceremony and quoted our President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin.
With a presence around the world and fighting for the cause of human rights since 1843, B’nai B’rith International hailed the historic peace agreements signed at the White House today between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain normalizing relations between the three countries. It will now join the peace agreements between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan as stabilizing influences in the region.
B'nai B'rith President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin were present on the South Lawn for the historic signing. “What we witnessed was something beyond anyone’s imagination just a few years ago,” Kaufman said.
Bahraini Foreign Minister, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Israeli Prime Minister and the USA President all participated in the signing of the Accords.
“Today marked a tremendous turning point in the history of Israel and the Jewish people, and in the Middle East. The signing of the Abraham Accords, and the agreements between Israel and the UAE, and Israel and Bahrain demonstrate that peace can be achieved when there is the good will to achieve it,” Dan Mariaschin said.
B’nai B’rith International is the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
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B'nai B'rith International is the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
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