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.
JNS covered our virtual joint event with the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) honoring the late Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who helped thousands of Jews escape the horrors of the Holocaust.
(January 26, 2021 / JNS) Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, a virtual event on Monday honored a hero often referred to as the “Japanese Schindler” for helping to save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.
Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat stationed in Lithuania, defied his own government’s orders by issuing handwritten transit visas in 1940 to more than 6,000 Lithuanian Jews, enabling them to escape Nazi-occupied Europe. He continued to do so for over a month until the Japanese consulate was closed. More than 40,000 descendants of those Jews are believed to be alive today because of his courageous actions.
Sugihara died in 1986 at the age of 86.
The online event highlighted Sugihara’s heroic deeds and the lessons we can learn from him in battling contemporary anti-Semitism. The reception was hosted by the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement and B’nai B’rith International.
Sacha Roytman Dratwa, executive director of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement, told JNS, “While Sugihara has gotten more attention in recent decades, particularly after Yad Vashem gave him the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ title in the 1980s, most people, including Jews, are still unaware of his heroic deeds. So, it is important that we honor those, such as Sugihara, who came to the aid of the Jewish people in the darkest hour of their history.”
“With fewer and fewer survivors of the Holocaust alive to tell their stories, it is vital that its lessons continue to be shared,” he continued. “The Sugihara lesson is about what one person can do in the face of evil—which, with anti-Semitism on the rise around the world, is as relevant as ever.”
The well-known attorney Nathan Lewin, 84, recalled his family’s personal story of how they were saved by Sugihara. He was born in Lodz, Poland, and in September 1939, when Adolf Hitler invaded, he and his family, including his maternal grandmother and uncle, smuggled across the border and made their way to Vilnius, Lithuania. Lewin was 3 years old at the time.
They hoped to travel even farther away from Hitler’s grasps but were unable to get travel documents. Lewin’s mother then went to Sugihara at the Japanese consulate and received the first handwritten “Sugihara visa” given to Jews. Sugihara’s transit visa allowed Lewin’s entire family to travel to Curaçao and Suriname via Japan.
However, Lewin and his family did not go to Suriname or Curacao but traveled to Japan and came to the United States as refugees when he was 5.
He said at the event, “It is both an honor and a blessing for me to be here today to share my admiration and thanks for an individual who embodied the role that our rabbis specified, saying you should not do a good deed with the expectation that you will be rewarded, but for the good deed itself. That is what Chiune Sugihara did.”
Lewin told JNS, “It’s necessary and important to honor those people who took personal efforts and really jeopardized their own professional status to help people who were fleeing from the Holocaust. And Mr. Sugihara did just that.”
‘He gave them hope and life’
Lewin’s daughter, Alyza Lewin, also an attorney, discussed the relevance of Sugihara’s story to combating modern-day anti-Semitism.
President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, she told JNS: “The lesson we learn from Chiune Sugihara is that we must recognize that even if we come from different backgrounds, different faiths, different cultures, different races, different genders, different ethnicities, we are all human beings deserving of respect and fairness, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
She further praised Sugihara, saying “at a time when Jews were being stigmatized and marginalized, he treated them as human beings. He gave them hope and life when others sought to rob them of their dignity.”
She added that Jews are again being stigmatized and marginalized today, but this time because of their ethnicity.
“Jews who take pride in our sense of Jewish peoplehood and in the Jews’ deep, religious, ethnic, cultural, and ancestral connection to the Land of Israel, are being pressured to shed that ethnic pride,” she said. “The Jewish homeland, the Jewish nation-state of Israel—where all races, religions, ethnicities and genders are equal under the law—is the only nation-state today that is targeted as illegitimate. It is the only country that some say has no right to exist. This is today’s contemporary form of anti-Semitism, and we must unite to combat it. Because anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish problem. It is a cancer that rots away at and ultimately destroys societies that fail to curb it.”
Another Holocaust survivor, Ada Winsten, whose family also obtained transit visas from Sugihara, paid tribute to the man she called “the Japanese Schindler,” saying “if not for him, I would not be here. I would not have my children [or] my grandchildren. If not for Sugihara, we would not even have this story to tell.”
The event’s keynote speaker was Ambassador Kanji Yamanouchi, Consul General of Japan in New York, who said that “by the grace of Sugihara’s pen, thousands of lives were saved.”
He added, “We must remember the Holocaust to honor those who perished and to achieve a better society. We know that no country is immune from the forces of racism and fascism. So, we have to do the right thing when necessary. Chiune Sugihara is one of those who did the right thing in the most difficult hour.”
JNS noted our statement in its coverage of the storming of the United States Capitol by rioters.
(January 6, 2021 / JNS) Jewish and Israel-related groups reacted to the mob invasion of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday by Trump supporters as members of Congress gathered in a joint session on Wednesday to certify U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Eric Fingerhut, a former member of Congress, and currently the president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, told JNS that he was “horrified” by what happened, calling it “appalling” and blaming the rhetoric by U.S. President Donald Trump in part leading up to the overrunning of the Capitol.
Violence erupted in the afternoon when some of the protesters of the certification process scaled walls and scaffolding, and smashed windows to enter the building. One woman was shot during the chaos inside the Capitol and transferred to a nearby hospital; she was pronounced dead around 6 p.m. Multiple injuries to law enforcement have also been reported.
Jewish groups from both sides of the aisle unwaveringly condemned the chaos on Capitol Hill, with Democratic and liberal groups blaming the president for inciting the violence. Conservative Jewish groups focused on the breakdown of the rule of law, which they vociferously lamented.
“Protesters must stop now. We support peaceful protest, but storming the halls of Congress and the Capitol building is unacceptable. We condemn these actions. G-d bless the [Capitol Police],” tweeted the Republican Jewish Coalition.
“Shame on Donald Trump, who has incited violence, sedition, anarchy & insurrection, playing out in real time. He is risking the lives of Republicans and Democrats alike in order to stop the peaceful transfer of power. Praying for the safety & security of those in the Capitol,” tweeted Jewish Democratic Council of America CEO Halie Soifer.
“The orderly transfer of power is a hallmark of and essential to American democracy. We are disgusted by the violence at the US Capitol and urge the rioters to disperse immediately. Law and order must be restored, and the peaceful transition of administrations must continue,” tweeted the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“The peaceful transition of power is the bedrock of our democracy. We are shocked and horrified by the violent riots taking place on Capitol Hill at this time. We urge @POTUS to call for an immediate end to the riots and respect the certification process currently underway,” tweeted the American Jewish Committee.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted, “We share the anger of our fellow Americans over the attack at the Capitol and condemn the assault on our democratic values and process. This violence, and President Trump’s incitement of it, is outrageous and must end.”
Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein told JNS that his organization “condemns and deplores the several dozen idiotic lunatics who broke into the Capitol building. The First Amendment does not permit any part of a protest to be violent. And Trump should have made a stronger speech urging this travesty to stop.”
In a statement, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said “extremists must be taken at their word. First, there was volatile rhetoric online, then explicit calls to violence, and now people are acting on those calls in the nation’s capital and flagrantly breaking the law. It must end now.”
He went on to state, “The president has promoted sedition and incited violence. People assaulting law-enforcement officers or breaching government buildings must be arrested and held accountable.
Additionally, Greenblatt called for social-media companies to “suspend his accounts ASAP as they would do for anyone else advocating disinformation and promoting violence.”
On Wednesday night, Twitter suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours, threatening a permanent ban.
‘One of the saddest days in our nation’s history’
In a statement, the Simon Wiesenthal Center called Wednesday “a dark day for all Americans.”
“The right to protest is sacrosanct in American life,” said the organization. “But the very values and rights bestowed by our democracy are degraded and diminished when police officers have to draw their guns to protect our duly elected officials in the heart of our nation by violent protesters who have stormed Congress and by their reckless and dangerous behavior have inflicted grievous wounds on our nation.”
“Nothing,” it added, “not even the emotional charges of voter fraud in a presidential election, can ever legitimize or excuse such behavior.”
B’nai B’rith International called the mob invasion of the Capitol “one of the saddest days in our nation’s history” and called for Trump “to publicly condemn the rioters.”
“The United States Capitol building represents the heart of our democracy,” said the organization. “We condemn those who are engaging in this senseless disregard for the democratic values of our nation.”
“Though it’s horrifying to see the U.S. Capitol under siege, the seeds for this have been planted and nurtured for many years,” continued B’nai B’rith. “We decry the divisiveness in the country that led to this day, and we must re-engage in a political process of compromise, one issue at a time. The election season is over.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council called Wednesday “a sad and dangerous day for our democracy.”
“The violence taking place in Washington, including the attempt to storm the United States Capitol, is despicable,”said the organization. “These actions have been encouraged by the highest officeholders in our nation, reminding us that rhetoric matters and words have consequences.”
“Make no mistake: If order, decency and rational decision making do not prevail, the underpinnings of our social fabric are in jeopardy,” they added.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) said what transpired “was a direct assault on our democratic process, and nothing less than an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transition of power in a presidential election and an act of sedition.”
JNS mentioned our statement on the COVID-19 relief package deal reached by Congress.
(December 22, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and pro-Israel groups expressed appreciation to Congress for passing a 5,593-page spending package on Monday night that includes $1.4 trillion to fund the government, in addition to annual U.S. assistance to Israel, and as much as $900 billion in relief for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill now goes to U.S. President Donald Trump to sign it into law.
Relief includes $600 stimulus checks per adult and child. Single people earning up to $75,000 will receive $600, while married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $1,200. Checks will be reduced by $5 for every $100 in income for those above those thresholds. Single people who earn more than $87,000 or married couples who earn more than $174,000 will not receive money.
The relief also allocates $300 per week in enhanced unemployment insurance for 11 weeks, more funds for vaccine distribution and COVID-19 testing.
It also consists of $319 billion for small businesses, including $284 billion in loans for the Paycheck Protection Program from the Small Business Administration (SBA). This included $20 billion through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program and $15 billion for theaters, live venues and museums.
The bill allocates $82 billion in education funding, including $2.75 billion to support Jewish, Catholic and other nonpublic schools.
The spending bill includes $180 million in funding for security for nonprofit institutions.
In a statement applauding the legislation ahead of it being passed, the Jewish Federations of North America said—citing a record number of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States in 2019— that “this bolstered funding will help to secure thousands of synagogues, Jewish community agencies and organizations, as well as other faith and communal groups who have too frequently been the victims of deadly attacks.”
The bill also includes the seventh year of funding for Holocaust survivors and older adults with a history of trauma and their families. JFNA said that its “Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, which benefits from federal funding, will be able to continue to its work.”
In a statement ahead of the legislative package being passed, B’nai B’rith International expressed gratitude for the economic relief and extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, though said it was “disappointed that there were no provisions made for low-income senior housing in this stimulus bill.”
“As the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income, nonsectarian housing for seniors in the country, we are focused on the urgent needs of this population,” continued the organization. “We would have appreciated funds for more supplies, staffing, service coordinators and Wi-Fi accessibility for subsidized housing for seniors.”
Ahead of it being passed, the Orthodox Union also applauded the government spending and relief package, especially for K-12 schools.
In the American Jewish community, almost 1,000 Jewish day schools educate approximately 300,000 students and employ many thousands of teachers and other staff. As with so many other institutions, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been terribly disruptive and costly to these schools, it explained.
“That is why it is essential for this latest federal relief package to include a great amount of support for these schools and, among them, America’s Jewish, Catholic and other nonpublic schools,” said OU executive director for public policy Nathan Diament. “We are all in this together. We cannot beat back the pandemic, much less educate children, in some schools but not others. Thus, we are very thankful that congressional leaders set aside $2.75 billion to help our schools in this emergency.”
‘Ensuring critical support for Israel’s security’
Moreover, the bill includes legislation protecting victims of terrorism and restoring Sudan’s immunity from terror-related lawsuits in the aftermath of the Northeast African nation recently agreeing to normalize ties with Israel.
The legislative package includes the annual $3.8 billion in assistance to Israel in accordance with the 2016 10-year $38 billion memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the United States and Israel. It consisted of $3.3 billion in security assistance and $500 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed earlier this month.
The bill also allocates $47.5 million in anti-tunnel technology and $25 million for counter-unmanned aerial systems, two burgeoning areas of cooperation in addressing threats from tunnel attacks and drones.
Additionally, the legislation includes $2 million to fund a new U.S.-Israel cooperative initiative on COVID-related and health technologies research; $2 million to fund a new Israel-U.S. Agency for International Development international development cooperative program to support local solutions to address sustainability challenges; $4 million for the U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence in Energy and Water; $2 million for the Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation supporting U.S.-Israel energy cooperative programs; and $2 million for U.S.-Israel cooperative efforts related to border security, maritime security, biometrics, cybersecurity and video analytics.
Finally, the bill allocates $2 million to fund a new strategic dialogue of the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership among the United States, Israel, Greece and Cyprus; and $50 million to fund and authorize the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Fund aimed at investing in economic and people-to-people partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians, named for Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who is retiring and has been known as a stalwart ally of the Jewish state in Congress.
Following the legislation’s passage, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee heralded Congress “for ensuring critical support for Israel’s security and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International's statement on the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in its coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice's death.
(September 21, 2020 / JNS) Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, died on Sept. 18 at the age of 87 at her home in Washington, D.C.
Ginsburg, a heralded liberal judicial, feminist and Jewish icon who was the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court, died from “complications of metastatic pancreas cancer,” according to a statementfrom the Supreme Court shortly after her death.
Her passing came on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year 5781, and just six weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
Before her death, Ginsburg was hospitalized numerous times this year, including twice in July. She announced on July 17 that cancer had returned, though had often said that she would remain on the court as long as she was able to do the work.
Joan Ruth Bader was born on March 15, 1933, to Nathan and Celia Bader in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her older sister, Marylin, died of meningitis at age 6, when Ruth was a baby. Ruth’s mother died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school, though having been a significant factor in her education.
She earned her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University on June 23, 1954; a month later, she married Martin D. Ginsburg. One year later, they had a daughter, Jane, before Ruth started law school at Harvard University.
Ginsburg was a standout and one of the few women at Harvard Law School. She later transferred to Columbia Law School, where she jointly graduated first in her class in 1959. However, she had difficulty getting hired directly into a law firm and turned to academia, teaching at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School.
The couple had a son, James, in 1965.
In 1970, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the United States to focus exclusively on women’s rights. Two years later, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and in 1973, she became general counsel of the project.
After working with the American Civil Liberties Union as a volunteer attorney and as a member of its board of directors and a general counsel in the 1970s, in 1980, Ginsburg was nominated by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is regarded as the second-most powerful court in the United States behind the Supreme Court.
In 1993, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed to the Supreme Court, where she served until her death.
Ginsburg spent much of her career fighting for gender equality and women’s rights, winning many arguments before the Supreme Court. During her 40-plus years as a judge and a justice, she was served by 159 law clerks.
A 2018 documentary titled “RBG” became a hit with audiences, as did a feature film that followed, “On the Basis of Sex.”
Attorney Norm Eisen, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, told JNS that Ginsburg was a Jewish icon who personified Jewish values—an ideal Americans should look for in her successor.
“Justice Ginsburg exemplified a core Jewish principle: tzedek tzedek tirdof, justice, justice shall you pursue,” he said. “She understood it was not just a Jewish virtue but an American one.”
“That commitment to justice is, of course, what American Jews and all Americans are looking for in the next justice—much more than ethnicity or religion,” he continued. “That starts with a just manner of choosing that individual. For that reason, Justice Ginsberg’s last wish to let the new president make that choice should be honored.”
Chief Justice John Roberts said: “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her—a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
U.S. President Donald Trump said shortly after Ginsburg’s death that he plans to fill the vacancy this week, putting forth a woman candidate. Trump has already seated two other Supreme Court justices: Neal Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
Attorney Nathan Lewin, who has argued in front of the Supreme Court, told JNS that Ginsburg “was a dynamic force in eliminating gender discrimination and will have a well-deserved place of honor in American legal history.”
Regarding what’s at stake for the Jewish community over the vacancy, “if you are speaking of the observant Jewish community and protection for religious rights, the future of that community and those rights is now bright,” said Lewin, citing that Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh “are strong defenders of religious liberty.”
‘A champion for civil rights’
Jewish groups expressed condolences over Ginsburg’s death.
The Anti-Defamation League tweeted on Sunday that it “mourns the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazer and judicial giant. She dedicated her life to advocating for a more equitable and just world, and was a true champion for civil rights. May her memory be a blessing.”
In a statement on Sunday, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs said Ginsburg “rose from the humble beginnings of an immigrant Jewish family to become a Supreme Court Justice,” and that as “a lawyer and advocate she fought to change laws and policies that advanced reproductive rights and equality for all.”
“The best way to honor Justice Ginsburg’s life is to continue to fight for equality and to deter the rollback of women’s reproductive rights,” said JCPA president and CEO David Bernstein in the statement. “Her work and legacy live on in our work.”
In a statement the day after Ginsburg’s death, leaders from the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis and Women of Reform Judaism said, “Few people have had as long or as profound an impact upon the course of a nation as did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As an attorney, Justice Ginsburg committed herself to advancing women’s rights at a time when women were denied equal access to educational, employment, economic and other opportunities. Such injustice offended Justice Ginsburg as a woman, but also as a Jew.”
“Indeed, she spoke often of the many ways in which her Jewish upbringing and faith shaped her sense of justice, including the discrimination against Jews that was part of life even in her native New York City during her formative years,” continued the leaders.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement on Sunday, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was in her own words ‘a judge, born, raised and proud of being a Jew.’ ”
“Justice Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the high court, sought to apply the values of her faith in seeking equal justice under law and had a lifelong love for Israel,” continued the Jewish umbrella organization. “She is recognized as among the great jurists in modern history. She never ceased to advocate for gender equality while leading the way for women in the legal profession.”
B’nai B’rith said that Ginsburg “was a giant of the Supreme Court, a champion to many women and others as a strong, progressive voice on the court, with a trailblazing judicial presence. She was courageous in her many battles against cancer.”
Jewish Democratic Council of America executive director Halie Soifer said in a statementon Sunday that “Jewish Democrats mourn the enormous loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most influential and powerful Jewish women to serve our nation. Justice Ginsberg embodied Jewish values including a commitment to tikkun olam, and our tradition’s commandment of ‘justice, justice, you shall pursue,’ which hung in her chambers in Hebrew.”
Soifer went on to say that “Ginsburg’s life was dedicated to ensuring equal protection under the law for all Americans, and we are incredibly grateful for her service.”
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg combined stunning moral clarity with acute legal acumen,” said Democratic Majority for Israel in a statement on Sunday. “All Americans owe her a profound debt of gratitude for her moral leadership, for the example she set as the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court, and for her fierce advocacy of gender equality and justice for all.”
“An iconic trailblazer, Justice Ginsburg worked tirelessly and successfully to make our country more just,” continued DMFI. “A strong supporter of Israel and a lifelong Zionist, she spoke of her inspiration from heroes like Emma Lazarus and Henrietta Szold.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition tweeted on Friday, “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazer and a great patriot. We, along with all Americans, mourn her passing. May her memory be a blessing.”
In addition to her two children, Ginsburg is survived by four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She was predeceased by her husband, who died in 2010.
The Algemeiner also quoted our reaction to the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Jewish and pro-Israel groups praising the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for signing historic agreements to normalize relations with Israel.
(September 15, 2020 / JNS) WASHINGTON—Jewish and pro-Israel groups applauded the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for signing historic agreements at the White House on Tuesday to normalize relations with Israel, the first Persian Gulf nations to normalize ties with the Jewish state.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the ceremony “a historic event in the advancement of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.”
“Today’s ceremony sends a clear message that it’s a new era for Israeli-Arab relations. Peace in the region is possible through diplomacy, mutual recognition and negotiation,” said AIPAC. “We hope other nations in the Middle East and the Palestinian leadership will follow this inspiring example to bring conflicts in the region to an end and promote prosperity and cooperation.”
“The historic agreements signed today show that peace is on the march and the so-called Arab-Israeli conflict is increasingly an anachronism. Israel is strong and flourishing, and the Arab world is coming to see the Jewish state not as a foe, but as an ally against Iran and a partner for peace and prosperity,” said Christians United for Israel (CUFI) chairman Pastor John Hagee in a statement. “It is my sincere hope and prayer that other Arab nations will follow the UAE and Bahrain’s lead, and that the Palestinian leadership, in particular, will accept that peace with Israel is the only path forward.”
In a statement, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said that the Abraham Accords “mark the start of a new phase in relations between the Jewish State and the Muslim world. These landmark understandings represent a realignment, a paradigm shift wherein peace is prioritized over conflict. In becoming the third and fourth Arab countries to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel, the UAE and Bahrain lead the way for others to follow.”
President of the American Zionist Movement Richard Heideman told JNS that the occasion was a “historic breakthrough for Israel and her relations with not only the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who have signed agreements today at the White House, but for the future of Israel, Zionism and the Jewish people with all people.”
He added that “we are witnessing another significant achievement on the road to Middle East peace and an important step towards establishing a better day for Israel and all her Arab neighbors. We hope that the day will come when the Palestinian Authority itself will be prepared to achieve a permanent peace with the State of Israel for the benefit of all people in the region.”
Sarah Levin, executive director of JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, expressed to JNS hope that these deals are “a meaningful first step towards warm, active relations between Israel and other countries throughout the Middle East region” in that “peace and normalization should be preferred to the alternative, and this exciting development gives us a renewed feeling of hope and optimism.”
“NORPAC strongly applauds the Abraham Accords signing at the White House. The agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain represent a diplomatic breakthrough for the Middle East and a remarkable achievement in United States diplomacy,” the organization’s executive director, Avi Schranz, told JNS. “These agreements will serve to further halt Iran’s aggression and improve Israel’s security.”
“The Abraham Accords show the world that Jews and Arabs can live, work and grow together in the Middle East,” he continued. “The leaders of Israel, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the UAE have taken this bold step forward, and it’s our sincere hope that this fast-tracks peace in the Middle East between Israel and all Arab neighbors.”
B’nai B’rith International Daniel Mariaschin emphasized to JNS that the “importance of today’s signing ceremony cannot be overstated,” and that the Arab-Israeli conflict “is becoming undone one country at a time. This holds great promise for Israel and its neighbors, but also sends an unmistakable message to those who desire to undermine normalization that the future is not in their hands.”
American Sephardi Federation executive director Jason Guberman told JNS that the signing ceremony “reasserted the classical Middle Eastern values of moderation, pluralism and future-mindedness by recognizing the rightful place of Israel in the region.”
“The Middle East is the heartland of Jewish history, the home to our prophets, historical and holy sites,” he said. “Greater Sephardic Jews, whose roots are in Muslim lands and now constitute more than 50 percent of Israel’s population, were once one of a plethora of peoples who made Cairo, Tyre, Aleppo and Baghdad bustling hubs for trade and innovation.”
‘A potential security risk’
Not all Jewish and pro-Israel groups were as positive about the development.
“While we welcome openings between Israel and Gulf states, we see the signing ceremony for what it is—a recklessly planned foreign-policy stunt driven first and foremost by Trump’s political calculations, and a potential security risk to Israel given Trump’s reported plans to sell advanced fighter jets to the UAE,” said Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, in a statement.
While the Israel-UAE deal calls for cooperation in areas such as tourism, commerce and health care, Israel has objected to the United States giving F-35s to the UAE.
However, in a statement, Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks said that the Emirati and Bahraini normalization deals with Israel demonstrate that “the countries of the region are moving towards real peace with Israel,” and that following “decades of failed diplomacy and bloodshed, the Middle East is at the dawn of a historic moment when Israel and its neighbors will benefit from cooperation in trade, security, technology, and other fields that will make life better for all the peoples of the region.”
Asaf Romirowsky, executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told JNS that the Abraham Accords “debunked” the “conventional orthodoxy of Israeli-Arab relations that all roads must go through Ramallah.”
“For years, standard operating procedure in terms of Israeli-Arab relations in general and for the Palestinians in particular has been rooted in rejectionism and anti-normalization,” he said. “The [Palestine Liberation Organization’s] goal of maintaining the Palestinian question as the essential ingredient to all Israeli-Arab relations has been eroding since 1979.”
Moreover, said Romirowsky, the signing of the accords “should finally convince the Palestinians that notwithstanding their diplomatic temper tantrums, their strategy of insisting that all peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries be conditioned on a prior agreement between the PLO and Israel has failed.”
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