After news broke that the United States government has continued to pay Social Security benefits to Nazi war criminals who left the country willingly before deportation, B'nai B'rith International called for a close in the loophole.
Since moving abroad, these former Nazis have often collected entitlements from the governments of the countries in which they reside. B’nai B’rith urges these governments to cease providing benefits to such individuals and force them to stand trial.
Excerpts from the article in the Washington Free Beacon are below:
Nazi war criminals are still receiving Social Security benefits from the U.S. government despite their past crimes against Jewish people, prompting outrage from numerous Jewish organizations.
“Nazi war criminals who once lived in the United States and faced investigation by the Justice Department continue to collect Social Security payments through a legal loophole, despite having left the country and renounced their U.S. citizenship,” B’nai B’rith International (BBI) wrote in a recent press release calling on Congress to change the law.
“Since moving abroad, these former Nazis have lived undisturbed lives, collecting additional entitlements from the governments of the countries in which they reside,” the group wrote. “B’nai B’rith urges these governments to cease providing benefits to such individuals and force them to stand trial.”
B'nai B'rith International Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels responded to recent allegations of genocide hurled at Israel by the likes of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and comedian Russell Brand.
By placing the history of genocide in perspective, Michaels argues that unfounded accusations of genocide, occupation and apartheid threaten to erode the very real definitions of those terms.
His response appears in the form of an op-ed in the Times of Israel, and appears posted in its entirety below:
Don’t Play Politics With Genocide
At the United Nations, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asserted last month that Israel’s efforts to protect its citizens have amounted to “genocide.”
He did so, in language never remotely reciprocated by Israel, despite well knowing the nature of his current partners in Hamas, which had violently ended Abbas’s rule in Gaza, tossing his loyalists off buildings there.
In 1948, three years after the end of the Holocaust, two events represented a pivotal rejoinder to that most systematic of genocides. The State of Israel was founded – stemming a 2,000-year Jewish exile pervaded by persecution. And the U.N. General Assembly adopted its Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to help ensure that no people would again be subjected to massive violence of the most unprovoked, calculated and indiscriminate kind.
The world body’s adoption of the Genocide Convention was celebrated as a deeply hopeful achievement by Jews. Yale legal scholar Raphael Lemkin – a Jewish émigré who lost nearly his entire family to the Nazi atrocities – coined the term genocide in 1943, defining it as “the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group.” Later, he drafted the Genocide Convention.
While the Holocaust was a distinct event in history, the appeal “never again” must apply to other people as much as it does to Jews.
However, not every loss of life can be labeled genocide. If genocide means everything, it could, dangerously, come to mean nothing.
Some of the world’s worst violators of human rights have an interest in stripping the term genocide of its purpose and potency through misuse.
More generally, ours is an era of stridency and populism, too often lacking nuance. When it comes to the most grave of charges, though, context matters and details matter, concerning both intentions and actions.
Iran pledges Israel’s destruction while illicitly pursuing nuclear capabilities and sustaining the groups, including Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, responsible for perennially forcing Israeli counterterrorism. Despite this, some commentators condemn as overblown any comparison of the Tehran regime to those, historically, who made good on remarkably open threats of monumental aggression.
By contrast, the subjection of Israel to the most inflammatory of rhetoric has again over recent months been met with astounding silence.
Iran’s supposedly moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, accused Israel of a “huge genocide” in Gaza – this from the leader of a government enabling bloodshed in Syria that has claimed far more Arab life in three years than Israel has in sixty-six.
Not given pause by the absence of gas chambers or crematoria, Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Israel has “surpassed Hitler in barbarism.”
And in an interview with the BBC, Hamas’s official spokesman (who, separately, alleged that Jews use Christian blood in matzo) charged Israel with “Nazism.” The allegation was met with a bumbling response from the BBC’s normally opinionated interviewer.
All this is not without consequence. Singular abuse of Israel in international forums creates the distortion that Israel has one of the worst, not one of the best, records as a progressive society.
When 56 U.N. member states – including nearly all of the world’s foremost oil exporters – belong to the Arab and Muslim bloc, a Human Rights Council resolution on Gaza can assail Israel but not even mention Hamas. And, of course, countries deemed to be perpetrating crimes like “apartheid,” genocide and Nazism – all-too-often interchanged – are expected to be dealt with accordingly.
If Israel has intended apartheid, it has proven mind-bogglingly inept, having created the freest and most pluralistic society in the Middle East in the face of relentless warfare.
And if Israel has intended genocide, it is among history’s most abysmal failures. Despite its military abilities, the population of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs has multiplied dramatically, even as the number of Jews, Christians and other minorities has tellingly plummeted elsewhere in the region.
After the genocides of the last century, there were among the victims no “victory” parades, as there were in Gaza after the latest hostilities. There was silence.
And during past genocides, there were no refusals of ceasefires by the beleaguered or pledges of new violence, as by Gaza’s factions – typically because the victims were not doing the firing.
Notably, despite the rush to equate Israel with Hamas in indiscriminate fire, males of fighting age appear to have been the most overrepresented group among recent Palestinian casualties in Gaza, the overwhelming majority of which went untargeted by Israel.
These facts, though, don’t suffice to penetrate international politics. Not in an age when a pop culture personality like Russell Brand can smugly invoke Israeli “occupation” in questioning Hamas’s categorization as a terrorist movement. No matter that Israel, which has supported a two-state peace, completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005 – and that if Jews lack even a right to exist in their historic homeland then Brand would hardly have a right to legitimately reside anywhere.
The British funnyman even likened Hamas to Gandhi – a comparison that might be worth discussing if not for Gandhi’s insistence upon non-violence, and the fact that Gandhi never aspired to the obliteration of Britain itself.
The continuing Arab-Israeli conflict has unquestionably claimed all too many lives, and those losses are heartrending. But not all loss of life constitutes murder, let alone genocide.
In the 1940s, in the face of a fascist onslaught, Britons and others responded, despite the heavy toll, not with complacency but with the necessary force.
Today, an array of countries is committed to combating such groups as Boko Haram, al-Shabab, Jemaah Islamiyah, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS.
As Palestinians again threaten to take Israel to the International Criminal Court over its struggle against fanatics deliberately operating among, and targeting, non-combatants, we must consider the implications of precluding counterterrorism by recklessly mislabeling it as genocide.
Shortly after releasing the statement, Sears reached out with a formal statement of its own, apologizing for the situation and vowing to do more moving forward.
Read highlights of the news coverage, below (video story begins at 3:45 mark):
B'nai B'rith International was featured on JBS (formerly Shalom TV), announcing the recognition of Berta Davidovitz Rubinsztejn and Gyorgy (Yitzhak) Gyuri with the Jewish Rescuers Citation.
The pair posed as Gentiles during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, rescuing Jewish children orphaned by the Holocaust and securing their escape to neutral Switzerland.
The honors will be presented by the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ).
The story begins at the 4:44 mark in the video:
For 25 years, B'nai B'rith International has proudly served as the North American sponsor for the Yom Hashoah program "Unto Every Person There Is A Name."
While much of the coverage has centered on ceremonies in the United States, one very special ceremony took place on the steps of city hall in Montreal, Canada.
Read an excerpt of the story printed in The Suburban, and click through to the full story below:
B’nai Brith Canada held its annual ceremony on the steps of Montreal city hall Monday to remember the individual victims of the Holocaust.
Dignitaries, led by Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, read the names of the victims. Six candles representing the six million Jews killed by the Nazis were lit by St. Laurent councillor Maurice Cohen and Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand; Côte St. Luc councillors Dida Berku and Mitchell Brownstein; Hampstead mayor William Steinberg and wife Doris; Côte des Neiges/NDG mayor Russell Copeman and councillor Lionel Perez, and Pierrefonds-Roxboro mayor Jim Beis; Outremont councillor Mindy Pollak; and D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum.
They, and Project Montréal leader Richard Bergeron, also read names.
Harvey Levine, Quebec regional director of B’nai Brith Canada, said the purpose of the ceremony is to make sure the victims of the Holocaust are never forgotten.
“We also recall all of the non-Jewish victims of the Nazis,” he added. “B’nai Brith commemorates ‘unto every person there is a name’ in the hope it will strengthen the memory and the bond between past and present intended to combat ignorance, indifference and denial of the Holocaust, and to unite the community to fight anti-Semitism and racism.”
On Yom Hashoah, hundreds gathered at the B'nai B'rith Martyrs' Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza in Jerusalem for a ceremony of remembrance. This year's focus was on rescue activities of Jonas Eckstein (1902-1971) who was an active member of the Jewish community and saved countless Jews from the atrocities of the Holocaust.
The gallery below is courtesy of B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem:
On Yom Hashoah, thousands of college students from hundreds of chapters of Alpha Epsilon Pi joined in the day of remembrance with recitations of the names of Holocaust victims and silent walks around campus.
These observances, created by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, honor more victims each year, as the project collects more names.
B’nai B’rith International observed Holocaust Remembrance Day with its annual program “Unto Every Person There is a Name,” now in its 25th year. B’nai B’rith is the official North American sponsor of the program under the auspices of Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust Museum and research center in Jerusalem.
The gallery below is courtesy of B'nai B'rith Austin, AEPi at UT and Texas Hillel, who held their 24-hour ceremony at the foot of the iconic University of Texas Tower.
While attendance at these ceremonies on college campuses has grown dramatically in recent years, there are also adult communities that still participate in the Yom Hashoah recitation of names.
From the Detroit area chapter of B'nai B'rith International, a gallery from the Yom Hashoah ceremonies:
B'nai B'rith International World Center in Jerusalem was featured on Shalom TV Daily News for the commemoration ceremony on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day/Yom Hashoah.
The event took place at the B'nai B'rith Martyrs' Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza, and memorializes the Holocaust rescue activities of Jonas Eckstein (1902-1971), who was an active member of the Jewish community.
The story begins at the 1:28 mark in the video:
The following post is an excerpt from the op-ed piece that appeared in The Times of Israel, written by Alan Schneider, Director of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem.
Schneider discusses Yom Hashoah ceremony, commemorating the heroic efforts of Jonas Eckstein to save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.
Schneider notes that while the Holocaust will remain one of the darkest hours of human history, it is time to focus on the stories of heroism that prevented further atrocities.
To read Schneider's full op-ed, click here:
Yona (Jonas) Eckstein (1902-1971) was an active member of the Jewish community in Bratislava and a successful wrestler in the “Hakoach” Jewish sport club there.
Through his sporting activities and vivacious personality Eckstein befriended city officials and police, and when the Jews of Bratislava were being rounded up for deportation in 1941, Eckstein was charged with providing food to Jews in the transit camps and was given the privilege of remaining in his own home.
But Eckstein did not take advantage of his relative freedom and good connections to escape to a safe heaven. Instead, he utilized them to facilitate rescue activities of fellow Jews that endangered himself and his family.
His diverse activity touched thousands of people over a period of two and half years, encompassing the clandestine delivery of food to hidden Jews along with information vital for their survival; hosting orphans from Poland and facilitating their conveyance to pre-state Israel via Hungary; hosting Jews who fled to Slovakia from Auschwitz; hosting and conveying Polish Jews to the then-relative safety of Hungary; and hiding Jews in bunkers – including one he dug under his own basement.
Eckstein was imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo and pressured by Jewish leaders to hand over hidden Jews. Many of the operations undertaken by Jonas Eckstein were done in the framework of the Jewish community and the “Working Group” headed by Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl and Gisi Fleischmann, but most of his activity was undertaken at his own initiative.
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