Jewish Insider noted, along with other Jewish organizations, our call for members of the U.S. Congress to sign a letter to the U.N. secretary general urging increased transparency and accountability over UNRWA curricula.
The Biden administration announced Wednesday it would provide at least $235 million in aid to the Palestinians, reversing a decision by former President Donald Trump to halt U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority and organizations that provide services and support to Palestinians.
Wednesday’s announcement follows a series of quiet steps taken by the administration in recent weeks to restore aid to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.
Approximately $150 million of the total aid will be distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the U.N. agency tasked with dealing with Palestinian refugees. UNRWA has drawn criticism numerous times in recent months for distributing learning materials to Palestinian students that glorified militants and promoted violence against Israelis.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Gilad Erdan promptly criticized the administration for restoring aid to UNRWA, which he said “should not exist in its current form.”
“In conversations with the U.S. State Department, I have expressed my disappointment and objection to the decision to renew UNRWA’s funding without first ensuring that certain reforms, including stopping the incitement and removing antisemitic content from its educational curriculum are carried out,” Erdan said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said at his Wednesday press briefing that reinstating aid to UNRWA puts the U.S. in a better position to address issues including the organization’s neutrality, accountability and approach to education.
“By resuming this assistance today… we have a seat at the table. We can help drive UNRWA in the ways that we think it is in our interest and consistent with our values to do. Obviously, there are areas where we would like to see reform,” Price said. “We will continue to be in a position, an even greater position to drive and to steer UNRWA in a direction that we think is productive and useful with this step today.”
Republican opposition on Capitol Hill to the administration’s announcement was also swift. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) accused the administration of “support of pay to slay,” referencing the Palestinian Authority’s payments to the families of individuals who have carried out terror attacks on Israelis. Graham was an original cosponsor of the Taylor Force Act, which bans U.S. aid to the PA until it halts such payments.
“I am deeply troubled by recent decisions from the Biden administration to turn a blind eye to behavior by the Palestinian Authority,” Graham said in a statement. “Recent decisions by the State Department to provide funding for projects in the West Bank come close to violating the provisions of the Taylor Force Act… A willingness to make concessions to the Palestinians without demanding anything in return is deeply troubling and should worry us all.”
Price insisted Wednesday the aid is “absolutely consistent” with U.S. law, adding that the U.S. had consulted with both members of Congress and regional stakeholders before the announcement.
“We provide assistance in the West Bank and Gaza through experienced and trusted independent partners on the ground, and it’s these partners who distribute directly to people in need, not through government or de facto government authorities,” Price said. “Our development partners in the West Bank and Gaza have aggressive risk mitigation systems in place.”
Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and another original cosponsor of the Taylor Force Act, issued a joint statement denouncing the decision with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The two Republicans argued that Biden should have secured concessions from the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA before providing aid.
“The Biden administration should use all available leverage to secure behavior changes from the Palestinian Authority, including ending terror payments,” Risch and McCaul said. “We will continue to scrutinize every proposed program to ensure the administration’s actions are in lockstep with the Taylor Force Act.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), an original cosponsor of Taylor Force in the House, similarly criticized the administration for failing to address the issue of payments to terrorists in its announcement. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is currently circulating a letter among Senate Republicans calling on Biden to put the aid on hold, citing concerns that it violates Taylor Force and other U.S. laws, the Associated Pressreported Wednesday.
The administration’s move also comes amid renewed action on Capitol Hill to crack down on UNRWA- and PA-sponsored education programs. A bipartisan group of House members led by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) reintroduced legislation on Monday mandating State Department reports on the content of curricula distributed to children in the Palestinian territories.
Ilan Goldenberg, a senior fellow and director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, suggested that the administration and UNRWA “will be negotiating an understanding of the terms of their relationship” that includes “incitement and antisemitism in UNRWA schools.” Goldenberg added that withdrawing all aid “got [the U.S.] no influence or real change.”
A group of Jewish organizations, including Hadassah, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith, the Orthodox Union, the Zionist Organization of America and Christians United for Israel began calling on members of Congress to sign a letter to the U.N. secretary general calling for increased transparency and accountability over UNRWA curricula on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the administration’s announcement.
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.
B'nai B'rith International joined a chorus of Jewish organizations that voiced displeasure at a recent Vatican's move on the recognition of a "State of Palestine.”
In follow-up analysis, B'nai B'rith Director of United Nations Affairs David Michaels examined the history of the terminology, noting that the Vatican has made prior references to the "State of Palestine," and concluding that the move, while disappointing, is unlikely to affect Israelis or Palestinians.
Read media coverage from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on B'nai B'rith's statement on the Vatican:
A May 13 announcement on an agreement regarding the functioning of the church in areas under Palestinian control raised eyebrows in its reference to the “State of Palestine.”
The upset was compounded by confusion over whether Pope Francis, in a meeting over the weekend with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, praised him as an “angel of peace” or urged him to attain that vaunted status. On Tuesday, a Vatican spokesman said it was “very clear” that the pope was “encouraging a commitment to peace.”
But the Vatican’s shift from terming its Palestinian partner as the Palestine Liberation Organization — the designation Israel accepts — to calling it Palestine comports with a shift in Europe toward accommodating Palestinian statehood aspirations, the Jewish officials said.
Daniel Mariaschin, the director of B’nai B’rith International, said the recognition of Palestine raised concerns, but they must be seen in the context of an increased willingness in Europe to recognize Palestinian statehood and not of Jewish-Catholic relations.
He likened it to the French and British parliaments recent nonbinding recognition of Palestine and Sweden’s decision to recognize Palestinian statehood.
“It’s important, I won’t dismiss it, but it shouldn't be seen outside that broader context,” Mariaschin said. “It raises the expectations of Palestinians to un-meetable levels and frustrates the Israelis who say we can’t get a fair deal in the international community.”
"Those who commit horrific acts of terrorism and those who sponsor such evil must be held accountable and this decision sends a very strong and timely message. In an era of rising terrorism, this brave verdict sets a legal and moral standard for the often onerous pursuit of justice against perpetrators.
"Moreover, this verdict is a symbolic victory for the families of those Americans killed by the PA and the PLO in the past, such as the U.S. Ambassador to Sudan Cleo Noel, Jr., who was taken hostage and shot by PLO militants in 1973."
The following letter was sent to the editor at Reuters, following their publication of an article entitled “Palestinian woman stabs Israeli, shot by security forces.”
To the Editor:
From top to bottom, “Palestinian woman stabs Israeli, shot by security forces” follows Reuters ongoing bias against Israel.
Starting with your carefully crafted headline, Reuters displays a false equivalence between the Palestinian terrorist who attacked an Israeli civilian and the fate of the attacker.
Through your selective memory, you are fueling a false narrative of Israel oppressing Palestinians, with no regard for relentless terror attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists.
This story fits in with a long-standing Reuters narrative, casting Israel as the aggressor and Palestinians as victims. Where is any mention of the recent spate of attacks on Jews at train stations and street corners? Where is a recap of the four rabbis murdered as they prayed at a synagogue last month by axe-toting terrorists? Where is discussion of constant Palestinian incitement?
This summer, Israel embarked on a defensive military operation, launched in the aftermath of relentless Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. But the Reuters narrative omits that fact and focuses on a false game of casualty counting.
As a global news agency, Reuters has a powerful platform. Unfortunately, it continues to shape global public opinion according to its own narrative rather than the facts.
Allan J. Jacobs Daniel S. Mariaschin
B’nai B’rith International President B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President
B'nai B'rith International contacted The Heinz Endowments, expressing dismay and deep concern over a grant previously given to Pittsburgh eatery Conflict Kitchen, which has served anti-Israel propaganda to diners as part of it's "Palestine" campaign.
The Heinz Foundation responded, denouncing the kitchen's current campaign and clarifying the timing of its one-time $50,000 grant (given in 2013).
The release was covered in articles run on The Algemeiner and the Jewish News Service. Read highlights from those reports, below:
Shalom TV Daily News featured B'nai B'rith International's condemnation of the newly sworn in Fatah-Hamas unity Palestinian government, emphasizing the organization's call for Congress to review Palestinian aid that will now fund a known terrorist organization.
B'nai B'rith International has stood alongside Israel in denouncing the inclusion of Hamas in Israeli-Palestinian relations, stating that it "creates an irreconcilable obstacle to restarting negotiations."
Read the full statement here.The story begins at the 4:00 mark in the video:
Despite its charter’s solemn affirmation of “the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small,” the United Nations is the home of singular mistreatment for one member state, Israel, whose commitment to equality can rival that of virtually any country in the world.
The mistreatment of Israel manifests itself in myriad ways. A permanent Human Rights Council agenda item is dedicated to singling out Israel, alone among nations, for hostile scrutiny.
A U.N. “special rapporteur” is dedicated to publicizing only Israel’s alleged faults. In the case of the last person to hold that position, he overtly promoted economic warfare against Israel.
At least three entire U.N. bureaucratic bodies are dedicated to the worldwide advancement of Palestinian political goals and an anti-Israel narrative that is as simplistic as it is vile.
A permanent Human Rights Council agenda item is dedicated to singling out Israel alone for hostile scrutiny.The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) routinely lambastes Israel over, for example, its stewardship of holy sites in Jerusalem (a setting, for all its challenges, of exceptional multi-religious vibrancy in the Middle East).
At the very same time, that agency – which Palestinians exploited by pressing for status as a “member state,” in order to evade direct peace negotiations with Israel – recklessly politicizes sacred places by recasting landmarks like Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as Palestinian and primarily Islamic.
Now, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is again threatening to expand his “internationalization of the conflict” with Israel by unilaterally enlarging Palestinians’ foothold in U.N. bodies that can then serve as political weapons against the Jewish state.
Although U.N. officials, like Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, should be expected to exercise principled leadership by speaking out unequivocally against all these abuses, such abuses are often driven by the U.N. voting membership, comprised in considerable part of Arab and aligned states. In the many areas where politics – not any sense of just, meaningful policymaking – carry the day, it is politics rather than rejection of discrimination that will prevail.
Sometimes, though, leaders like Ban are positioned to do more than raise objections. At times, they can, and must, implement actual changes for the sake of the U.N.’s own institutional credibility.
A case such as this is before us now, when a member of Ban’s own senior management team, Under-Secretary-General Rima Khalaf, is openly complicit not only in deplorable propagandizing against one nation in the international community, Israel, but also in demonstrating how effortlessly anti-Zionist incitement slides into anti-Jewish terrain.
In February, Khalaf, who serves as executive secretary of the U.N.’s Beirut-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, was in Tunisia to herald the release of a 310-page ESCWA report, “Arab Integration: A 21st Century Development Imperative.” Although the document’s name, size and official provenance would suggest a serious and forward-looking treatment of challenges in an Arab world beset by extensive political crisis and human suffering, the report represents yet one more misuse of vital resources to whitewash complexity and defer reconciliation.
It manages to invoke Israel over 150 times – yet, in decrying Israeli defense efforts and control of (some) Arab-claimed territory, there is not one mention of Hamas and Hezbollah, lethal terrorist movements that are directly responsible for these realities.
Although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has killed more Arab citizens in three years than any Israelis have since the development of modern Zionism well over 100 years ago, he too goes unmentioned.
And Iran, whose war with Iraq claimed as many as one million lives and whose aggressive nuclear pursuit has (rightly) alarmed Arab leaders like little else has, gets negligible attention.
By contrast, Israel is charged with posing a “nuclear threat” and a vague conspiracy to “divide the region into sectarian mini-States.”
Indeed, in all six instances where the grave crime of “ethnic cleansing” is alleged, it is democratic Israel – whose Muslim and Christian populations have risen continuously, in contrast to Jews and Christians elsewhere in the Middle East – that is the report’s target. And the report – which affords no attention to the dozens of countries whose state religion is, for instance, Islam – libelously claims that Israel has sought to be an “exclusive” Jewish country, thus promoting “the religious or ethnic purity of states, a concept that inflicted on humanity the worst crimes of the last century.”
As if this wasn't enough, the report also asserts that Adolf Hitler partnered with Zionism – whose supposed purpose was not to alleviate exile from a sole ancestral homeland but to “introduce an alien Jewish community in the heart of the Arab world.”
Further adding insult to injury, Khalaf’s report mentions not once but three times Israeli aspirations to “Judaize” Jerusalem – when “Judaizing” Jerusalem,Yerushalayim, would be virtually akin to “Islamicizing” Mecca.
None of this is to say that the ESCWA report could not have made a constructive contribution – and this is precisely the point: By trafficking in slurs that are tired but still incendiary, Khalaf’s organization condemns not merely Israelis but also her own Arab constituency to a future no better than the past. In turn, she helps to mire the United Nations in a place not simply of irrelevance but of malignance.
Last November, Ban visited Auschwitz. There, he said: “Never again.… For our shared future, let us embrace our common duty as members of the human family to build a world of peace, justice, equality and human dignity for all.”
These were fitting words from the chief executive of the United Nations, which itself rose from the ashes of the Holocaust.
Increasingly, however, some in the international community have embraced denunciation of historical acts of hate while disregarding Jews’ continuing struggle to exist in the very heart of Jewish civilization across time, Israel. Palestinian leader Abbas recently conceded the enormity of the Holocaust – only to then announce partnership with Hamas, which denies both that historic genocide and Israelis’ right to live today.
While truly important, no commemoration of the Holocaust can compensate for abetting new expressions of demonization and delegitimization. The U.N. secretary-general has an opportunity to start ridding his house – our collective house – of prejudice by beginning with his own cabinet.
Derelict in upholding the founding values of the United Nations, Rima Khalaf’s role should be assumed by someone else: someone offering Arabs, as well as their neighbors, a better way forward.
El presidente de la B'nai B'rith Mundial, Allan Jacobs, y el vicepresidente y CEO, Daniel Mariaschin, llegaron a Uruguay en la noche del martes y hoy partieron a Chile. Pero en tan solo 24 horas mantuvieron reuniones con el vicepresidente Danilo Astori, los expresidentes Jorge Batlle y Luis Alberto Lacalle, la comisión de Relaciones Exteriores de la Cámara de Diputados y la comunidad judía en Uruguay.
El objetivo fue transmitir su "preocupación" y "decepción" por el acercamiento de Uruguay a Palestina. En los últimos meses el país votó a favor del ingreso de Palestina a la ONU por considerar que es un Estado más.
"Tenemos que ser coherentes con lo que ya hemos hecho, que es el reconocimiento a Palestina", resaltó el canciller Almagro en Nueva York. A esto se suma una visita oficial de Almagro a Palestina y el anuncio de la instalación de embajadas en Ramala y Montevideo.
Astori escuchó ayer a Jacobs y Mariaschin y, según supo El País, le transmitió que Uruguay es un país que desea "la solución pacífica de las controversias sin poner en peligro las relaciones amistosas que tiene con todos los países del mundo". La B`nai B`rith transmitió también su preocupación por la posible llegada de prisioneros de Guantánamo a Uruguay y el antisemitismo mundial. A continuación un extracto de una entrevista de El País con Mariaschin.
-¿Cómo está actualmente la relación entre Israel y Uruguay?
-Tradicionalmente fue buena pero hay votos de Uruguay en la ONU que nos han decepcionado porque van en dirección contraria al buen relacionamiento que tenemos.
-¿Hay preocupación por esas decisiones de Uruguay?
-Sí, porque mientras que los palestinos sientan que la comunidad internacional los apoya en cada una de sus posiciones, no van a negociar y van a estar menos inclinados a dar las concesiones que son necesarias para un acuerdo. Los palestinos necesitan un mensaje: vengan a la mesa de negociaciones, negocien con Israel, Israel va a negociar con ustedes para llegar a un acuerdo.
The e-mail invitation from the United Nations Division on Palestinian Rights (DPR) began with a genial “Dear Friends” salutation, and the writer noting “the pleasure” of inviting our organization “to participate in the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Jerusalem,” taking place now in Ankara, Turkey.
The gathering is being sponsored by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the government of Turkey. The invitation noted that the theme of the two-day conference is “Strengthening international support for a just and lasting solution of the question of Jerusalem.” As an accredited non-governmental organization, we were on the invitation list.
We won’t be attending.
Innocuous as this gathering may sound, will there really be an open conversation? Both the Division and the Committee were established by the UN in the wake of the infamous Zionism= Racism resolution, which itself followed on Yasser Arafat’s appearance before the UN General Assembly in 1974. Together with another body, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, these committees serve as an in-house public relations operation for the Palestinian side in the conflict with Israel. Year-in and year-out, the General Assembly – now, by rote – routinely approves the funding for this operation, now amounting to over $6 million.
If they are really serious about investing in peace and not perpetuating conflict and hatred, they’d direct the $6m. to economic empowerment projects, like micro-financing for women-owned businesses.
On its website, the CEIRPP states that together with the DPR, the “secretariat” for Palestinian matters, the General Assembly “has gradually expanded the Committee’s mandate.” Indeed, the DPR is the only bureau in the UN’s Secretariat to be dedicated solely to one group, sitting aside, as it does, bodies devoted to geographically- based divisions for Africa, the Americas, Asia and Pacific, Europe, Middle East and West Asia.
The CEIRPP spends its time and funding on conferences like the one coming soon in Turkey, and photo exhibitions that regularly depict Israel as a heartless occupier and worse. No surprise there, because the committee exists only to exacerbate and prolong the conflict, not support or contribute to its amelioration.
You would not have found it on the sidelines cheering on the just-ended Kerry initiative, or out there calling now for a quick resumption of negotiations. It feeds on, and festers over the historic Palestinian narrative, with no time-out for reality checks along the way.
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