B’nai B’rith International is honored to have co-sponsored a visit to Israel by ambassadors to the United Nations and the United States, led by Ambassador Gilad Erdan, along with the American Zionist Movement and March of the Living.
See how media outlets covered the visit:
Enlace Judio (Spanish)
Erdan Guía a Embajadores Internacionales en Gira Por Israel
i24 News (French)
L'ambassadeur d'Israël à l'ONU Organise un Voyage Pour Ses Homologues du Monde Entier en Terre Sainte
Ambassadors Tour Israel to Better Comprehend Its Multifaceted Security Challenges
(Also in Israel Hayom)
The Jerusalem Post (English)
Erdan: We’ll Defend our Right to Jerusalem Against Hamas Lies
The Jerusalem Post (English)
Ambassadors to U.S. and U.N. Meeting with Herzog
The Jerusalem Post (English)
Texas Looking Into Divestment From Unilever Over Ben & Jerry’s Boycott
The Jerusalem Post (English)
Bennett on Ben & Jerry’s: Boycotting Israel Will Be Bad Business Decision
The Times of Israel (English)
Erdan leads international ambassadors to US and UN on tour of Israel
The Times of Israel (English)
Lapid Meets with Delegation of International Ambassadors to U.S. and U.N.
The Times of Israel (French)
Gilad Erdan Accompagne 26 Ambassadeurs en Israël
Major American Jewish Organizations Urge Biden to Send More COVID Vaccines to India Before Third Wave
The Algemeiner noted B'nai B'rith International as one of the major American Jewish organizations urging the U.S. administration (in a letter sent by the Conference of Presidents) to immediately provide surplus vaccine doses to India ahead of a third wave.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations transmitted an open letter to the White House on Tuesday calling on the Biden administration to immediately provide surplus vaccine doses to India.
The letter, sent to White House chief of staff Ron Klain and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, was signed by 22 Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, and the Zionist Organization of America.
Citing the devastation India has recently experienced due to the “Delta variant” of COVID-19, the letter asserted, “As India emerges from this latest wave, there is a crucial window of time available. It is imperative that India be given the opportunity to vaccinate as much of its population as possible in order to avoid future and further catastrophe.”
The letter noted that the US has a stockpile of the Astra Zeneca vaccine that will likely not be distributed and could easily be transferred to India.
“We urge the administration to rapidly allocate an additional and greatly increased share of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to India,” the signatories said. “It is essential that the world’s largest democracy be provided the opportunity to stave off another disaster.”
“The Indian government came to the aid of the United States in its time of need during the first wave of Spring 2020 and has been a stalwart ally and friend,” the letter pointed out. “So too, the four million strong Indian expatriate community plays an integral role through United States society.”
“We believe that an enhanced US allocation of valuable COVID-19 vaccines to India would be an enormous boon to a democracy that has been ravaged by disease and is in danger of facing another wave,” it concluded.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Fusfield as part of its reporting on Jewish organizations pushing the U.S. administration to swiftly appoint a White House Jewish liaison and nominate a Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism at the State Department.
(June 22, 2021 / JNS) For months, Jewish organizations in the United States have been lobbying to appoint a White House Jewish liaison. And after numerous meetings between Jewish organizational leaders and administration officials when violence erupted last month between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip—followed by a wave of anti-Semitic attacks—that role and that of the State Department Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism have yet to be filled.
Most who spoke to JNS said that it was a matter of days or weeks before appointments are made, although they declined to speculate on particular nominees.
Jewish issues have gained a new urgency after first taking a back seat to other concerns—namely, the coronavirus pandemic and the distribution of vaccines in the five months since the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden.
Eric Fusfield, director of legislative affairs for B’nai B’rith International, said in addition to the Mideast conflict in May, concerns include the Iranian nuclear threat and ongoing discussions towards U.S. re-entry into a deal, Israel’s new leadership and, just this week, new Iranian leadership in the form of President-elect Ebrahim Raisi. American Jewish organizations want to make the White House aware of its opinions to make sure the U.S.-Israel relationship remains strong, as well as address how Jews are being treated in the United States.
“Our community is feeling some urgency right now about several things in particular, like combating anti-Semitism, because anti-Semitism in this country has taken a very disturbing turn lately, with more violence against Jewish individuals and institutions,” said Fusfield.
The liaison’s position, he said, serves as a focal point for Jewish organizations to contact the White House to make sure their message is heard by those who have the power to augment change.
While he said that every administration has a settling-in period where it works to nominate individuals for key positions, the six-month window is approaching, and the Jewish community is experiencing urgent needs.
“We need a mailing address for voicing our concerns, and the liaison fills that need for us,” he said. “We’re feeling a great deal of anxiety about certain issues right now, and having a conduit in the administration would help further communication and help us get our point across.”
Read the full article on JNS.org.
The Algemeiner included B'nai B'rith International's response to the U.S. administration's decision of continuing not to attend any events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the infamous Durban Declaration in its roundup of responses from Jewish and pro-Israel organizations.
Leading Jewish organizations welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to stick to the US policy of not attending any events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration in September due to their “anti-Israel sentiment.”
A US State Department spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post Monday that the US would not take part in planned Durban anniversary events, saying that it “remains deeply committed to combating antisemitism at home and abroad. Furthermore, the United States stands with Israel and has always shared its concerns over the Durban process’s anti-Israel sentiment — used as a forum for antisemitism and freedom of expression issues.”
Commenting on the decision, B’nai B’rith International said it “salutes the US administration for taking a principled decision, like its predecessors, to deny legitimacy to a UN framework that purports to fight prejudice but is fundamentally marred by it.”
“The 2001 conference was poisoned by manifestations of virulent anti-Zionism and open antisemitism. We urge all countries of goodwill to do similarly — and we will continue to insist that all forms of hate, including those targeting Jews, not be given a platform by foremost international institutions,” B’nai B’rith stated.
The UN is scheduled to hold a special “Durban IV” event on Sept. 22 to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, from which the US and Israel previously withdrew over objections of anti-Zionism. Israel was singled out from the Durban conference declaration and was depicted as being racist and as committing “crimes against humanity,” “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and “genocide” against the Palestinians.
“Kudos for rejecting hate. The 2001 Durban Conference was an orgy of hate so vile that the US and Israel pulled out in disgust,” Avi Mayer, Managing Director of Global Communications at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), tweeted in response to the US decision. “It was so bad that even the UN’s Mary Robinson, who chaired it, said there was ‘horrible antisemitism present.'”
New York, NY, May 5th, 2021 . . . Dianne Lob, Chair, William Daroff, CEO, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, issued the following statement:
“We applaud the Biden Administration’s decision to refuse to participate in commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, which openly embraced antisemitism and anti-Israel extremism.
Michal Cotler-Wunsh, a former member of Knesset for Israel’s Blue and White Party, said: “Durban was the ecosystem for declared escalation in the war waged on Israel, weaponizing international law and it’s institutions. The orchestrated, systematic implementation of this strategy threatens not only Israel, but shared values and foundations of democracy and human rights.”
“In declining to participate in celebratory events, the United States is rightfully rejecting the despicable hatred that was leveled against the Jewish State and the Jewish people twenty years ago. We encourage other nations to join the US in continuing to fight racism, bigotry, and antisemitism, while rejecting and not participating in such odious proceedings,” said Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chair Dianne Lob, CEO William Daroff, and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein, in a statement.
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.
Jewish Insider quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in a roundup of Jewish leaders raising preliminary concerns about President Joe Biden's United Nations policies.
Earlier this month, the United Nations agency tasked with working with Palestinians said it mistakenly issued textbooks that call for jihad, or holy war, against Israel. The agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said it was “taking steps” to address their glorification of “martyrs” and calls for “jihad.”
UNRWA issued the apology after the Jerusalem-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education – IMPACT-se released a report analyzing Palestinian textbooks that are used by hundreds of thousands of students in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Biden administration is expected to move to restore funding to the Palestinians, aid the Trump administration withdrew in September 2018. The move would be consistent with Biden’s pledge to “repair our alliances and engage the world once more,” but Jewish leaders and others are looking on with caution, hoping the new administration does not repeat what some believe were mistakes of the past.
Among their concerns is President Joe Biden’s explicit pledge to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council and “work to ensure that body truly lives up to its values,” as the president said in a December 2019 statement commemorating the United Nations’ Human Rights Day.
Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, told Jewish Insider that his organization hopes that the Biden administration “will work assiduously to eliminate bias against Israel in New York and in the various U.N. agencies, particularly the U.N. Human Rights Council.”
The Geneva-based council routinely “devotes a separate agenda item, number seven, to Israel alone while all other countries, including the worst tyrannies, are lumped together in a different agenda item,” observed David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee.
Harris said that when it comes to U.N. agencies, “the Biden administration can be expected to take a more collegial, less adversarial approach than the Trump team. That said, it needs to be done with issues of fairness and equal treatment in mind, which is certainly not the case, say, when it comes to our ally, Israel, and its treatment.”
The council was created in 2006 to replace the U.N. Human Rights Commission, which had come under international criticism for including member nations that were themselves human rights abusers. The administration of President George W. Bush did not support its creation and kept its U.N. ambassador off the council because of concerns the U.S. might not get elected. (In 2001, the U.S. was defeated in its bid to join the old commission.) Countries with lesser human rights records were elected to the body and helped to set the standards in the council’s early years.
That changed in 2009, when President Barack Obama chose to participate in the council, maintaining that states should “uphold the highest standards” of human rights. The U.S. was the first elected to the council that year. Nine years later, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the council. Nikki Haley, then the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., cited its “chronic bias against Israel,” and noted that the U.S. had repeatedly threatened to leave the 47-member body unless it made reforms. She said it had failed to make necessary changes and called it a “cesspool of political bias” that “makes a mockery of human rights.”
With the Biden administration set on rejoining the council — whose membership has included dictatorial regimes and some of the world’s worst human rights violators — the question is whether it “will it be able to enact reforms,” said Gerald Steinberg, a professor of politics at Bar Ilan University and founder and president of NGO Monitor, a policy analysis think tank focusing on non-governmental organizations.
“A huge part of [the council’s] budget is used for bogus investigations of Israel,” he said. “It’s not realistic to expect the administration and a Democratic Congress will meet the hopes of Israelis on these points, but if they are sensitive to them, it will put down some markers in terms of the use of these institutions to demonize Israel.”
Similar concerns were voiced by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a human rights NGO and U.N. watchdog based in Geneva.
“It will require an enormous amount of effort to get them to do good things,” he said of the council. “But its anti-Israel agenda, its commissions of inquiry against Israel and its blacklist against Israel were unstoppable by both Democrats and Republicans. It is anti-Israel. UN Watch does not object to the U.S. entering the council.”
“We think it could be a force for good,” Neuer continued, “but it has to fight and call out the abuses and double standards and antisemitism. I’m concerned because the Obama administration did try to do good things at the council, but unfortunately became a cheerleader for the council. We hope the Biden administration does not make the same mistakes.”
Regarding UNRWA, the AJC’s Harris said it too has had a “persistent problem of incitement and hatred in their schools and other facilities. American re-engagement [with UNRWA] must also focus determinedly on ending these practices, which, let’s be clear, undermine the integrity of the world body.”
Some 5 million Palestinian refugees are said to rely on UNRWA to provide funding for their schools, healthcare and social services. The U.S. had long been the largest funder of UNRWA, pledging about one-third of the agency’s $1.1 billion annual budget. At the time Trump withdrew funding (which included cutting $200 million from UNRWA’s main development agency, USAID), the former president said he did not want the U.S. to continue to “shoulder the disproportionate cost” of the organization and called upon the Palestinians to return to peace talks with Israel. The move was also seen by some as an attempt to delegitimize the refugee status of some Palestinians and their descendants.
Although UNRWA has looked to other nations to fund its operations, it announced two months ago that its funding has largely dried up and that it would soon be unable to pay its 28,000 staffers and contractors who work in Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere. Elizabeth Campbell, director of UNRWA’s Washington office, has been quoted as saying she believes the Biden administration will come to her organization’s rescue, noting that Vice President Kamala Harris has said the Biden administration would restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians.
Neuer said his organization is also concerned that the Biden administration “might consider restoring funding to UNRWA despite the fact the organization is fundamentally hostile to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. It’s fine to send money to Palestinians, but the U.S. should not be funding an agenda” that promotes the idea that 2 million Palestinians living in Jordan “should have Israeli citizenship… I hope it does not fund it.”
Mariaschin of B’nai B’rith noted that the 71-year-old agency “has for decades raised three generations of Palestinian children on hatred of Israel and hatred of Jews. It is an organization that promises the Palestinians that all refugees and their descendants will be able to return to what is now the State of Israel.”
“If we are going to move the meter on any kind of peaceful arrangement in the region,” Mariaschin cautioned, “UNRWA cannot continue business as usual — engaging in this kind of education of hate, the promotion of hatred and the insistent demand that Palestinians be able to return in the millions to the State of Israel. That is a non-starter.”
“People in the administration and in Congress want to undo everything and signal to the Palestinians that their support network is being restored under the Democratic administration,” said NGO Monitor’s Steinberg. “The question is whether enough lessons have been learned. Just last week a detailed report was released that found that UNRWA’s education system was used for incitement. They found in a new textbook support for jihad. When asked about it, they said they had made a mistake.”
Questions have also been raised about how UNRWA spends its money, Steinberg said, noting that a few years ago the head of UNRWA was found to have “hired his girlfriend at a big salary.”
He suggested that the Biden administration consider “using a different vehicle to send funds to Palestinians.”
Although he said there is concern in Israel that Biden will bring back some of the policies Israel did not like from the Obama administration, Steinberg added that there is “optimism that people like Tony Blinken [Biden’s nominee for secretary of state] who were in the Obama administration and saw the mistakes that were made will be more careful.”
Groups in Europe are focused on additional areas of concern. Adam Thomson, director of the European Leadership Network, a pan-European think tank, said in an email that what his members “hope for — and indeed expect — from the Biden administration [is] a resumption of U.S. leadership on the pressing requirements for arms control, risk reduction and military-to-military dialogue across the Euro-Atlantic area, and especially across the NATO-Russia divide.”
The Algemeiner included our tweet in its roundup of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations' statements in honor of Joe Biden being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
US Jewish and pro-Israel organizations enthusiastically saluted Joe Biden on Wednesday as the Democratic leader was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States.
The statements and good wishes acknowledged that during a political career that has spanned almost half-a-century, Biden became a well-known and respected figure among American Jewish leaders and community groups. He first visited the State of Israel in 1973, just prior to the Yom Kippur war in October of that year.
Biden’s lengthy relationship with the Jewish community was highlighted by World Jewish Congress (WJC) president Ronald Lauder, in a statement congratulating both the new President and Vice-President Kamala Harris on Inauguration Day.
“I have known President Biden for over 50 years and know that the Jewish community could not have a better friend and ally in the White House,” Lauder said.
Lauder recalled that when the WJC gave Biden its highest honor in 2016 — the Theodor Herzl Award — he had said in his acceptance speech: “Indifference is silence, and silence is consent.”
Said Lauder: “I know that he will continue to stand by those words as he takes the helm of this country and steers us toward a future of equality, standing up and speaking out for what is fair and what is right.”
As Kamala Harris made history as the first woman and the first person of color to hold the vice-president’s office, Hadassah — the Women’s Zionist Organization of America — hailed the new administration as it took office.
“It is with great pride and full hearts that today America has a woman in the White House, serving the American people in the second highest office in the land,” Hadassah declared in a statement.
“We look forward to working with the Biden Administration on a wide range of issues of importance to Hadassah’s nearly 300,000 members, including enhancing the US-Israel relationship, combating antisemitism at home and abroad, and strengthening women’s rights and women’s health,” the group said.
The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) noted that Biden had taken office at a time of “grave circumstances now confronting the United States, the world’s greatest bastion of freedom.”
The SWC’s dean, Rabbi Marvin Hier, cited the Biblical prophet Isaiah in a prayer for the new administration.
“May the day come soon when… justice will dwell in the wilderness and righteousness return to the fertile fields. And may the work of righteousness bring… peace… quietness, and confidence forever,” Hier quoted. “May G-d bless our President-Elect, Joseph Biden, and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and may G-d bless all the members of the United States Senate and Congress. ”
Christians United for Israel (CUFI) founder Pastor John Hagee separately offered his prayers for the new president and his deputy.
“After a difficult and challenging year, I pray the Lord blesses President Biden, Vice President Harris and their administration with the wisdom of Solomon as they lead our nation and the world,” said Hagee in a statement, invoking the Biblical king of Israel who built the original Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
“Christians United for Israel looks forward to working with the new administration, as we continue to strengthen the US-Israel relationship and keep these two nations safe and secure,” Hagee said.
Other US Jewish groups took to social media to congratulate President Biden and his incoming team.
JTA included our statement in its coverage of the storming of the United States Capitol by rioters.
(JTA) — AIPAC hardly ever pronounces on any issue that does not relate to Israel. It’s also loath to criticize a sitting president.
But the preeminent pro-Israel lobby did both on Wednesday after rioters supporting President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the count of electoral votes that would formalize Joe Biden’s win.
“We share the anger of our fellow Americans over the attack at the Capitol and condemn the assault on our democratic values and process,” AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said in a statement posted to Twitter Wednesday evening. “This violence, and President Trump’s incitement of it, is outrageous and must end.”
The statement, crafted during an emergency meeting of the lobby’s executive committee, was among a host of extraordinary comments on American democracy by Jewish groups, many of which typically steer clear of partisan politics.
AIPAC was not the only mainstream Jewish organization to speak out on an extraordinary day that resulted in what once was unthinkable: police spiriting into safe havens hundreds of lawmakers while marauders roamed and looted the Capitol. Its statement, crafted during an emergency meeting of the lobby’s executive committee, also was far from the only one to criticize Trump explicitly.
Trump invited protesters to Washington, D.C., and earlier Wednesday urged them to march on the Capitol. As the situation grew tense, he simultaneously urged his supporters to disband and told them that he “loved them.”
The Anti-Defamation League also named Trump. “The violence at the US Capitol is the result of disinformation from our highest office,” it said in a tweet. “Extremists are among the rioters in DC supporting President Trump’s reckless rhetoric on America’s democratic institutions.” ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called on social media to suspend Trump’s accounts; a number of platforms eventually heeded those calls.
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for Jewish public policy bodies, also named Trump. “This 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,” it said in a statement. “We urge in the strongest possible terms that President Trump and others immediately cease incendiary rhetoric and restore order.”
Two legacy groups were cautious and condemned the violence while not directly blaming Trump. The American Jewish Committee called on Trump “to call for an immediate end to the riots and respect the certification process currently underway,” without noting that Trump started the fire, as many others had — including some leading Republicans.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella foreign policy group for the Jewish community, did not name Trump at all, although its statement was forceful. “We are disgusted by the violence at the US Capitol and urge the rioters to disperse immediately,” it said in a statement. ”Law and order must be restored, and the peaceful transition of administrations must continue.”
B’nai B’rith International “strongly urged” Trump “to publicly condemn the rioters.” “Though it’s horrifying to see the U.S. Capitol under siege, the seeds for this have been planted and nurtured for many years,” the statement said.
Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, called the attack on the Capitol a “brutal onslaught on our nation’s integrity and historical traditions.”
The Orthodox Union weighed in at first by endorsing the Presidents’ Conference statement, but on Thursday morning issued a statement pointedly aimed at Trump and with a tone of relief at the prospect of Trump’s term ending and a new administration incoming.
“We are deeply saddened and shaken by yesterday’s violent events at the U.S. Capitol that have badly upset our sense of peace and security,” the statement said. “There is no place for the kind of outrageous incitement that fed that assault on the pillars of our democracy. It must stop. We call upon President Trump to do all that is in his power – and it is indeed in his power – to restore that peace.”
It concluded: “We pray to the Almighty that He grant strength and wisdom to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect [Kamala] Harris as they lead this great country forward in unity, peace, and security.”
Agudath Israel of America posted on Twitter a statement by its longtime Washington director, Rabbi Abba Cohen.
“The U.S. Capitol is more than a majestic building,” Cohen said. “It is the true house of the people and the home of democracy. It is the hope of the nation. You feel it when entering its doors and walking its halls. Today, it was a place of shameful violence and tyranny. Stop or we are lost.”
The Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly called on Trump “to defend and uphold the constitution of the United States,” but did not blame him for what it called an “attack on democracy and its institutions.”
The Reform movement’s Religious Action Center was less shy, saying, “The fact that today’s events were encouraged by the President of the United States who has refused to accept his electoral loss is equally terrifying and heartbreaking.”
Liberal groups like the RAC have throughout Trump’s presidency had an adversarial relationship with him, criticizing both his policies, including his anti-immigration policies, and his expressions of bigotry.
It was no different on Wednesday. “Earlier today, an armed seditious mob stormed the Capitol at President Trump’s behest, with the aim of preventing elected Members of Congress from certifying the presidential vote in the Electoral College,” said the Israel Policy Forum, a two-state advocacy group. (A staffer describes his experience during the tumult here.) “We unreservedly and wholly condemn this.”
J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, said, “The president repeatedly incited far-right thugs to subvert our democracy, and now they’re trying to do just that.”
“I’m heartbroken for our country,” National Council of Jewish Women CEO Sheila Katz said on Twitter. Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization, alluded to Trump, saying that “The criminal behavior and events of this afternoon are abhorrent, as are attempts to disrupt democracy with incitement to violence. As Jews, we know the power of words and demand our elected leaders raise the level of discourse and lead with civility.”
Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, a group known for its support for Trump’s Israel policies, said on Twitter that the marauding in the Capitol was “thoroughly unacceptable & intolerable” but went on to cite an unsubstantiated report that an FBI agent reported a claim that a busload of the marauders belonged to Antifa, a catchall term for leftist protesters.
That allegation was circulating widely among Orthodox supporters of the president on Wednesday night, many of whom decried the violence in D.C. but not the pro-Trump movement that led the mob to convene.
The Republican Jewish Coalition’ on Thursday morning congratulated Biden on winning the election, and in its statement included a plea for a peaceful transition to power.
“After the abhorrent mob attack yesterday on our Capitol, our elected officials went back to work, fulfilled their duty under our Constitution, and certified the results of the 2020 election,” the RJC said. “Now is the time for the same peaceful transition of power that the U.S. has carried out for over 220 years,” the RJC said. “It is also time for healing and unity in our country, because we face many serious and significant challenges.”
The statement made no mention of Trump. The congratulations to Biden were late: His race was called on Nov. 7, but a number of groups allied with his outlook, among them Jewish groups, hesitated to congratulate Biden at the time, seemingly mindful of Trump’s refusal to accept the election’s outcome.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America was scathing, calling for Trump’s removal from power. “President Trump has abused his power, endangered American lives, and undermined our democratic institutions,” it said.
“Today, he intentionally jeopardized security at the Capitol to further his depraved autocratic agenda, risking the lives of the Vice President and Republican and Democratic lawmakers,” the JDCA said. “Donald Trump was impeached by Congress for abuse of power one year ago, and today he should be immediately removed from office for sedition, insurrection, and abuse of power.”
The Jerusalem Post covered our joint virtual conference with the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy (JISS) on the future of U.S.-Israeli relations.
The incoming Biden administration may waste sanctions leverage the US has against Iran simply because of an emotional reaction to undo everything the Trump administration did, former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said Monday.
Speaking at a virtual conference sponsored by B’nai B’rith International and the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy, he said President-elect Joe Biden will enter office with a major advantage.
The Trump administration has used a “maximum pressure” campaign dating back to May 2018, which has heavily pressed the Islamic Republic to make compromises regarding its nuclear program and terrorism activities, even if Iran has not caved until now, he said.
“It would be a huge mistake not to use this leverage made by the previous administration, only because it was built by the Trump administration,” Amidror said.
There appears to be a feeling among many Biden supporters that anything Trump did needs to be torn down, similarly to how Trump wanted to tear down all of Obamacare regardless of wide support for aspects of the law, he said.
“With the new administration, we might have another problem,” he added. “It is the symbol of destroying the legacy of Trump and going back to president [Barack] Obama’s legacy.”
“The Iranians built their policy on the assumption that, after four years, Obama’s people will come back, and they can go back to stage one and have the bad agreement, which for them was very good,” Amidror said. “If this administration will make it clear when coming in that it will not go back to square one – that when he [Biden] spoke about a new and stronger agreement, he meant it – they [Iran] will have to reconsider their whole policy. This might succeed.”
“If, on the contrary, the next administration will [remove] the sanctions and say, ‘Let’s go back to the old agreement, and then we will negotiate a new one, taking care of all of the loopholes of the old agreement’… there is no chance,” he said.
Amidror suggested a 50-year deal would be needed to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The 2015 nuclear deal’s 10- to 15-year limit was far too short in the history of nation-states, he said.
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International in its coverage of the U.S. government's request that the United Nations trigger snapback sanctions on Iran over its escalated nuclear activity.
(August 20, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and Israel-related groups immediately reacted to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Thursday that the United States has requested the United Nations enact its snapback sanctions on Iran.
The snapback mechanism is included under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the United States withdrew from in May 2018, reimposing sanctions lifted under it and enacting new penalties against the regime.
Enacting snapback sanctions would include extending the arms embargo indefinitely on the regime, following the Aug. 14 rejection by the U.N. Security Council of the U.S.-led resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.
In accordance with the 2015 agreement, the United States had to inform the Security Council a month earlier if it intends to enact snapback.
“Our message is very, very simple: The United States will never allow the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to freely buy and sell planes, tanks, missiles and other kinds of conventional weapons,” Pompeo told reporters at the United Nations.
“I’m pleased to say, too, that these restored sanctions will also reimpose accountability for other forms of Iranian malign activity that the authors of the nuclear deal foolishly downplayed,” added Pompeo. “Iran will be again prohibited from ballistic missile testing. Iran will be back under sanctions for ongoing nuclear activities, such as the enrichment of nuclear material, that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program.”
Senior Israeli officials applauded the United States for activating snapback.
“I commend the United States for its decision to trigger snapback sanctions against Iran,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement. “This is the right decision.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said “reimposing the U.N. sanctions on Iran is a critical step to curbing Iranian aggression, which threatens the entire world. The Security Council should not allow the world’s largest terror regime to obtain and trade lethal weapons and ballistic missiles freely. Nor should it pave the way for Iran to fulfill its nuclear ambitions.”
He said that “now is the time for the international community to act decisively and impose crippling sanctions on Iran—not to reward its malicious aspirations.”
Organizations, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, applauded the move, while J Street expressed objections.
“The U.N. Security Council’s refusal to extend the arms embargo on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror leaves the United States with no choice to retain the embargo other than to ‘snapback’ U.N. sanctions on Iran,” said AIPAC in a statement.
“We support this action, which comes in the wake of repeated Iranian violations of its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including Iran’s denying International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors’ access to suspicious sites,” said AIPAC. “Our objectives must remain to ensure that Iran can never obtain a nuclear weapon, to prevent the regime from further destabilizing the Middle East, and to support regional allies confronting Iranian aggression.”
“We commend the U.S. government for its steps to trigger the snapback of United Nations sanctions on Iran over its impermissible & escalated nuclear activity. @UN must swiftly implement this snapback to deter conduct that poses an unparalleled threat to global peace & security,” tweeted B’nai B’rith International.
The Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement, “The U.N. has confirmed that Iran is violating every provision of the JCPOA. While the Obama-Biden deal with Iran was always a calamity that gave Iran everything it wanted, secured none of the protections we needed, and made the world less safe, this provision will help to fight back against Iran’s malign activities.”
In a statement, United Against Nuclear Iran said “U.S. leadership is forcing the U.N. to fulfill its duty of maintaining international peace and security. By triggering the snapback provision, the interests of the U.S. and its allies will be greatly enhanced.”
However, in a statement, J Street called the U.S. move as “reckless” and warned that this “would not only significantly escalate the current crisis and further isolate the United States, but make it even more difficult for a new American administration to restore the JCPOA and the prospects for further diplomacy.”
The group added that “it’s incredibly damning that the Trump administration continues to act in this belligerent, hypocritical and ultimately ineffective fashion on the world stage.”
‘It’ll be a test for the Europeans’
Ilan Berman, senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, told JNS that the Trump administration’s decision to activate snapback “shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
“The White House had previously attempted a more measured, incremental approach, lobbying for the extension of the U.N. embargo on arms sales to Iran,” he said. “But the failure of that effort has forced the U.S. to take more significant steps in order to ensure that international restrictions on Iran don’t loosen further, making it an even greater threat to international security.”
Richard Goldberg, the former director for countering Iran’s weapons of mass destruction at the White House National Security Council, told JNS that enacting snapback “reflects the overwhelming bipartisan American commitment to extending the international arms embargo on Iran so that the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism cannot import advanced weapons from China and Russia.”
“Anyone who is against snapback is for Chinese and Russian arms sales to Iran to threaten America, Israel and other U.S. allies,” said Goldberg, now a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“If the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 was the administration tossing out the dangerously flawed nuclear agreement, then today’s move at the U.N. effectively shreds what was left so that it cannot be put together again,” Matthew Brodsky, a senior fellow at Gold Institute for International Strategy, told JNS. “The original sin of the nuclear deal was Obama’s acquiescence in Iran having a so-called right to enrich uranium on its own soil.”
John Sitilides, a geopolitical strategist at Trilogy Advisors LLC, told JNS that snapback “is a logical extension of current White House policy to exert maximum pressure on Iran for continued non-compliance and outright violations of the nuclear agreement, such as denying international inspectors access to suspected undeclared nuclear sites and hiding undeclared nuclear material."
The president has “always criticized the agreement for excluding Iran’s continued sponsorship of regional and international terrorism and its ongoing regional destabilizing actions,” he said.
On the other hand, Barbara Slavin, who leads the Atlantic Council’s Future Iran Initiative, told JNS that enacting snapback was “a sad day for the United States and the United Nations,” claiming that since the United States has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear accord, it had “no right to invoke snapback.”
But Danielle Pletka, a senior fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told JNS that “the administration’s actions are well-founded legally and substantively. It’ll be a test for the Europeans to see whether they place politics over international law.”
While countries such as Russia have said that the United States has no right to enact snapback since it withdrew from the deal, the United States has argued that under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 deal and lifted six Security Council resolutions sanctioning Iran, Washington has the right to enact snapback.
Slavin acknowledged that “it is likely that the U.N. Security Council will also fail to validate it, using a variety of procedural mechanisms.”
A resolution could keep the deal—and thus U.N. sanctions relief for Iran—in place. However, it could be vetoed by a permanent member such as the United States.
“If the Trump administration truly cared about improving upon the JCPOA, it would not have quit the deal while Iran was in compliance but would have sought follow-on talks with Iran and the other parties,” said Slavin. “My hope is that the Iranians will wait until Nov. 3 before deciding on any further retaliatory steps,” a reference to the U.S. presidential election.
The Democratic presidential nominee, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, has said that the United States would return to the 2015 nuclear deal if and when Iran returns to compliance.
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