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B’nai B’rith International sent its annual leadership delegation to Geneva to address key issues facing the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), including the council’s singular mistreatment of Israel, the increasingly disastrous humanitarian situation in and around Syria, Iranian threats to global security and the council’s upcoming appointment of a new special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories.
Eighteen B’nai B’rith International leaders and supporters, along with two representatives from the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) met with representatives from some 40 countries. The delegation was led by President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.

The B’nai B’rith delegation discussed the council’s obsessive focus on Israel, imploring the Jewish state’s friends and fellow Western European and Others Group (WEOG) members to abstain from participation in the council’s inherently discriminatory “Item 7” discussions—the only item on the UNHRC agenda dedicated to scrutinizing a single country.

“We had no illusions that after Israel’s admission to WEOG in December it would still be an uphill battle to extinguish the unacceptable bias trained on Israel,” Jacobs said. “That’s why we’re here. We need to continue putting pressure on the Human Rights Council and have it cease its Israel witch hunt, while many more U.N. members are vicious violators of human rights.”

The B’nai B’rith delegation also expressed concern about the upcoming selection of a new special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories, a position that is currently held by Richard Falk. During his tenure, Falk repeatedly directed animosity and conspiracy theories at Israel, resulting in several countries calling for his ouster. B’nai B’rith repeatedly urged the United Nations to excise Falk and his anti-Israel agenda.

“By continually mistreating Israel and blatantly ignoring the human rights abuses of many countries worldwide, the Human Rights Council suffers from a severe credibility problem,” Mariaschin said. “Between selecting an extremely biased rapporteur whose sole job is to malign Israel and including ‘Item 7’ on the official agenda—it all flies in the face of the U.N.’s basic, stated principles.”

Director-General of the U.N. Office at Geneva Addresses B’nai B’rith Reception

On March 12, B’nai B’rith leadership held its annual reception at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, hosting numerous ambassadors. Highlights of the evening included Director-General of the U.N. Office at Geneva Michael Møller addressing those in attendance, as well as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Paula Schriefer, head of the American delegation to the Human Rights Council session.

In addition to Jacobs and Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith was represented by: Ira Bartfield of Arlington, Va.; Helene Briskman of London; Daniel Citone of Rome; Eric Engelmayer of Luxembourg City, Luxembourg; Paolo Foa of Milan, Italy; Mike Gellman of Washington, D.C.; Yves Kamami of Paris; Charles Kaufman of Austin, Texas; David Matas of Winnipeg, Canada; David Michaels of New York; Michael Nachman of New York and Washington, D.C.; Joelle Perelberg; Ada Sadoun of Grenoble, France; Max Sadoun of Grenoble, France; Dan Tartakovski of Mexico City; and Stéphane Teicher of Paris. AEPi was represented by Nick Bruscato, a student at Columbia University; and Grant Fineman, a student at the University of California, Berkeley.