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The American Jewish International Relations Institute now under B’nai B’rith International umbrella


Ambassador Richard Schifter was honored with B’nai B’rith’s Distinguished Humanitarian Award at the organization’s 175th anniversary celebration on April 25, 2018. L-R:
B’nai B’rith President Gary P. Saltzman (2015-18); Ambassador Schifter; B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin.
The non-profit American Jewish International Relations Institute (AJIRI), founded by the late Ambassador Richard Schifter to promote Israel’s cause at the United Nations, has now become a part of B’nai B’rith International. During the past several years, the organizations had often enjoyed a collaborative relationship, in the furtherance of shared goals.

Now to be known as AJIRI-BBI, the Institute will continue to expand its outreach, focusing on advocacy and education intended to advance Israel’s fair treatment, not only at the U.N. but with agencies and governmental bodies worldwide.

“AJIRI is a welcome addition to the B’nai B’rith family,” B’nai B’rith President Charles O. Kaufman said. “Simply, we are deeply honored to be linked with the distinguished board dedicated to realizing the ambassador’s legacy. Our overlapping missions and excellent chemistry will strengthen our already strong policy efforts in advocating for a safer and more secure Israel in the world and within the United Nations.”

B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin added: “The campaign to address bias in U.N. voting on Israel-related issues will be tremendously strengthened by AJIRI’s joining forces with B’nai B’rith. AJIRI-BBI will continue to decry the double standards which are unfairly applied to Israel at the U.N. at the General Assembly in New York, and at its agencies around the world.”

The merger stands as a tribute to Schifter, who was active as AJIRI’s chairman until his death at age 97 on Oct. 3, a short time after the agreement took effect. A friend, colleague and inspirational leader, he worked with B’nai B’rith for nearly a decade to advocate for Israel and to build connections with nations around the world.

In 1938, the 15-year-old Schifter emigrated from Austria to America before the Nazi invasion. His parents, who could not obtain visas, perished in the Holocaust. A member of the Army Intelligence Unit during and after World War II, he went on to become a lawyer, and later, a diplomat, serving in three presidential administrations, including as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs from 1985 to 1992.

This year, Schifter had observed: “It has been a pleasure for us to note how AJIRI’s and B’nai B’rith’s accomplishments produced highly useful results for the benefit of U.S. foreign policy objectives and of Israel.” He envisioned a future in which “we look forward to witnessing many highly beneficial results.”

The loss of his sage presence is felt by all who knew him.