B’nai B’rith International remembers the 22nd anniversary of the Israeli Embassy bombing in Buenos Aires. On the afternoon of March 17, 1992, a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into the corner of the embassy and then detonated multiple bombs. The attack killed 29 people, injured 242 and also destroyed a church and a school. It was the deadliest terror attack in Argentina until the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building was bombed in 1994. That attack killed 85 people and wounded 300. Iran has been linked to both bombings, but none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice.
“Twenty-two years later, the wounds from this attack still feel fresh,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “It’s hard to find closure in such a horrific tragedy when no one has been brought to justice. Despite the passing of decades, B’nai B’rith will not forget this unnecessary loss of life.”
The attacks on the embassy and on the AMIA building have been credited to Iran’s terror arm--Hezbollah--with an official report from the Argentine prosecutor’s office naming Iran as responsible for the AMIA attack. Since 2007, an INTERPOL “red notice” (indicating that Argentina is seeking the arrest and extradition of a particular person) has been issued for Iran’s former defense minister.
Despite all of the facts pointing to Iran as the perpetrator behind these terrorist acts, in January 2013 Argentina entered into an agreement with Iran which purports to cooperate in finding the attackers of the AMIA bombing. It is shocking to think Argentina expects Iran to be a fair partner in the search for justice.
“It’s astounding that even with a mass of evidence pinning both terrorist attacks in Buenos Aires on Iran, Argentina has instead aligned itself with the regime responsible in a dubious attempt to find answers,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The joint-investigation that these governments are planning to carry out will only further cloud any truth behind the bombings and it’s highly doubtful any justice will be carried out.”
On March 18, B’nai B’rith International will participate in a commemoration ceremony in Buenos Aires to remember those lost in the Israeli Embassy bombing. B’nai B’rith Argentina President Mario Wilhelm will be in attendance.
B’nai B’rith Leadership Delegation Visits UNHRC, Addresses Council’s Singular Mistreatment of Israel
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.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
Amid reports that Jonathan Pollard has been hospitalized and his condition is said to be declining, B’nai B’rith calls for his release on humanitarian grounds. B’nai B’rith has consistently called for clemency for Pollard.
Pollard, 59, was sentenced to life in a federal prison in 1987 after being convicted of spying for Israel. The former intelligence analyst has served nearly 30 years, though the current punishment for similar crimes is 10 years.
He has been hospitalized in recent years for kidney and liver ailments. Lawmakers in the United States and in Israel, as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former senior U.S. government officials, have called for his release.
B’nai B’rith Concerned About Future Of Key Programs For Elderly Citizens
B’nai B’rith International is pleased to see the budget President Obama sent to Congress sends a positive message on some aging issues, but is concerned by the inclusion of several troubling proposals.
Though unlikely to shift policy, a president’s budget is often considered to represent his vision for the future.
“We are pleased to see some of B’nai B’rith’s priorities for seniors reflected in the president’s budget,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “We are particularly relieved that the president has dropped his plan to trim cost of living adjustments in Social Security. Seniors represent some of the most vulnerable members of our society. They are among the most likely to live in or near poverty and are heavily dependent on resources such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Those programs are a vital lifeline for so many senior citizens.”
B’nai B’rith is very pleased that the president dropped a proposed cut in the cost of living adjustment formula for Social Security, which would have reduced future benefits. The previously proposed cut, known as chained-CPI (Consumer Price Index), appeared in several previous budgets from this administration and would have been particularly damaging in the future to the very elderly, the disabled and veterans. However, we remain concerned that Medicare proposals could shift costs to some beneficiaries, effectively whittling away their retirement security through higher Medicare premiums. Unfortunately the president continues to suggest these changes to Medicare, a strategy B’nai B’rith has questioned in the past.
On domestic spending priorities the president did acknowledge the need for additional investment for some vulnerable populations, but did not recognize the importance of finding ways to invest in low-income housing, especially for older adults. With no additional money beyond the bare necessity to sustain existing buildings for low income seniors, we really have no national housing policy to address the growing need among an increasingly large and vulnerable elderly population.
“As the largest national Jewish sponsor of low-income housing for seniors, we are particularly sensitive to issues of affordable housing,” B’nai B’rith Associate Executive Vice President Mark D. Olshan said. “Access to safe and affordable housing impacts every aspect of a person’s life. The president’s budget continues a trend over the last few years to invest very little in the future of affordable elderly housing, and that isn’t a message we welcome.”
For more than 30 years, B’nai B’rith has made affordable housing for low-income seniors a core commitment.
We will continue to work with the administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to pursue this critical priority.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith is disturbed to learn that a new report reveals the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may have withheld details it uncovered about Iran’s nuclear program as Tehran attempted to bolster its international relations.
We have long been skeptical of any easing of sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. The revelation of this information—strong evidence suggests that Iran has been working toward the ability to produce a nuclear weapon—is cause for concern. It also calls into question the IAEA’s independence.
The report seems to confirm the Iranian regime’s long history of deception.
The IAEA, which has played an important role over recent years in holding Iran accountable, should fully reveal what it knows.