The provocation by a pro-Hamas group hiding behind a humanitarian mantle as its ships sailed toward Gaza on May 31 was tragic and avoidable. This latest attempt by pro-Palestinian terrorists to delegitimize Israel is an extreme example of the lengths anti-Israel groups will go to in order to destroy the Jewish state.
Israel had repeatedly requested that the humanitarian cargo carried by these ships be unloaded in the port town of Ashdod and then trucked to Gaza after a standard security check. Instead the Free Gaza Movement incited a confrontation with Israel.
“This so-called humanitarian mission did not have to end this way,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Israel gave this group every opportunity to deliver its goods in a manner safe for all involved. Instead the Free Gaza Movement chose confrontation.”
According to Palestinian Media Watch, the flotilla had whipped itself into a pre-war-like frenzy in the days leading up to the confrontation. Men on the ships reportedly shouted a popular chant asking for the death and defeat of Jews in battle. These supposedly non-violent humanitarian ships reportedly attacked Israeli commandos with weapons as they boarded.
Humanitarian aid does enter Gaza on a regular basis—some 15,000 tons a month pass through proper safety channels, even after Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade of Gaza three years ago after the terrorist group Hamas seized control of the region. By ignoring Israel’s request, this terror group showed its true intentions: That it was solely interested in confronting Israel.
“Hiding behind humanitarian claims, this flotilla accomplished exactly what it set out to do—to provoke and delegitimize Israel,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “These methods feed terror groups and public sentiment that seeks to destroy Israel’s international standing.”
In a letter sent to the State Department, the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, and the House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs, B’nai B’rith International decried anti-Semitic statements made by Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and implored U.S. officials to cut ties with the leader.
“[Ibrahim’s] frequent criticisms of the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak are infused with anti-Jewish and anti-Israel slanders, such as his April 30 assertion that Israeli spies are ‘directly involved in the running of the government,’” the letter reads. “On another occasion he alleged the presence of ‘Israeli intelligence personnel in the Police IT unit.’”
Ibrahim has also accused Jews of controlling a public relations firm hired by the Malaysian prime minister and claimed that he has evidence of Israeli influence on the Malaysian government.
“In light of the role that Ibrahim has played in the resurgence of anti-Semitic polemics in Malaysian politics,” the letter continues, “we ask that U.S. officials suspend their ties with Anwar Ibrahim. A purveyor of anti-Jewish hatred such as Ibrahim should not enjoy the measure of legitimacy that a positive relationship with the United States would confer upon him.”
> Read the full letter.
High school students in four cities have spent the winter putting the finishing touches on their original book entries for the B’nai B’rith International Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge. They will soon learn who won the top prizes: $5,000 college scholarships for each city’s top winner and the professional publication of the top books.
The contest challenges teens to write and illustrate children’s books that explain diversity and tolerance to elementary school-aged children. In a contest first, the winning book in San Antonio will be published in both English and Spanish. Winners in San Antonio will be announced in late May. Winners in contest cities Memphis, New York, and Los Angeles will be announced in early June. The contest is now in its fourth year.
This education and awareness initiative was created in conjunction with B’nai B’rith programs that promote tolerance and communicate a message of equality. The contest aims to enlighten, inspire, and educate America's young people and their families in an effort to destroy prejudices and strengthen the future of our youth.
In addition to the $5,000 college scholarships, winning entries in each city will have their submission professionally published and distributed to libraries and elementary schools in their hometown. The second place winners receive $2,000 scholarships, and the third place winners earn a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, teachers who oversaw the creation of the first place submission in each city will receive a $500 stipend to use for classroom or organizational materials, and the winners’ schools will each win a $500 grant. A local panel of judges in each city from the worlds of education, the arts, business, and government reviewed the submissions and selected the winners.
Additional program information can be found at www.bnaibrith.org/diverseminds.
B’nai B’rith International Appeals to Secretary-General to Formally Condemn Treki
In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, B’nai B’rith International strongly condemns General Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki’s comments that conditions in Gaza are “worse” than conditions faced by Holocaust victims. Treki also seemed to legitimize terrorist activities. Such comments should preclude him from holding such a position at the United Nations.
During an interview on Syrian television, Treki reportedly said: “The siege on Gaza is a disgrace for the entire international community. It is a camp that is worse than the camps of the Nazis in the past.”
In the letter, B’nai B’rith President Dennis W. Glick and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin noted: “Dr. Treki’s comments are an outrage, a blight upon the United Nations and his high office, and an impediment to historical truth and to peace.” Glick and Mariaschin also referred to the remarks as “deplorable” and in violation of a General Assembly resolution.
Also in the TV interview, Treki said: “There is great resistance of the Palestinian people, in occupied Palestine, in general, and in Gaza in particular. This ongoing resistance annoys the Israelis, and it has the right to persist until the Israelis fulfill their obligations, and until the Palestinian people are given the right to determine its destiny and establish its state.”
In response, Glick and Mariaschin note: “The entire international community—beginning with this city that hosts the United Nations—knows by now that terrorism, often motivated by extremist political aims disguised in a quasi-religious conception of justice, is a paramount scourge and threat to humanity.”
The letter concludes, “Dr. Treki must be reminded by world leaders—publicly and unequivocally—that he has been entrusted with serving all members of the United Nations General Assembly, not only those who sponsor or approve of terrorism. He must be reminded that incitement, dangerous falsehoods and apathy over violent atrocity of the kinds he has promoted will confirm him as profoundly unfit for his post. As a leader charged with the protection of the United Nations, its mission and founding values, Mr. Secretary General, we urge that this message now be conveyed, above all, by you.”
> Click here to read the letter.
As it has done with previous Supreme Court nominees including John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Sonia Sotomayor, B’nai B’rith International will be submitting questions to the Senate Judiciary Committee preceding the hearing process for potential Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan.
However, this time B’nai B’rith International will use social networking tools Facebook and Twitter to reach out to its constituents for questions they may have for Kagan. Questions will be submitted to B’nai B’rith by followers on Twitter, Facebook, and via email to SupremeCourtQuestions@bnaibrith.org.
B’nai B’rith International stands strongly against Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s visit to Iran on May 15, which is being touted as a diplomatic mission to discuss Iran’s nuclear program but gives undue global legitimacy to Iran’s abhorrent leadership.
Lula has become an unofficial negotiator between Tehran and the international community over Iran’s nuclear program, but the Brazilian president’s ties to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raise several reasons to question Lula’s objectivity and willingness to deal with Iran sternly.
With his visit to Iran, Lula, who held a cordial meeting with Ahmadinejad in Brazil last November, grants legitimacy to Ahmadinejad, a leader who openly promotes the destruction of Israel, denies the most horrific crime in the history of mankind—the Holocaust, exports terrorism throughout the world, and conducts an aggressive and dangerous nuclear proliferation program.
“We are distraught that an international leader and well-respected diplomat like Lula would cooperate with Ahmadinejad, a man who enthusiastically suppresses women’s rights and persecutes and tortures political opponents,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Lula, who represents a vibrant democracy, should not seek to develop ties with the terror-backing Tehran regime.”
“Ahmadinejad’s beliefs and the deadly direction in which he has led his nation are well documented,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “However, Lula’s visit to meet with Ahmadinejad is especially worrisome, given Lula’s lenient approach toward Iran’s nuclear program in the past. Unless he changes course quickly and unexpectedly, Lula’s talks with Ahmadinejad have the potential to undermine international efforts aimed at imposing stronger sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program.”
B’nai B’rith International is deeply disappointed that the United Nations General Assembly has voted to seat Libya on the Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Libya ran unopposed for a seat on the world’s human rights watchdog panel and General Assembly members could have voted against Libya’s candidacy. Instead, on May 13, Libya earned a three-year term, with the backing of 155 General Assembly members.
Only those with an exemplary human rights record at home should be considered fit to serve on the UNHRC. It is imperative that candidates for council seats hold values that demonstrate respect for universal human rights. Libya does not fall into that category.
Prior to the vote, B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said, “The election process, whereby human rights violators slide onto the Human Rights Council, makes a further mockery of that very body. With each passing action, and each passing year, the Human Rights Council more and more mimics its discredited predecessor, the Human Rights Commission. The evidence continues to mount that the council is committed not to protecting human rights, but to protecting various human rights abusers.”
In the last four years, B’nai B’rith has spoken out repeatedly against the trajectory of the UNHRC and its numerous member nations that clearly do not value global human rights.
With the Organization of the Islamic Conference leading the way, the UNHRC ignores pervasive human rights abusers to focus singular scrutiny on Israel, which is in fact the sole democracy in the Middle East.
“It’s hard to believe the Human Rights Council could get any more atrocious, but Libya’s ascension to this global human rights group is the latest low.” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “It is a sad fact that the Human Rights Council has become perhaps the biggest impediment to ensuring even the most basic human rights for far too many people in the world.”
B’nai B’rith International, with a full-time office dedicated to the United Nations, will continue to monitor the activities of the Human Rights Council and speak out vociferously to defend against injustices perpetrated by the group.
Upon the nomination of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
We extend our congratulations to Elena Kagan for her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The current solicitor general, Kagan has distinguished herself professionally through public service, academia, and private practice.
A former dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan is a highly able attorney and legal scholar.
As the Senate prepares to fulfill its "advise and consent" role in the confirmation process, B’nai B’rith calls for fair and dignified hearings that will directly probe Kagan’s judicial philosophy with respect to vital issues such as church-state relations, discrimination in housing and employment, and refugee asylum.
B’nai B’rith International congratulates Israel on an invitation to join an important international economic group made up of the most developed economies in the world.
The nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) share their expertise to help developing nations prosper and thrive.
“Israel, long an innovator and a ground breaker in business and industry, has earned a well-deserved spot on the OECD,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said.
Estonia and Slovenia also joined the group, bringing its membership total to 34.
During the three year nomination process, Israel demonstrated an uncommon commitment to economic growth and stability, and to sharing its expertise and knowledge to improve the global economy.
“In a short history, Israel has shown remarkable and enviable economic growth,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Israel has contributed readily to the development of the world’s economy. The OECD recognition will help bolster Israel’s standing in business, technology, and innovation and could open the door to vital multi-national economic partnerships.”
Israel will formally join the group during a ceremony in Paris later in May.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin delivered remarks at the Library of Congress on May 5 as part of Jewish American Heritage Month. The speech was part of a kick-off event that featured keynote speaker Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who was an original author of the resolution presented before the U.S. House of Representatives in 2005 requesting the formation of Jewish American Heritage Month. B’nai B’rith International was one of only two organizations that received the honor of being invited to speak at the event.
“In eighth grade we learned American history and I remember looking ahead to the period of immigration,” Mariaschin recalled. “I was anxiously looking for names that at that point even I knew were Jewish. I can recall the chapter reciting famous immigrants from Germany, like Albert Einstein, famous immigrants from Hungary and they had Joseph Pulitzer. They were from Germany, they were from Hungary, they were from these other places, but it didn’t say that they were Jewish. Sitting here today, knowing what’s gone on in the last several years, it’s a great comfort knowing that today the opportunity to tell our own story and of our contributions is here and 50 years ago we didn’t have this. What all of this does is that it speaks so clearly about this great experiment and experience in pluralism that is the United States and is the American people.”
Mariaschin also noted that with the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II approaching, Jewish American Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to not only recall the great Jewish-American minds and athletes, but especially the Jewish soldiers who have fought on America’s behalf in all wars, including more than 500,000 in World War II.
“Over 355 years of Jewish life in America, we have made significant contributions to American history as a people,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It was felt that having a month-long celebration, a month-long series of educational programming, would raise awareness, particularly in the non-Jewish community, about the contributions that Jews have made to the rich tapestry of American life.”
Dr. James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress; William C. Daroff, vice president for Public Policy of The Jewish Federations of North America; and Abby Schwartz, national coordinator of Jewish American Heritage Month also spoke, discussing the importance of recognizing the vital roles Jews have played in American history.
Together, Wasserman Schultz and Billington activated the Jewish American Heritage Month website, on which events across the nation are announced and publicized. Visit the site at http://www.jewishheritagemonth.gov/.
Click here to read President Obama’s proclamation announcing the 2010 Jewish American Heritage Month.