B’nai B’rith Deeply Troubled by Israel Views of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Nominees to Democratic Convention Platform Panel
B’nai B’rith International is troubled by particular nominees of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Democratic convention platform panel. Cornel West, with a history of virulently anti-Israel statements, and James Zogby, a longtime partisan critic of the indispensable alliance between the United States and Israel, both were appointed to the drafting committee earlier this week.
West is a prominent supporter of the discriminatory Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is trying to isolate and delegitimize Israel by boycotting companies that do business with the Jewish state. West has also stated that Hamas’ crimes “pale in the face of U.S.-supported Israeli slaughter of innocent civilians.”
Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, told reporters that the Democratic platform language will take a “tougher” stance against Israel “to reflect a new consensus,” and that the word “occupation” will refer to Israel’s presence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority governs the life of its population in the West Bank, and Israel unilaterally and completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Sanders’ choices risk undermining and eroding traditional American bipartisan support for the Jewish state. B’nai B’rith urges all candidates to uphold the commitment of the American people, and the overwhelming majority of its elected representatives, to Israel as a vital U.S. interest.
B’nai B’rith International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and as such does not endorse or oppose any candidate for elected office.
B’nai B’rith International is appalled that the World Health Organization (WHO) will investigate Israel, a solitary beacon of humanitarian values in the Middle East, for supposed “mental, physical and environmental health” violations. Israel was, once again, the only country in the world singled out during the annual assembly of a United Nations body that is meant to be nonpolitical.
Arab states co-sponsored the anti-Israel resolution, which authorizes a delegation to interrogate and monitor “the health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory,” as well as “the occupied Syrian Golan.” The only countries that stood by Israel and opposed the motion were the United States, Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Paraguay. France, Germany and the United Kingdom, alongside 104 other countries, shamefully voted in favor.
Once again, the Palestinians and their Arab allies have shown readiness to hijack key international organizations in order to distract from their own exhaustive abuse of human dignity and to foster more hate and animosity toward the Jewish state. The WHO motion is a perfect example of the ongoing bias that tarnishes the United Nations, which harms prospects for peace and progress in the Middle East more than it helps.
B’nai B’rith World Center Announces Winners Of 2016 Award For Journalism Recognizing Excellence In Diaspora Reportaģe
The winners of the 2016 B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportaģe in memory of Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf were announced on May 26 in Jerusalem. The winners are Amanda Borschel-Dan, the Times of Israel’s Jewish World editor and Allison Kaplan Sommer, staff writer at Ha’aretz. Both journalists submitted an impressive array of articles on Diaspora communities published during 2015.
Additionally, the award jury decided to present a Lifetime Achievement Award in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky to Ya’akov Ahimeir, senior Israel Broadcasting Authority journalist. He is currently editor and presenter of the Saturday night foreign news and culture magazine show "Ro'im Olam" (Seeing the World), on Israel television. Ahimeir also appears on the Voice of Israel’s daily radio news program HaBoker HaZeh (This Morning). In 2012, Ahimeir was awarded the Israel Prize in journalism.
Since its establishment in 1992, the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reporting on contemporary Diaspora-Jewish communities and on the State of Israel-Diaspora relations in Israeli print and electronic media. The award is widely recognized as a prestigious prize in the Israeli media industry and was established to help strengthen the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora. It was established to highlight the important contributions the media can make toward strengthening the relationship between Israel and world Jewry—so essential for the resilience of both—by encouraging quality reporting on Diaspora communities and Israel-Diaspora relations.
“The winners of this year's awards are outstanding journalists who have dedicated their careers to Diaspora reportaģe and Israel-Diaspora relations. They represent dedication, professionalism and intellect and were chosen from a field of 14 excellent candidates for the award,” B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider said. “Diaspora Jewry and Israel-Diaspora relations continue to generate considerable interest among Israeli journalists, and those who excel deserve encouragement and recognition through this important awards project.”
The distinguished members of the award jury are: Asher Weill, chair, publisher and editor of ARIEL- The Israel Review of Arts and Letters from 1981-2003; Yehudith Auerbach, professor in the School of Communication at Bar Ilan University; Gabriela Shalev, former Israel ambassador to the United Nations and professor at Ono Academic College; Bambi Sheleg, founder of Eretz Acheret, a staff member at Mandel School for Educational Leadership and a 2011 award winner; and Shalom Kital, former general director for News Company, Channel 2.
“This award was created to strengthen Israel-Diaspora relations by recognizing journalists who have excelled at covering Jewish communities around the globe,” B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Haim V. Katz said. “It is important to recognize these outstanding journalists for their insightful and inspiring work.”
The B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism is named for the late Wolf Matsdorf and his wife Hilda. Wolf was an editor of the B’nai B’rith World Center Journal “Leadership Briefing” and a journalist in Israel and Australia. Hilda was a pioneer in social work in both Australia and Israel. The Lifetime Achievement Award is named for Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky.
The award is made possible through donations from Daniel Schydlowsky, a professor and a member of the B’nai B’rith World Center International Board of Governors (Lima, Peru and Washington D.C.), and the Matsdorf family.
B’nai B’rith Welcomes Changes To Egyptian School Book That Acknowledge Historic Importance Of Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty
B’nai B’rith International commends Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for a requirement that all Egyptian students learn about the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty. The updated information is in the textbook, “The Geography of the Arab World and the History of Modern Egypt.”
A similar Hosni Mubarak-era textbook from 2002 contained 32 pages about Egypt’s conflict with Israel, but only included three pages about the peace process. This new textbook limits the overall history to 12 pages and increases the peace section from three pages to four. A photograph taken at the White House during the signing of the Camp David treaty, which shows then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin standing beside then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter, is now in the book.
While the textbook still has some problems, it’s a step in the right direction, especially the inclusion of the White House photo. We call on other Arab nations to emulate the Egyptian text book changes.
At the same time, el-Sisi gave a televised address encouraging Israel and the Palestinian Authority to directly discuss their peace plans, and he said he is willing to provide assistance in advancing peace talks.
B’nai B’rith International is encouraged that delegates to the quadrennial General Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) rebuffed efforts to single out companies doing business with Israel for divestment. Such punitive measures are discriminatory, and only deepen, rather than ameliorate, Middle East tensions.
From May 10-20, more than 900 people from around the globe attended the conference in Portland, Ore., and the UMC voted down four resolutions for anti-Israel divestment.
UMC members also deserve to be strongly commended for calling on an arm of their denomination to end its membership in the radical U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. That group is an aggressive advocate of economic warfare against Israel, and its agitation has repeatedly been tinged with outright anti-Semitic animus.
At the same time, it is disconcerting that UMC members voted down a resolution decrying contemporary anti-Semitism. Although that motion made clear that some, not all, anti-Israel views are undergirded by anti-Semitism, some opponents framed it as suggesting otherwise.
This mixed outcome at the national convention of the largest mainline Protestant denomination--and the recurrence of such results--sadly indicates that anti-Israel partisans will continue to agitate for a program of simplistic, one-sided hostility on issues related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
B’nai B’rith commends all those, in the Methodist community and beyond, who opt instead for responsibility, nuance and fairness.
B’nai B’rith International strongly condemns Iran’s annual international cartoon contest satirizing the Holocaust. The competition started May 14 and will continue for the next two weeks, with 150 entries already on display from at least 50 countries. According to reporters at the scene, the contest secretary compared the horrors of the Nazi regime with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
“This anti-Semitic contest is threatening Jews and Israel by perpetuating racist stereotypes that only encourage incitement against the Jewish state and Jews around the world,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said.
Iran has zero credibility as a legitimate partner on the international stage. Additional recent evidence of Iran’s duplicity came in October when Tehran breached its nuclear agreement with the P5+1 powers, by test-firing a missile capable of mounting a nuclear warhead, as well as its daily calls for the elimination of Israel.
Iran’s behavior as an unbridled hater of Israel is rarely challenged in the international community.
“It’s simple—Tehran demonizes and supports the delegitimization of the State of Israel, as evidenced by this despicable and anti-Semitic ‘contest.’ Tehran’s willfully defying the P5+1 nuclear agreement further serves as a useful reminder of the regime’s true motives,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “And, the Iranian government continues to be a known supporter and purveyor of terrorism.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated Iran is “preparing another Holocaust” by allowing this contest to carry on. The global community should speak with one voice to condemn this outrageous display of anti-Semitism.
B’nai B’rith International is opening its Disaster Relief Fund to provide aid to the victims of the catastrophic wildfires that swept through Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada on May 3. More than 80,000 residents were evacuated last week, and the fire has engulfed more than 500,000 acres of land and has destroyed more than 2,400 homes and buildings.
Residents of the oil-sands town won’t be able to return home for several weeks; even as the fire is starting to move farther east into areas that are far less populated.
B’nai B’rith International will work with B’nai B’rith Canada in coalition with other agencies to provide long-term rebuilding plans for Alberta. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Canada.
To help, donate online at our secure website by clicking here.
You can also call 800-573-9057 to make a credit card contribution over the phone. Or, you can send a check payable to the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund to:
B’nai B’rith International
Disaster Relief Fund
1120 20th Street NW, Suite 300N
Washington, DC 20036
B’nai B’rith Sends Letter To Romanian Prime Minister For Prioritizing Restitution Claims By Holocaust Survivors
B’nai B’rith International sent a letter to Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos commending the Romanian government for passing legislation on Tuesday that will prioritize restitution claims by Holocaust survivors for property lost during World War II, and later under Communist rule.
Before the start of World War II, and the Holocaust, about 800,000 Jews lived in Romania. Now there are only about 11,000. Romanians who survived the Holocaust found out after the war ended their property was nationalized by Romania’s Communist leadership, which governed Romania until 1989.
There are more than 40,000 claims of lost property today, which were all filed before 2003. Claimants have been waiting for decades for their stolen property, and B’nai B’rith is gratified that Romania is finally taking a step in the right direction, by fixing this injustice.
In the letter from B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin write: “We write to express our approval and thanks for the government’s passage of legislation that would assign priority to restitution claims by Holocaust survivors for property lost during World War II. This measure will not only provide practical assistance to elderly survivors; it also represents an important acknowledgement of the losses suffered by Romanian Jews during this tragic period.”
Click here to read the full letter.
For more than 25 years B’nai B’rith International has proudly been the North American official sponsor of the Yom Hashoah program “Unto Every Person There is a Name.” With B’nai B’rith’s help, many communities across the globe came together on Yom Hashoah, which is held every year on the 27th day of the month of Nissan on the Jewish calendar, to commemorate the Holocaust.
This year Yom Hashoah began on the eve of May 4 and concluded at sundown May 5. Participants read the names of Holocaust victims, and where they were born and died. Each year these observances honor more and more victims, as the Shoah Victim’s Names Recovery Project seeks and discovers new information.
The program is a worldwide memorial project that began in 1989 and is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Unto Every Person There is a Name” provides the opportunity to remember the victims of the Holocaust by reading their names aloud. For many victims on these lists—six million Jews—it is the only time their name, and thus their life, will be remembered, as their entire family was murdered or there is no one left to remember them.
B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider represents B’nai B’rith on the international committee, which gives B’nai B’rith the honor of implementing the program and also enables us to participate in the planning stages. Every year a designated theme is selected by the international committee. This year’s theme was “Everything is Forbidden to Us, and Yet We Do Everything: The Struggle to Maintain the Human Spirit during the Holocaust.”
“Six million Jews perished in the Holocaust, and for 27 years B’nai B’rith International has ensured the Jewish community around the world that we will always remember the Jews who perished in the Holocaust,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said. “‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ provides a voice to those Holocaust victims and allows them to be remembered in a unique way.”
In addition, B’nai B’rith partnered again with Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity (AEPi) to bring “Unto Every Person There is a Name” to college campuses in conjunction with the fraternity’s own Holocaust Remembrance Day program “We Walk to Remember.” This year marks the 10th anniversary of AEPi’s commemoration event, with a record-breaking 161 chapters participating throughout North America, Europe and Israel. AEPi members walk silently across campus wearing a “Never Forget” sticker, provided by B’nai B’rith, to identify those who are participating in the program. B’nai B’rith also provided other materials that explain the importance of Yom Hashoah, and information pertaining to this year’s theme.
“Sponsoring ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ is a great honor for B’nai B’rith. This meaningful program is a powerful statement that demonstrates how vital it is to remember those who were killed in the Holocaust,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We strive to educate and raise awareness about the atrocities that occurred during the Shoah, and this program provides a different, but solemn opportunity to do just that.”
On the morning of May 5, the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) held a unique joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony dedicated to the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. Taking place at the Martyrs’ Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza, the program memorialized Leningrad resident, Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner (1912-1991), an outstanding Jewish educator and hero. Pevzner was serving as the director of the Polish troupe in the Soviet Pioneers Camp in Druskininkai, Lithuania, when on June 22, 1941, the Nazis launched “Operation Barbarossa” and attacked the area.
Pevzner succeeded in rescuing 300 children, including about 140 Jewish children from Bialystok, Poland, and the surrounding region, and retreating with them by train to the safety of the Soviet Far East. For the 12 day journey, they were under repeated German aerial attack. Pevzner established a home for the children in the Udmurtia Republic under the Soviet government’s patronage, caring for them through extreme weather conditions and shortages until World War II ended.
Click here to read more about B’nai B’rith World’s event.
B’nai B’rith World Center And Keren Kayemeth Leisrael Held Unique Holocaust Day Ceremony Marking The Heroism Of Jewish Rescuers
Ceremony dedicated to commemorating the rescue efforts of Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner
The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) held, for the 14th consecutive year, a unique joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day). This is the only event dedicated annually to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. More than 850 people attended the event, including about 200 Border Patrol Cadets who provided an honor guard and 200 high school students, along with Jewish rescuers and survivors. The ceremony was held at the B’nai B’rith Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza.
This years' event memorialized the rescue efforts of Jewish educator and Leningrad resident Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner (1912 –1991). According to survivors' testimonies Pevzner served as the director of the Polish troupe in the Soviet Pioneers Camp in Druskeninkai, Lithuania when on June 22, 1941, the Nazis launched “Operation Barbarossa” and attacked the area. Pevzner succeeded in rescuing all 300 children from the camp, including about 140 Jewish children from Bialystok, Poland, and the surrounding region, and retreating with them by train to the safety of the Soviet Far East. For the 12 day journey, they were under repeated German aerial attack. Pevzner established a home for the children in the Udmurtia Republic under the Soviet government’s patronage, caring for them through extreme weather conditions and shortages until World War II ended. The children—only four of whom found any surviving parents after the war—were repatriated to Poland in 1946, and most immigrated to Israel. Pevzner was decorated by Poland and the Soviet Union for his rescue of the children. The director of the Lithuanian troupe at the camp, Stasys Sviderskis, was recognized in 1997 by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations for his role in the rescue.
"It is appropriate that these days when divisions among us are escalating and dialogue between various groups in society has become polarized, that we remember the spirit of solidarity represented by Shmuel Markowitz Pevsner. That spirit kept Jews safe even in the most difficult times, lifted us out of the crematorium and ashes and led us to fulfill the Zionist dream of a State of Israel," KKL-JNF Chairman Danny Atar said.
"Through the ceremony and citation, the organizers seek to right the historical record by giving due recognition to Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner for rescuing these vulnerable children, some as young as seven, and all but four of whom where orphaned by the war's end. We salute his dedication to the children, supporting them through emotional and physical hardships' to become upstanding youngsters and adults," B'nai B'rith World Center director Alan Schneider said.
The event was held at the Martyr's Forest—a joint Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) and B’nai B’rith project which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust with six million trees planted in the picturesque Jerusalem mountains near Moshav Kesalon. At the pinnacle of the forest stands the “Scroll of Fire” by the renowned sculptor Nathan Rappaport, which invokes the destruction of the Jewish people in the Holocaust and their redemption in the State of Israel. The event will commence with personal testimonies by Holocaust survivors to classes of soldiers.
The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe have yet to receive appropriate public recognition and resonance. Many who could have tried to flee preferred to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives. With great heroism Jews in every country in occupied Europe employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that some Jews survived the Holocaust there or assisted them in escaping to a safe haven and in doing so foiled the Nazi goal of total genocide against the Jews. The organizers of the ceremony view it as especially important to expose Jewish youth to Jewish rescue during the Holocaust as a model for Jewish solidarity and courage.