Our Thoughts and Prayers are with the Families and all of Israel
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
We are outraged and horrified by the murder of three Israeli teenagers missing since they were kidnapped in the West Bank June 12. The three teenagers, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were abducted as they returned home from school.
The kidnapping and subsequent murders are the direct product of the constant and relentless incitement taught by the Palestinians.
For many decades, generations of Palestinians have been raised on a diet of hate, which feeds the terror targeting Israel. The twin evils of incitement and terrorism have once again shown that Israel does not have a credible partner for peace.
The Israeli government has placed the blame for the kidnappings—which occurred less than two weeks after the swearing in of the Fatah-Hamas-backed Palestinian government—directly on Hamas, which remains committed to the destruction of Israel and to carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.
It is the duty of the Palestinians to surrender the murderers to Israel.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the teens and with the people of Israel.
B'nai B'rith World Center Honors Winners of 2014 Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage
Minister Naftali Bennett delivers opening address; Special citation conferred upon musician Nurit Hirsh for contributions to Israel-Diaspora Relations
The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem honored the 2014 winners of the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportaģe in Memory of Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf. The winners were recognized at a ceremony held at Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem on June 29. Minister of Economy, Religious Services, Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett delivered the opening address on “A New Partnership—Israel and the Diaspora.”
Matan Hodorov, chief economic correspondent for Channel 10 News, won in the broadcast media category, while Judy Maltz, senior writer for Ha'aretz, took home the award in the print media category. The judges also presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to David Horovitz, founding editor of the Times of Israel and former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post and Jerusalem Report. The award was given to Horovitz for his dedication to extended Diaspora reportaģe spanning a 30-year career.
"We need other reasons for the existence of the State of Israel, beyond it being a heaven for Jews because if that is the essence of the state's existence, we will not be here for long because there are other places that are safer for Jews," Bennett said. "Until now we looked at the Jewish Diaspora as either a wallet for fundraising or as a source of immigrants. Under the government's new initiative, the State of Israel will allocate tax payers’ funds in order to maintain Jewish identify in the Diaspora and to build a true partnership between Israel and the Diaspora."
Hodorov received the award in the broadcast media category for his four-part series entitled “The New Immigrants.” The series focused on the growing phenomenon of emigration of young Israelis to the United States and Europe due to financial hardships they faced in Israel and the formation of new Jewish clusters in the Diaspora. Before becoming chief economic correspondent at Channel 10 in 2009, Hodorov served as a financial correspondent at Galai Zahal for six years.
Maltz took home the award in the print media category for a large body of work that appeared in Ha'aretz—in both Hebrew and English—during 2013, including articles about the Greek, Brazilian, Ugandan, Yemenite, American, British and Hungarian Jewish communities. Maltz has also written for The Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem Report and Globes.
In receiving his Lifetime Achieve Award, Horovitz addressed the audience: "Journalism is a noble field. We elect politicians to run our countries because that is the most logical way to organize our national lives, but power inevitably corrupts and honest, independent journalism is the most effective way to keep our leaders honest. Fair and honest journalism is also crucial to informing the nation of what is being done in its name and what its options are, to enable the people to make smart, informed choices about who should lead and which policies they should favor. But honest, fair journalism is in ever-shorter supply around the world most certainly, including in Israel. This Israel we love must strive to maintain its Jewish character and democratic core."
The evening ended with the presentation of a special citation to Israeli musician and composer Nurit Hirsh in recognition of her contribution to fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts. Hirsh has honorably represented the State of Israel around the world for more than 50 years, having composed more than 1,500 songs and put on many moving performances. Her songs have been published in a collection of six books and 13 albums. Many of Hirsh’s popular songs in Diaspora communities serve as a bridge, a language and a source of shared identity between Israel and Jewish communities around the world, between communities and within communities themselves.
Following the presentation, Hirsh sung a medley of her most famous songs, accompanied by the Education Corp Troupe.
The distinguished members of the award jury are: Chairman Asher Weill, publisher and editor of ARIEL - The Israel Review of Arts and Letters from 1981 to 2003; Yehudith Auerbach, professor in the School of Communication at Bar Ilan University; Eytan Bentsur, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs director general; Sara Frenkel, former Diaspora correspondent for Israel Radio and 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award winner; Shalom Kital, former director general of News Company and Channel 2; Tamar Liebes, professor and former head of the Department of Communication and Journalism at Hebrew University; Gabriela Shalev, professor and chair of the Higher Academic Council at Ono Academic College, as well as a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations; and Bambi Sheleg, founder and editor-in-chief of Eretz Acheret, and a 2011 award winner.
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, and the Matsdorf family.
B’nai B’rith Leaders, in Marathon Meetings with U.N. Ambassadors, Demand Action on Palestinian Hostage-Taking, Other Threats
Canadian Envoy Honored for Bold Leadership
B’nai B’rith International sent some 30 senior leaders to the United Nations on June 22-24 to engage in urgent advocacy against terrorism—including the current hostage-taking of three Israeli schoolboys—as well as Iran’s advancing nuclear program, the Palestinian Authority’s partnership with Hamas and the threat of further exploitation of the United Nations as a political weapon against Israel.
In a little more than 24 hours, B’nai B’rith directly advocated on these issues to roughly two-dozen ambassadors and other senior diplomats from around the globe, including members of the U.N. Security Council. The B’nai B’rith leaders were also briefed by key officials, including U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal; Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations; and Kimberly Mann, manager of the U.N. Holocaust Outreach Programme.
“Rarely have B’nai B’rith leaders launched an advocacy campaign at a more pressing moment,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The violent extremism that Israel faces in the Middle East is the unsurpassed challenge faced by the world.”
Secretary-General Ban transmitted a personal message for the occasion, in which he confirmed, among other points, his “sympathy for the recently abducted Israeli teenagers” and asserted that the United Nations “continues to stand against racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination.” Launsky-Tieffenthal separately noted deep concern about “Naftali, Eyal and Gilad”—the three boys abducted by Palestinian terrorists—and, acknowledging B’nai B’rith’s exceptional history at the United Nations, described it as a “midwife or godmother” of the world body.
While in New York, B’nai B’rith leaders presented the organization’s Excellence in Diplomacy Award to Canadian Ambassador Guillermo E. Rishchynski and his country’s mission to the United Nations, in the presence both of Canada’s Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer and the Consul-General in New York John Prato. After being hailed for his government’s unsurpassed championing of fairness and justice at the United Nations, Rishchynski said, “I’m grateful to B’nai B’rith for its leadership.” Calling Israel an “extraordinary society” that “stands in stark contrast to many other nations in that region,” he affirmed that “Canada stands with Israel in its pursuit of freedom, peace and security.” He added that groups currently calling for boycotts of Israeli businesses “demand a vigilant response that repudiates hatred for what it is.”
For the principled friendship of those like Canada, Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said that “history, and the Jewish people, will long hold deep admiration and gratitude.”
In meetings with ambassadors, B’nai B’rith took the opportunity to challenge members of the United Nations to quickly embrace a new initiative to add Yom Kippur to a series of Christian, Muslim and other holidays officially recognized by the organization.
“The U.N. has long framed itself as defined by diversity, equality and inclusiveness. Its record on the only Jewish state, Israel, has fallen dramatically short,” Mariaschin said. “The body can now begin to demonstrate Jewish inclusion in the family of nations by honoring the most sacred day of the Jewish faith, in a city with the single largest population of Jews in the Diaspora.”
With an accredited presence at the world body since its founding and representation at U.N. arms worldwide, B’nai B’rith is the only major Jewish organization with a dedicated, full-time Office of United Nations Affairs.
B’nai B’rith International Addresses UNHRC, Condemns Fatah-Hamas Pact and Demands: “Bring Home Our Boys”
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International spoke before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) today under its general agenda item 4—pointedly refusing to appear in the context of item 7, which singles out Israel alone for scrutiny. B’nai B’rith demanded urgent council action on Palestinians’ hostage-taking of three Israeli schoolboys and condemned the recently signed cooperation pact that gave the terrorist organization Hamas a key stake, alongside Fatah, in the Palestinian Authority.
Geneva representative Richard Sadoune spoke on behalf of B’nai B’rith, pressing the council to acknowledge a Hamas-Fatah regime’s ineligibility to be internationally recognized, to receive support and to be considered a viable partner for peace with Israel under longstanding terms established by the Middle East Quartet, of which the United Nations is a member.
“Has Hamas recognized the right of the State of Israel to exist? The answer is no. Its leaders still refer to Israel as the ‘Zionist entity,’ and they have made it abundantly clear since the pact’s announcement that this policy of non-recognition has not, and will never, change,” Sadoune said, speaking in French. “Has Hamas recognized past agreements with Israel? Hamas doctrinally rejects a two-state solution or negotiations that would lead to a final peace agreement.”
Sadoune continued: “Has Hamas renounced violence? The answer again is no. Hamas continues to see the violent destruction of Israel as its raison d’être, continues to stockpile missiles and fire them indiscriminately at Israeli civilians. Just this past week three innocent Israeli boys were taken hostage by terrorists, and both Hamas and other Palestinian groups openly celebrated. Clearly, Hamas still miserably fails all three vital Quartet conditions for engagement.”
He concluded: “It is the urgent obligation of this council to stand against ongoing Palestinian terrorism—beginning with a demand for the unconditional freeing of three kidnapped Israeli schoolboys.”
B’nai B’rith is a constant presence at the UNHRC, fighting its never-ending obsession with Israel and advocating for concrete action against unsurpassed human rights abusers, including Syria and Iran.
Click here to read the full statement in French.
Click here to read the full statement in English.
B’nai B’rith International condemns the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for voting in favor of divestment in Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard at its 221st biennial General Assembly.
By voting for divestment the PC (U.S.A.) become an active participant in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a change in stance from the previous General Assembly where a set of divestment proposals were narrowly defeated.
Some activists within and outside the church have now successfully pushed the denomination to adopt a partisan stance in the vanguard of the anti-Israel BDS movement since 2004. Earlier this year, PC (U.S.A.) earned widespread rebuke for its distribution of “Zionism Unsettled,” a particularly offensive anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish publication created by the foremost activists in the church's Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), a political advocacy group.
Contrary to the messaging of partisan campaigners, it is not possible to single out companies doing business with Israel for divestment and not be complicit in the BDS orbit. Defined by the rejection of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish democratic state in the ancestral Jewish homeland, the BDS movement directs discrimination and double standards at the Jewish state alone, and further denies the right of Israelis to live safely while already facing relentless violent fanaticism.
As a humanitarian organization that has invested tremendous hope and extensive efforts worldwide in building Christian-Jewish friendship for 170 years, we remain confident that such an approach does not reflect the values and perspectives of the vast majority of American Christians.
B'nai B'rith Commends Justice Department for Pursuit of Nazi Death Camp Guard Living in Philadelphia
The arrest of Johann “Hans” Breyer in Philadelphia pending extradition to Germany to face charges over his role as a guard at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during the Holocaust underscores that there can never be a statute of limitations on holding perpetrators of Nazi atrocities accountable for their crimes.
The passage of time should afford no protection from prosecution to those who carried out horrific acts as part of the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe.
German officials are asking for his extradition to stand trial for aiding and abetting in the murders of 216,000 Jews.
More than one million people were killed at Auschwitz—at least 960,000 of them Jews. At times between 1941 and 1944, at the height of deportations, up to 6,000 Jews were killed a day at Auschwitz.
B’nai B’rith commends the Human Rights and Special Protections Section of the U.S. Department of Justice for its tireless work in pursuit of Nazis living in the United States.
Summer 2014 Issue Also Explores the Iraqi Jewish Archive and Israeli Wines
As the number of Holocaust survivors shrinks, much of the restitution for the horrors they suffered remains unpaid. In the new summer issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine, writer Uriel Heilman details the uphill battle they face in receiving what they’re owed.
While Poland, without any substantial legislation requiring restitution, seems to be the worst offender, it is far from alone. Lithuania and other Eastern European nations have had trouble in the past. While many countries have created new departments and positions to deal with these problems, much work remains to be done.
B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin dedicates his column to restitution as well. Mariaschin outlines the role of B’nai B’rith, with significant involvement in the Claims Conference and World Jewish Restitution Organization, in fighting for survivors’ compensation and in fulfilling our “solemn obligation” to ensure that justice is achieved.
In August, B’nai B’rith will hold its Policy Forum in Panama City, Panama. With that in mind, B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs explains opportunities and challenges facing in Latin America.
In 2003, American soldiers in Iraq searching for weapons of mass destruction found thousands of Jewish documents and artifacts. Now known as the Iraqi Jewish Archive, these pieces of Jewish history were displayed in New York and Washington, but Iraq wants them back. Writer Barbara Trainin Blank traces their tortuous history and the controversy over their ownership
Over the last few decades, Israel has become a formidable competitor in the wine world. Hillel Kuttler looks at the Judean Hills where over a third of the country’s vineyards are located. Situated in central Israel, the area is creating some very popular red varieties.
In the “About Seniors” section, B’nai B’rith Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg discusses the importance of having a will and an advance directive. Through her experiences with her parents and children, Goldberg advocates for these documents as a necessary service for your loved ones.
B’nai B’rith International and IsraAID Launch Training Mission in Bulgaria in Support of Syrian Refugees
B’nai B’rith International and IsraAID have launched a training mission in Bulgaria to help meet the mental health needs of Syrian refugees who have fled to Bulgaria. B’nai B’rith is a founding member and active supporter of IsraAID, the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, which responds to disasters worldwide.
The mission is led by Israeli psychologist Dr. Shlomit Bressler, who arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria, on June 16 to launch a psycho-social training program geared to strengthen the capacities of Bulgarian governmental and non-governmental professionals as they struggle to cope with the mental health needs of the 12,000 Syrian refugees who have found refuge in Bulgaria since the outbreak of civil war.
Trainees in the three, one-week monthly sessions are employees of the State Agency for Refugees and the Bulgarian Red Cross who have direct responsibility for hosting and integrating the refugees.
The IsraAID mission was sparked after Bulgaria, overwhelmed by the mass of people—primarily Syrian— crossing through Turkey into the country, appealed for international aid, while the United Nations declared a “human emergency” along its border. About 11,000 Syrian refugees inundated the unprepared Bulgaria relief agencies over a short period in late 2013, many taking up residence in deteriorating, overcrowded camps.
IsraAID is the first Israeli-aid organization to assist the burgeoning refugee population in Bulgaria. B'nai B'rith International, the Shai Fund and the American Jewish Committee have partnered with IsraAID to launch this program.
In May B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider led a fact-finding mission to Bulgaria, during which the foundation for the training program was laid with the assistance of B'nai B'rith Bulgaria President Solomon Bali.
The mission also provided emergency aid items including food and diapers to urban refugees in the Bulgarian capital Sofia and in refugee camps in Sofia and outlying areas. The mission also conducted meetings with high-level national and local officials responsible for the treatment of refugees and with representatives of non-governmental agency refugee advocates. They also visited two refugee camps where they met with refugees from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Somalia.
“Death of Klinghoffer” Promotes an Offensive Political Position
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is dismayed that the Metropolitan Opera in New York has chosen to include on its fall schedule “The Death of Klinghoffer.” This 1991 American opera glorifies the Palestine Liberation Front terrorists who took over the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985 and murdered American tourist Leon Klinghoffer.
This piece seeks moral equivalence between terrorists and their victims. This opera crosses a line of artistic expression and promotes an offensive position.
The Metropolitan Opera’s large audience, amplified by its live broadcasts to movie theaters nationwide, gives this anti-Semitic piece a large public platform.
Responding to a letter from CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting, Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb wrote of the composer: “… he tried to understand the hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists, as well as in their victims.”
Humanity in the terrorists? These men shot and killed a wheelchair-bound 69-year old man and dumped his body overboard. What’s to understand?
B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin expressed the organization’s concern to Gelb. Click here to read the letter.
B’nai B’rith International Condemns Kidnapping of Israeli Teens; Palestinian Authority Should Be Held Responsible
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
The search continues for three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped in the West Bank on June 12 as they were coming home from school. The Israeli government has placed the blame squarely on Hamas, less than two weeks following the swearing in of the Fatah-Hamas-backed Palestinian government.
The kidnapping is a result of intensified terrorist activity emanating from the West Bank since President Mahmoud Abbas forged an alliance with Hamas, including a recently foiled suicide bombing and a shooting attack that left an Israeli police officer wounded.
Because Hamas has become a 50 percent partner behind a government of “technocrats” within the Palestinian Authority at the invitation of Abbas, Israel is rightly holding him responsible for the fate of the kidnapped teens. Instead of upholding his international obligation to disarm Hamas, Abbas has embraced the organization, lending legitimacy to terrorism. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority continues to incite Palestinians to hatred and violence by glorifying terrorists through official media and its education system.
Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel and to carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Hamas does not need any reason, excuse or incentive to murder and kidnap Israelis: terrorist attacks are nothing less than Hamas’ raison d'etre. With its newly sanctioned position within the government, Hamas remains more poised than ever to take control of the Palestinian Authority, just as it did in Gaza.
Israel warned the international community about the dangers of endorsing Fatah’s pact with Hamas. Today it is clear that Hamas has exploited the partnership to strengthen its presence in the West Bank, with grave consequences.