B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith renews its long-held concern about the feasibility of a nuclear deal with Iran. The latest deadline overrun demonstrates once more Tehran’s inability to commit to some of the most important issues in any deal, including intrusive inspections of all of its nuclear facilities, especially military sites.
We reiterate our long-standing skepticism of Iranian intentions.
B’nai B’rith continues to call on the White House and the P5+1 (United States plus China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany) to stand firm on addressing such issues as plutonium enrichment, intrusive inspections and the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program.
It is difficult to overstate the global impact of Iran’s access to nuclear weapons. With Tehran-controlled proxies effectively running so much of the collapsing Middle East, an Iran with nuclear weapons is an alarming prospect.
As we noted months ago when an initial framework was reached: “Skepticism of Iran’s true nuclear intentions is natural, in light of the regime’s own words and actions.”
At the time of the initial framework, we noted that Iranian General Mohammad Ali Jafari had recently said: “The range of (our) missiles covers all of Israel today. That means the fall of the Zionist regime, which will certainly come soon.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also sharpened his rhetoric, saying in recent months: “whether a nuclear agreement is achieved or not, Israel will be more insecure each day.”
Is this a regime ready to allow full and unfettered access to its nuclear sites? Is this a regime that has peaceful intentions for its nuclear research? Its history as the largest state-sponsor of global terror would indicate the answers are no.
B’nai B'rith Speaks Out At United Nations Human Rights Council Against Biased Report On 2014 Gaza Conflict
B’nai B’rith International was responsible for delivering two statements on June 29 at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, both relating to the council’s recent report on the 2014 Hamas-initiated Gaza conflict.
The first, delivered by B’nai B’rith representative to the United Nations in Geneva Klaus Netter, admonished the council for its refusal to even acknowledge the terrorist group Hamas by name in its resolution launching the investigation, let alone fully recognizing its true intentions to destroy Israel. Netter said: “Human rights mechanisms such as this Council often see their role as to name-and-shame human rights abusers. Unless the abuser is Hamas. In that case, the Council will ignore-and-obscure. We must ask: What it will take for this Council to pronounce the name ‘Hamas?’”
Netter noted: “There is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas. As recently confirmed by a group of international military experts, Israel far exceeded the obligations of International Humanitarian Law in its counter-terrorism operations last summer. Hamas, on the other hand, dug tunnels into Israeli territory with the sole aim of carrying out horrendous terrorist attacks against Israeli farming communities near the border.”
In his statement, Netter focused on the lack of acknowledgement that Israel was defending itself against the “ruthless terrorist organization” that is Hamas.
Click here to read Netter’s intervention: http://bit.ly/1g2xdHs
Separately, in cooperation with JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs), Geoffrey Corn, a professor of law and the U.S. Army’s former senior expert on the Law of Armed Conflict, spoke under Agenda Item 7 about the flaws inherent in the report on the Gaza conflict.
In his intervention, Corn raised a number of objections to the validity and accuracy of the report. At one point, he focused on how Hamas terrorists hid fighters and weapons among the civilian population of Gaza: “Specifically, it omits assessment of how an enemy’s systemic failure to distinguish himself from civilians, and in fact deliberately exploit the perception of civilian status, impacts the reasonableness of attack judgments.”
Click here to read Corn’s intervention: http://bit.ly/1InXBGL
To watch these interventions, see Chapter 49 (02:03:18, Netter) and Chapter 53 (02:11:55, Corn) here: http://webtv.un.org/watch/item7-general-debate-34th-meeting-29th-regular-session-of-human-rights-council/4328108187001
B’nai B’rith International expresses its appreciation to the U.S. Congress for including an amendment in a major trade bill that opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Under the just-passed Trans-Pacific Partnership bill, trading partners in the European Union and elsewhere must reject a boycott of Israeli products in order to do business with the United States.
The amendment targets: “politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel and to seek the elimination of politically motivated nontariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel.”
Further, the amendment calls for “the elimination of state-sponsored unsanctioned foreign boycotts against Israel or compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel by prospective trading partners.”
The odious BDS movement, which continues to gain traction on college campuses and in the corporate world, seeks to isolate and marginalize Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.
With bipartisan support, the trade measure passed the House and the Senate and the president is expected to quickly sign the bill into law.
B’nai B’rith welcomes these amendments, which represent an important, public and unequivocal defense of Israel at a time when the Jewish state is facing an onslaught of efforts to delegitimize it on the global stage.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is once again misappropriating an important global forum to advance its own agenda rather than to advance the cause of peace. In a move that further demonstrates its true intentions, which is to use global venues to strong-arm Israel (rather than negotiate), the PA has accused Israel of “war crimes.”
The PA provided documents to the International Criminal Court (ICC) detailing what it claims are Israel’s “war crimes,” relating to Israel’s self-defense in Gaza in 2014, along with its settlement construction projects in other parts of Israel.
This incessant effort to internationalize the conflict with Israel shows the PA’s true hand. The PA consistently has tried to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state by outlandishly characterizing Israel’s attempts to defend itself from terrorist attacks as war crimes.
Six months ago, when PA President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application to the ICC, B’nai B’rith wrote:
“In order to preserve the essential principle of conflict resolution through negotiation, and the fundamental right and duty of responsible states to combat terrorism, Palestinian exporting of political grievances to The Hague must be firmly rejected internationally.”
While the delivery of these documents makes for good show, true efforts by the Palestinians to work for peace are nonexistent.
The delivery of these documents should be viewed by the world community as yet another cynical move to divert attention from the complete lack of effort by the PA to work toward peace.
B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs (Right) and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin (Left) present Pope Francis (Center) with a framed 1965 edition of The Jerusalem Post with coverage on Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council document that helped to transform Catholic-Jewish relations.
A multinational delegation of B’nai B’rith leaders met privately with Pope Francis on June 25 at the Vatican, the first international Jewish audience with the pope since the Vatican announced an agreement on church issues with “the State of Palestine” and the pope separately acknowledged non-recognition of Israel as amounting to anti-Semitism. The meeting came during the 50th anniversary year of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council document that helped to transform Catholic-Jewish relations.
B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs celebrated the pope's commitment to “advancing the path of your predecessors in signaling the Church’s commitment to the Jewish people, its respect for Judaism, its denunciation of persisting anti-Semitism, and its due recognition of the State of Israel.” At the same time, he told the pontiff that “tragically, no enduring Palestinian-Israeli peace can be possible as long as powerful forces deny the right of a Jewish state to live within any boundaries in Jews' only ancestral homeland. It is in light of this that it is so important that Palestinians not be afforded incentives to pursue political aims outside of meaningful and direct negotiations, compromise and comprehensive bilateral agreement with Israel."
On the eve of the current June 30 deadline for international negotiations with Iran over its illicit nuclear program, Jacobs also emphasized that "if it weren’t enough that Iran openly pledges Israel’s destruction and lethally empowers foremost terrorist groups—responsible for carnage as far away as Buenos Aires, whose unresolved 1994 AMIA bombing you have consistently highlighted—this rogue government has aggressively pursued the ability to acquire the most dangerous of weaponry... [M]ore attention needs to be paid to the telling fact that Iran’s actions have broadly united its neighbors—Arabs and Israelis alike—in urgent, and unprecedented, alarm."
The B'nai B'rith statement said that the “continuing, extraordinary transformation in the relationship between our faith communities can serve as a source of inspiration and optimism for so many others around the world, not least at a time of tensions and conflicts too often influenced by religion... We must make the deepening Christian-Jewish kinship further known among our own adherents around the world—from clergy to educators to young people—and we must progress from dialogue to concrete partnership in tackling the array of challenges that confront our constituencies and all members of the human family. Among these are the protection of our shared environment, care for the poorest and most vulnerable in society, the advancement of quality education for all, the encouragement of international peace, and the combating of all forms of extremism and bigotry.”
B’nai B’rith expressed support “to our Christian friends worldwide—and we specifically offer our immense concern, and abiding solidarity, as Christians in so many parts of the Middle East are now faced with discrimination, threats and outright persecution. We have them in our thoughts and our prayers."
Since Israel, a rare Middle Eastern democracy where Christians and other minorities have continually increased, itself represents a threatened minority presence in the region, the B'nai B'rith delegation decried "an economic warfare movement, present even in some religious denominations, that singles out the Jewish state for punitive campaigns."
This is not B’nai B’rith’s first time meeting with Pope Francis: In 2013, B’nai B’rith International Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels attended the installation of the pope and the first interreligious meeting with him at the Vatican. In 2014, Michaels also greeted Francis at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during the papal visit to Israel. And before he was known around the world at Pope Francis, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio hosted B’nai B’rith’s Kristallnacht commemoration in Buenos Aires in 2012.
“Our meeting with Pope Francis provided us an opportunity to directly reaffirm the bond between the Jewish community and Catholics worldwide, on the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate. It also gave our delegation an important chance to discuss urgent issues in the Middle East that affect both faiths in the region,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
The B’nai B’rith delegation additionally met, or is scheduled to meet, with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni; Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin; Bishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States; Emanuela D'Alessandro, diplomatic advisor to Italian President Sergio Mattarella; Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and its Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews; Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Zion Evrony, ambassador of Israel to the Holy See; Kathleen Doherty, chargé d'affaires at the United States Embassy in Rome; and leaders of the Italian Jewish community and B'nai B'rith Rome.
In addition to Jacobs and Mariaschin, among the other members of the B’nai B’rith delegation were Chairman of the Executive Board of Directors Gary Saltzman (Denver, Colo.); B’nai B’rith Europe President Erika van Gelder (The Netherlands); Chairman of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy Joseph Harari (Panama); Haim Katz, Chairman of the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem (Israel); and President of B’nai B’rith Argentina Mario Wilhelm (Argentina).
B’nai B’rith International welcomes the 6-3 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) use of insurance premium subsidies nationwide in the long awaited decision issued today in King v. Burwell.
As an advocate for seniors, B’nai B’rith recognizes that lifetime access to health care is critically important to the goal of healthy aging. We have long recognized that healthy aging doesn’t begin at age 65, and pursued policies that promote and facilitate access to care and coverage. This is especially important as it is harder to insure people ages 50-64, many of whom receive subsidies in the 34 states at issue in King v. Burwell.
When the ACA was written, it was specifically designed to provide subsidies for low-to-middle income families to buy health insurance. The language in the law that defined the insurance exchanges in which these subsidies could be used was challenged in this case. The plaintiffs held that if a state did not set up its own health insurance exchange and instead opted into using the federal government’s insurance exchange, the ACA is not legally allowed to distribute insurance subsidies for insurance purchased in the federal exchange.
There are 34 states that did not create their own exchange, opting instead to ask the federal government to run an exchange for them, allowing coverage for residents. Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling, those 6.3 million people will continue to be able to afford their coverage.
B’nai B’rith supports this decision issued today by the Supreme Court because it will continue to allow millions of Americans, many of them older workers who struggle to afford coverage, to receive subsidies as intended by the ACA.
B’nai B’rith looks forward to continuing to improve access to health care in the United States by improving on the ACA, as well as strengthening Medicare and Medicaid.
B’nai B’rith International welcomes the Senate’s introduction of the Voting Rights Reconstruction Act bill, which would update key protections against voting rights discrimination to respond to current challenges.
Unfettered access to vote is one of the most basic and cherished freedoms in America. Ensuring free and fair access to the voting booth for all Americans is a vital component of our democracy. We need voting rights reform to guarantee full access to the ballot box.
The bill would restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which was passed 50 years ago and has been weakened by federal court decisions over the years.
In 2013, B’nai B’rith spoke out against the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling Shelby County v. Holder, which eliminated the requirement that nine states and numerous counties must seek federal approval before changing their election laws. At the time, we expressed deep concern that the ruling could pave the way for state and local efforts to suppress voting by minorities. We noted then that it was time for Congress to act again to extend the requirement that these states and localities get pre-approval to change their voting laws.
The updated voting rights measure would: Modernize the preclearance formula to cover states with a pattern of discrimination and allow federal courts to order preclearance remedies in the event of voting rights violations; Ensure that last-minute voting changes won’t adversely affect voters; Protect voters from the types of voting changes most likely to discriminate against people of color and those who don’t use English as their first language; Expand the federal observer program; Improve voting rights protections for Native peoples.
The introduction of this measure demonstrates an important will to reform voting protections. Federal oversight of voting rules is imperative. We urge Congress to remedy the loss of protections by enacting this new legislation that addresses discriminatory voting conditions.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the original Voting Rights Act. There is no better or more important way to honor the advances won by the civil rights movement half a century ago than to pass legislation in our own time that ensures the hard-fought gains they achieved will not continue to erode. It is time once again to eradicate voting discrimination.
B’nai B’rith urges both parties and both chambers to work together to pass a measure restoring voting protections for all Americans.
B’nai B’rith International calls on all states displaying the Confederate flag to remove the offensive symbol of hatred and discrimination. Public buildings, parks or license plates are no place for this strongly divisive symbol.
In the wake of the June 17 murders of nine African Americans in their South Carolina church by a gunman who targeted them because of their race, we are reminded that the flag remains, to many, an enduring symbol of bigotry and divisiveness.
Two days ago, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the flag from the state house grounds. We welcome the decision today by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to have the flag removed from the state Capitol grounds in Montgomery. Major retailers in the United States have also announced they will no longer sell the flag, recognizing its potential to incite hatred.
Karen Fish-Will of Peabody Properties is 2015 Recipient
B’nai B’rith Housing in Boston has honored Karen Fish-Will, CEO of Peabody Properties, with the 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award.
Susan Gittelman, B’nai B’rith Housing executive director said: “Karen is extremely deserving of this award. Her passion and devotion to affordable housing and to creating community are second to none.”
Creating safe and affordable homes, where seniors can age in place, has been a mission of B’nai B’rith International for nearly 50 years.
B'nai B'rith is the largest national Jewish sponsor of federally subsidized housing for the elderly in the United States with 42 buildings in 27 communities.
Working directly with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, B'nai B'rith makes rental apartments available for senior citizens with limited incomes. B'nai B'rith senior housing is open to all qualified individuals as defined by HUD, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, handicap or national origin.
Watch below to see how one property, The Coolidge at Sudbury, in Massachusetts, has had a positive impact on the residents.
B’nai B’rith is highly critical of the report issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) “independent, international commission of inquiry” into Israel’s defensive operations against Hamas in Gaza during the summer of 2014. The report inherently lacks credibility and should not be taken as a serious evaluation of the necessary counterterrorism actions of the Israel Defense Forces.
Though objectionable, many of the report’s findings hardly seem surprising. Because of the council’s singular and obsessive focus on Israel, anything produced by it on related matters must be viewed with a high level of skepticism. When the probe was announced last year, any casual observer of the Human Rights Council could have predicted that Israel would be unjustly condemned for the conflict that Hamas initiated and sustained. Those predictions were confirmed today with the release of the report.
The inquiry places undeserved blame on Israel, notwithstanding Hamas’ role as the provocateur that launched indiscriminate rocket attacks putting most of Israel’s population within the range of fire, Palestinian terrorist organizations’ use of U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools to store rockets and the dozens of tunnels dug into Israeli territory for the sole purpose of carrying out terror attacks against Israeli civilian communities near the border. Since the council resolution that established the commission of inquiry found Israel guilty in advance and could not bring itself to use the words “Hamas” or “Islamic Jihad” even once, it could not reasonably be expected that the commission would meaningfully investigate and report on the hostilities.
“This Human Rights Council report implies a patently false equivalence between Hamas and Israel,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “It’s a ridiculous claim, as Israel surpasses virtually all other countries in the precautions, restraint and self-scrutiny it demonstrates in counterterrorism operations.”
Israel released its own report on the subject on June 14, “The 2014 Gaza Conflict: Factual and Legal Aspects,” which highlights official Hamas documents uncovered in the fighting demonstrating that the Islamist group’s strategy “was to deliberately draw the hostilities into the urban terrain, and to use built-up areas and the presence of the civilian population for tactical advantage and political gain.” Additionally, Hamas took advantage of civilian areas including U.N. facilities, schools, hospitals, mosques and residential buildings and converted them into “rocket-launch sites, weapons storage facilities, command-and-control centres, and covers for tunnel entrances,” the Israeli report spells out.
The council’s appointment of William Schabas as the head of the commission of inquiry was a blatant sign of what direction it would take. Schabas is well-known for his anti-Israel views, and it came to light in January that Schabas was previously paid to provide legal advice to the Palestine Liberation Organization. As a result of that disclosure, Schabas excused himself from the probe; however, he commented during his departure that most of its research was already completed.
“The Human Rights Council’s lack of self-awareness is again on display with the release of this report. After years of attacking Israel while claiming impartiality, the council stacked the deck from the start by appointing Schabas as the head of the inquiry. The discovery of his ties to the PLO should have been a huge embarrassment to the council and effectively eliminated any shred of credibility it had on this subject. Yet, here we are, with a laundry list of biased allegations against the only true democracy in the Middle East instead of a singular indictment of Hamas, an organization which is endangering the lives of civilians on both sides of the border,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
See where B'nai B'rith International stands on the issues.