Special Insights from Ambassador Dennis Ross on Current Peace Prospects
In commemoration of B’nai B’rith International’s 170th anniversary, the fall issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine is devoted entirely to an examination of the organization’s history, present-day works and future.
As one of the most ardent supporters of Israel, B’nai B’rith monitors the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and advocates in support of a peaceful solution that ensures the security of the Jewish state. Despite all the roadblocks to peace, Ambassador Dennis Ross, who has served as the U.S. Middle East Envoy in both Republican and Democratic administrations, offers a roadmap for both Israelis and Palestinians to overcome mistrust and work toward a tangible, lasting peace. As talks between Israelis and Palestinians have resumed for the first time in three years, Ross’s prescription for peace outlines a 16-point agenda for negotiations. Acknowledging the seeming intransigence of the issue, Ross maintains that peace is within reach and now is the time for Israelis and Palestinians to seize it.
Looking forward, B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin examines the most pressing challenges and threats facing the global Jewish community and what can be done about them. From grappling with Jewish demographic issues to addressing the need for Jewish literacy and Zionist education, Mariaschin anticipates problems of the future by offering solutions that can be implemented today. B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs examines the organization’s future by way of looking at its past. Jacobs says those lessons which B’nai B’rith has learned throughout its 170-year history will serve the organization well as it continues to adapt to the changing demands of the time.
Historian Cornelia Wilhelm takes readers back to 1843 and the founding of the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith at Sinsheimer’s Café on the Lower East Side of New York. As immigrants, the founders of B’nai B’rith and members during the early years of the organization were committed to maintaining their Jewish identity while serving their new country as model citizens. And writer Cheryl Kempler explores the golden years of B’nai B’rith under the leadership of Henry Monsky, who served as president from 1938–1947.
Elsewhere in the magazine, Mark D. Olshan, B’nai B’rith International associate executive vice president and director of the Center for Senior Services; Rachel Goldberg, B’nai B’rith International director of aging policy; and Janel Doughten, B’nai B’rith International associate director of the Center for Senior Services, detail how B’nai B’rith first got involved with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and senior housing in the 1970s to become the largest national Jewish sponsor of HUD-assisted senior housing in the country.
In addition to exploring B’nai B’rith’s commitment to offering quality, affordable housing to low-income seniors so they can age with dignity, the fall issue details B’nai B’rith’s commitment to disaster relief and its regional offices around the globe, including Latin America, Australia and Canada.
Read all this and more in the special 170th anniversary-commemorative issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine: http://mydigimag.rrd.com/publication/?i=169518.
Swiss Government Nominates Anti-Israel Radical
B’nai B’rith International is outraged at the Swiss government’s nominee for membership on the Advisory Committee of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The nomination of Jean Ziegler is an affront to the idea of an impartial, credible council. In the run-up to Israel’s total, unrequited withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Ziegler called the territory “an immense concentration camp,” and he has openly described Hezbollah as “a national movement of resistance.” He also has urged the use of economic leverage for political purposes against Israel—which he has reportedly called a “colonial regime.”
“This choice is another potential setback for the Human Rights Council, and its having been made by a democracy supposedly devoted to human rights is repugnant,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “The appointment of Ziegler, who in effect disregards the most basic human rights of Israelis, would only reinforce the council as a forum for anti-Israel bigotry.”
Hezbollah is recognized by most of the world as a notorious terrorist group. In July, the European Union designated the “military wing” of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Though noting as a positive step the recognition of atrocities committed by Hezbollah, B’nai B’rith has urged the European Union to eliminate the distinction between a “military wing” and a “political wing” of Hezbollah. The entirety of the organization patently deserves designation as terrorist in orientation, methods and objectives alike.
Switzerland is not a member of the European Union.
Ziegler, a former Social Democratic member of the Swiss parliament, helped institute an International Prize for Human Rights named in honor of longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and awarded to a series of tyrants, anti-Semites and ultimately Ziegler himself.
“Terrorism against citizens of the Jewish state—whether by Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon—is a foremost example of the contemporary, serial denial of human rights. The Human Rights Council is certainly not the place for someone who doesn’t recognize that, or who chooses to direct his scorn at those engaged in responsible counterterrorism,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Ziegler’s open record of hostility toward Israel and his embrace of human rights abusers compromise his ability to advise the Human Rights Council.”
Ziegler has been a U.N. fixture for well over a decade. During that time, he has repeatedly used the world body as a podium for his radical political opinions, especially his anti-Israel views.
B’nai B’rith urges the Swiss government to review Ziegler’s record and rescind his nomination.
B’nai B’rith International teamed with Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), the Jewish fraternity, in a community service effort on Aug. 8, at the Holmes/Isaacs Community Center on the Upper East Side of New York City. B’nai B’rith members, volunteers and staff worked with 72 AEPi brothers from around the world to paint hallways and classrooms in the neighborhood center that was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The community service project was a part of Hineni, a three-day Jewish identity enrichment conference put on by AEPi and co-sponsored by B’nai B’rith. Select brothers of AEPi convene before the annual AEPi conference—this year AEPi is celebrating its 100th anniversary—to develop a stronger Jewish identity, to focus on Jewish values and to learn how to bring these lessons back to campus. B’nai B’rith is pleased to partner with AEPi on these projects vital to local communities.
“Hineni is a great example of B’nai B’rith’s work in the community and a great example of our organization’s connection with AEPi,” B’nai B’rith International Chairman of the Executive Committee and honorary AEPi brother Gary P. Saltzman said. “It also shows how we not only make an impact locally, but how we can work together to make an impact globally.”
B’nai B’rith also partnered with NYC Service—an initiative of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office that promotes service and volunteering—in finding a site that needed improvement after being hit by Hurricane Sandy nearly a year ago. Donations from the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund were made available to fund the project.
Working at the Holmes/Isaacs Community Center is just one of several B’nai B’rith projects aimed at rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The B’nai B’rith Young Professional Network has been organizing fundraisers and community service events as well in the months following the devastating storm.
Upon entering the neighborhood center, Mark Cohn, an AEPi brother and undergraduate student at Florida Atlantic University, reflected on the work around him.
“It’s amazing what a group of Jews can do together,” Cohn said while watching his fellow volunteers get to work.
Cohn’s fraternity brothers echoed his sentiments and the entire group was greeted warmly by the Isaacs Neighborhood Center staff who admitted it would have been very difficult to complete this task without some helping hands.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin spoke to the AEPi brothers before the morning work began, encouraging them to stay active in their communities. “I wanted to make sure they understood how important the work they were about to take part in really is.”
B’nai B’rith International President—and fellow honorary AEPi brother—Allan J. Jacobs is also in New York City, participating in the AEPi conference and will address the brothers at various events.
B’nai B’rith Concerned by Silence of U.N., International Leaders Following Vile Remarks by Iranian President, Hezbollah Chief
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is perplexed by the inaction of international and United Nations leaders as the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, and the chief of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, both used anti-Israel incitement to demonize the Jewish state in recent days.
Speaking at a “Qods Day” rally in Tehran on August 5, Rouhani—a supposedly “moderate” president—referred to Israel as a “sore” that has “afflicted the body of the Islamic world for many years” and vowed the Muslim people will stand up and fight “against aggression and tyranny.”
Also speaking at a “Quds Day” ceremony in Beirut on August 2, Nasrallah said Israel is a “cancerous gland” that needs to be “exorcised” and the demise of the Jewish state would be in the best interests of the region.
It is astounding international government officials and senior leadership of the United Nations stay silent when the leaders of a U.N. member state and a prominent terrorist organization invoke such inflammatory language against Israel. Their speeches will no doubt stoke the flames of anti-Semitism in the region and thus should be forcefully condemned.
Continued silence by international and U.N. leaders is unacceptable. B’nai B’rith urges them to speak out once and for all, making it clear to Iran and Hezbollah that these remarks are intolerable.
Former B’nai B’rith President Authors Book “The Hague Odyssey” on Israel’s Struggle for Security and Equal Treatment at U.N.
Former B’nai B’rith International President and current Honorary President Richard D. Heideman marked the publication of his book “The Hague Odyssey: Israel's Struggle for Security on the Front Lines of Terrorism and Her Battle for Justice at the United Nations” on July 31 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The book, based on many years of first-hand experience with Israeli affairs, explores Israel’s security barrier and its right to defend itself in the rough neighborhood that is the Middle East. Heideman, a prominent attorney, also tackles the tactics used by the Palestinians and enemies of the Jewish state to marginalize Israel at the United Nations and other world bodies.
Heideman served as international president of B’nai B’rith from 1998 to 2002, but his B’nai B’rith roots go far deeper than his senior leadership. Heideman served as the Grand Aleph Godol of B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) during the 1960s. He is the founder of Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, PC, a law firm based in Washington, D.C.
“The Hague Odyssey addresses the challenges faced by Israel on the front lines of terrorism and her battle for justice at the United Nations,” Heideman said. “I’ve taken the liberty of examining issues and controversies that surround Israel’s construction of the terrorism prevention security fence, which became the centerpiece of action at the United Nations and at the International Court of Justice, confronting and, in some respects, condemning Israel’s rights and obligations as a responsible nation state of the world.”
Speaking at the book launch, B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said: “Those looking not just for the history of how this case developed, but for the real time argument needed daily in a world of sanctions and delegitmization, will find ‘The Hague Odyssey’ indispensible. Richard Heideman has been a tireless and articulate campaigner and advocate for Israel’s place in the world, and for strong U.S.-Israel relations.”
More information on “The Hague Odyssey” can be found on the official website and it is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
B’nai B’rith International Praises House for Passage of Tough Iran Sanctions Bill, Urges Senate to Act
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International applauds the House of Representatives for passing the bipartisan Nuclear Iran Prevention Act on July 31 by an overwhelming majority. By reducing Iran’s oil exports and further shackling its economy, the bill would send an important signal to new Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani about the cost of continuing the country’s unswerving pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The legislation seeks to decrease Iranian oil exports from 1.25 million barrels per year to 250,000 barrels by the end of 2014. It would also expand the blacklist of Iran’s various economic sectors and further limit the country’s access to overseas foreign currency reserves. Sanctions against Iran have already drastically limited the country’s oil exports and severely hampered its economy.
B’nai B’rith calls on the Senate to expeditiously pass a companion bill. Any delay in the legislative process would only serve Iran’s dilatory purposes.
While a new president prepares to take office in Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has shown no sign of slowing Iran’s nuclear development. Iran’s ongoing installation of advanced centrifuges has brought it nearer to weapons-grade uranium production, which is the linchpin for nuclear weapons capability.
Iran has consistently used negotiations to stall the international community. Diplomacy can succeed only if the United States and its allies broaden and strengthen the current sanctions framework against Iran.