B’nai B’rith International Applauds Canada’s Commitment to Israel
B’nai B’rith International commends Canada’s unflinching support of Israel before the United Nations General Assembly.
In his Sept. 26 address, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird noted that his country does not support the unilateral Palestinian appeal to the United Nations for membership, and he encouraged direct talks between the two sides.
Baird said of Israel: “We uphold its fundamental right, like any member state, to defend innocent civilians against acts of terrorism. Just as fascism and communism were the great struggles of previous generations, terrorism is the great struggle of ours. And far too often, the Jewish state is on the front line of our struggle and its people the victims of terror. Canada will not accept or stay silent while the Jewish state is attacked for defending its territory and its citizens.”
Canada’s commitment to support the founding principles of the United Nations should serve as an example to nations that seek to pervert the core values of the world body for political purposes.
“During a week of speeches condemning the Jewish state, it was refreshing to hear Canada’s unwavering support for Israel,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
Jacobs, along with Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin and other B’nai B’rith leaders, held dozens of high-level meetings with global leaders in New York for the start of the 66th General Assembly session.
“It is deeply encouraging to witness such solid support for Israel at the United Nations, which unfortunately has too often become a forum for condemnation of Israel,” Mariaschin said. “Canada deserves our sincere gratitude for its principled stance in support of Israel.”
B’nai B’rith International has been active at the United Nations since its inception.
At U.N. Netanyahu Renews Calls for Face-to-Face Negotiations, Stark Contrast Between Netanyahu and Abbas
At the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck exactly the right tone when he called for direct negations with the Palestinians without preconditions. Netanyahu said Israel wants peace and he wants peace. But he noted peace must be anchored in security and that Israel is willing to take risks for peace.
“All these potential cracks in Israel’s security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared, not afterwards. Otherwise these problems will explode in our face and destroy the peace,” Netanyahu said.
The contrast between Netanyahu’s speech and that of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could not have been greater.
During his address before the General Assembly, Abbas’ confrontational speech included his promise that the Palestinian “popular resistance” to Israel will continue and he made repeated references to Israel’s “occupying” and “apartheid” policies, demonstrating a sheer lack of investment in direct negotiations.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu struck the right tone in emphasizing direct peace talks over a U.N. resolution to create a viable Palestinian state,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Israel’s very real security concerns—it’s still the target of terrorist rockets and mortars fired from Gaza—make meaningful direct talks a must for any hope of a lasting peace.”
Earlier in the day, Abbas said he submitted an application to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the admission of Palestine to the United Nations as a full member state. Abbas urged Ban to relay the request to the full Security Council.
Palestinian moves at the United Nations serve only to isolate and delegitimize Israel, as it creates unrealistic expectations that are sure to come after U.N. interference. Such a vote will cause the vast majority of Palestinians to view Israel as the only obstacle to the implementation of their own state, when in fact, Palestinian leaders haven’t participated in direct peace talks in years. A forced recognition of a Palestinian state won’t resolve some of the biggest obstacles to peace.
“The Palestinian attempted end-run around negotiations, as presented by Abbas, rewrites history and can only be seen as a move to undermine and demonize Israel,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Netanyahu has laid out the best strategy for promoting a path toward peace not only between Israel and the Palestinians, but with all the countries of the region.”
Netanyahu said Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state to the United Nations; it would be the first, if the Palestinians agree to peace.
Jacobs and Mariaschin have been meeting with dozens of presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other international leaders on the sidelines of the General Assembly. Meetings focused on the Palestinian resolution for a new state, the Durban commemoration and the Arab spring. B’nai B’rith leaders joining Jacobs and Mariaschin at these high-level meetings include Chairman of the Executive Committee Gary Saltzman; Honorary President Richard D. Heideman, who led B’nai B’rith’s Durban efforts; and B’nai B’rith leaders Stephen Stern, Michael Nachman, Gwen Zuares, Dan Tartakovski and B’nai B’rith Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn. Meetings were organized by U.N. Affairs Director David J. Michaels and Program Officer Oren Drori.
Active in the United Nations since its inception, B’nai B’rith will continue to monitor developments and meet with world leaders to urge direct negotiations as the only path toward peace.
Iranian Delegate Revives Anti-Zionist Canards of U.N. Racism Conference Commemoration; Many Nations Sit Out 10th Anniversary Event
Anti-Israel and anti-Zionist expressions that dramatically overshadowed the 2001 United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance were again evoked on Sept. 22 at the U.N.’s 10th anniversary commemoration event.
Speaking at a commemoration session at the United Nations, the foreign minister of Iran spoke about "state-apartheid in the Palestinian occupied territories." He also referenced a "racist Zionist Regime" in his remarks. At the opening plenary, after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged opposition to anti-Semitism among other forms of bigotry, the African Group was represented by a government official of Sudan—responsible for some of the world’s greatest recent atrocities—who invoked the plight of “all those under foreign occupation.”
The 2001 Durban, South Africa, conference epitomized the expression of hatred against Israel and Jews at the world body. Now, at the anniversary event, the United Nations reaffirmed as a “solid foundation for combating racism” the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), which singled out Israel for mention and listed the Palestinians in the section on “victims of racism.”
“Unfortunately, some of the statements at this commemoration mirrored the biased attitudes of the original Durban conference,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs, who is attending high-level meetings with U.N. member state delegations, said. “We commend all those democracies that did the right thing by choosing not to attend this ‘commemoration.’”
Nations choosing in advance to avoid the conference: Australia, Austria, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland and the United States.
“Once again, rogue nations took the podium to perpetuate a cynical and singular focus on Israel at a United Nations forum, which overshadowed the very objective of combating racism and intolerance,” added B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, also in New York for high-level meetings with U.N. member state representatives.
At the commemoration events at the United Nations, the foreign minister of Lebanon said that there is no anti-Semitism in the Arab world. And he claimed that the Jewish character of Israel is contrary to the principle of equality. Syria, too—a country currently engaged in brutal repression of its own citizens—accused Israel of “crimes” founded on racism, while pledging “categorical commitment” to the full implementation of the DDPA.
B’nai B’rith International hosted an event on Sept. 21 assessing the decade since the original Durban conference. Featured speakers included Hannah Rosenthal, United States special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism; Irwin Cotler, member of the Canadian Parliament and former minister of justice and attorney general, Canada; Ambassador John R. Bolton, former U.S. undersecretary of state and permanent representative to the United Nations; and Malcolm I. Hoenlein, executive vice chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; as well as Richard D. Heideman, B’nai B’rith International honorary president, who served as head of the B’nai B’rith delegation—the largest such Jewish contingent—to the World Conference against Racism and the Durban Review Conference in 2009.
On Eve of Fundamentally Flawed U.N. World Racism Conference Commemoration, Assessing the Last Decade
B’nai B’rith International Exclusive Briefing Included Hannah Rosenthal, Irwin Cotler, Malcolm Hoenlein and John Bolton
On the eve of the United Nation’s official commemoration of the 2001 United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, B’nai B’rith International hosted a briefing entitled “Durban: A Ten-Year Assessment of the United Nations World Conference against Racism.”
Though the initial goal of the 2001 conference, held in Durban, South Africa, was to combat worldwide racism, it ended up blatantly singling out Israel, and devolved into an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hate fest.
In his opening remarks on Sept. 21, B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs recognized the 14 countries that declared their decision not to attend what he called the “fundamentally flawed” Sept. 22 Durban commemoration. These include Australia, Austria, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland and the United States.
“These democracies deserve praise for their principled stand, and we will convey our thanks in consultations with numerous state and government leaders throughout the week.”
B’nai B’rith, the only major Jewish agency with a dedicated Office of U.N. Affairs—in existence since the world body’s creation—mobilized the largest Jewish nongovernmental delegation to both the 2001 conference and 2009 review conference. B’nai B’rith delegates are monitoring developments this week at the United Nations.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, who served as moderator, introduced the speakers.
“This third installment of the notorious Durban process has, like its predecessors, demonstrated that even a cause as noble as fighting racism and discrimination can be undermined by those whose primary purpose is not to safeguard the freedoms and human rights for which they hold little regard,” Mariaschin said. “Rather, their purpose is to spread, in the name of the United Nations, the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.”
Hannah Rosenthal discussed her work as the State Department’s U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
“I wish I had good news to report” she began, but indicated that old manifestations of anti-Semitism are “alive and well and disgustingly growing,” referring to desecration of cemeteries, synagogues and blood libel claims. Holocaust denial, relativism and glorification are persistent. Equally disturbing is the confluence of legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, she said. “We must call hate speech what it is: disgusting.”
Referring to the Durban commemoration, Ambassador John R. Bolton, former U.S. undersecretary of state and permanent representative to the United Nations, said it was “only the latest in a long line of these efforts.”
He also discussed the recurrence of the Zionism=Racism charge, established by U.N. Res. 3379 in 1975, and reversed in 1991. “Durban was a throwback to Zionism=Racism,” he said. “This commemoration has the corresponding effect of undermining Israel.”
Canadian Parliament member Irwin Cotler, former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, posited this commemoration in the context of a post-9/11 society. “We will never forget this festival of hate. If 9/11 was Kristallnacht, then Durban was its Mein Kampf.”
Malcolm I. Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, said the delegitimization of Israel is the most serious issue facing Jews today. “It’s not about ’67, it’s about ’47,” about Israel’s very right to exist.
He also addressed the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement to delegitimize the Jewish state and its detrimental effects on the safety of Jewish college students who have become targets for these anti-Israel campaigns and demonstrations.
B’nai B’rith Honorary President Richard D. Heideman, who led the B’nai B’rith delegation to the 2001 conference and again in 2009, said the Durban-related efforts of the last 10 years don’t just hurt Israel. They have diverted attention from blatant violators of human rights like Libya, Syria and Iran.
“[The commemoration] is only the first step in an unfortunately long campaign that will continue long into the future,” Heideman said.
Indeed, a recent letter sent by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is a clear example of the vicious anti-Semitic discourse that was so visible in Durban. Aimed at supporting the Palestinian request for statehood at the United Nations, the letter depicts Israelis as Nazi-like criminals, and refers to Zionism as racism. It states “It is upsetting and painful that the same people who suffered one of the worst examples of genocide in history have become the executioners of the Palestinian people: It is upsetting and painful that the heritage of the Holocaust be the Nakba… We must spell it out: Zionism, as a world vision, is absolutely racist.”
At the same time, Chavez has no problem defending the Libyan regime and its atrocious human rights violations, which underscores how absurd and malicious his obsession with Israel is.
Only by recognizing the abuses of countries who are true human rights violators can the world body see the conference’s intended goals realized: to combat racism and intolerance worldwide.
B’nai B’rith Welcomes Obama’s Call at U.N. for Negotiations Between Israelis and Palestinians in Lieu of a Resolution Calling for Statehood
B’nai B’rith International welcomes President Obama’s effort at the United Nations to remind the 193 member nations that there is “no shortcut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades.” Obama was referencing the Palestinian Authority’s plans to introduce a resolution this week declaring a Palestinian state.
Speaking before the 66th session of the General Assembly, Obama said that peace in the region “will not come through statements and resolutions” at the United Nations.
Obama noted: “Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians, not us, who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security, on refugees and Jerusalem.” Obama said that the Israelis and Palestinians need “to sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other’s hopes and fears.”
“We appreciate the president’s support for bilateral talks instead of a unilateral declaration of statehood,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said from New York where he is meeting with numerous international delegations. “A lasting peace in the region can only be achieved when the two parties sit down to negotiate in good faith. The Israelis continue to wait for the Palestinians to return to good faith talks.”
By asking the United Nations to declare a Palestinian state, the Palestinians would be bypassing the direct bilateral negotiations necessary to establish a stable foundation to a two-state compromise. And in shifting the burden to the United Nations, the Palestinians are eschewing their responsibilities in working toward a negotiated two-state solution.
“The United States recognizes that there won’t be lasting peace without the parties themselves sitting at the table. The Palestinians should hear that message and come to the table,” said B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, also in New York for high-level U.N.-related meetings. “The recognition and emphasis on Israel’s particular security needs is an important message for the world. We welcome the president’s pledge that ‘America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring.’”
At meetings this week, B’nai B’rith will continue to encourage United Nations member states to reject calls for a unilateral declaration of statehood and will press nations to encourage the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
Current Head of European Union, Poland, Withdraws from Commemoration of Biased U.N. World Racism Conference
B’nai B’rith International applauds Poland, which currently heads the European Union, for refusing to attend the commemoration of the World Conference against Racism at the United Nations on Sept. 22 in New York. Poland holds the rotating E.U. presidency until this December.
The event will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the initial conference which was held in Durban, South Africa. Though the conference’s initial intention was to address and combat global racism, it was reduced to an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate fest, only furthering Israel’s isolation in the international community.
At a review conference in Geneva in 2009, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke, and only furthered the public vilification of Israel. This year’s commemoration, by affirming the original Durban Declaration and Programme of Action that had singled out Israel for implied characterization as racist, can unfortunately be expected to yield similar disdain of the ideals it claims to represent.
Poland joins the ranks of the United States, Israel, Canada, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, in their decision not to attend the conference. B’nai B’rith is encouraged that the head of the European Union has made this laudable decision and hopes that other nations will follow its example in standing together against an event that promotes intolerance and bigotry.
The B’nai B’rith Board of Governors passed a resolution earlier this year urging all nations to reject the prejudiced objectives of the World Conference.
B'nai B'rith Praises International Parliamentarians for Signing Letter of Opposition to a Palestinian Unilateral Declaration of Statehood
B’nai B’rith International praises the international parliamentarians who signed the International Parliamentarians for a Negotiated Peace: Statement of Opposition to a Universal Declaration of Palestinian Statehood. In the letter, legislators, “legislators and members of Israel Allies Caucuses from Parliaments around the globe categorically reject the Palestinian efforts toward a Unilateral Declaration of Independence in the United Nations.”
The letter was signed, among many others including the European Parliament and Costa Rica, by the four U.S. congressmen who co-chair the Israel Allies Caucus: Shelley Berkley, Eliot Engel, Trent Franks and Doug Lamborn. The statement lays out the necessary ingredients to creating a lasting peace: “Face to face negotiations must continue without preconditions, threats or walkouts; this is the only real path to peace.”
B’nai B’rith maintains that elevating the Palestinians to a “nonvoting observer state” would bypass legitimate peace talks and only continue to denigrate and isolate Israel.
“This letter is extremely promising and demonstrates how many friends Israel has in the diplomatic community,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “The United Nations is simply not the venue for promoting the recognition of a Palestinian state. Peace between the Israelis and Palestinians can only be created through direct, bilateral negotiations between both parties.”
B'nai B'rith Commends France and New Zealand for Refusing to Attend Commemoration of U.N. Racism Conference
B’nai B’rith International commends France and New Zealand for their decision to boycott the commemoration of the World Conference against Racism at the United Nations this week in New York.
The event will mark the 10th anniversary of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance which was held in Durban, South Africa. Though intended to combat racism worldwide, the conference was reduced to a racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate fest. This was followed in 2009 by a review conference in Geneva at which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke.
The conferences’ initial goal of addressing and combating racism has been replaced by attempts to isolate Israel in the international community, only furthering the denigration of the Jewish state.
This year’s commemoration, by affirming the original Durban Declaration and Programme of Action that had singled out Israel for implied characterization as racist, can unfortunately be expected to yield similar disregard for the ideals it purports to embody.
France and New Zealand join the ranks of the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia, the Czech Republic, Italy and The Netherlands in their decision not to attend the conference.
The B’nai B’rith Board of Governors passed a resolution earlier this year urging all nations to reject the prejudiced objectives of the World Conference. B’nai B’rith calls upon other nations to stand united against this event that promotes racism and intolerance.
B’nai B’rith Offers Digital Safety and Security Resource As Students Return to School
As students across the country settle into their classes and extracurricular activity routines, it is as important as ever that children are educated about potential dangers such as stranger danger and sexual assault. With that in mind, you can now find the Smarter Kids - Safer Kids booklet on the B’nai B’rith International website in an easy-to-read format.
The booklet, revised in 2006 to include information about online security, contains role-playing exercises and guided discussions that parents can use as a starting point to teach their children about how to stay safe. The guide includes practical information about how to stay safe when alone at home, what to do if a child is lost or when he or she is faced with a situation that involves improper actions by someone they know. As the brochure says, “If one abduction is prevented, one life saved, this program will be a success.”
The guide has been used in communities across the United States at school assemblies as well as by parent groups. It is a tool that every parent should have about a subject that can be difficult and uncomfortable to discuss. Sometimes parents, who have been sure their children would never do something unsafe, are often surprised to learn that their children can be easily manipulated by offenders or misplace their trust.
The booklet was first introduced to communities in New Jersey in the late 1980s with material prepared by Ralph Froehlich, Sheriff of Union County, N.J. The first version with a B’nai B’rith copyright was distributed in 1998.
You can find this crucial resource at: http://www.bnaibrith.org/smarter-kids---safer-kids.html.
The booklet is also available in Spanish by request. Simply contact the B’nai B’rith Center for Community Action at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-490-3290.
While Plan Would Serve as Balanced Route to Deficit Reduction, Concerns Remain About Potential Cuts to Aging and Social Service Programs
B’nai B’rith welcomes the administration’s balanced approach to deficit reduction in a newly released Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction, which would reduce future debt by an additional $3 trillion through an even balance between spending cuts and revenue increases. However, while this new plan details less painful ways to make up some of the proposed deficit reduction, some concerns remain about the impact of some of these proposals on health care and retirement.
“We are relieved to see a package that does not assume we can reduce the debt and balance the budget simply by slashing critical poverty, retirement, health care, education and infrastructure programs,” said B’nai B’rith International Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg, PhD. “There are many savings in the plan that B’nai B’rith has long supported, including making public health programs more efficient and geared toward positive health outcomes, but B’nai B’rith remains wary of some of the potential cuts.”
Specific cuts, such as those to health care providers, as well as the burden that may be placed on states through some proposed changes to Medicaid, may prove detrimental. Some of the proposed cuts to Medicaid would result in increased state debts and significant decreases in services to those most in need.
But the plan rightfully signals to the country and Congress that Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit and should be handled separately. It also does not increase the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 as was proposed this summer and it calls for increased revenues partly through tax reforms on the richest citizens and by closing various tax loopholes.
“We are pleased to see the president respected the integrity of Medicare and Social Security, and reiterated the need for balance in deficit reduction,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “We continue to believe that deficit reduction must be pursued in a way that does not ask those with the least to shoulder the entire burden. We hope the deficit reduction super committee will adopt the plan’s basic framework, one in which essential programs are protected and burdens are shared.”
See where B'nai B'rith International stands on the issues.