B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is appalled, but sadly unsurprised, by the latest expression of bigotry against the world's only Jewish state—and indifference to the lives of its citizens of all backgrounds—by two "ecumenical" groups with a long history of finding in agitation against Israel a convenient rallying cause and springboard for greater public visibility.
The Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) and the New York-based National Council of Churches (NCC) held a joint "consultation" this week near Washington, D.C., ostensibly intended to mobilize on promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace. But the groups made overt their utter disinterest in balance, nuance and constructiveness, preferring instead to find a scapegoat for continued conflict in Israel, the Middle East's sole democracy and a rare regional country home to continuously growing Christian and other minority populations.
The WCC and NCC— which clearly do not represent all Christians, many of whom see care for Jews and Israelis as vital, not antithetical, to advancing peace and justice—know that their continued anti-Israel agitation will not result in adverse effects for Christian inhabitants of and visitors to that country.
Conversely, the embracing of vicious anti-Israel dogma is considered all too obligatory in many Middle Eastern and other states, not least those home to vulnerable Christians. Thus, a small number of Christian organizations apparently see fit to join in unjustly and obsessively attacking Israel while remaining quiet on the records of so many counterparts, in the region and beyond, with immeasurably less honorable records in making sacrifices for peace and upholding human rights.
A statement by the heads of the WCC and NCC, issued after their consultation, asserted that "no people should be denied their rights for generations" and that Israel "has commanding power... and, thus, bears special responsibility for taking the initiative" to achieve peace. It also singled out the United States with a specific call to curb vital defense aid to Israel and to ensure impunity for campaigns urging economic discrimination "to influence policy in Israel."
No similar pressure tactics were advocated— and no specific criticism or demands were leveled—at any Arab government or group, or their backers. Israelis are not seen among those denied rights, and the dozens of Muslim states, let alone violent non-state actors answerable to no one, are not seen to wield any power or serious obligations.
By maintaining this posture of double standards and one-way vilification, the WCC and NCC have again shown themselves to be unprepared to contribute to actual peacemaking—and complicit in morally corrupt efforts to isolate, demonize and harm the world's only Jewish country.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith commends the United States and Israel for finalizing a military aid deal for the next decade. The landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which speaks to the close security cooperation between the two countries, will provide Israel with a total of $38 billion. This amounts to a pledge of about $3.8 billion a year to the Jewish state, starting in 2019 and concluding in 2028.
This largest-ever U.S. aid package demonstrates the strong bipartisan support Israel enjoys in the United States, as it was negotiated by the administration and backed by a majority of Senate and House members of both parties. The MOU signals America’s commitment to Israel’s security at time of instability in a hostile Middle East.
As a result of the MOU, America’s most reliable democratic ally in the Middle East will become better equipped to defend itself against the unprecedented threats it faces from authoritarian regimes and terrorist organizations. The agreement represents an important investment not only in Israel’s security, but in U.S. national security interests.
Ambassadors from Israel and Spain Offer Analysis of 30 Years of Relations Between their Countries
B’nai B’rith International members and supporters from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C., Sept. 10 to 12 to learn how B’nai B’rith is at the forefront of today’s most pressing issues; engaging with high-level speakers on topics such as Israel-Spain relations, the rise of global anti-Semitism, immigration and Social Security; and making their voices heard on all things related to B’nai B’rith’s global agenda.
One of the most anticipated programs of the Leadership Forum was a special edition of the B’nai B’rith Diplomatic Encounter Series. Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Spanish Ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares discussed the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and Spain. In the diplomatic encounter series, B’nai B’rith regularly brings together diplomats and Washington policy experts for conversations with ambassadors on domestic and foreign policy issues.
On opening night of the 2016 Leadership Forum, B’nai B’rith President Gary P. Saltzman delivered his State of the Organization address. He detailed many of the programs and priorities of the 172-year-old organization, highlighting a long history on international human rights issues, a long-standing and steadfast support of Israel, B’nai B’rith’s commitment to safe and affordable housing for seniors and disaster relief efforts that date to 1865.
The forum’s first featured guest was Pamela Nadell, Ph.D., professor, department chair of history and director of the Jewish Studies Program at American University on the history of Jewish women and American politics. She stated that the turning point for women becoming involved in politics occurred at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in honor of Christopher Columbus’ 400th anniversary of his expedition to the new world. The exposition held more than 400 congresses on various subjects including religion. A board of “lady managers” was created to make “certain that women were represented throughout the congress.”
Nadell spoke of Hannah Greenebaum Solomon who took charge of reaching out to different congregations all across the United States, and about two dozen women, over the course of four days, spoke at the exposition. “These women showed that they were experts on Judaism, they were special experts on the history of Jewish women, but they were also discussing contemporary Jewish affairs, they talked about the influx of immigrants coming in, this is 1893 eastern European Jews had been pouring in since the pogroms of 1881, they talked about the worldwide specter of anti-Semitism…,” said Nadell. This led to the creation of the National Council of Jewish Women, which advocates for social justice and other rights pertaining to women.
On the second day of the forum, during his opening address, B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin tackled the issue of global anti-Semitism. He began his remarks by reading anti-Semitic college application and hotel rejection letters from the 1940s-1960s from the B’nai B’rith archives, as well as his own experiences encountering anti-Semitism. Then, enumerating the challenges of contemporary anti-Semitism, he conveyed his concerns over the BDS movement, and expressions of anti-Semitism originating in the Middle East and Europe. He also cited the U.N. as a deep source of concern, noting United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s executive board recent resolution which substituted the Temple Mount with its Arabic/Islamic name, “Haram Al Sharif.” The same resolution also replaced the name of the Western Wall Plaza with “Al-Buraq Plaza.” He also mentioned a recent World Health Organization resolution that also unfairly singled out Israel for denying healthcare to Palestinians in the territories.
“Each of us can play a role in combating anti-Semitism, through support for B’nai B’rith, an organization that advocates on behalf of our community interest, also by communicating with our elected officials up to the highest echelon, advocating where we can within our constitutional framework, hate crime legislation, monitoring newspapers and websites for anti-Semitic utterances, and by speaking with our neighbors and colleagues at work about Israel, and about pernicious charges against it and the Jewish people,” Mariaschin said.
A town hall meeting on the second day of the forum included a broad discussion of B’nai B’rith’s international policies on the global and domestic fronts. Mariaschin served as the moderator of the panel that featured Director of Legislative Affairs Eric Fusfield, Esq.; Director of Latin America Affairs Eduardo Kohn, Ph.D.; Director of U.N. Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels; and Director of B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem Alan Schneider. The panel discussed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s adoption of a working definition of anti-Semitism, Iran’s relationship with Latin American countries and the dangers it poses, the United Nations’ “High Level Forum on Global Antisemitism” and the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust.
A second town hall session, on domestic issues, included Mariaschin moderating and Fusfield again, along with Director of Aging and Health Policy Rachel Goldberg, Ph.D. Goldberg addressed concerns on how the upcoming presidential election will affect Social Security; however, she assured the audience that both candidates currently don’t want to cut the program. Fusfield spoke on the candidates’ positions on gun control and their immigration policies.
During lunch, Washington Post opinion writer, Charles Lane, shared his thoughts on the 2016 presidential election, offering his “view from the front lines,” and answered attendees' questions. That afternoon Senior Director for European Affairs Charles Kupchan, D.Phil. spoke on the current challenges facing Europe.
On the last day of the forum, B’nai B’rith had the opportunity to engage on the topic of free speech and social media. Featured speakers Nikki Usher, Ph.D., assistant professor at The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs and Neil Potts, Esq., public policy manager of Facebook led a fascinating and lively discussion on how people use social media, to spread information as well as hate and fear.
B’nai B’rith International addressed the “High Level Forum on Global Antisemitism” on Sept. 7 at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. The discussions were organized by the United States, Canada, Israel and the European Union as follow-up to a first-time informal meeting on the subject held at the U.N. General Assembly early last year. Among those giving remarks were U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft, ambassadors representing the conference sponsors, and both government and civil society officials charged with tackling the ongoing scourge of anti-Semitism.
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith Europe President Daniel Citone and B'nai B'rith Canada Senior Honorary Counsel David Matas were among the B'nai B'rith leaders in attendance.
Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels, who addressed the forum, said: "we cannot avoid dwelling on the topic of the so-called 'new' anti-Semitism, in which the world’s only Jewish democratic state, and all those seen as tied to it, are demonized or mistreated in exceptional ways... Medieval and more recent European anti-Semitic themes have by now long been imported into predominantly Muslim countries, which have also then increasingly been the origin of migrants to Europe."
Of Israel, he added, "the fact that prominent but fundamentally political organizations like the U.N. routinely not only condemn it more than any other state, but more than all states combined, lends moral fuel to efforts that promote" the harming of Jewish state, but "even more so make vulnerable Jewish minorities in the Diaspora, and especially Jewish students, whose peers have no first-hand memory of the incitement and dramatic horrors of the Holocaust." Citing the U.N.'s Durban conference that singled out Israel for characterization as racist, and a survey that found that Europeans consider Israel the leading threat to world peace, he concluded that "unnuanced, utterly unbalanced" rhetoric against Israel "does not stop at Israel."