B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B'nai B'rith International recently completed a nearly week-long visit to Israel with 11 senior international diplomats — six from Africa, three from Europe, one from South America and one from the Caribbean. The diplomats represent their countries at United Nations institutions in New York, the world body's headquarters; in Geneva, home of the Human Rights Council; and in Paris, base of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
B’nai B’rith brought the diplomats to Israel to encounter first-hand the acute security and political challenges the country faces, as well as its vibrant democracy, cultural dynamism, technological innovation, humanitarian contributions globally and demographic diversity. The participants were also given the opportunity to become further acquainted with the singular history of the Jewish state, examining important archaeological discoveries and key biblical sites.
During their visit, the diplomats – who originate from Argentina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Ghana, Greece, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zambia, and were joined at points by ambassadors to Israel from many of their own countries – met with officials from the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Knesset members representing both the government coalition and the opposition in Parliament. In Jerusalem, they also visited foremost holy places and the Tower of David, paid tribute to the victims of Nazi genocide in a special ceremony at Yad Vashem – the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and spoke with Israeli, Palestinian and foreign medical personnel at cutting-edge units of Hadassah University Hospital.
Additionally, they met with Christian, Druze and Baha'i leaders, reviewed anti-Jewish incitement in Palestinian school textbooks, toured an industrial area employing both Israelis and Palestinians and received a strategic briefing near Israel's borders with Syria and Lebanon. On the eve of this week's intensification of violence emanating from the Gaza Strip, they traveled to Israeli communities bordering that Hamas-controlled territory, learning about the terrorizing of residents with ongoing Palestinian rocket and aerial arson attacks, and met with the parents of Lt. Hadar Goldin, a young Israeli serviceman whose remains have been held hostage in Gaza since his death at the hands of Palestinians four years ago.
B'nai B'rith World Center-Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider and B'nai B'rith Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels accompanied the diplomatic group.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org
Photos from the Mission: