B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith is outraged by the torching of Joseph’s Tomb, a holy site in the ancient city of Shechem in the West Bank, by Palestinian rioters. As of yet, no injuries or deaths have been reported.
While Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces managed to disperse the crowds and douse the fire, significant damage has been reported in the women’s section of the site. The arson came shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian leadership to stop a wave of attacks on Jews. After a week of silence, PA President Mahmoud Abbas finally issued a statement condemning the group’s actions and announcing plans to create an investigatory committee.
While vicious attacks have left seven dead and more than 30 wounded—Abbas issued no condemnation while other PA officials have been busy inciting this kind of violence. B’nai B’rith is appalled that the PA ignored multiple violent deaths before finally denouncing this act of wanton arson.
B’nai B’rith International welcomes the announcement by the European Commission that it will name a coordinator for combating anti-Semitism. The new official will report to Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans, who will serve as special envoy for countering anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
B’nai B’rith and other civil society groups had urged the European Union to appoint an official to oversee the effort to fight anti-Semitism.
The continued growth of anti-Semitism across Europe requires an EU-wide approach to dealing with the problem. The appointment of a special envoy and coordinator on anti-Semitism is an important step in this direction.
We pledge to work closely with EU officials to ensure that the work of the Commission and the European Parliament yields positive results in tackling anti-Semitism.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International condemns the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) for its disgraceful endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and is repulsed by its accusations against Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.”
BDS is a campaign to isolate Israel economically and politically through boycotts and other discriminatory tactics. Its aim is to delegitimize and ultimately cripple the Jewish state. Its focus on one and only one state— Israel—demonstrates the highly sinister intentions of the movement, which ignores human rights violations committed by the world’s worst abusers while raining fusillades on the Jewish state.
At UE’s national convention in mid-August the union adopted a resolution making it the first union in the United States to take a pro-BDS position. In the resolution, UE called on the United States to end its aid to Israel and aligned itself with overseas labor unions that also oppose the Jewish state.
The resolution goes on to make absurd claims, fraudulently asserting that Palestinian citizens of Israel “survived ethnic cleansing,” and that members of the government, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have called for the stripping of citizenship and expulsion of Palestinians. The text further characterizes Israel’s defensive military operation in the wake of Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians in 2014 as “genocide.”
While leveling outlandish falsehoods at the only democracy in the Middle East, the resolution does not once mention the terror organization Hamas and the violent fanaticism Israel faces everyday. The UE is perpetuating a one-sided, distorted view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In doing so, it is spreading hatred, endangering the security of the Middle East’s only democracy and harming the cause of peace in the region.
B’nai B’rith to Honor Boston Red Sox and President/CEO Larry Lucchino with Community Achievement Award
B’nai B’rith International has selected the Boston Red Sox and club President/CEO Larry Lucchino to receive its Community Achievement Award, which recognizes the positive impact of key corporate leaders in their respective communities.
The award ceremony will take place on Nov. 17, 2015, at historic Fenway Park in Boston.
“The Boston Red Sox ownership group led by John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, and their partners are known around baseball for winning championships and their successes off the field, positively impacting the greater Boston area. The Boston Red Sox and Lucchino are most deserving recipients of the Community Achievement Award,” B’nai B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
Lucchino was instrumental in pulling together the ownership group that joined John Henry and Tom Werner in their successful effort to purchase the Red Sox in December 2001. Among all the potential suitors for the team, Henry, Werner, Lucchino, and their partners were the only ones committed to saving and improving Fenway Park.
Together, they oversaw a decade-long project of major improvements that have enhanced the fan experience while respecting the integrity of the park and its surrounding neighborhood.
Lucchino has been President/CEO of the Red Sox since February 2002, managing the franchise on a day-to-day basis with the active involvement of, and in collaboration with, Henry and Werner. Lucchino is a 36-year veteran of Major League Baseball and previously occupied the same roles for the San Diego Padres from 1995 to 2001, and the Baltimore Orioles from 1988 to 1993.
In addition to running championship franchises and setting attendance records, Lucchino has earned a legacy for creating ballparks that have transformed downtown areas and impacted the greater civic community. His vision for Oriole Park at Camden Yards—a traditional, old-fashioned, asymmetrical ballpark with modern amenities—ushered in an era of revolutionary ballpark architecture, while his leadership in building Petco Park saved baseball in San Diego and revitalized an under-utilized 26-block area in the city.
During their time with the Red Sox, the ownership group has established the Red Sox Foundation and distributed more than $77 million.
Embedded in the fabric of New England’s philanthropic community, the foundation emphasizes five cornerstone programs: the organization’s 62-year relationship with the Jimmy Fund in the fight against pediatric cancer; the Red Sox Scholars program, which gives college scholarships to academically-talented but economically-disadvantaged middle school students from Boston; RBI Youth Baseball and Softball programs; the Home Base Program, which treats veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who are facing post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries; and the team’s ongoing relationship with the Dimock Community Center, a leader in opioid treatment and provider of comprehensive health care, shelter, and security.
In November of 2010, the Red Sox Foundation received Major League Baseball’s first-ever Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence.
Since arriving in Boston, Lucchino, a two-time cancer survivor, has been a board member and co-chair of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s $1 billion “Mission Possible” Capital Campaign. He has also served on the board of Special Olympics International.
“As a baseball fan, it’s easy to see how ingrained teams are within their communities. The camaraderie that baseball builds within a fan base is one of the best parts of the game,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “B’nai B’rith is honored to bestow the Community Achievement Award on Boston Red Sox. It’s amazing to find a franchise that is so hands on, so passionate about building up the neighborhood and cities that surrounds this team. The team of Henry, Werner, Lucchino, and their partners are one of those extraordinary teams of executives, and I congratulate them and the entire team on this award.”
B’nai B’rith International was honored to receive a grant from Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) for $100,000, to be used for disaster relief efforts.
The first installment of the grant, which will be paid out over five years, was bestowed at a special luncheon during the fraternity’s 102nd annual conference, held this year in Cleveland, with some 500 AEPi brothers and alumni in attendance.
“We extend our deep appreciation to our partner AEPi for this generous grant, which will allow us to continue to support communities reeling from disasters around the world. This is a very generous award toward our humanitarian aid efforts around the globe,” B’nai B’rith International President—and honorary AEPi brother—Allan J. Jacobs said.
B’nai B’rith was one of 10 organizations selected during the Jewish fraternity's annual international convention in 2014 to receive part of its new $1 million philanthropy initiative.
“Alpha Epsilon Pi is so proud of the brothers and chapter's fundraising efforts that helped us exceed the fraternity's goal of $200,000 a year over five years for 10 beneficiaries. This is the first year of a $ 1,000,000 pledge dedicated to give back to Jewish organizations around the world," AEPi Executive Director Andy S. Borans said.
“We are thrilled to be included in the philanthropy group receiving funds from AEPi for the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund,” B’nai B’rith Chairman of the Executive Board of Directors Gary Saltzman, an honorary AEPi brother, said. “These funds allow us to continue the important work we do in our disaster relief efforts. As partners with AEPi, the members help provide necessary local volunteer support to assist communities in need.”
“Our partnership with AEPi continues to be strong and reliable,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, also an AEPi brother, said. “AEPi brothers have put in countless, back-breaking hours, volunteering their time and muscle to clean up and rebuild communities that B’nai B’rith has worked in for disaster relief. It is always impressive to see the enthusiasm these young men exhibit in all the projects they tackle.”
The B’nai B’rith-AEPi partnership also extends to Holocaust awareness, where the two groups unite for Unto Every Person There is a Name and We Walk to Remember. With the help of these programs, victims of the Holocaust will never be forgotten.
After careful study, B’nai B’rith International has concluded that the Iran nuclear agreement is unlikely to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. We therefore call on Congress to reject the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
As we noted when the deal was announced on July 14, it is impossible to look at Iran’s track record and trust the regime to adhere to the terms of this pact.
The JCPOA requires an unprecedented suspension of disbelief that Iran has only peaceful intentions for its nuclear program. Given its decades of dissembling, it is infeasible to conclude that Tehran will honor its obligations under this agreement.
To be sure, the P5+1 (the United States plus China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany) worked hard during the long negotiating period to secure a deal. The goal of preventing an Iran with nuclear weapons is one shared by much of the world. But this deal is unlikely to fulfill that ambition.
B’nai B’rith appreciates the opportunities given us to meet with administration officials, to hear their explanation of the plan's details and to understand the reasoning behind some of the provisions of the agreement.
How to respond to Iran's nuclear weapons program is one of the most significant national security questions to face the United States in the past decade. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the issue has aroused such passion among so many. We respect that both Democrats and Republicans have approached this issue with great seriousness and have reached varying conclusions that sometimes cut across party lines. We further acknowledge that those who share the goal of blocking Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons may differ about the policy most likely to achieve that outcome.
Still, our reading of the agreement and our understanding of the political and historical context in which the JCPOA would be implemented have heavily influenced our decision to oppose it.
“We listened, we read, we analyzed and we have concluded that we cannot support this deal with Iran,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “We have doubts about elevating the international status of Iran, which has done nothing to prove it will keep its word.”
Even in the days leading up to the agreement, on “al-Quds Day,” government supported crowds shouted, “death to America” and "death to Israel," as U.S. and Israeli flags were burned across the country. These are not the actions of a nation ready to find common ground with the world’s democracies.
Our concerns about the lifting of sanctions also have not been adequately resolved. Iran is the largest state-sponsor of global terror with its proxies such as Hezbollah the world over. Tehran is likely to use the cash that will flow from the absence of sanctions to fund the regime's ongoing terrorist ambitions. The specter of "snapback sanctions" provides little comfort, as measures that took the international community years to coalesce around are unlikely to be rejuvenated once they have been dismantled.
Nor are our questions about the verification process satisfied by the JCPOA. Verification remained a sticking point throughout the labored negotiating process and, in the final document, is still not addressed to our comfort. In light of the deal's significant verification loopholes and Iran’s history of concealing its nuclear program and turning away inspectors, it is logical to conclude that inspectors will never obtain the unmanaged, unfettered or spontaneous access necessary to monitor Iran’s nuclear sites.
“There is no middle ground here. Iran’s credibility is illusory. The stakes are far too high to ignore Tehran’s history of deception by accepting this deal,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
At no point during the nearly two years of negotiations has Iran lessened its support for terrorist organizations, its goals of hegemony in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East or its continued abuse of human rights.
Just days after the deal was announced, Iran again invoked its practice of deception. News reports indicate that Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the secretive, terror-orchestrating Iranian Quds Force, met with senior Russian leaders in Moscow, even though he was barred from leaving Iran by a U.N. Security Council resolution. The Quds Force reports directly to Iran’s supreme leader and has exported terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.
These are not the actions of a regime capable of demonstrating the transparency and cooperation required of it by the terms of this deal.
We firmly reject the notion that the only alternative to this agreement is war. We have long advocated that the best means of ensuring Iran's compliance with international demands is pressure—in the form of ever-tightening sanctions, combined with diplomatic isolation and the credible threat of military force. The international community should respond to Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons by increasing, rather than relieving, pressure on the regime until it has produced meaningful results.
B’nai B’rith International urges Congress to vote next month to disapprove of the agreement.
The 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act has arrived, but those rights President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law in 1965 are threatened.
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.
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.
In June Congress began to push ahead on a bill that would restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which was passed 50 years ago and has been weakened by several federal court decisions over the years.
The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 would enact new voting protections and expanded federal oversight of voting rules, updating key protections against voting rights discrimination to respond to current challenges.
The 50th anniversary of the original Voting Rights Act presents a historic opportunity to honor the advances won by the civil rights movement a half century ago by passing legislation in our own time that ensures the hard-fought gains they achieved will not continue to erode.
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 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.
Summer 2015 Issue Also Examines Integrated Jewish-Arab Schools in Israel
The roots of American-Jewish theater spring from Yiddish immigrant culture. Recent headlines, however, have focused on controversies in the Washington, D.C. scene.
But there is much more to the story. Today, the art form is thriving and evolving into new forms. Increasingly, efforts like the Jewish Plays Project competition search for emerging artists and plays seek to engage the Jewish community. Writer Barbara Blank explores the past, present and future of American-Jewish theater.
State-supported Hand in Hand operates five Israeli schools with 1,100 Jewish and Arab students learning together. Writer Michele Chabin examines the challenges the schools face as they continue their mission of creating a more inclusive society.
B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs explains the organization’s ongoing role at the United Nations to counter the U.N.’s blatant bias against Israel.
Through the use of personal stories, B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin reminds us to honor Holocaust survivors and to keep alive the memories of those we’ve lost.
Joined by a similar love for country, Christian and Jewish Zionists in Israel seem to find a common bond. While some Christians in Israel seek to convert Jews, most see their mission as one of religious purpose and cultural understanding. Writer Hillel Kuttler tells the stories of these Christian Zionists living in Israel, shining a light on their incredible journeys.
Nadav Eyal (Channel 10), Sam Sokol (Jerusalem Post) Are Award Winners; Lifetime Achievement Award to Kol Israel
The B’nai B’rith World Center recognized the winners of the Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage at Jerusalem’s Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on June 8 with Harvard University professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz serving as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.
Dershowitz is a world-renowned jurist and is universally recognized as one of Israel’s most ardent advocates in the court of world opinion. He addressed the award winners and those in attendance by answering tough questions on Israel, American Jewry, the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and U.S.-Israel relations in a conversation with Liat Collins, editor of the International Jerusalem Post and weekly columnist.
“Whenever I debate BDS, I always throw out the following challenge to my students all over the world,” Dershowitz said. “Name a single country in the history of the world faced with internal and external threats comparable to those faced by Israel that has ever had a better record in human rights; a better record with compliance of the rule of law; a better record of concern for civilians? I have been asking that question now for 20 years, probably to a million people around the world, and I’ve never gotten a single person even to stand up and name a country, because you can’t do it.”
B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Haim V. Katz started off the evening with opening remarks that touched on the big issues facing Israel and the Diaspora.
“There has not been a time when someone somewhere has not been planning to do substantial harm to the Jewish people. We now face the iniquitous, disgraceful big lie of the BDS movement and those who will tarnish Israel with the slur of blood libel,” Katz said. “As the Passover Haggadah says ‘Every generation the Jewish People are threatened with annihilation and God provide salvation.’ In every generation God has emissaries who assist the Jewish people in its distress. One of them is professor Alan Dershowitz who is like a pillar going before the camp, defending Israel and the Jewish people.”
Winners of the award, named for Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf, were Nadav Eyal, Channel 10's chief international correspondent and Sam Sokol, Jewish World correspondent for the Jerusalem Post.
A Lifetime Achievement Award in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky was also presented to Kol Yisrael—The Voice of Israel Radio—for its long-running program “Searching for Missing Relatives” now edited and presented by Izi Mann. A special citation for contribution to Israel-Diaspora Relations through the arts was presented to acclaimed singer David D’Or, who performed for the audience.
Eyal received the award in the broadcast media category for his hour-long program “Hate,” broadcast on Channel 10 on Oct. 7, 2014. The program deals with rising anti-Semitism in Europe and was filmed on location in Germany, England and Greece. The broadcast also aired earlier in the year as a four-part mini-series during the station’s primetime news program.
“The connection between the Diaspora and Israel is to be found at the mystery and at the source of the relationship between Israel and the Jewish world. I am very grateful that you found my work worthy of this award. ‘Hate’ tried to ask the question: What stands behind the hate? What motivates the hate? Why is the virus of anti-Semitism so immune and what [are] its sources? To understand anti-Semitism you have to go to the instigators of the virus. So we went to the instigators of the virus. We went to the anti-Semites themselves. And the answer that we brought to our viewers are the lies. The lies in the words of the anti-Semites themselves. The small lie and the big lie that they apply [to] groups. The lie is the source of the racism… And we see how the racism is always paranoid; it is paranoid about everyone, not only toward Jews. This virus assumes mysterious assumptions about minorities and knows no bounds.”
The award in the print media category was presented Sokol for a series of nearly 30 articles published in the Jerusalem Post from May to December 2014 focusing on the fast-changing situation of Jews in war-ravaged eastern Ukraine.
“I’m very, very honored,” said Sokol after receiving the award recognizing his reporting in Ukraine. “It’s very humbling and really feels like a vindication that people have appreciated what I’ve done, and that’s really gratifying.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Kol Yisrael for its “Searching for Missing Relatives” program, inaugurated in 1945 to help Holocaust survivors track down missing relatives. The program was broadcast continuously until 1969 and was re-launched in 2000 by Yaron Enosh in a new format that included interviews and investigative reporting. Over the years the program, and its English print iteration “Seeking Kin” by Hillel Kuttler, have brought together hundreds of Jews across the globe, locating and reuniting with long-lost relatives, friends and neighbors. The show is now edited and presented by Mann, who accepted the award on behalf of the show.
“I feel it is a big honor, but primarily a great calling, to hold in my hand this watch of ‘Search for Missing Relatives’ because every day I have the sense that behind the microphone I am touching the fragments of history that were created as a result of the circumstances of the Holocaust,” Mann said. “But it is not only the Holocaust, because with all modesty I feel that in many cases I am able to bind these fragments that connect families and friendships that were shredded. The wounds of the Holocaust are still felt everywhere and especially now, when families are growing, the need to complete the missing past suddenly arises. Now, when the Jewish people have ceased to wander and are building its homeland we suddenly realize to what degree the roots are missing and now we are trying to complete them.”
Since its establishment in 1992, the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reportage on contemporary Diaspora-Jewish communities and on the state of Israel-Diaspora relations today in the Israeli print and electronic media. The award is widely acknowledged in the media industry as the most prestigious prize in its field in Israel. Its goal is to help shore up the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora by recognizing excellence in Diaspora-related reportage appearing in the Israeli print, broadcast and web-based media. It was established in recognition of the important contribution the media can make toward strengthening the relationship between Israel and world Jewry--so essential for the resilience of both--by encouraging quality reportage on Diaspora communities and Israel-Diaspora relations.
The distinguished members of the award jury are: Chairman Asher Weill, publisher and editor of “ARIEL”– The Israel Review of Arts and Letters from 1981 to 2003; Yehudith Auerbach, professor in the School of Communication at Bar Ilan University; Eytan Bentsur, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs director general; Sara Frenkel, former Diaspora correspondent for Israel Radio and Lifetime Achievement Award winner in 2002; Shalom Kital, former director general of News Company and Channel 2; Gabriela Shalev, professor and chair of the Higher Academic Council at Ono Academic College, as well as a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations; and Bambi Sheleg, founder and editor-in-chief of Eretz Acheret, and a 2011 award winner.
The B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism is named for the late Wolf Matsdorf and his wife Hilda. Wolf was an editor of the B’nai B’rith World Center Journal “Leadership Briefing” and a journalist in Israel and Australia. Hilda was a pioneer in social work in both Australia and Israel. The Lifetime Achievement Award is named for Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky. The Award is made possible through donations from Daniel Schydlowsky, a professor and a member of the B’nai B’rith World Center International Board of Governors (Lima, Peru and Washington D.C.), and the Matsdorf family.
See where B'nai B'rith International stands on the issues.