B’nai B’rith Condemns Aalst’s Decision to Renounce Place on UNESCO Heritage Of Humanity List so the Carnival Can Continue Hosting Anti-Semitic Carnival Floats
(Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2019)—B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith is outraged that the organizers of the Aalst carnival parade in Aalst, Belgium, have chosen to renounce the event’s place on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity rather than be held accountable for the anti-Semitism in the annual parade. Following an outcry from Jewish groups, including B’nai B’rith, in Belgium and worldwide, UNESCO was set to vote on whether the parade could remain on the heritage list during an agency meeting on Dec. 12. Aalst’s mayor stated it was “unavoidable” that Jews would continue to be mocked at the carnival.
The Aalst carnival has a history of trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. In preparation for the 2020 parade, organizers plan to distribute ribbons to all participants featuring Orthodox Jews with hooked noses and gold teeth. In March of this year, we condemned the 2019 parade’s “Shabbat Year” float, which depicted Orthodox Jews amidst bags of money; the float’s creators claimed the display was meant to protest “rising prices.” In the 2013 parade, one float featured a caricature of the Holocaust with Nazi rail cars and Zyklon B, the gas that was used to kill Jews at concentration camps.
The Aalst parade has held a spot on the UNESCO list since 2010; it is unacceptable that the parade retained its listing for six years after featuring the Holocaust caricature. To prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future, UNESCO must create a de-listing mechanism for items on the cultural heritage list. Currently, no event has ever been de-listed.
In addition, we call on UNESCO to strongly affirm that there will not be any tolerance for these kinds of anti-Semitic caricatures and displays.
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
B’nai B’rith International Dismayed By European Court Of Justice Ruling On Labeling Israeli Products
(Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, 2019)—B’nai B’rith International President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is dismayed by today’s European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling imposing labeling guidelines on Israeli products originating beyond the pre-1967 lines.
The decision is applicable to products from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and comes in response to a case initiated by the Organisation juive européenne and the winery Vignoble Psagot Ltd. It specifies that labels must contain the phrase “Israeli settlement,” and that a precise, but unclassified mention of the location is insufficient.
The ruling cannot be appealed and is binding. While it is aligned with general European Union (EU) labeling guidelines, it is blind to context and future implications. Without a doubt, this new policy’s implications for EU positions on Israel will be a green light for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) supporters and the singling out of Israel for further criticism and attack.
The decision negatively impacts the peace process, seeks to undermine Israel’s legitimacy and works against purported EU support for a directly-negotiated, mutually agreeable solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
The ruling represents the consolidation of a non-binding opinion forwarded by the ECJ in 2015 that was widely viewed in EU member states as detrimental and thus disregarded.
In 2018, a large and comprehensive report by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency showed Jews in Europe are routinely victims of the implantation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into Europe. We are further concerned that today’s ruling will have a negative impact on European Jews, possibly exposing them to an increase in anti-Semitic attacks.
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 bnaibrith.org.
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 is disappointed the European Parliament has passed a resolution that will allow European governments to label products made in the West Bank, a policy that will cause great economic and political harm to the Jewish state.
The resolution, which passed by a vote of 525-70, is an affirmation of the discriminatory goals of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Such a misguided policy is destructive to the peace process and gives momentum to opponents of Israel who seek to delegitimize the Jewish state by weakening its economy and isolating it politically.
We call on European governments to reject this biased and counterproductive resolution.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International condemns the latest anti-Israel terror attack, this time at the Israeli embassy in the Athens suburb of Psychiko where men on motorcycles opened fire with Kalashnikov automatic rifles on the front of the building early this morning. Fortunately, no one was injured.
B’nai B’rith commends Greek authorities for reacting swiftly, deploying police to the crime scene and vowing to bring the perpetrators of this terrorist attack to justice.
As we’ve seen in recent months and weeks, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise and they must be stopped. B’nai B’rith has repeatedly brought to light the troubling silence of the international community over these acts of terror, as well as the need for European governmental and law enforcement officials to engage in proactive efforts to counter these attacks.
See where B'nai B'rith International stands on the issues.