(Washington, D.C., July 22, 2021)--B’nai B’rith President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International, along with the American Zionist Movement (AZM) and the International March of the Living (MOTL), has co-sponsored a visit this week to Israel by a delegation of ambassadors to the United Nations and the United States, led by Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and U.N.
The week-long visit is particularly notable coming in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—to which Israel’s robust response has served as a model globally—and soon after the latest barrage of attacks on citizens of the Jewish state by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. It also follows the election of both a new president and prime minister in Israel, testifying to the endurance of the Middle East’s only democracy.
The delegation includes ambassadors from Argentina, Australia, Bhutan, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Kenya, Tonga and Ukraine.
During their stay in Israel, the group has met Israeli leaders, inspected cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hamas and the Iran-sponsored Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, received briefings from the Israel Defense Forces, visited foremost religious sites and been exposed to the breadth of Israeli technological innovation.
On Tisha B’Av—the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, marking the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem and the exile of Jews from their homeland—the diplomats also toured Yad Vashem and the national memorial to Israel’s tens of thousands of fallen service members.
AZM immediate past president and B’nai B’rith honorary president Richard D. Heideman and MOTL president Phyllis G. Heideman—who are members of the International Board of Trustees of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem—accompanied the group, as did Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center, and David Michaels, B’nai B’rith director of U.N. and intercommunal affairs.
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.
Israel's Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations Outlines Priorities for Israel at World Body and Ties with U.S. in Live Discussion Hosted by B’nai B’rith
(Washington, D.C., April 19, 2021)--In a live online discussion with B'nai B'rith today, Gilad Erdan, Israel's Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, discussed pervasive anti-Israel bias within U.N. bodies, the threat posed by Iran, the enduring alliance between the U.S. and Israel and ways to combat global anti-Semitism. Erdan addressed these and other issues with B'nai B'rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin and Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels.
During the online program, held just after Israel's 73rd Independence Day, Erdan noted that his central role as ambassador is to strengthen bipartisan American support for Israel and build ties between it and different communities in the U.S., to “fight all forms of anti-Semitism,” to extend the “circle of peace” that was expanded with the recent Abraham Accords and to combat "the existential threat that is posed by Iran.”
In discussing the endemic bias against Israel at the U.N., Erdan noted that many member states of the U.N. often do not vote based on their own strong bilateral relations with Israel but instead as part of regional or other blocs, creating outcomes that don’t reflect the actual situation of Israel in the world. “It doesn’t mean at all that we are isolated,” Erdan said. He emphasized that U.N. resolutions are often detached from the realities on the ground.
Regarding the dangers to Israel posed by Iran, Erdan said, “For me it is outrageous to see that the U.N. doesn’t take this threat seriously. How is it possible that one member state promises to destroy another and there is no resolution against it?”
Discussing his efforts to strengthen bipartisan support for Israel in the U.S., Erdan spoke of his trip to the American South, where he visited sites of importance to the civil rights movement and was accompanied by key African-American leaders. He pointed to Jewish and Black communities' shared experience of persecution and fighting bigotry.
As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, Erdan said that combating anti-Semitism is an issue close to his heart. He spoke about two initiatives he is currently promoting at the U.N.: One to combat the dangerous phenomenon of Holocaust-denial and another to have U.N. bodies adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
The ambassador thanked B’nai B’rith for being a critical ally in the fight against anti-Semitism. "B'nai B'rith has been a cornerstone of Jewish advocacy efforts at the U.N." Erdan said. "In fact, I believe you were the first major Jewish organization at the U.N.'s founding—even before Israel was a state. So the longevity and the dedication with which B'nai B'rith engages with U.N. leaders, not only in New York but also in Paris, in Geneva and other places is remarkable... I think that your work in civil society is the perfect complement to my efforts here in the public sector."
Erdan is Israel’s 18th ambassador to the U.N. and 19th ambassador to the U.S. He is the first person in 60 years to hold both positions. The other person to hold both positions simultaneously was Abba Eban.
He previously served as a senior minister in the Israeli government and a member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. He has served as minister of strategic affairs, minister of public security, minister of communications and minister of environmental protection.
The program is available to watch on B’nai B’rith’s YouTube channel here.