(Washington, D.C., Sept. 6, 2019)--A small group of B’nai B’rith International leaders met privately with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. In the meeting at U.N. Headquarters, which took place in advance of the arrival in New York of international leaders for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly session this month, the B'nai B'rith delegation thanked Guterres for his positive personal efforts while raising priority concerns regarding the world body and current global affairs, particularly in the Middle East.
Guterres, who had previously saluted B'nai B'rith on the occasion of its 175th anniversary, has denounced anti-Semitism, including as manifested by the delegitimization of Israel, and he has now launched initiatives against hate speech and the targeting of places of worship. He also recently met with the parents of Hadar Goldin, the Israeli soldier who was slain by Hamas and whose body has been held hostage for years by the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip.
In the wake of new violence and threats by Hezbollah, the massively militarized proxy of Iran based in Lebanon, as well as Palestinian terrorists, B'nai B'rith reiterated the urgency of serious action by the international community to address these gravely dangerous realities. Guterres also heard B'nai B'rith's dismay over the ongoing weaponization of U.N. bodies as propaganda tools against Israel by Palestinians, who continue to reject direct dialogue with Israel and American-led peace efforts.
Additionally, B’nai B’rith urged the secretary-general to dedicate staff to combating the scourge of global anti-Semitism – and to pursue the long-overdue inclusion of Israelis at a management level within the U.N. secretariat.
At the conclusion of the meeting, B’nai B’rith’s delegation presented Guterres with a display of stamps commemorating Portugal's Jewish heritage and an international B'nai B'rith leadership meeting in the country this past summer. Guterres is a former prime minister of Portugal and his wife, Catarina Vaz Pinto, councillor of culture in the Portuguese capital and a past Portuguese state secretary of culture, addressed the B'nai B'rith conference.
Led by CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, the B'nai B'rith delegation also included Millie Magid, B'nai B'rith chair of U.N. affairs; Stewart Cahn, of New York; Brian Kaufman, of New York; and David Michaels, 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 www.bnaibrith.org
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.
B’nai B’rith Outraged by Continued Terror Attacks in Israel; Condemns International Community for Continued Silence
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is outraged by the continued terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, and condemns the deafening silence from the international community on these violent acts.
On Nov. 10 Israel Defense Forces soldier Almog Shilony was stabbed multiple times in Tel Aviv while returning to his military base. Shilony eventually died of his wounds.
Hours before, a woman was fatally stabbed and two more were injured in Alon Shvut. The attack was allegedly carried out by Maher Hamdi A-Shalmon, who was jailed from 2000 to 2005 for throwing fire bombs at Israeli troops.
These attacks come on the heels of two car-based terror attacks at Jerusalem light-rail stations.
Despite the rash of terror attacks, the international community—and the United Nations in particular—has said nothing.
“Every day Israelis are coming under attack. Every day the crowds of violent Palestinian rioters grow larger,” Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor told reporters at the United Nations on Nov. 10. “And yet, this institution has not uttered a word to denounce attacks against Israelis. Ignoring incitement and terrorism is similar to supporting terrorism.”
Prosor is absolutely correct in his assessment. The United Nations’ silence is a continuation of the double-standard with which it treats Israel. If attacks such as these occurred in any other country with the regularity that they have occurred in Israel, the United Nations and countries around the globe would issue condemnations and offer support. With the increased focus on terrorism by the international community—especially in the Middle East—the lack of any reaction from the world body or its member states is conspicuous and wrong.
B’nai B’rith International will continue to draw attention to terrorist attacks such as the ones seen yesterday. The constant threats faced by Israel and Israelis from terrorist organizations and their followers must not be ignored.