B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International commends the House of Representatives for approving a 10-year extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA). The bill was passed by a majority of 419-1 on Nov. 15. These sanctions target Iran’s support of terrorism and its nuclear activities. Tehran is the largest state-sponsor of terror and is known for inciting violence and hate around the world, including calling for the destruction of Israel.
We strongly urge the Senate to pass the same legislation.
We are also pleased that the House passed another measure that would apply new sanctions on any person or country that enables Syria’s war crimes.
B’nai B’rith International’s Name Appears In Iran’s Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest
B’nai B’rith reiterates its outrage over the disgusting annual Holocaust cartoon contest in Iran. The entries, which mock the Holocaust, celebrate anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and pure hate.
B’nai B’rith International’s name appears in one cartoon which depicts a cash register with the total amount of money shown equaling six million—a reference to the number of Jews murdered by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. “B’nai B’rith” is written on the key to the cash register, inferring that Jews are responsible for the Shoah, or that Jews manipulate the Holocaust for financial ends.
As we noted last month, the competition started May 14 and continued for the next two weeks. At least 50 countries participated and more than 150 entries were displayed.
These cartoons show the depths and detail to which the Iranian regime will go to spout its anti-Semitism and its distortions of the Holocaust, which include denying the Shoah ever happened. Unfortunately, this type of incitement to hatred from Tehran is all too common, as it continuously concocts lies about the Jewish state and the Jewish people.
B’nai B’rith International strongly condemns Iran’s annual international cartoon contest satirizing the Holocaust. The competition started May 14 and will continue for the next two weeks, with 150 entries already on display from at least 50 countries. According to reporters at the scene, the contest secretary compared the horrors of the Nazi regime with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
“This anti-Semitic contest is threatening Jews and Israel by perpetuating racist stereotypes that only encourage incitement against the Jewish state and Jews around the world,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said.
Iran has zero credibility as a legitimate partner on the international stage. Additional recent evidence of Iran’s duplicity came in October when Tehran breached its nuclear agreement with the P5+1 powers, by test-firing a missile capable of mounting a nuclear warhead, as well as its daily calls for the elimination of Israel.
Iran’s behavior as an unbridled hater of Israel is rarely challenged in the international community.
“It’s simple—Tehran demonizes and supports the delegitimization of the State of Israel, as evidenced by this despicable and anti-Semitic ‘contest.’ Tehran’s willfully defying the P5+1 nuclear agreement further serves as a useful reminder of the regime’s true motives,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “And, the Iranian government continues to be a known supporter and purveyor of terrorism.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated Iran is “preparing another Holocaust” by allowing this contest to carry on. The global community should speak with one voice to condemn this outrageous display of anti-Semitism.
B’nai B’rith International remains wary of Iran’s nuclear intentions even as global economic sanctions have been lifted.
In finding that Tehran has met its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is certifying that a nation that has deceived the agency and the global community in the past is now abiding by an agreement that would diminish its ability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran’s delaying tactics in the face of global nuclear inspectors are well documented.
The global ramifications of Iran gaining access to nuclear weapons are significant. Tehran also remains a major exporter and backer of terrorism and terrorist organizations around the world, and is exerting its influence in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and across the Middle East.
The lifting of sanctions could provide Iran with access to $100 billion which could be used to support terrorism and its goal of pursuing hegemony in the region.
Even as the JCPA deal was being negotiated, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated “Whether a nuclear agreement is achieved or not, Israel will be more insecure each day.” During negotiations, Iran pursued plans to build intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Tehran regime is a well-documented serial abuser of human rights against its own people.
Reinforcing our skepticism about Iran’s compliance: Less than a day after the global sanctions were lifted, the White House is implementing new sanctions relating to Iran’s violation of a United Nations resolution prohibiting ballistic missile tests.
There are still many steps Iran must follow to meet its obligations, and we urge the P5+1 (United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom) and the IAEA to maintain due vigilance and scrutiny to ensure Iran does not cheat and develop a nuclear weapon.
B’nai B’rith International Deeply Disappointed By IAEA’s Decision To Close Its Investigation Of Past Iranian Nuclear Activity
B’nai B’rith International is deeply disappointed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors’ decision to close its investigation of illicit past Iranian activity in pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. Iran has consistently refused to provide the IAEA with significant information about its missile and weapons programs.
“This outcome sets a perilous example to other countries—that deception and continued testing of proscribed weapons is acceptable,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said. “Iran’s track record has proven time and again that it follows its own set of rules.”
The IAEA reports that Iran maintained a nuclear weapons program until 2003, and continued working on some aspects of it until 2009. In closing its investigation, the IAEA reported that Iran has not intensified its activities pertaining to this program. Yet, in October, only three months after signing the P5+1 nuclear agreement, Iran test-fired a missile capable of mounting a nuclear warhead. This was in direct violation of a resolution of the United Nations Security Council.
“Closing this investigation raises serious questions and grave concerns because of Iran’s proven refusal to be honest and transparent about its nuclear activity and goals,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Tehran has no credibility; its missile-launch has again violated bedrock international obligations, and there is no doubt that the Iranian regime will continue to skirt international agreements in the future.”
B’nai B’rith International Commends Argentine President Macri’s Decision To Void The AMIA Bombing Pact With Iran
B’nai B’rith International welcomes Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s decision to support the federal court’s verdict declaring the Argentina-Iran memorandum of understanding unconstitutional. The 2013 memorandum was intended to “jointly investigate” the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA). Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner originally appealed the federal court’s ruling. During his campaign, Macri supported the idea of abolishing the deal; he was sworn into office last week.
“Voiding this deal will send a strong message that the pursuit of justice knows no bounds,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said. “The victims and their families deserve answers.”
The deal allowed Iranian officials inclusive access to the investigation, and mandated that suspects could only be questioned in Tehran. To expect that Iran, with a 36-year record of hypocrisy and obfuscation, would comply with the terms of such a pact was ludicrous. B’nai B’rith has long-expressed the belief that Iran’s “search for justice” is a sham, and strongly opposed the agreement.
Iran is widely recognized to be behind the 1994 terrorist attack in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded 300. Argentine Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died under suspicious circumstances earlier this year, believed Iran was directly connected to the AMIA bombing. Nisman wrote a report uncovering new evidence revealing Iran’s and Hezbollah’s involvement in the terrorist attacks.
“The decision to void the memorandum will be a major step forward in addressing the injustice inflicted on the victims and the people of Argentina. Iran, and its proxy, Hezbollah, should be held accountable, so the families and victims of this terrorist attack can find peace, once and for all,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
More than two decades have gone by without answers. In the past Interpol has issued arrest warrants for those in charge of the terrorist attack, but, so far, none have been made. B’nai B’rith hopes that this ruling will allow the investigation to go forward, and bring the terrorists to justice.
In Advocacy Marathon On Sidelines Of U.N. General Assembly, B’nai B’rith Discusses Iran, Palestinians With World Leaders
During the opening high-level segment of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, a B’nai B’rith International delegation has been on the ground meeting with numerous visiting presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other senior officials. The delegation is led by International President Allan J. Jacobs, Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin and Chairman of the Executive Committee Gary P. Saltzman, accompanied by B’nai B’rith leaders, professionals and partners from around the country.
The B’nai B’rith representatives have appealed for unabated—indeed, intensified—international vigilance surrounding Iranian nuclear activity and support for terrorism around the Middle East and beyond. Government officials have also been urged by B’nai B’rith to reject Palestinian efforts to export tensions with Israel to, and achieve unearned political objectives at, the United Nations rather than engaging in necessary direct negotiations, compromise and agreement with the Jewish state.
RELATED: B’nai B’rith Denounces Abbas’ Disavowal Of Peace Agreements With Israel; Contradictions Abound In Appearance At U.N. General Assembly
“B’nai B’rith has been present at the United Nations since its inception and our current activity at the General Assembly signals unwavering commitment to engaging with the world body, holding it to its founding principles and speaking truth to power,” Jacobs said.
On Sept. 30 Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas disavowed signed peace agreements with Israel in his speech to the General Assembly. The same day, in an unprecedented step, the Palestinian flag was raised at the United Nations in the absence of a Palestinian state recognizing the Jewish state’s right to exist in peace.
“Our delegation’s response to Mahmoud Abbas’ latest, open departure from peacemaking has been unambiguous,” Mariaschin said. “Sadly, although Abbas has clearly demonstrated Palestinian responsibility for the discontinuance of dialogue and progress toward coexistence with Israel, the United Nations continues to afford him incomparable, undeserved advantages, and thus every incentive to choose provocation over moderation and responsible leadership. It is in light of this that our global advocacy at the highest level is so urgent.”
B’nai B’rith—which coordinated diplomatic meetings on behalf of leading international and American Jewish organizations—has already met with top decision-makers from countries including Austria, Chile, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, the Holy See, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Ukraine and Uruguay, among others.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International commends the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a resolution of disapproval regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program. This is a strong message to Iran that our elected representatives have listened to the American people, debated and ultimately spoken out against the deal.
We are pleased to see that a majority of the House agrees that the Iran nuclear deal is unlikely to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and that it is impossible to look at Iran’s track record and trust the regime to adhere to the terms of this pact.
Additionally, B’nai B’rith applauds the House for voting against lifting sanctions against Tehran. Sanctions were key in isolating Iran and severely impacting its economy. Lifting the sanctions will only cause more money to flow into the Iranian nuclear program, as well as to its terror proxies around the globe.
At the same time, B’nai B’rith regrets that a parallel vote did not occur yesterday in the Senate. It is truly disappointing that Senators were not able to cast an up-or-down vote on this monumental issue.
On the same day the Senate vote was thwarted, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said publically, “God willing, there will be no such thing as a Zionist regime in 25 years. Until then, struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.” Khamenei's remarks are a perfect illustration of why this deal has potentially catastrophic consequences.
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 International remembers the 21st anniversary of the bombing attack on the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building—the Jewish center—in Buenos Aires. As we move farther away from that fateful day of July 18, 1994, when 85 people were killed and 300 were wounded in the blast, the story only becomes uglier and more complicated. The mysterious death of the prosecutor assigned to the case, Alberto Nisman, this past January only added to the perpetual uncertainly of resolving this case.
B’nai B’rith participated in remembrance activities in Buenos Aires on July 16 and 17, with leaders and representatives of government, religion and non-governmental organizations from across Latin America descending on the Argentine capital to reflect on the past and discuss prospects for the future of the case.
On July 16 B’nai B’rith Director of Latin America Affairs Eduardo Kohn joined participants from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay and Venezuela to engage in roundtable discussions on a variety of topics, hosted by the Latin American Jewish Congress. B’nai B’rith Latin America Chair and Chilean Jewish community president Leon Cohen joined Kohn in Buenos Aires, as did Paraguay Jewish community chair and B’nai B’rith mentor Jack Fleischman.
Topics covered included AMIA case and the lack of justice 21 years removed from the bombing, the pervasive threat of the Islamic State, and new strategies and challenges for Jewish communities in Latin American and beyond.
For the discussion of the AMIA bombing, attendees heard from Sofía Guterman, whose daughter, Andrea, perished in the bombing. During the ISIS roundtable Catholic nun Maria de Guadalupe Rodrigo addressed participants, having spent the last five years in Aleppo, Syria at a Catholic mission. She talked about the horrifying experiences she witnessed in the midst of the brutal civil war in Syria and lamented the conflict truly looks hopeless unless the international community decides to intervene in the war and take on the Islamic State head on.
Following a full day of productive talks, Kohn then attended a dinner and met with the Israeli Ambassador to Argentina Dorit Shavit.
On July 17, Kohn attended the annual commemoration ceremony along with tens of thousands of others at the site of the AMIA building with a moment of silence at 9:53 a.m. local time, marking the exact moment of the explosion.
Among those represented and in attendance, it was an absence that was most notable. For the first time in the 21 years since the bombing, shamefully, there were no members of the government at the commemoration, nor where there any officials from the Buenos Aires’ governor’s office.
Those who were present at the commemoration included Shavit, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Noah Mamet, President of Latin American Jewish Congress Jack Terpins, World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer and several Argentinian congressmen.
The huge crowds, filling the streets around the site, were spurred by the death of the AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, just one day before he was set to formally testify in the Argentine congress against Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman. Nisman would have alleged they offered Iran impunity before jointly creating the “Commission of Truth,” designed to find those responsible for the attack.
The most dramatic moment of the morning came from a very short and very clear message delivered by Lara Nisman, Alberto’s oldest daughter, pleading to the crowd: "Help me to find out the truth, help me against those who are insulting my father. My father can’t defend himself. Please help me and my sister."
“In the 21 years since the worst terror attack in the history of South America, it’s amazing how we’re still sorting through the lies and deception of this case,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Alberto Nisman’s death was a huge blow to the procurement of justice and only added another murky layer to this seemingly never-ending story. But we will fight on, vowing to never forget the victims and committing ourselves to ultimately shining a light on the truth of this horrific crime.”
The current chapter of the AMIA-saga goes back to 2005 when then-President Néstor Kirchner issued a decree accepting the state’s share of the blame for the disastrous inaction and incompetent inquiry into the bombing, and assigned Nisman to review the case. Nisman heroically and doggedly followed evidence in the terror attack wherever it led, including detailing how top Iranian leaders including Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s president at the time, and Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s current minister of defense, ordered Hezbollah to kill Jews in Buenos Aires.
Despite the mountain of evidence pointing to the regime in Tehran as the perpetrators behind the attack, in 2012 Iran and Argentina signed a “Memorandum of Understanding,” creating a supposed “independent” group to investigate the 1994 bombing. It’s a farcical arrangement that still holds no promise of justice.
But Nisman continued to dig. And this time last year, it appeared that he was onto something big. Why? The Argentine government barred him from travelling to the United States to testify before the U.S. Congress on the investigation. Fast forward to January 2015 when Nisman filed a complaint against Kirchner and Timerman.
The day before he was scheduled to speak before the Argentine congress about these enormous and pointed allegations, he was found dead in his apartment under mysterious circumstances. B’nai B’rith closely followed Nisman’s investigation over the years and strongly supported his efforts. His death created a gaping void in the pursuit of terrorists.
“Every year B’nai B’rith commemorates the AMIA anniversary, but this year is particularly difficult due to the death of Alberto Nisman. It seems with his death, the quest for justice in this case has been partially extinguished, for the time being. To lose a man committed to truth and closure for the victims’ families is truly heartbreaking,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “But his death is also a reminder that we must continue on, we must continue to fight those who seek to obfuscate what truly happened on July 18, 1994."
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