Contact B'nai B'rith

1120 20th Street NW, Suite 300N Washington, D.C. 20036


B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:

We watched President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address tonight with a keen focus on Israel and anti-Semitism. While the president noted “Israel has a right to go after Hamas,” we were surprised and disappointed the president did not address the growing threat of anti-Semitism across the United States.

Hamas must not be allowed to rearm under any ceasefire agreement. Israel must be able to continue its mission to remove Hamas from control of Gaza. As long as Hamas remains in power, there can be no security for Israel and no peace for the region.

We call for the immediate release of all 134 remaining hostages held by Hamas. It is despicable there are still babies, children, women and men held as hostages, 153 days after Hamas terrorists abducted them. It is imperative that Hamas is eliminated as a military force, and the world community must ensure Hamas has no future role in Gaza.

Former hostage Mia Schem—along with families of some 17 hostages still in captivity, recently released, or killed in captivity—was a guest in the gallery. Their presence during the State of the Union address was an especially fitting and meaningful way to call attention to the hostages’ plight, and to remind the world that Hamas started this war. The yellow ribbons and dog tags that some members of Congress chose to wear in honor of the hostages are a powerful reminder that those captured by Hamas are not forgotten.

We call on the administration to fulfill its promise to codify the principles contained in the 2019 White House Executive Order on Combating Anti-Semitism. Doing so would greatly strengthen the effort to fight anti-Semitism in schools and on campuses.

We renew our call for a domestic anti-Semitism czar, as a counterpoint to U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Deborah Lipstadt, whose portfolio is international in scope. B’nai B’rith has raised this several times early in the administration, but Oct. 7 has elevated the stakes.

The White House proposal to enable Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices on dozens of additional medicines means seniors on fixed incomes may see significant savings on life-saving medicines. We also appreciate that the administration’s plan to secure a $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket prescription fees to those people even outside of Medicare insurance could greatly benefit older adults. Taken together, these plans would expand the Inflation Reduction Act in a meaningful way for many older Americans.

We are encouraged that Biden said, “Let’s stand up for seniors.” And noted, “I’ll protect and strengthen Social Security…”

B’nai B’rith reiterates its support for strong Social Security and Medicare programs. These vital social safety nets help ensure a vibrant future for older adults. As the largest national Jewish sponsor of non-sectarian low- income housing for seniors, we witness how these programs enable seniors to live independently and with the dignity we all deserve. We favor policies and bills that aim to strengthen these programs.

We support the Affordable Care Act, which the president said he plans to expand. This program makes health insurance available to millions of Americans who, prior to its 2010 enactment, had no other way to access health insurance.

It was important that the president announced a plan of action against Iran, which is using proxy groups to attack Israel and the United States, and which inches ever closer to nuclear weapons capabilities. Biden noted that part of creating stability in the Middle East involves stopping the threat posed by Iran.

The issue of border security in the United States has been marked by a lack of bipartisan consensus. While there is general agreement on the importance of securing the border, there is significant discord on how best to achieve this goal. We are looking forward to seeing bipartisan solutions for border issues. The lack of agreement has led to gridlock and has hindered progress on this critical issue. We agree with Biden’s sentiment, “We can fight about fixing the border or we can fix it.”

B’nai B’rith has a long history of engaging with Congress and the White House on areas of mutual concern. Since our founding in 1843, B’nai B’rith has been a championing force in the fields of human rights, community service and philanthropy around the globe. Through engagements with officials and our involvement with the United Nations, we continue to bring critical issues to the forefront. In the year ahead, we remain committed to calling on the president and other elected leaders to speak out against anti-Semitism and advocate for policies that bolster the security and prosperity of Israel.