NEWS - News of B'nai B'rith

B'nai B'rith International is thrilled to announce that Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin's inclusion in The Algemeiner Jewish 100 List for 2014.

This is the second year for the list, which is dedicated to "organizations or individuals who have positively influenced Jewish life this past year...These 100 people who have the most positive impact on Jewish life and Israel, men and women, Jew or non-Jew, who have lifted the quality of Jewish life in the past year. Without these 100 individuals or the organizations they represent – Jewish life would not be at the caliber it is today."

The following is Mariaschin's profile, listed in the Community section, with description in its entirety:
Daniel S. Mariaschin has spent nearly all of his professional life working tirelessly on behalf of the Jewish community. Currently, as the top executive officer of B'nai B'rith International, he directs the agency's work in more than 50 countries.

He also serves as director of B'nai B'rith's Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, representing the organization to audiences that include Congress and the media.

Mariaschin has met with countless heads of state, prime ministers, foreign ministers, opposition leaders, influential journalists, and clerical leaders.

Each time, his goal has been to advance human rights, help protect the rights of Jewish communities worldwide, and promote better relations with the State of Israel.

Jewish Press: Q&A With B'nai B'rith Executive VP Daniel Mariaschin

The Jewish Press: Broadly speaking, how would you describe B'nai B'rith's activities and what distinguishes B'nai B'rith from other Jewish organizations?

Mariaschin: The first distinguishing factor is that B'nai B'rith is the oldest of the Jewish organizations – we're now into our 172nd year. We're also an international organization made up of members in nearly 50 countries around the world.
We concentrate on three main areas: One is pro-Israel advocacy and fighting global anti-Semitism. We've had credentials at the United Nations since 1947, and we spend a good deal of our time there fighting bias against Israel.

The second area is senior housing and advocacy. The Jewish community has probably the largest proportion of senior citizens of any ethnic group in this country, so for more than 40 years now we have been sponsoring affordable housing for seniors in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development – we have more than 40 properties around the United States. We're also involved in senior advocacy – issues like Social Security, Medicare, etc.

The third area is disaster relief. We help victims of hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis – all kinds of natural disasters around the world.

You were recently involved in fighting HarperCollins after a Catholic news website reported that the publisher had omitted Israel in atlases it was selling in the Middle East. What's your take on the story?

This is only the latest in a long series of these kinds of omissions. We've seen it particularly with airlines omitting Israel on route maps, for example. But HarperCollins's omission was especially egregious because it is a major general and educational publisher. You know, if we're going to talk about peace and a peace process, it's not only for diplomats – it's for everybody. When a major publisher leaves Israel off a map, what kind of message does that send to schoolchildren in the Arab world?

This incident ended well for a change.

Yes, HarperCollins decided to call the atlases back and pulp the rest, as they say. Hopefully it will serve as a lesson for others because this was just a microcosm of the larger issue of the delegitimization of Israel. It doesn't necessarily have to be a speech at the United Nations; it can be a decision made in an editorial office somewhere to say, "Look, we don't want to offend our readers so we think we'll just leave Israel off." Hopefully the firestorm around this story will send a message to others that a) it's unacceptable and b) there are people out there watching who will raise the red flag when they do this kind of thing.

What kind of work does B'nai B'rith do at the UN?

We were actually present in 1945 when the UN was founded in San Francisco, and we received our first credentials as an NGO in 1947.

What has happened over the last 25 years, unfortunately, is that much of our UN activity relates to the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. We feel very strongly about trying to keep the UN honest on this issue. So, for example, in March every year we go for a week to Geneva where the UN Human Rights Council is based and meet with ambassadors. We're also in Paris at UNESCO.