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NEWS of B'nai B'rith

Daniel Valerie Benjamin Katarina

B'nai B'rith Europe President Daniel Citone, B'nai B'rith Europe Vice-President Valerie Achache and B'nai B'rith International Director of EU Affairs Benjamin Naegele met with European Commission's Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism Katharina von Schnurbein. Among the issues discussed were the challenges Jewish communities in Europe face as well as ways to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. The recent labelling of Israeli settlement products, the lack of an official definition of anti-Semitism and hate speech online were also discussed.

Pope synagogue 2

B'nai B'rith Europe President Daniel Citone was in attendance when Pope Francis spoke at the Great Synagogue of Rome on Jan. 17. Franics is now the third pope to visit the synagogue. The event included speeches by Ruth Dureghello, the president of the Jewish community of Rome, and Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni.

The Pontiff spoke about the Holocaust and strongly urged to "say no to all forms of anti-Semitism, all insults, discrimination and persecution arising therefrom." In October of 1943 the Nazis deported more than 2,000 Jews from Rome. Francis also met with several Italian-Jewish Holocaust survivors and mentioned that his relationships with the Jewish people "are in his heart," and that previous "enemies and strangers" have now become "friends and brothers."

B'nai B'rith is gratified that the Catholic-Jewish friendship continues to grow and hold strong. We are pleased that the pope shares a commitment to create "an authentic relationship of friendship." This visit sends a clear and concise message to the world that the fight to end anti-Semitism cannot stop.

Source: B'nai B'rith International press relase
We are deeply saddened to announce the parting of President of BBE Erika Van Gelder. All our thoughts and our prayers go to David, her husband, her daughters, Natalie and Sara, and her grand children.
She was a strong and determined woman, yet kind and very concerned for other people's well being.
She spent her life fighting against anti-Semitism and building bridges
She had a life live to the fullest.
She is, and will be sorely missed.
The funeral will take place on Sunday.

It started with some small incidents
"It's nothing, it's just a rogue",
They thought
Broken windows in Synagogues,
"Kids playing ball"
They thought...
Swastikas on Jewish tombs,
"They'll get those hooligans",
They thought...
Old men were beaten, young girls were raped
"It can't get any worst",
They prayed
Then, in the night the sirens blared
their names...
By dawn they were in Dante's flames.
Yet come the morrow,
Nothing was said and nothing was done...
Only the wind and smoke
Broke the silence
of their sorrow.

Erika van Gelder
Amsterdam, 22/5/2015


B’nai B’rith International and B'nai B'rith Europe are highly disconcerted that the European Union has approved and will soon publish guidelines that European countries can use to label Israeli products produced over the pre-1967 lines. The resolution introducing the guidelines was passed by the European Parliament in September and is an affirmation of the discriminatory goals of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

This latest anti-Israel measure rewards the Palestinians for their refusal to engage in constructive dialogue with Israel and puts off the possibility of resolution on this issue. It also encourages and reinforces the Palestinian narrative at a dire time when anti-Semitic incitement is thriving and there have been more than 60 knife, gun and car attacks on Israeli Jews.

The European Union would better spend its time encouraging Palestinians to get to the negotiating table, as these guidelines only prolong the process, rather than resolve it.

Also at play with this issue are the intellectual dishonesty and highly questionable intentions behind this decision. There are many other disputed regions in the world, but there is no movement to label products—making the double standard of this move apparent.
B'nai B'rith Europe wishes to congratulate Gary P. Saltzman for his election by the Board of Governors as the new president of BBI.

Gary P. Saltzman, of Centennial, Colo., was elected president of B'nai B'rith International by the Board of Governors at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Saltzman immediately begins a three-year term leading the world's oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organization.

In 40 years as a member of B'nai B'rith International, Saltzman has demonstrated leadership and unwavering dedication at the local and international levels of the organization through an impressive range of roles and responsibilities.

"It is a unique privilege to add my name to the list of presidents who have served this venerable organization during its 172-year history," Saltzman said. "Throughout my decades of service to B'nai B'rith, I have been directly involved in all aspects of our core mission at the local and global levels: From advocating for human rights, to supporting Israel and fighting anti-Semitism, to speaking out for seniors and to providing aid to the victims of disasters. I am eager to honor the roots of this organization while advancing its mission in new ways."

In his recent capacity as chairman of the Executive Board of Directors, the No. 2 volunteer leadership position in the organization, Saltzman served as the direct liaison between staff and volunteers and represented B'nai B'rith in meetings around the world. Saltzman has dedicated his time, effort and attention to ensuring the international scope of B'nai B'rith clearly represents the core values that launched the organization and that generate respect around the world. World leaders welcome B'nai B'rith to meetings and seek our counsel because of our agenda and purpose. Saltzman notes: "This access allows us the opportunity to make a difference in the world; to be global agenda setters."

Saltzman has discussed the singular mistreatment of Israel at the United Nations directly with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He has been involved in one-on-one encounters with a wide variety of foreign ministers and presidents. He's traveled to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva to decry the chronic mischaracterization of Israel's human rights record. He was actively involved in the very special interfaith audience with Pope Francis to discuss attacks in the name of religion against Christians and Jews.

"Gary is a pro-active leader who turns ideas into action. His leadership, his command of the issues, his pragmatism and his embrace of change are essential characteristics for a successful president to advance the goals and ideals of our organization," B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. "I look forward to working closely with Gary."

Saltzman's leadership skills were flagged early in his B'nai B'rith work. In 1989 he was named a Label A. Katz Young Leadership Award winner, which is given to individuals under 45 who have demonstrated outstanding service to the totality of B'nai B'rith and have worked to achieve the goals of the B'nai B'rith Young Leadership program.

Over his years of service, Saltzman held numerous leadership positions, including president of the B'nai B'rith Denver lodge, president of the Western Frontier Region and president of B'nai B'rith District 2. Additionally, he was actively involved in the leadership of BBYO on behalf of B'nai B'rith International. He has served as a member of the international Board of Governors, and as a leader on such critical committees as the Futures Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and Budget Committee. He remains a member of the Denver Lodge board.

Professionally, Saltzman is a Certified Public Accountant with the Wenner Group, LLC and a registered investment advisor with Transitions Wealth Management, LLC.

Joining Saltzman are senior vice presidents Eric Engelmayer, Luxembourg; Shel Marcus, Morton Grove, Ill.; Sheila Mostyn, Toronto, Canada; Marvin Siflinger, Framingham, Mass.; Robert B. Spitzer, Seattle, Wash.; Eduardo Weinstein Gottlieb, Santiago, Chile; Treasurer A. Michael Gellman, Potomac, Md.; and re-elected Chief Justice William Peirez, Great Neck, N.Y.

Source: BBI press release


Holocaust historians have hit out at the Austrian government after a Jewish writer, who catalogued the state's failure to return properties seized by the Nazis, was jailed in Vienna.

Stephan Templ, 54, has begun a one-year sentence for defrauding the state.

He was convicted in 2013 after omitting the name of an estranged aunt in an application on behalf of his mother for the return of property seized in 1938.

But legal experts said it was not his responsibility to find other heirs.

The lengthy case has drawn widespread condemnation amid allegations Austria has not done enough to return property looted under the Third Reich.

Historian Efraim Zuroff, renowned for his efforts at bringing Nazi war criminals to court, told the BBC on Tuesday the jailing of Templ was "absolutely outrageous".

Meanwhile, Templ's lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, described it as "outright injustice".

Vienna prosecutors have not commented on the case.

Templ, a leading critic of Austria's restitution record, caused controversy in Austria in 2011 with a book called Our Vienna: Aryanization Austrian-Style.

The book, co-written with historian Tina Walzer, documented properties in the Austrian capital - including apartment buildings, cinemas and even a ferris wheel - that were confiscated from their Jewish owners.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nazi soldiers and party members watch Jews being forced to scrub the pavements of Vienna in March 1938

One of the buildings was a sanatorium owned by Templ's relatives, Lothar Fuerth and his wife.

When Austria was annexed to Nazi Germany in March 1938, Lothar Fuerth was forced to clean the pavement in front of the hospital using toothbrushes as part of the mass persecution of Vienna's Jews. The couple later made their way back into the building and took their own lives.
Image caption Lothar Fuerth was made to clean the pavement outside the sanatorium

In 2006, Templ made a claim on behalf of his mother to a share of the property's value - but failed to specify the name of an aunt, who also had inheritance rights.

Templ told the Guardian: "Owing to the fact that the state stole the property from my family, the obligation should be on them to track down the relatives.

"My only obligation as far as I was concerned was to assure those deciding on the restitution that my mother's claim was bona fide."

Vienna's Regional Criminal Court originally sentenced him to three years in prison in 2013 after the government argued the aunt could have given her share over to the state. The sentence was later reduced to one year.

In September Austrian President Heinz Fischer rejected a request for clemency, saying the punishment was fair because the court had ruled that Templ had "damaged Austria" by his actions.
'Touched a nerve'

Critics have called the decision to jail the writer an "overreaction" and have suggested it may be linked to his criticism of the government's restitution record.

"A lot of people wanted revenge," said Mr Amsterdam, a leading human rights lawyer who defended Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

"A lot of people are angry at Stephan for the book."

Karl Pfeifer, a veteran Austrian journalist and a Holocaust survivor, has been quoted as saying: "The only reason Templ was prosecuted is that he touched a nerve with his book, which reminded the Austrians of how they stole Jewish property."

Speaking to the BBC after his client went to jail on Monday, Templ's lawyer described his shock that the jail sentence was being served.

"It was a difficult day for me not only as a lawyer but as a witness and a Jew," Mr Amsterdam said.

Templ revealed in his book that the ferris wheel in Vienna's Prater amusement park was seized from its Jewish owner who was killed at Auschwitz
Image copyright Getty Images
Templ revealed in his book that the ferris wheel in Vienna's Prater amusement park was seized from its Jewish owner who was killed at Auschwitz

Meanwhile Efraim Zuroff, one of 75 Holocaust historians who signed a letter urging the government to cancel the sentence, criticised Austria's handling of cases relating to the Third Reich - including the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.

"This a country that has a really very twisted way of dealing with Holocaust related issues," he said.

We invite all lodges to write to the local Austrian embassy.

Source: www.bbc.com

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