Dear Sisters, Dear Brothers,
Firstly, I would like to thank you all for the confidence which you have shown me in electing me as your new President.
We are living in troubled times, when the politicians of the ultra-right again have opened Pandora's Box... when conspiracy theories, stereo- typed, imaginary enemies, are being blamed for "le mal du siècle", when militant Islam declared Jihad against all infidels, and we, the Diaspora Jews and the State of Israel are the protagonists in their scenario...
We are living in troubled times when in the EU Parliament the right wing politicians gained seats... when on the streets of Europe there are neo-Nazi parades, when Jews going to a museum are killed and Jewish children in nursery schools get a bullet instead of milk...
We are living in troubled times when the economic situation that touches all is not changing fast enough for the better and populist demagogues can use this against us...
We cannot afford apathy; we cannot afford discord among us! We need to act together before it is too late! We will not be victims again!
Our organization has the luxury of having lodges all over Europe. We must make good use of this and plan our strategy together if we want to be effective.
I see the role of B'nai B'rith at European level as the body that coordinates transnational projects. Organizing a pan-European politically active B'nai B'rith is my first priority. It also means working together with BBI, with other Jewish organizations and friendly non-Jewish organizations... It means involving the Press and maintaining a continuous contact with them.
Many other pan-European projects can be done and were done for years such as humanitarian aid programmes for the needy in the Ukraine and Romania, cultural programmes, leadership programmes for the future management. I am also dreaming of a pan–European business club through which brothers and sisters make contact and can help each other, especially in economic harsh times.
To achieve all of the above I need your help and support. All news will be posted on our site and in the Newsletter. Since news means communication I also expect material from you. What you do and what you achieve is important and interesting for all of us.
At the next executive meeting we will establish the various commissions and each member of the executive will take the chair of a commission.
With the reorganization of the office and reduced salaries we hope to be able to reduce capitation fees. We can only calculate the future budget when we know all the factors. It is important for us to be registered as an NGO in an EU member country as an International Non-Profit Organization (Association International Sans but Lucrative).
When we are registered as an NGO and have created concrete projects with budgets, we will start fund raising at EU and will be able to approach European donors.
I will keep you up-dated. Until next time, I wish you all a great and healthy vacation.
Erika van Gelder