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NEWS of B'nai B'rith

Business as Usual at the U.N. Human Rights Council
March 18, 2016, 8:15 am, Times of Israel

Daniel S. Mariaschin Daniel S Mariaschin is the International Executive Vice President of B'nai B'rith


It has been business as usual at the U.N. Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva this month.

Here's why it matters.

Notwithstanding the need for urgent attention to such serial abusers as Syria's Assad regime, which continues to barrel-bomb its own citizens in the midst of a destructive civil war, and Iran, which most certainly vies for the lead in any number of human rights abuses, including the execution of juvenile offenders, Israel is still singled out for special opprobrium.

If this sounds like a broken record, it is. Each year, all countries up for discussion are lumped together into one agenda item, while Israel is always separated out from the rest for individual scrutiny under Item "7" which applies solely to the Jewish state, the only democracy in the Middle East. Subsumed under that item this year are a basket of separate resolutions, as well as six reports. The resolutions, which make no pretence at being objective, hammer Israel for "the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," settlements, human rights abuses in the Golan Heights and a call for Palestinian self-determination.

The special reports include updates on the infamous Goldstone Commission Report, which was written in the wake of the 2009 Gaza war, and which suggested Israel might be guilty of war crimes. Judge Richard Goldstone, who chaired the group which wrote the report, ultimately backed away from its one-sided findings. In the U.N. system, however, vituperation against Israel has a life of its own, so the report lives on.

What does all of this have to do with the real world in 2016? The Middle East is not only in chaos, it is in meltdown mode in Iraq and Syria. Libya has now become the new ISIS target of opportunity. Iran, soon to be flush with cash from the nuclear deal with the P5+1, sends its Revolutionary Guards to Syria, along with its wholly-owned subsidiary Hezbollah, the terrorist organization that has taken over control of Lebanon, to back the Assad regime. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost in this conflict, Christians and Yazidis have been massacred and subject to humiliation, eviction and dispersal, with millions becoming part of the biggest refugee migration in decades.

This situation has received scant attention from a U.N. body "re-formed and reformed" 10 years ago to address real human rights crises. Its 47 members have really done no such thing. It is dominated by countries from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, and something called the Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries, said to represent 50 percent of the world's population, whose worldview includes protecting many of those countries who are in the first line of human rights abusers.

This session, as a result of membership rotation, the United States is not on the Council. Nevertheless, it has spoken out strongly against the double standard Israel receives at the hands of the members of the body. Neither is Canada, which has been a staunch defender of Israel over the past decade. The EU countries choose not to participate in the debate on Item 7, though several of its member states, critical of Israel, find a way to do so. The EU could act more forcefully against this on-going diplomatic charade, but it refrains from doing that—another example of how its actions often don't measure up to the values it claims to uphold.

As for the Palestinians it once again proves that, though largely crowded out of the news because of events in the region, their ability to manipulate the U.N. system continues. Whether it was attaining full membership at UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), non-member state status at the General Assembly, or getting its flag flown in front of the U.N. in New York and other U.N. venues (including Geneva), they continue to plug away, not feeling any pressure to return to the negotiating table with Israel. And why should they? The Palestinians feel they have the international community's blindly supportive wind at their back—even at a time when the Middle East neighborhood in which the Palestinians are based, is imploding.

One European diplomat I met in Geneva, after a spirited discussion about how annual denunciations of Israel only embolden the Palestinians and discourage the Israelis, told me point blank that if they were to say "no' to Item 7, "the Palestinian door would be closed to us." My rejoinder was that if the EU—which has often been the Palestinians' friend in court and which has for years funded the salaries of Palestinian Authority (PA) civil servants—really sought to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue, they would spend their time urging the PA to move to the negotiating table, rather than allow this yearly lacerating of Israel to continue.

So as the Middle East burns, Nero—in this case—the Human Rights Council, fiddles. An aversion to doubling down on real abusers of human rights, and a propensity to let the anti-Israel rhetoric flow in Item 7 and its accompanying reports, speaks to the hypocrisy and emptiness of the Council and the system that has produced it.

Living in a time where, from our smart phone screens we can learn, real time, about the abuses of human rights everywhere, a global conscience is AWOL. Each day it stays that way, real opportunities to help those who suffer, pass. Instead, at the Human Rights Council and elsewhere, there is always time to unfairly castigate Israel.

What a terrible waste.

Daniel S. Mariaschin, who has just returned from Geneva, is the executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International. As the organization's top executive officer, Mariaschin directs and supervises B'nai B'rith programs, activities and staff around the world.


EP delegation


B’nai B’rith International led several members of the European Parliament on a five-day visit to Israel. This trip promoted the Jewish state as an influential leader in education, technology, agriculture and medicine. The delegation included the following members of the European Parliament Lars Adaktusson (Sweden), Ramona Manescu (Romania) and Davor Stier (Croatia).

“It is necessary for diplomatic leaders to receive accurate information regarding Israel and what it deals with on a near daily basis—such as violent terrorist attacks,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said. “This mission provided an informative and vital experience that permitted members of the European Parliament to recognize that Israel is a dynamic and diverse country with a thriving economy.”

The trip, staffed by B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider and Eric Fusfield, deputy director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, allowed participants to immerse themselves in Israel’s culture by touring the Old City of Jerusalem, hearing from Israeli military officers at the Gaza border about the country's unique security challenges and visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial. The delegation also visited wounded victims of the Syrian war at Ziv Hospital and met with Knesset members Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid), Anat Berko (Likud) and Nachman Shai (Zionist Union). The delegation also toured the Israel Museum, visited Kibbutz Magen (located in the northwestern Negev desert), met with Mayor Eliyahu Shaviro of Ariel and visited a plastics factory in the West Bank, where they learned about Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and job creation. Participants discussed religious pluralism in Israel with Christian and Baha'i faith leaders.

The mission also included a meeting with key officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the diplomats discussed European Union-Israel relations and the labeling of products made in the West Bank and Golan Heights. “B’nai B’rith is responsible for providing influential international leaders with information that demonstrates Israel’s vibrant democratic character,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “There is no better way to accomplish this than by bringing European officials to Israel, so they can experience the Jewish state’s culture and political environment firsthand, as well as its story of success as the ‘start-up nation.’ We will continue to do these missions in the future.” This diplomatic delegation to Israel was made possible by the generous support of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit bnaibrith.org.

Source: BBI press release
Picture



B’nai B’rith International led several members of the European Parliament on a five-day visit to Israel. This trip promoted the Jewish state as an influential leader in education, technology, agriculture and medicine. The delegation included the following members of the European Parliament Lars Adaktusson (Sweden), Ramona Manescu (Romania) and Davor Stier (Croatia).
 
“It is necessary for diplomatic leaders to receive accurate information regarding Israel and what it deals with on a near daily basis—such as violent terrorist attacks,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said. “This mission provided an informative and vital experience that permitted members of the European Parliament to recognize that Israel is a dynamic and diverse country with a thriving economy.”
 
The trip, staffed by B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider and Eric Fusfield, deputy director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, allowed participants to immerse themselves in Israel’s culture by touring the Old City of Jerusalem, hearing from Israeli military officers at the Gaza border about the country's unique security challenges and visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial. The delegation also visited wounded victims of the Syrian war at Ziv Hospital and met with Knesset members Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid), Anat Berko (Likud) and Nachman Shai (Zionist Union).

The delegation also toured the Israel Museum, visited Kibbutz Magen (located in the northwestern Negev desert), met with Mayor Eliyahu Shaviro of Ariel and visited a plastics factory in the West Bank, where they learned about Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and job creation. Participants discussed religious pluralism in Israel with Christian and Baha'i faith leaders. The mission also included a meeting with key officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the diplomats discussed European Union-Israel relations and the labeling of products made in the West Bank and Golan Heights.
 
“B’nai B’rith is responsible for providing influential international leaders with information that demonstrates Israel’s vibrant democratic character,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “There is no better way to accomplish this than by bringing European officials to Israel, so they can experience the Jewish state’s culture and political environment firsthand, as well as its story of success as the ‘start-up nation.’ We will continue to do these missions in the future.”
 
This diplomatic delegation to Israel was made possible by the generous support of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.


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.

THE SILENCE
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

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