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NEWS - Lodges and B'nai B'rith updates

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B'nai B'rith International has issued the following statement:

Well before last week's attack on a kosher market in Paris that left four Jews dead, 37 countries sent a letter to the president of the United Nations General Assembly expressing concern over "the global outbreak of anti-Semitism" and calling for a session on combating violence and hatred directed toward Jews.

The attack that occurred last week only solidifies the need to have an urgent conversation about anti-Semitism in the world today.

The appeal from countries including the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and all members of the European Union prompted the U.N. General Assembly to schedule a first-time meeting on anti-Semitism on Jan. 22.

B'nai B'rith International commends this effort by participating countries to take a focused approach to tackling the scourge of global anti-Semitism.

Bringing this issue to the U.N. General Assembly is one notable step in fighting this pernicious form of hatred and B'nai B'rith will look for it to be built upon with concrete, consistent action by governments, international agencies and civil society.


January 23, 2015


The Jewish community in Brussels, Belgium's capital, had a tense weekend, which saw the closure of educational institutions for a day. On Saturday, soldiers spread out around the city's Jewish institutions as part of the response to the raids. But although synagogues were open, many were afraid to visit them and chose to pray at home.

Rabbi Guigui described a strained and difficult atmosphere among his community – numbering about 42,000, according to the World Jewish Congress – since May 2014, when a shooting in Brussels at the Jewish Museum of Belgium killed four.

Rabbi Guigui also represents the Conference of European Rabbis, a union of Jewish religious leaders, in European Union institutions. He met last week with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, as well as the country's interior minister and justice minister – but he is not the bearer of good tidings."Security is merely a means," he told Ynet. "Someone who truly wants to do harm will do so regardless. Security did not prevent what happened in France, and it did not prevent what almost happened here."
"The Jewish community's leaders and the leaders of the Consistoire are furious at the fringe elements in the community who called for rabbis to be armed," the rabbi wrote in an official statement, following such reports. "It's a serious and unacceptable danger. "It is as though we would announce that we have no faith in the Belgian security forces who are committed to protecting our security. Tomorrow, heaven forbid, they will also ask the imams to carry weapons. It is an irresponsible declaration that brings disaster and anarchy upon us.
"We trust the Belgian government and security services to do their work as required of them, and this coming Monday, when the gates of the schools and educational institutions are opened – they will be secured by thousands of soldiers to protect the children and parents."

He called the closures "an appalling decision. I totally oppose it. Our strength was always in saying that despite everything, the institutions and synagogues would always remain open. Despite the terror threats, the community always functions properly. That's why I don't understand why they decided to close the synagogues and schools specifically now." Rabbi Guigui said he met with the director of Belgium's Jewish radio station on Friday. "Radio Judaica has been broadcasting every day for 35 years. It was the first Jewish station in Europe. The director, Morris Blibaum, told me with tears in his eyes that he was forced to close the station for the first time. I think it's a disaster. It's surrendering to the will of the jihadists."

Rabbi Guigui participated in memorial services organized by the Jewish community at the Great Synagogue in Paris, and has been trying to shake what he saw – and the anxiety that he and his colleagues share that terror has not spoken its last word on European soil, especially in the country that has gained the dubious title of the "number one exporter" of fighters to Islamic State frontlines.

Rabbi Guigui said he finds solace in the fact that the terrorism is not purely anti-Jewish, but rather an all-out war against the liberal powers in all of Europe. "What they want is not just to destroy the Jewish communities here. "They want to destroy the rule of democracy. They want to topple the principles of democracy on which Europe is built, and the war we are fighting today is not 'for the Jews', but for human rights, freedom, and liberty.

January 23, 2015

Federica Mogherini said the council of ministers would challenge some of the court's finding and consider future action to avoid similar annulments. At the same time, the EU appeal suspended the effects of the EU court ruling over 17 December until a final decision is taken.

The European Union launched an appeal against last month's EU court ruling that ordered the Palestinian group Hamas removed from its terror list for technical reasons, the bloc's foreign policy chief said Monday. Federica Mogherini said the council of ministers would challenge some of the court's finding and consider future action to avoid similar annulments. At the same time, the EU appeal suspended the effects of the EU court ruling over 17 December until a final decision is taken.

Hamas was put on the EU terrorist list as part of broader measures to fight terrorism in the wake of the 11 September attacks and its funds were frozen. Hamas has long contested the classification.An EU high court said last month the reason for listing it was based too much on media and Internet reports, and not enough on acts examined by competent authorities.
Hamas won elections in 2006 and runs Gaza. The US and Israel list Hamas as a terror organization because of its history of attacks aimed at civilians, including suicide bombings inside buses, restaurants and other public places as well as the thousands of rockets it has fired at residential neighborhoods in Israel.

The Israeli foreign ministry welcomed the EU appeal, saying "the decision reflects well the position that Hamas was and remains a terror organization." Mogherini said that the freezing of funds and the ability to put some organizations on a terror list were essential to contain terror financing. The December decision by the court came amid growing pressure from European legislators to recognize a Palestinian state, after years of stalemate in peace talks. There is also growing frustration in Europe with Israel's government after the Gaza war in 2014.

January 23, 2015

Forty-five percent of all Britons hold anti-Semitic views, according to a new survey carried out by the Internet-based market research firm YouGov for the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA.) According to a separate CAA survey (not conducted by YouGov), 54% of British Jews fear that Jews have no future in Great Britain and a quarter of British Jews have considered leaving.

Ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust (on January 27), the YouGov survey revealed that one in eight Britons believe Jewish people use the Holocaust as a means to garner sympathy.

The two surveys also found that one in four British people (25%) believe that Jews chase money more than other British people (YouGov); one in six people (17%) believe that Jews think they are better than other people and that Jews have too much power in the media (YouGov); more than half of all British Jews feel that anti-Semitism now echoes the 1930s (CAA); well over half of British Jews (58%) believe Jews may have no long-term future in Europe (CAA); 45% of British Jews questioned feel their family is threatened by Islamist extremism (CAA); and 77% of British Jews have witnessed anti-Semitism disguised as a political comment about Israel (CAA).

Only 269,000 Jewish people live in Britain, comprising just 0.4% of the population. Jewish people have lived in Britain since Oliver Cromwell permitted their readmission to the country 360 years ago, but this report shows that many British people still harbor anti-Jewish opinions. Some anti-Semitic views may be totally unintentional, but are no less offensive for it: Many people in the U.K. have simply never met Jewish people.

The year 2014 saw the most anti-Semitic incidents since records began 30 years ago. In July 2014, London suffered its worst ever month for hate crimes, 95% of which were directed against Jews.

"The results of our survey are a shocking wake-up call straight after the atrocities in Paris," said Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism. "Britain is at a tipping point: Unless anti-Semitism is met with zero tolerance, it will grow and British Jews will increasingly question their place in their own country. Britain's Jews must be shown that they are not alone. The government is clearly taking this seriously and in light of these figures we expect that the police and CPS [Centre for Policy Studies, a British think-tank] will want to accelerate discussion of the five-point plan presented at our meeting with the Home Secretary last week."

"Jewish people have contributed to almost every part of British life, yet rising anti-Semitism here and across Europe means that now more than ever Jews are afraid," said CAA spokesman Jonathan Sacerdoti. "Some are even reconsidering their future here. British values of tolerance and pluralism must be upheld, so that minority groups like Jews feel comfortable and protected."


January 22, 2015

French Jewish Leaders

Joel Margi, president of the Consistoire, the umbrella organization of Jewish congregations in France, was part of a meeting of 20 European Jewish leaders at the Knesset Tuesday afternoon following the funeral of the four Jews killed during last week's hostage crisis at Paris' Hyper Cacher market.

Margi told the group that the support from other Jewish communities gives French Jewry strength.

"We are in a difficult situation, and it is hard to describe how afraid our children are to go to Jewish schools in France," he said.

"In the past, we said we don't need Israel's help. The opposite was true; we supported Israel. The situation changed and today the Jews of France need the State of Israel's help."

In response to Margi's remarks, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that Israel helps the Diaspora with great support from Israelis.

"This is a visit of solidarity," Edelstein said, "that proves again, unfortunately under tragic circumstances, that 'all of Israel is responsible for one another.'" The world must understand that terrorism is terrorism, no matter who perpetrates it, Edelstein added.

"We were all shocked by what happened and disturbed why what it means," he said.

"I am happy that Jewish communities felt solidarity, which I know all citizens of Israel feel."

Sources: http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/French-Jewish-leader-says-his-people-need-Israels-help-387646
January 22, 2015


The terror attack over the weekend in Paris brought the world to a standstill. The targets of the main attacks: the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and the kosher supermarket, were meant to provoke a level of terror past that of murder. Here we are facing an attack on our freedoms, our freedom of speech and press, our freedom of religion, our freedom for a peaceful and civil society: the very liberties for which we stand.

For a complete timeline of the events of what happened you may follow this link:

Thousands of people gathered at the Place de la République in Paris for a spontaneous demonstration Wednesday after the attacks. There were no speeches by politicians, just spontaneous cries of "Je suis Charlie!" Many people, braving the cold, symbolically brandished pens, in sympathy with the cartoonists and journalists who died in the attack. Others in the crowd held up back issues of Charlie Hebdo featuring controversial cartoons.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo proposed that Charlie Hebdo "be adopted as a citizen of honour" by the city. "What we saw today was an attack on the values of our republic, Paris is a peaceful place. These cartoonists, writers and artists used their pens with a lot of humour to address sometimes awkward subjects and as such performed an essential function."

Retired teacher Agnes Quandalle said: "In the 1960s and '70s, we grew up with those cartoonists . . . It feels as if those behind the attack want to kill us all." Spontaneous demonstrations also took place in other French cities, including Marseille, Lyon, Lille and Toulouse, and all over Europe.

French President François Hollande declared a national day of mourning for Thursday, and political parties called for a united mass demonstration in Paris next Saturday. For now, the world is taking a stand for free speech. Proclaiming the pen mightier than the sword. On Monday, France's interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, paid a visit to the Montrouge school – on the premises of a synagogue – to reassure the staff and parents. He announced the reinforcement of security measures outside Jewish schools and synagogues where police have already been deployed following other antisemitic attacks.

In addition to the deployment of 4,700 police and paramilitary gendarmes, he said the army would also be on hand within two days. He appointed a prefect, Patrice Latron, to oversee security in future at France's 717 Jewish schools and places of worship.

Sources: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/11/opinion/sutter-je-suis-charlie/

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