Alabama Supreme Court Judge Equates Gay Marriage & Nazi War Crimes

Alabama Supreme Court  Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

— by Sharon Bender

In the aftermath of the landmark Supreme Court decision granting marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore responded to an Al.com reporter’s question about enforcing the notable decision. He told the reporter that enforcing the Supreme Court ruling is akin to following the immoral orders of the Nazis.

It is disgraceful to use Nazi imagery to invoke a political or social view. Comparing the systemic attempt to annihilate an entire population to a peaceful Supreme Court decision minimizes the very magnitude of the Nazis’ maniacal efforts to murder Jews, gays and others across Europe and eventually, they hoped, the world.

Moore told the reporter: “Could I do this if I were in Nuremberg [at the war crimes trials after World War II], say that I was following the orders of the highest authority to kill Jews? … Could I say I was ordered to do so?”

Told by the reporter that: “killing human beings, not gay marriage,” was the focus of the Nuremberg trials, Moore reportedly asked: “Is there a difference?”

This shameful, inappropriate comparison trivializes both the unique atrocity that was the Holocaust as well as the momentous equality decision by the Supreme Court.

Terrorist Linked to Charlie Hebdo Assailants Kills 4 in Kosher Market

Screen-Shot-2015-01-09-at-7.53.31-PM-e1420825891680-635x357[1]A terrorist linked to the men who killed 12 people in the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and suspected of killing a police officer, shot and killed four people, wounded many more and held at least five hostages inside a kosher market in Paris.

Police freed the surviving hostages and killed the gunman, reported to be Amedy Coulibaly. The Charlie Hebdo assailants were killed in a simultaneous raid on a printing business, where they also held a hostage, who was eventually freed.

B’nai B’rith International said that “terrorizing of a kosher market is not just an attack on Jews, but a reprehensible assault on free societies everywhere.”

March against terrorism, Newseum, Washington DC, January 11, 2014. (Photo: Helen Loeb)

March against terrorism, Newseum, Washington DC, January 11, 2014. (Photo: Helen Loeb)

The World Jewish Congress president, Ronald S. Lauder, praised the European government leaders for spontaneously traveling to Paris on Sunday to take part in a solidarity march, but urged a strong response from civil society:

We hope that this barbaric attack will trigger the same outcry among citizens in France and the rest of the Western world as did Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo. France has the world’s third largest Jewish community, and yet Jewish life in France will not have a future if the lethal threat posed by Islamic terrorists is not tackled effectively and quickly.

House Rule Change to Deny Disability Insurance Funding‏

ssalogo[1]— by Mark D. Olshan and Rachel Goldberg

Among the first acts of the 114th U.S. Congress was the adoption of a new rule that will undercut Social Security as a whole, and risks steep cuts in Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (DI) by late 2016.

During the summer, the 2014 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report stated the DI trust fund is at risk of being depleted by 2016. The latest forecast is consistent with past reports, including expectations in the early 1980s, when funding allocations between retirement and disability benefits were last adjusted. [Read more…]

Obama on Alan Gross: ‘Freedom Is Possible’

President Obama dedicated a large part of his speech at this year’s Hanukkah party to Alan Gross, who was released from Cuban prison after five years as part of the country’s renewal of diplomatic relations with the U.S.:

He’s back where he belongs — in America, with his family, home for Hanukkah. And I can’t think of a better way to mark this holiday, with its message that freedom is possible, than with the historic changes that I announced today in our Cuba policy. These are changes that are rooted in America’s commitment to freedom and democracy for all the Cuban people, including its small but proud Jewish community.

Gross was arrested in 2009 while working to set up Internet access for the Cuban-Jewish community as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Gross’s sister-in-law, Gwen Zuares, thanked Obama personally for her brother-in-law’s release at the party.

B’nai B’rith International said that it “warmly welcomes, and is relieved by the news”:

B’nai B’rith is grateful for the efforts of the Administration and all those who assisted in facilitating the high-level discussions leading to Gross’ release. We are thinking of Gross, his family and his friends

The Republican Jewish Coalition, which called the normalization of relations with Cuba “unwise”, welcomed Gross’s release:

On the first day of Hanukkah, Alan Gross was granted light, freedom, and the long-awaited reunion with his family. The RJC joins the entire Jewish community in celebrating his redemption.

Agudath Israel of America issued a statement on the subject:

The release and return of Alan Gross from Cuban incarceration is truly a modern day Chanukah miracle, and it fills us with deep gratitude to, in the words of the Amidah, “He Who frees captives.” Mr. Gross’ expedited liberation seemed a distant dream, and now it is a dream come true.

We express our heartfelt thanks to President Obama, whose dedicated and determined efforts led to Mr. Gross’ release. And we pray that Mr. Gross will adjust to his return to freedom enveloped in the love and support of his family and friends.

Anti-Semites Rape Woman, Rob Couple in France

Three armed men reportedly shouted anti-Semitic insults when they raped a Jewish woman, ransacked her and her husband’s house in the eastern Paris suburb of Creteil, and withdrew money from the couple’s bank accounts.

405px-Creteil_prefecture

Creteil, France.

The attackers reportedly demanded to know where the couple hid the money that they supposedly had, because they were Jewish. Police arrested two suspects and charged a third in this case.

B’nai B’rith International said that anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in Europe, and especially in France. The organization said its members are “horrified over the suspected anti-Semitic attack” and commend the police “for acting swiftly”:

This attack points to, once again, the need for European governmental and law enforcement officials to engage in proactive efforts to counter what has become an alarming spike in wanton attacks on Jews. We hope that those guilty of this heinous crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

B’nai B’rith Condemns European Anti-Circumcision Resolution


A Jewish Circumcision.

B’nai B’rith International (BBI) condemned the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for passing a resolution that declares ritual circumcision a “violation of children’s physical integrity.”

The resolution calls upon member states to “adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted.” While non-binding, the resolution could encourage a frightening infringement upon basic religious freedoms and on the ability of Jewish and other faith communities in Europe to exist.

“By advancing this resolution, the Council of Europe has not proposed the advancement of human rights, but rather the denial of rights,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.

More after the jump.

It is an extremely slippery slope — one which inexcusably misreads and oversimplifies scientific understandings, and seeks to impose certain societies’ cultural norms on others. This resolution transparently aims to marginalize and exclude specific minority communities.

B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin added:

Circumcision is not discretionary, but rather central, in Jewish life and practice throughout history. It must be made clear what those who support the criminalizing of circumcision in Europe are proposing: discrimination against the Jewish community in Europe.

In its statement, BBI urged all European leaders, governments and societies to “decisively reject a path of government coercion and imposition in religious life.”  

House Passes Tough Bipartisan Iran Sanctions Bill

(BBI) B’nai B’rith International applauds the House of Representatives for passing the bipartisan Nuclear Iran Prevention Act on July 31 by an overwhelming majority. By reducing Iran’s oil exports and further shackling its economy, the bill would send an important signal to new Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani about the cost of continuing the country’s unswerving pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The legislation seeks to decrease Iranian oil exports from 1.25 million barrels per year to 250,000 barrels by the end of 2014. It would also expand the blacklist of Iran’s various economic sectors and further limit the country’s access to overseas foreign currency reserves. Sanctions against Iran have already drastically limited the country’s oil exports and severely hampered its economy.

B’nai B’rith calls on the Senate to expeditiously pass a companion bill. Any delay in the legislative process would only serve Iran’s dilatory purposes.

While a new president prepares to take office in Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has shown no sign of slowing Iran’s nuclear development. Iran’s ongoing installation of advanced centrifuges has brought it nearer to weapons-grade uranium production, which is the linchpin for nuclear weapons capability.

Iran has consistently used negotiations to stall the international community. Diplomacy can succeed only if the United States and its allies broaden and strengthen the current sanctions framework against Iran.

Comments from Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) follow the jump.  
Jewish Council for Public Affairs

The best response to Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons capability is further isolation from the international community, which is threatened by this program,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “The sanctions legislation overwhelmingly passed yesterday sends a strong message to the Teheran regime that continues its involvement with global terror and its support for the brutal Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. We applaud the House action and will encourage expeditious passage of a parallel measure in the U.S. Senate.

Of course, sanctions are merely a means to an end, and we support the administration’s ongoing efforts to resolve this issue through diplomacy if possible,” said JCPA Chair Larry Gold. “While Iran’s new President-elect remains untested – and the posture of the Supreme Leader appears to remain unchanged – the U.S. and international community are well served by maintaining economic pressures. We hope that Iran’s leaders will choose the welfare of their people over this misguided and dangerous pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.

Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL)

I voted in favor of this critical new round of sanctions because we simply cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran. The overwhelming bipartisan support for this bill reaffirms Congress’ commitment to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. While the United States should continue to utilize and exhaust diplomatic channels, we must continue to implement and enforce crippling economic sanctions and reserve the right to use military force if necessary. Our policy is one of prevention, not containment, and I will continue to support legislation aimed to curbing Iran’s dangerous nuclear program.

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA)

Today the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) in February 2013, passed the House of Representatives.  

“Iran’s recent election of a so-called ‘moderate’ President has done nothing to change two important facts:  Iran is still pursuing nuclear weapons capability, and the Supreme Leader is still the leader and decision-maker of Iran’s military and nuclear program,” said Congressman Sherman following the vote. “I am urging my Senate colleagues to pass this legislation and send it to the President for his signature.”

The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act expands current sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran for oil purchases and third party transfers of Iranian crude oil, which have sometimes allowed Iran to side-step sanctions.

On May 22, 2013, the House Foreign Affairs Committee marked up the new sanctions bill and passed it unanimously.  Congressman Sherman contributed provisions through four amendments that were adopted unanimously that:

  • Add the knowing transfer of uranium mining and milling equipment to Iran to current sanctions law.
    Require a certification from prospective federal contractors that they (and affiliates) conduct no business with Iran that is sanctionable under this bill.
  • Expand sanctions on individuals who transfer technology used to repress dissidents in Iran by imposing harsher sanctions beyond just government procurement contract prohibitions and expanding the scope of sanctions to include affiliates of these individuals.
  • Strengthen current nonproliferation law under which the President must designate countries that allow a substantial diversion of certain sensitive goods, services, or technologies to Iran as “Destinations of Diversion Concern” (DDC) – and authorize harsher sanctions on such countries.
  • “This bipartisan Iran sanctions bill will broaden economic sanctions, strengthen human rights sanctions, and increase oversight of the enforcement of current sanctions,” Sherman added.

Senate Passes Immigration Reform Measure‏

— by Marc R. Stanley

The Senate has taken a huge step toward reforming our immigration system and creating a more just America. Now it is up to the House of Representatives to take immediate action on this important issue. Inaction by Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and the rest of the GOP leadership will only continue to prove that the Republican Party is tone deaf to the will of the American people — especially when it comes to Jewish Americans and our partners in the Jewish community who worked tirelessly to get this bill passed.

Stanley recently authored an op-ed in The Huffington Post on how the current immigration reform proposal reflects Jewish values.

Reaction from the President and Jewish Organizations (NJDC, BBI, JCPA) follow the jump.
President Barack Obama:

Statement by President Obama on Senate Passage of Immigration Reform

Today, with a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all.

I thank Majority Leader Reid, Senator Leahy, Senator Schumer, and every member of the ‘Gang of Eight’ for their leadership, and I commend all Senators who worked across party lines to get this done.  

The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise.  By definition, nobody got everything they wanted.  Not Democrats.  Not Republicans.  Not me.  But the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I – and many others – have repeatedly laid out.

If enacted, the Senate bill would establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history.  It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally – a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally.  It would modernize the legal immigration system so that it once again reflects our values as a nation and addresses the urgent needs of our time.  And it would provide a big boost to our recovery, by shrinking our deficits and growing our economy.

Today, the Senate did its job.  It’s now up to the House to do the same.

As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye.  Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality.  We cannot let that happen.  If you’re among the clear majority of Americans who support reform – from CEOs to labor leaders, law enforcement to clergy – reach out to your Member of Congress.  Tell them to do the right thing.  Tell them to pass commonsense reform so that our businesses and workers are all playing by the same rules and everyone who’s in this country is paying their fair share in taxes.

We have a unique opportunity to fix our broken system in a way that upholds our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  We just need Congress to finish the job.

B’nai B’rith International:

B’nai B’rith International welcomes the Senate’s passage of a bill overhauling the nation’s immigration laws.

B’nai B’rith has been a staunch supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. We commend the bipartisan group of senators who worked to form a consensus on a more just and humane immigration policy.

This compromise legislation would strengthen border security and employment verification while creating a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. It would also allow for more legal immigration of low-skilled and high-skilled workers.

Comprehensive immigration reform is a welcome and worthy accomplishment. We urge the House to quickly consider and pass the bill.

National Jewish Democratic Council:

The Jewish community strongly supports immigration reform. According to a recent survey, 70% of American Jews believe that welcoming the stranger and pursuing justice are important political values. Further, a strong majority of Americans are in support of proposals that allow undocumented workers to achieve legal status, increase border security and enforcement, and increase visas for technology and science.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) President Rabbi Steve Gutow:

We are an Immigration Nation. For hundreds of years, people from all over the world have traveled to the United States to build better lives. Our national commitment to immigration has been critical to our national prosperity: powering innovation, creativity, and growth. However, over the past decades, our system has become tarnished with an outmoded visa system, long waiting times, harsh detention and deportation policies, and millions of immigrants without a lawful status. Today, the U.S. Senate acted in accordance with our best values: national leaders compromising to expand justice, dignity, and opportunity. In the Torah, we are taught to ‘welcome the stranger.’ Today, the Senate restored our national commitment to immigration and relight the torch of promise that welcomes aspiring Americans through the golden door.

JCPA Chair Larry Gold:

We applaud the leadership and conviction of the bipartisan group of Senators that introduced and guided this bill. That spirit of compromise and cooperation has sadly become a rarity in Washington, but today is a reminder of the important results it can yield. The Senate today has taken an important step towards a more humane system of immigration that reflects our morals while meeting our security and economic needs. However, this bill still needs improvement. We remain concerned about the level of resources being dedicated to the Southern border and how this impact communities. We look forward to working with Congress to refine this legislation. The Senate’s action today was a model of bipartisanship and we encourage the House of Representatives to adopt this spirit and quickly consider this serious bill that would bring our immigration system into the 21st century.

B’nai B’rith Addresses Anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council Session‏


Canadian politicians criticize Falk

Yesterday, B’nai B’rith International spoke before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva during the anti-Israel “agenda item 7” session. B’nai B’rith addressed UNHRC special rapporteur Richard Falk’s appalling recent comments blaming the Boston Marathon bombings on the United States’ foreign policy, and urged his removal.

Klaus Netter, B’nai B’rith representative to the U.N. in Geneva, said:

Just a few weeks ago, the entire world was shocked to hear and see the bombing that occurred at the end of the Boston Marathon, resulting in the death of three and the injury of hundreds of innocent bystanders. Yet, there were a few contrary reactions, such as the one expressed by the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories… In the Foreign Policy Journal dated 21 April 2013, he wrote: ‘The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance… the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks.’

Continued after the jump.

A few days later, a U.N. spokesman said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the Boston Marathon bombing and that he ‘strongly believed that nothing can justify such an attack.’ He rejected Falk’s comments and indicated that… such public comments by special rapporteurs ‘could undermine the U.N.’s credibility and the work of the United Nations.’

Separately, B’nai B’rith joined European representatives at the council and U.S. Ambassador to the UNHRC Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe in taking Falk to task on a biased report he delivered at the council, blasting Israeli policies toward Gaza.

Netter noted that only the council can remove Falk from his position, and added, “We strongly urge such action at this session of the council.”

Rice and Power Picked for Top Foreign Policy Jobs

Yesterday, President Obama announced that after more than four years overseeing the work of the National Security Council, Tom Donilon will depart in July as National Security Advisor and will be succeeded by Susan Rice. Ambassador Rice will be succeeded by Samantha Power as the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, pending Senate confirmation.

Reactions from BBI, NJDC and JCPA follow the the jump.


Susan Rice and Samantha Power

B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement, welcoming Rice’s appointment:

Rice was previously the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and served as a positive force within the world body. She often defended Israel against malicious one-sided resolutions intended to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state. Rice spoke at the United Nations about the importance of direct negotiation between the parties to the Middle East conflict and urged the world body to resist unilateral measures aimed at circumventing the peace process.

Rice also expressed U.S. support for strong international sanctions against Iran and made clear America’s determination to prevent the regime in Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

B’nai B’rith looks forward to working with Rice in her new position. We hope that in her new role she will be a force for advancing the same principles she fought for at the U.N.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) Chair Marc R. Stanley said:

On behalf of the NJDC Board, I want to thank Tom Donilon for his service to the Obama Administration. Donilon has been a part of President Obama’s most significant defense policy decisions, including the Administration’s work to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Without question, Susan Rice has served the Obama Administration well in the United Nations and has made combatting anti-Israel bias a top priority for the U.S. delegation. NJDC commends her for her work at the U.N. and we know that she will serve the President effectively as his new National Security Advisor. We also congratulate Samantha Power on her selection and have full confidence that she will continue Rice’s work on behalf of the United States and Israel in U.N. bodies.

JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said:

Both Susan Rice and Samantha Power have been dedicated public servants and important partners in our work. As Ambassador to the U.N., Rice has played a crucial role in strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship and has been a steadfast ally for the Jewish state through many pressing challenges. Just a few weeks ago, leaders from the JCPA, The Jewish Federations of North America, UJA-Federation of New York, and the JCRC of New York visited Amb. Rice and gave her a mezuzah for her New York office in honor of her staunch support for Israel and as a symbol of her friendship with the American Jewish community.  We look forward to continuing our work together when she returns to Washington and assumes her new role.

We have also worked closely with Samantha Power over the years in her roles as journalist, activist, and government official.  Power has been a critical voice on human rights issues and we are very proud of our joint work to confront atrocities, including that in Darfur and the ongoing crisis in Sudan.