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…]

Book Review: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was created in 1949, after the Arabs rejected the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan for Palestine, and five Arab armies attacked the nascent State of Israel and lost their bid to destroy it. However, the UNRWA’s role in enabling the ongoing Arab War on Israel is not readily understood nor publicized.

This is the essence of the new book, Roadblock to Peace, How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNWRA Policies Considered, by David Bedein.

Bedein, a prolific Jerusalem-based investigative journalist, author and director of the Israel Resource News Agency, is eminently qualified to report first-hand the workings of this unique U.N. agency, whose exclusive mandate is for one ethnic group. This stands in sharp contrast to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which works on behalf of millions of refugees from the rest of the world.

More after the jump.
The book is extensively sourced with interviews, citations, graphs, photographs, and footnotes.

Bedein explains that the UNRWA was spawned in response to the displacement of about 540,000 Arab refugees upon Israel’s repulsion of the invading Arab armies between 1948 and 49. Unlike the U.N. mandate for all other refugees on the planet, from its beginnings, UNRWA has avoided any permanent solution to the predicament of these refugees, and instead focuses on their so-called right to “return” to Palestine.

As Bedein says, the UNRWA’s mandate is ostensibly “to provide humanitarian aid (education, health care, welfare assistance, social services) but it has instead absolved itself from any responsibility to resolve the plight of the Arab refugees and their descendants, thus transforming their plight into a political tool.”

This is key to comprehending why the Arabs cannot and will not end the conflict: A theological component, which Westerners often ignore, encompasses a portrayal of victimization and “occupation” by the hated Jews, whom they treat as dhimmi, “proteges,” in Muslim countries.

The assumption that the UNRWA would have a limited lifespan has been proven woefully incorrect. Instead, it is a behemoth, operating 59 refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, Judea and Samaria (defined as the “West Bank”) and Jerusalem. As of 2011, it had 29,000 staff members. By contrast, the UNHCR has 7,200 employees who serve 15.4 million refugees.

The UNWRA is funded through voluntary contributions from 116 donor countries, of whom the U.S. is the largest contributor, with 30% of the money donated.

In 2011, the U.S provided almost $267 million to the UNWRA. Since then, the UNRWA’s budget sky-rocketed to $1.2 billion. This assistance exceeds that of all other refugees in the world.

The number of refugees UNRWA served as of 2011 has swelled to 4.681 million, because unlike how the UNHCR, which counts only the actual refugees, UNRWA counts descendants of refugees as well.

Most problematically, the UNRWA holds that return to their place of origin is considered an inalienable right. This is also in opposite to the UNHCR, which protects the right to find asylum or resettlement in a country of refuge or a third country. The UNHCR’s goal is to help refugees get on with their lives; most consequently are resettled, not repatriated.

Two chapters of the book are potent in particular. In chapter five, “UNRWA Refugees and the Terror Connection,” Bedein writes about how it has circumvented stringent requests from donor nations to weed out Hamas from its ranks.

In chapter six, Bedein describes the UNRWA’s educational system, which uses half of the UNRWA’s budget, and the use of school books which contain material that contradict is professed mission — the ideal of peace.  

With numerous examples, Bedein shows how UNRWA school books often advocate armed struggle against Israel, deny Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereign state and demonize it. He demonstrates how Hamas maintains control over its staff union and keeps it a hotbed of anti-Israel radicalism.

This type of behavior has been going on for more than six decades, and has clearly contributed to the perpetuation of the conflict. Accordingly, per Bedein, “UNRWA should not continue its policy of absolute submission to the political, ideological and propagandist lines of the host governments in its areas of operation whenever these lines contradict UNRWA’s principles and mission. These are things that UNRWA must not teach.”

As U.S. taxpayers, we should all be very concerned that we are in essence funding terrorism, not peace.

Bedein concludes with sensible policy suggestions on improving UNRWA’s accountability. The status quo, he says, is “neither desirable nor acceptable” and ultimately “detrimental to the long-term well being of the refugees and to the possibilities of peace in the Middle East.”

Bedein’s final moral argument is the most powerful one: It is simply inexcusable and humane for the UNRWA to continue to cultivate expectations of the “right of return” and “confer on them a limbo status that prevents them from getting on with their lives.”  

For anyone truly interested in understanding the UNRWA’s largely-invisible but looming and forgotten role in preventing a genuine reconciliation and peace in the Middle East, this is the book for you.

Lee S. Bender is co-President of the Zionist Organization of America — Greater Philadelphia District, and co-author of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z (Pavilion Press, 2012).

The One Real Obstacle to Israeli-Arab Peace


Israel’s former deputy minister of foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon, explains the historical facts relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The positions of the Palestinian Arabs in the latest round of peace talks, being pushed by Obama Administration and Secretary of State John Kerry, and the concessions being expected of Israel by the U.S. and media, will most certainly lead to a failure.

In the parallel universe in which Israeli-Palestinian Arab peace negotiations take place, the Palestinian Authority’s outright abrogation of prior agreements (Oslo Accords) and rejections of prior proposals (Camp David 2000 and 2008, which were pretexts for engaging in a terrorism war, the intifadah) must be placed back on the table as the starting point for the next round.

More after the jump.
A senior Palestinian official, Nabil Shaath, recently told the news agency Ma’an, “The minimum of what we were offered in the year 2000 hasn’t been reached, not to mention that the U.S. has failed to exert pressure on Israel to guarantee Palestinian rights.” He also said, “we will not recognize Israel as Jewish state.”

This is what the Palestinian Authority (PA) complains about, and what the media expects. Is there no price to pay for intransigence and rejection? Or defeat in war?

In every other situation throughout the world, when two parties are negotiating for something, there is the expectation of compromise, recognition and respect for the other side. Yet, none exists on the Palestinian-Arab side, nor do the media hold them to account.

Moreover, the PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, has a limited and questionable authority: His term has expired five years ago, and he only “rules” the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. The Gaza Strip is under the thumb of Hamas: an elected terrorist Islamic resistance movement, whose genocidal intentions against Jews and Israel are evident and proudly displayed.

There is no proof that even if Abbas signs an agreement, it will be honored by Hamas, or even that it will be binding on the PA.

Israel is held to impossible standards by the media. While the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to take any proposals and frameworks agreed to in negotiations directly to the Israeli people to vote and approve, what will the PA do? No one has ever said, nor pressed them to find out, if such an agreement will be endorsed by their people.

While Israeli actions to defend itself are routinely cast as obstacles to peace, it is the PA’s refusal to recognize a Jewish state, in any borders, which is rarely described by the media as an obstacle, when it is the sin qua non element essential to mutual recognition and an end to the conflict.

Israel’s rights, positions, opinions — those of a free democratic people — are marginalized, in favor of the seemingly poor, victimized, minority “Palestinian People.” The Palestinian Arabs are neither seen as part of the greater Arab nation (of 22 countries and 400 million), nor as people with their own country (Jordan, whose population consists of 2/3 “Palestinians,” on 78% of the Palestine Mandate, that was designated for the national Jewish homeland).

Israel has merely 6.2 million Jews, plus another 1.2 million Arabs living as equal citizens, in a country of 8,000 square miles, versus the 5 million square miles of the Arab world. These Arabs have many more rights and much more freedom than they do anywhere else in the Arab world.

As the indefatigable Kerry shuttles to square the circle of bringing the Israeli-Palestinian Arab negotiations to an agreement, it is instructive to focus on where the biggest obstacles to a peace deal really lie.

Israel’s Security Needs Minimized

The international media have been willing to blame Israeli “settlements” — even on land that has been under Israeli control since their capture in the defensive war of 1967, and per the Oslo Agreements of 1993; and “restrictive security practices” in PA-controlled areas (i.e. checkpoints); and even the Israeli-built security barrier, which has prevented innumerable terrorist attacks and saved countless lives on both sides, as the biggest obstacles to Middle East peace.

Recently, the European Union’s envoy to Israel warned that if peace talks with the Palestinian Arabs fail, Israel was likely get blamed for it due to construction in “West Bank settlements.” What is rarely ever discussed are Israel’s strong rights to the land, both historic and legal. Israel has recently begun to redress this by its issuance of the Levy Report, which has not yet been formally adopted by the government.

The late Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin of the Labor Party, was considered by many in his time a pro-peace leader. But as Kenneth Levin wrote in The Times of Israel, like the authors of the U.N. Security Council’s Resolution 242, Rabin “recognized that Israel’s pre-1967 armistice lines left the nation too vulnerable to future aggression.”

He insisted Israel must hold onto a significant portion of the West Bank to block traditional invasion routes and to protect both Jerusalem and the low-lying coastal plain, the latter home to some 70% of the nation’s population. In his last speech in the Knesset before his assassination, Rabin declared:

The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six-Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines, and these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

  1. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev – as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.
  2. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.
  3. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the “Green Line,” prior to the Six-Day War.
  4. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].

Nothing has changed in the last eighteen years that would diminish Israel’s need to retain the areas referred to by Rabin. The topography of the region has, of course, not changed, and the nations around Israel have not become more peaceful or more reconciled to Israel’s existence.

In fact, with the breakdown of the Arab Spring into violent civil wars on its borders (Syria, Lebanon, Egypt), and with a nuclear, terrorist-sponsoring Iran looming, the situation is even more precarious.

Israel cannot afford a major security threat aimed at the heart of the country from organizations whose charters call for its destruction. As Levin wrote, “Netanyahu’s views on defensible borders for Israel essentially conform to the parameters laid out by Rabin.”

Land for Peace, or for War?

In the Arab media, the Palestinian Arabs reveal what a farce the peace negotiations are: Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, explained on Syrian television that the PA would agree to a treaty with Israel if a Palestinian state is established on the 1967 lines, which would only be the beginning of a multi-stage plan to achieve their ultimate goal: a Palestinian State on the remains of the destruction of Israel.

It is also conveniently forgotten, and rarely mentioned by the media that the Palestinian Arabs have rejected a co-existent, mutually-recognized peace with a Jewish state living along side it six times: in 1937, 1948, 1956, 1967, 2000 and 2008. They have never missed an opportunity to reject obtaining their own sovereign state, if it means that they must recognize Israel.

Netanyahu has repeatedly stated Israel is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state. However, the essence of the problem is the lack of reciprocity: the Palestinian Arabs’ continual and absolute rejection of recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People. Without this, there will be no genuine peace, nor any hope for an end to the conflict.

Recently, Asharq Al-Awsat published an interview with the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in which he baldly claimed that Israel murdered Yasser Arafat — a lie which has been debunked repeatedly — and could do the same to Abbas. Erekat stressed that the Palestinian Arabs will not agree to have talks extended beyond the allotted nine months, set to end next month.

More notably, Abbas specifically rejected Kerry’s framework, and told President Obama that:

  • he rejected  Netanyahu’s demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state;
  • he refused to abandon the demand for a “right of return” for the allegedly millions of Palestinian Arabs and their descendants; and
  • he refused to commit to an “end of conflict.”

In essence, this is a rewording of the famous Three Nos from the Arab League issued at Khartoum in 1967: “No peace, no recognition, no negotiation with Israel.”  

As a result, Israel has indicated that it may not release a fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners at the end of this month (a condition Israel agreed to in entering the current talks, last July) if Abbas does not first agree to extend the talks beyond their scheduled termination in April.

This is just further verification that the Palestinian Arabs cannot bring themselves to forge an agreement with the Jewish state: Putting an end to the conflict ends the raison d’etre of the Palestinian Authority and its culture of victimhood.

Anti-Israel Incitement Ignored

While Israeli society has steadily moved over the years toward accepting Palestinian-Arab self-determination, this has not been shared on the Palestinian-Arab side.

The incitement rampantly permeates through Palestinian culture, in its schools, textbooks, mosques, and media and has ensured that an entire generation of Palestinians has been brainwashed and fed a diet of hatred towards Jews and Israel.

The demonizing of Jews as subhuman, the de-legitimitation of a Jewish state regardless of its borders, the negation of Jewish history, and the glorification of terrorists who have murdered Jews is endemic.

To its credit, the New York Times has published a story on Palestinian Arab incitement, prompted by the Israeli government’s recent release of its PA Incitement and Culture of Peace Index:

Adolf Hitler is quoted on the websites of Palestinian Authority schools; a young girl appears on Palestinian television describing Jews as “barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs” and the “murderers of Muhammad,” the Islamic prophet; maps on the Facebook page of the Palestinian presidential guards do not show Israel; President Mahmoud Abbas himself embraced as “heroes” released Palestinian prisoners who killed Israelis.

As HonestReporting has observed, “This focus on Palestinian responsibilities marks a refreshing and welcome departure from the New York Times’ usual knee-jerk, blame-Israel-for-all, approach.”

At an Israeli Cabinet meeting last January, Netanyahu remarked: “The Palestinians are continuing their campaign of inciting hatred, as we have seen in the last few days with their refusal to recognize Israel as a state for the Jewish people… This is the main issue that we’re discussing with [Kerry].”

He added, “We are not foreigners in Jerusalem, Beit El or Hebron. I reiterate that, in my view, this is the root of both the conflict and the incitement — the non-recognition of this basic fact.”

Netanyahu concluded, “True peace cannot exist without stopping the incitement against Israel and educating for peace. The refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People and declare the end of national demands — this is the root of the conflict. This is also the reason why we are insisting on significant security measures, so that we will be able to defend ourselves by ourselves in any situation.”

Two States for One People

PA officials and leaders have repeatedly stated that one of their red lines is the “right of return” which will flood Israel with potentially millions of descendants of refugees who left Israel during the 1948 War, and the concomitant refusal to allow any Jews to live in the Palestinian State.

Not only is this designed to destroy the Jewish nature of Israel proper, it is pure racist in ideology and effect — And it is not a secret. This is a non-starter for Israel.

Last month, Tom Wilson wrote that “Abbas’s spokespeople in Ramallah announced the PA’s new set of red lines in any negotiated peace settlement. Each and every one of these red lines blows to pieces anything Kerry was about to propose, as it does to the prospects for an agreement between the two sides in general.”

In this way Abbas artfully dodges a scenario in which the Israelis would agree to a peace plan and the Palestinians would come under pressure not to derail yet another effort to resolve the conflict. Abbas’s new red lines block just about every concession that the Israelis, and even the U.S., have requested.

Abbas demands: a total Israeli withdrawal from all territories that went to Israel in 1967; that Israel complete that withdrawal within three to four years; that the Palestinians not be required to recognize the Jewish state; that east Jerusalem be specified as the capital of a Palestinian state; the release of all Palestinian prisoners; and resolving the refugee issue along the lines of UN General Assembly resolution 194, which in essence means sending those Palestinians claiming to be refugees, not to a Palestinian state, but to Israel, thus terminating the existence of the Jewish state Abbas refuses to recognize.

Would the U.S. Release Prisoners for Negotiations?

Israel was urged by Kerry to release more than 120 Arab convicted prisoners, many of whom murderers, as a “good will gesture,” just to entice the Palestinian Arabs to come to the negotiations. No concessions, of course, were asked of the Arabs.

Yet, the Obama Administration made sure to express reservations about the release of one man: Othman Amar Mustafa. It turns out he had killed an American.

Nadav Shragai reported in Israel Hayom that “Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel revealed that the Judea and Samaria branch of the Hamas military wing is being run by remote control by a group of terrorists who were included in the prisoner exchange after being sentenced to life sentences for their roles in the murder of Israelis.”

These prisoners were banished to the Gaza Strip as part of the Shalit deal. It turns out that in the last two years, the Shin Bet security agency has intercepted at least 80 attempted terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, plots that were masterminded by this particular group of released convicts.

Per Shragai, the bottom line is appallingly evident: According to statistics compiled by the Defense Ministry, nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists whom Israel has released since 1985 within the framework of agreements, gestures, and diplomatic outlines resumed terrorist activities either as planners of attacks, executors of attacks, or accessories.

Hundreds of Israelis have already been killed by freed terrorists and 3,000 have been maimed. The 1,150 terrorists freed as part of the Jibril exchange in 1978 went on to serve as the backbone of the leadership during the First Intifada. At least half of the 7,000 terrorists freed following the signing of the Oslo Accords were reintegrated into terrorist organizations and took an active role in the Second Intifada.

This is the price Israel is being forced to pay just to sit at the negotiating table with these alleged “peace partners.”

The Importance of UN Resolution 242

As Ambassador Dore Gold has written in Israel Hayom, “now is the time to recall exactly what Israel’s rights are in its territorial dispute with the Palestinians over the future of the West Bank,” specifically the rights enshrined by the U.N. Security Council Resolution 242.

According to Gold, over the years Resolution 242 has “evolved into the basis of the entire peace process, including the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the 1991 Madrid peace conference, the 1993 Oslo Accords, the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty, and draft agreements with Syria.”

Back in 1973, on the eve of the Geneva Peace Conference, the U.S. even provided a letter of assurance to Israel that it would prevent any party from tampering with Resolution 242. Israeli diplomacy sought to protect Resolution 242 as though it was a crown jewels of the Jewish state.

The most prominent feature of Resolution 242 is its famous “withdrawal clause,” which did not require Israel to withdraw to the pre-war 1967 lines: it only stated that there had to be a pull back “from territories,” and not “all the territories.” Any Israeli withdrawal had to be to “secure and recognized borders.”

Moreover, as Gold pointed out, according to Resolution 242, Israel was entitled to these lands without having to “pay for it with its own pre-1967 territory.”

There is no language in 242 regarding land swaps, nor any corridor crossing Israeli sovereign territory so that the “West Bank” could be connected to the Gaza Strip. Actually, per Gold, these diplomatic innovations were thought of by negotiators in the 1990s, but Israel in no way is required to agree to them, pursuant to Resolution 242.

Finally, Resolution 242 says nothing about Jerusalem, that is to be a separate issue entirely. Of course, it is Israel’s position that the city is to be united and never divided again.

The world saw clearly what happened when Jordan illegally occupied Judaea and Samaria, including Jerusalem, from 1948 to 1967: It destroyed more than 50 synagogues in the Old City, and denied Jews access to the Temple Mount. Under Israeli rule, the city has been unified, and all citizens and religions have free access to religious sites, and the ability to practice openly.

The Biggest Problem in the Middle East?

The Obama Administration, through Kerry, is trying yet again to force the parties to conclude an agreement, while the issues raised for the “solution” are not the real issues that will lead to a successful one.  

The U.S. continues to see only Israel’s so-called “illegal occupation” of the West Bank, the Palestinian refugee issue, and the issue of Jerusalem as the capitol of the newborn Palestinian state, as the main obstacles to conclude the peace agreement.

Inconceivably, the U.S. continues to believe that by solving this intractable conflict, the remaining issues in the Middle East will be voila, solved, and harmony and tranquility will reign over the region. Despite, of course, the utter chaos in the surrounding Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

Abbas is not the man of compromise the media portrays him to be, and his people have deliberately not been prepared for peace, but instead brainwashed for hatred, violence and terrorism. He cannot deliver the goods, nor does he want to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end.

The only end that is acceptable among the Palestinian Arabs is “peace of the entire Palestine” — which means destroying Israel — and nothing less.

Lee Bender is the co-author of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z, and co-President of Zionist Organization of America — Greater Philadelphia District.

Cartoons courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen, and The Cartoon Kronicles.

Forget About Media Bias: How We Can Really Support Israel


“Judea and Samaria” or “West Bank”?

— by Kenneth R. Myers, Esq.

In their article, “‘Occupied’ Territories? Anti-Israel Media Bias Starts With Language,” two stalwart supporters of Israel, Jerry Verlin and Lee Bender, attack the press for bias against the Jewish State in the words that are used to report on the Middle East.

But the authors then go on to build to a conclusion well beyond either the press or linguistics: They argue that “there is a deeper psychosis,” which views Israel as “ethnic cleansing Nazis.”

We are reassured, however, that “since the Oslo Accords, Israel has been trying to trade land for peace, only to have each offer of statehood for the Palestinian Arabs spurned.”

Comforting it may be to recite that we Jews are (still) victims, and that the Palestinians are a hateful bunch who are at fault for the situation.

But sixty-five years of retelling the same tale has not resolved the problem of achieving Middle East peace. At best, the repetition provides the appearance of a reason not to even try.

More after the jump.
We need to remind ourselves instead that in the world today, ruling over a subjugated multimillion-person population is an unstable and unsustainable situation.

We ought not to waste time decrying the press for use of the words “occupied” or “Palestinians.”  The authors propose substituting “Judea and Samaria” for the term “West Bank” — a facially neutral term (it is, after all, the west bank of the Jordan River) — but those names are taken from our Hebrew Bible.

And they signal to readers the concept of a Greater Israel, a one-state solution that does not help to resolve the situation of the Palestinians. Unless the unspoken goal is that Palestinians (pardon me, I meant non-Jewish Palestinians) will conveniently arrange to disappear.  

We U.S. Jews, having full regard for Israel’s long term security, need to take every opportunity to exercise all our influence with the Government of Israel, with Israelis, with our government, and to the extent we have any influence, with Palestinians, to move matters beyond this unstable status quo.  

The design of the solution is not our choice to make, and arguing about it needlessly divides us and wastes our effort. But we should be true to our own beliefs that we are all the Lord’s children, all equal, all deserving of peace and security, and all deserving of self-determination.

“Occupied” Territories? Anti-Israel Media Bias Starts With Language

Former Israeli deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, explains the historical facts relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict. The video explains where the terms “West Bank,” “occupied territories” and “67 Borders” originated from, and how they are incorrectly used and applied.

— by Lee Bender and Jerry Verlin

Israel’s supporters concerned about anti-Israel media bias need to understand why decades of “letters to the editor” protesting inaccuracies in particular news articles have not made a dent.  

Anti-Israel media bias is not a succession of random misstatements. It resides in the very language: the consistently imbalanced terminology in which Arab-Israeli conflict news stories are told.

Unfortunately, we Israel supporters ourselves acquiesce, by using and accepting these terms unchallenged.  

Those terms for the land’s peoples, places, and historical and current events poison public perceptions of Jewish and Palestinian-Arab equities, and must be countered if we have any fair chance to stand up for our rights.  

Top 10 terms which mislead the public about Israel, and what the media fails to report, follow the jump.
Here are ten frequently used but highly misleading terms. All of them are individually inaccurate, and in combination paint a grossly prejudicial and unfair portrait of Israel.

  1. “West Bank”

    “Judea and Samaria” is not “the biblical name of the West Bank.” When the United Nations drafted its Palestine partition resolution in 1947, it did not use the term “West Bank.” It called it “the hill country of Samaria and Judea.”  

    As the former Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Yoram Ettinger, wrote:  

    In April 1950, the Jordanian occupation renamed Judea/Samaria as “the West Bank” to assert Jordanian rule and to expunge Jewish connection to the cradle of Jewish history. Until 1950, all official Ottoman, British and prior records referred to “Judea and Samaria” and not to the “West Bank.”

    They did it for the same reason that in 135 C.E. the conquering Romans renamed Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina” and Judæa “Palestina.”

    Judæa’s Jews (who, by the way, were not “exiled” by Rome) refused to use the conqueror’s names for the land and its places. And, especially given that the Jordanian conquest lasted 19 years, not 1,900, we should not either.

  2. “Jewish and Palestinian States”

    The U.N. did not seek to partition Palestine into “Palestinian and Jewish states,” as the Western media has put it. The U.N. used “the Arab State” and “the Jewish State” terms over and over again. Nor did the U.N. call Palestine’s Arabs “the Palestinians,” but referred to Palestine’s Jews and Arabs as “the two Palestinian peoples.”

    The under-populated Palestine of 1948 had a population of perhaps a little more than a million Arabs, and well more than a half-million Jews. To speak of partitioning a place between a people bearing the name of that place and anyone else portrays one side as natives and the other as outsiders.

  3. “The Palestinians”  

    In renaming Judæa as “Palestine” in 135 C.E., the Romans were not referencing Yasser Arafat’s ancestors (Editor’s note: Unless the rumors about his Jewish ancestry are true.), but the by-then long-gone Aegean “Sea People” Philistines, who in Israelite times had invaded the eastern Mediterranean coast from the west, fought with the Israelites of Saul and David, and had been ultimately destroyed by the same Babylonians who had ended the kingdom of Judæa.

    Jews were the original “Palestinians”; today’s “Palestinians” should more accurately be referred to as “Palestinian Arabs.”

  4. Israel’s “1967 Borders”

    Formally recognized international borders have the permanence and gravitas that military ceasefire lines do not.

    The 1949 Israel-Jordan armistice agreement expressly delineated its “green line” as “dictated exclusively by military considerations” without prejudice to either side’s political claims.  

    The media habitually calls it “the 1967 line,” and even “Israel’s 1967 border,” to discredit any Israeli claims beyond what Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz lines,” that are 9-miles-wide at critical points.

    The historically correct term remains “the 1949 ceasefire line.” Even as such, it lost such significance when fighting resumed between Jordan and Israel in 1967.

    Israel captured (not “seized,” as the Western media often puts it) all of Palestine west of the Jordan River in 1967, and the post-war U.N.S.C. resolution #242 intentionally did not call for full Israeli return to the 1949 lines.  

  5. Israel’s “Creation” and “Founding”

    Israel was not “created” or “founded” in 1948, artificially and out of the blue. It was in fact re-established.

    The Jewish homeland is the one with the deepest of roots in the Milled East. The Jewish connection to the land of Israel, including continuous physical presence, remained unbroken from Rome’s destruction of Jewish Judæa in 135 through Jewish Israel’s independence in 1948, as the land’s next native state.  

    Every rulers in between: Romans-Byzantines, Persians, Muslim dynasties, Christian Crusaders, non-Arab Mamluks and finally non-Arab Turks, had been foreign invaders.  

    British historian James Parkes rightly wrote (Whose land? p. 266) that “those who had maintained a Jewish presence in The Land all through the centuries” wrote the Zionists’ “real title deeds.”

  6. “East Jerusalem, Traditionally Arab East Jerusalem”

    Over the course of the past 3,000 years, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of three native states — Judah, Judæa and Israel — all Jewish. A majority of Jerusalem’s residents have again been Jewish since the pre-Zionist 19th century Ottoman-rule times.

    Palestinian Arabs have not ruled Jerusalem for one day in history. Foreign Arab dynasties ruled it, much of the time under the thumb of the Turks, between 638 and 1099, and invading Trans-Jordan ruled part of the city between 1948 and 1967.  

    The media and much of the world seeks to restore and perpetuate that fleeting 19-year illegal Jordanian seizure, which ended almost half a century ago, as a separate “East Jerusalem,” as though it existed today.  

    The term “East Jerusalem” disregards over 3000 years of Jewish history and the unbroken Jewish connections to all of Jerusalem, especially where the Western Wall and Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest sites reside, along with the historic Jewish, Christian and Armenian, as well as Muslim, Quarters.

  7. “Jewish Settlements” versus “Palestinian Villages”

    The Western media misleadingly contrasts “Jewish settlements” in the “Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank” with nearby Palestinian “neighborhoods,” “villages,” and “towns.”  

    As documented in the recent Levy Commission report, Jewish communities beyond the 1949 ceasefire line are not “occupation” or “illegal.” Jews and Arabs have contesting claims to Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Moreover, Jordan has since renounced any claim to the “West Bank.”  

    The media actually says that the Arab presence in those areas is more valid than the Jewish one, despite that under international law, the Jewish claim is stronger.  

  8. “The Palestinian Refugee Issue”

    The media’s “Palestinian refugee issue” is a one-sided statement of a two-sided issue.

    In 1948 and years that followed, more indigenous Middle Eastern Jews were expelled from vast Muslim lands, where they had lived for thousands of years, and were forced to abandon their homes and businesses — mostly to Israel — than Arabs fled tiny Israel.  

    Israel absorbed the bulk of these Jews, while to this day “host” Arab countries, and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Palestine itself, isolate Arab refugees’ descendants in “refugee camps.” (This is what “apartheid” really is.)

    And these Jews do more than that.  Together with the land of Israel’s ever-present homeland Jewish Yishuv, these Middle Eastern Jews, with roots going back to pre-Islamic biblical times, establish the bona fides of Israel as an indigenous Middle Eastern state, not the “European colonial Zionist entity” that Arabs and the “Islamic Middle East,” referencing Western media, would have Westerners believe.

    That does not remove these Israel-absorbed Middle Eastern Jews from the Arab-Israeli conflict’s refugee issue.  

  9. “Millions of Palestinian Refugees and Their Descendants” from “The War that Followed Israel’s Creation”

    A few years ago, the Western media repeatedly told the Western public about “millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants” from “the war that followed Israel’s creation,” or simply from “Israel’s creation.” This “millions” misstatement has resurfaced again this year.

    Given that:

    • Palestine’s entire partition-time population was well less than two million;
    • a good third of it were Jews;  
    • not all of Palestine’s Arabs lived in the part that became Israel; and
    • not all of them left,  

    this is a monstrously inaccurate claim mathematically.

    Those who did leave, exceeded in number by the Jews who left Arab lands, did so not in the context of Israel’s “creation” and “founding,” but of a partition-rejecting multi-nation Arab invasion for Israel’s destruction.    

  10. Recognition of Jewish State as a “New Stumbling Block”

    The media has characterized Israel’s insistence on being recognized as the Jewish state as a newly imposed peace process stumbling block, to divert attention from its building of “settlements.”  

    Demand for recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland is not a new Jewish position: The U.S., as well as Israel, defines “the two state solution” as “two states for two peoples,” including a Jewish state. In 1947, British Foreign Secretary Bevin told the British parliament that for the Jews, “the essential point principle” was the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state.  

    The land of Israel as the Jewish homeland has been at the core of the Jewish people’s aspirations and Judaism, going back to Moses’ time.

What the Media Fails To Report

Unfortunately, the distorted media coverage is not confined to ignoring and mischaracterizing these historical facts.  

The media consistently fails to report, and deliberately suppresses, Israel’s many positive traits: things it has been doing for decades to help, assist and contribute to the betterment of the entire world (tikkun olam, “repairing the world,” including engaging in tzedakah, charity) with its high technological skills, agricultural knowledge, and humanitarianism.  

Under this envy of Israel’s success and miraculous survival in a sea of hostile Arab anti-democratic states, there is a deeper psychosis:

For now to expiate their guilt for the treatment and murder of one-third of world Jewry during the Holocaust, Israel can be viewed as the vicious ethnic-cleansing Nazis while the poor, “innocent” Palestinian Arabs, are the new Jews, who must be saved and defended.  

The besieged tiny Israel is a cultural oasis in its region: An open democracy that respects human rights, minority rights, women rights, gay rights, freedom of religion, press, education, and opportunity.  

Ignored by the media is its contrast to the culture of hatred and incitement inculcated by Palestinian-Arab society and officialdom, in children’s textbooks, schools, mosques and media, including “Temple denial” and denigration of the historic Jewish connection to Israel.  

The very charters of Palestinian Arabs’ structural institutions — the PLO and Hamas — are laced with Jewish homeland denial and bloody calls for Israel’s destruction.  

The Palestinian Arabs have always been “rejectionists”: They could have been given their own state, side-by-side next to Israel, in 1937, between 1948-1967, in 2000 or in 2008. Instead, they kept pursuing their real goal: Israel’s extermination.

The real debate about the Middle East is between anyone who recognizes that Jews have a right to a state, and those who wish to see this state destroyed. For 20 years, since the Oslo Accords, Israel has been trying to trade land for peace, only to have each offer of statehood for the Palestinian Arabs spurned.

The Palestinian-Arab culture of hatred for Israel and the Jews has made it impossible for even their most “moderate” leaders to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn.  

The onus for true peace should be on the Palestinian Arabs.

Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin are the authors of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A To Z

Israel at 65: How and Why to Support It

— by Lee Bender

Israel has turned 65 last May, and it is worth reflecting on what the modern State of Israel has done to create a strong and vibrant home for many Jews around the world.

At 65, Israel is clearly no “senior citizen” about getting on Social Security, and on the road to the golden years of retirement. On the contrary, Israel is vibrant, young, and alive. Even for those of us who do not live there, Israel resonates in our hearts as our historic homeland, as the focal point of the Jewish people, as a spiritual center, and as a continuing source of wonder, pride and joy.

More after the jump.
No matter what political stripe you are from, we all have a far larger mission and commonality that binds us. Because quite simply, whether we appreciate it or not, recognize it or not, like it or not, the fate and safety of the Jewish community, even here in America, is inextricably linked to the strength and security of the State of Israel.

Make no mistake: the loss of Israel, or even a crippled Israel, would fundamentally alter American Jewry, and would arrest the revival of Jewish life in Europe, Canada, South America. Most of us do not know what it was like to have lived in a world without the State of Israel, where Jews were paralyzed, persecuted, and powerless, with no refuge to escape to, and no Israel Defense Force to protect us.

As Rabbi Daniel Gordis has observed, the simple but overlooked truth is that what has made the difference for Jews all over the world is the State of Israel. The world finally saw the Jews as people who would shape their own destiny, unlike the poor, stateless Tibetans, Chechnyans, Basques, and Kurds, to name a few. Jews no longer have to tiptoe around the world, waiting to see what the world had in store for them.

The miraculous rebirth of the Jewish state has also changed how we see ourselves. The days of “We looked like grasshoppers to ourselves and so we appeared to them” (Numbers 13:33) are gone. This is why the security of Israel is not optional for us.

A little geography lesson is always instructive for perspective. Israel is one of the tiniest nations on the planet:

  • It is 260 miles long, with a coastline of 112 miles;
  • It is 9 to 71 miles wide;
  • Israel’s land mass, 8019 square miles, is about the size of New Jersey’s, and is only 1/625 (1/6%) of the size of the Arab world’s;
  • Israel is surrounded by 22 hostile Arab/Islamic dictatorships — even with this so-called Arab Spring — including some very nasty and murderous Arab Islamic terrorist organizations, such as Hizbollah and Hamas, whose charter unabashedly calls for global jihad against Jews and the destruction of Israel.
  • There are 56 Islamic nations, and 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide. The total population of the Arab states plus Iran is 350 million. By comparison, only 5.9 million Jews live in Israel, yielding a regional population ratio of 56:1 in the middle east.
  • Israel has 1.2 million Arabs living as full citizens with equal rights — which are also far more than their brethren have in Arab/Muslim countries.
  • Israel is the only place in the Middle East where the Christian population is not oppressed, and is in fact growing.
  • The world’s Jewish population is a mere 13.5 million, which sadly is 5 million fewer than in 1939. It is so small, that it is the margin of error of the population of China.

It is little Israel who is the “David,” fending against the Arab/Muslim world’s “Goliath.” And yet, it is always Israel that is expected to shrink even more.

What accounts for the key to Israel’s survival? We showed an amazing film this lat year as part of the JerusalemOnlineU.com’s mini-course, Step Up for Israel, entitled: Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference. The film very effectively identified the elusive core characteristics that make modern Israel a nation unlike all others: Chutzpah, transforming adversity to advantage, powerful family links, the Israeli unwavering determination to “get things done,” challenging the status quo, looking for ways to do and make things better, and rejecting and ignoring the naysayers.

Israel is not merely the “start up nation” — it is the “innovation nation.” But we dare not take this for granted, despite the incredible accomplishments that no sane, level-headed person could have possibly imagined 65 years ago: A language brought back to life; an economic engine that is the envy of many far more established countries; a burgeoning haven for scientific innovation and high-tech, communications, computers, medical equipment and agricultural know-how that is shared throughout the world — and top-notch medical treatment provided to all citizens, including Arabs, and terrorists and terror victims alike. In Israel, biology trumps ideology.  

Can you imagine this occurring in Arab or Muslim dominated countries? Israel’s neighbors, unfortunately, tragically, do not share this ethos of tolerance and tikkun olam (help repair the world). Could the sane person 65 years ago imagine a thriving robust democracy composed of immigrants from around the world of all different colors and backgrounds, including Muslim refugees escaping tyranny from Sudan, Eritrea and the Ivory Coast? And it all takes place in an arid land of desert and harsh climate.

The Jewish ethic, that life is sacred and paramount, and shall be cherished, was recognized by a Syrian citizen who recently tweeted, “I envy the Israeli government because it cares for its citizens; their government is prepared to pay the ultimate price for one citizen, while our government kills us like we are animals, and our Arab neighbors say that it is an internal matter.”  

And thank Hashem that Israel possesses a citizen army that keeps it so safe, that we tend  to take for granted that its enemies will be contained and defeated. That includes the murderous and genocidal mullah regime in Iran, that denies the Holocaust, denies that the Jewish people have any historic connection to the Land of Israel, is the largest state sponsor of terror, defies international sanctions in an unrelenting quest to achieve nuclear breakout capability, and vows to wipe Israel off the map — and we better believe them. In case you have forgotten, Israel is the “Little Satan,” and America is still the “Great Satan,” according to Iran.

And yet, despite the efforts to de-legitimize and demonize it from a multitude of fronts, including the mainstream media, anti-Israel NGOs, the U.N., European Union, and Arab states, Israel is one of the happiest nations in the world, according to a recent annual survey. Israel came 11th out of 156; most of the top ten were North European countries. Mexico was #16, the U.S. was #17, and most Arab countries trailed well behind. This is a tribute to the Israeli spirit, the ruach.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu said that his late father, the great historian and professor Benzion, on his 100th Birthday taught him that “Those who are unfamiliar with the past cannot understand the present, and those who cannot understand the present cannot see what lies ahead.” Well, if you could take a time-machine back to the early 1930’s, you would scream from the rooftops about the threats on the horizon. Today we have total clarity about what we are facing with a potentially nuclear Iran, the surrounding Arab Spring, especially in Egypt and Syria, which is becoming more like an Islamist nightmare. Those countries are closing in on tiny Israel, circling like sharks sensing blood in the water, and we must scream from the 21st Century rooftops.  

In today’s world, without a strong Israel, there is no Jewish people. We cannot allow a second Holocaust to happen within 80 years — it is our responsibility to give Israel the tools, means and ability to defend itself.  

By every measure, Israel should be praised and admired. Instead, Israel is treated by most of the world as a pariah. Overt Antisemitism is being replaced by anti-Zionism.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the Islamo-fascism, incitement, military threats and de-legitimization campaign against Israel, is the seeming inability to help. Israel yearns for and offers peace. It has in fact made painful concessions for it, including returning Sinai to Egypt; and Gaza, and civilian control of large areas of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority. But its Arab neighbors refuse to negotiate for a co-equal, co-existence and peaceful settlement, and instead consistently wallow in a culture of hatred, and call for Israel’s destruction.  

While we may not be able to stop the terrorists or rocket attacks, we can combat the lies about Israel, and can educate others and take action to lift the spirit of Israelis. In Kabbalistic terms, we may not see the immediate results of our actions, but every action we take makes a difference, and could indeed be the “tipping point.”

So what is your charge — what can you do? Let me suggest six ways:

  1. visit Israel
  2. Challenge bias in the media. And do not be deceived — words do matter. My new book, co-written with my good friend Jerome Verlin from Elkins Park, entitled: Pressing Israel exposes the hidden agenda behind this language, and addresses the challenge to call things what they are — because surrendering the language forfeits our narrative and our story, and puts Israel’s very existence at risk. This past year we have spoken at over 20 synagogues, churches, schools, and Federation and other civic and Jewish organizations.  

  3. Stay current on the news on what is happening in Israel in the Middle East. Be an ambassador for the truth and our people, and speak out.
  4. Lobby our elected officials. Vote — and take Israel into the voting booth with you. You must remind everyone of the importance of a mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel relationship, emphasize that Israel is an asset to the U.S. militarily, diplomatically and scientifically, with shared cultural values and ethics. Israel has been described as “the equivalent of 5 CIAs,” and due to its ability to be America’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” thousands of U.S. troops need not be stationed in the Middle East to protect America’s interests.  
  5. Buy Israeli products and services. Go out of your way to support Israel’s export trade, and act locally here at the grocery store.
  6. And, of course, buy an Israel Bond. Even at these difficult financial times, Israel’s flawless record for debt repayment has been applauded by financial agencies, and for a good reason — since the first bonds were issued 61 years ago, every payment of principal and interest has been met on time, and in full. And while a purchase seems to be an act of tzedakah, it is really an investment. And it has proven to be a very good one, paying better than most others today. The Israel Bonds program is a positive, proactive, non-political expression of our attachment to Israel. The funds generated by every purchase serve people — not political parties, helping to create strong Israeli businesses, industries, infrastructure and economy. Through the purchase of an Israel Bond, we are making a direct connection to our Israeli brothers and sisters.

It is hard to think about Israel Bonds, when nobody is standing before you making the annual Israel Bonds Appeal. Seven years ago, when my wife Jane and I were on our first bar mitzvah circuit with our boys, and were going to affairs virtually every week, we decided to not perfunctorily write gift checks, but instead purchase far more meaningful gifts: Israel Bonds.

I would make weekly trips to the Israel Bonds office at 1500 Walnut Street during lunch hour, to purchase the Bonds in person, and got to make some good friends there. Most people do not do this, and you do not have to, of course. It is now much easier than ever before to purchase the Bonds online, and they make incredibly moving gifts. So do not be lazy, and simply write that $36, $50, $100, $200 check for that bar mitzvah or special affair. That same money can purchase a lot, and be put to work for the State of Israel. Make the affirmative effort to buy Israel Bonds. You would be amazed how quickly these seemingly small sums add up, and you can also designate the local Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El for credit too.

This is your wake-up call. It is no exaggeration that Israel needs our unwavering support now. Israel is a miracle. Hashem has given us the tools and means to defend ourselves. Investing in an Israel Bond now is the best way to show that.

Lee Bender gave this speech to Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El before Kol Nidre on Erev Yom Kippur 2013. He spoke not in his role as the Israel Action Committee Chairman at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El or as the co-President of the Greater Philadelphia District of the Zionist Organization of America, but simply in support of Israel Bonds as a Jew, a proud Zionist, and fellow congregant.

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.”

BBI Denounces Canadian Church for Boycott of Israeli Businesses‏


Ahava plant near the Dead Sea

B’nai B’rith International denounced the United Church of Canada (UCC) for calling upon its two million members to boycott Israeli companies that do business in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Last week, the United Church of Canada’s general council approved boycotts of Israeli companies Keter Plastic, SodaStream and Ahava. This is a continuation of a resolution passed by the church in August 2012 to boycott Israeli products exported from the West Bank and east Jerusalem. This time, the UCC has specific targets and plans to dissuade Canadian businesses from selling the products of the targeted businesses. The reasoning behind these actions, the church said, is its view that Israeli settlements are the “principal obstacle to peace in the region.”

More after the jump.
B’nai B’rith President Allan J. Jacobs said:

With Canada being such a principled supporter of Israel and of peace, it is distressing that the United Church of Canada would engage in the boycotting of Israeli companies and their products. To pass this resolution is to attack Israel, and to single out the Jewish state for hostility while ignoring the real impediments to peace in the Middle East.

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

Anytime an organization decides to promote a campaign boycotting Israeli products or companies, it is clearly a move seeking to hurt Israelis. This boycott will only serve to cause more friction in the region, and to recklessly export it to the Christian-Jewish relationship in North America.

The primary obstacle to peace in the region is Palestinian intransigence. Until the Palestinians agree to return to the negotiating table without pre-conditions — and to end violent extremists’ rejection of Jews’ fundamental rights in their homeland — prospects for peace will sadly remain dim.

B’nai B’rith Mourns The Loss Of Margaret Thatcher

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

B’nai B’rith mourns the loss of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died April 8 at the age of 87.

Thatcher was a leading and reliable voice supporting free emigration for Soviet Jews. She spoke forcefully on behalf of Jews prevented from leaving the Soviet Union and demanded that restrictions be lifted.

Thatcher served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 — the only woman to ever hold the post.

B’nai B’rith joins the British people in mourning her loss.